Karnataka is facing a massive drought and Chikkamagaluru in Southern Karnataka too is reeling under the parch conditions.
While water shortage is a huge concern, the welfare of cattle too is rattling farmers in the district.
The district has no gaushalas (government run cow sheds) and rampant cattle deaths in the area has resulted in zilla panchayat officials facing the heat from farmers.
“The administration has not bothered to keep a tab on how many deaths have occurred. The Animal Husbandry Department is spreading false news that it is because the animals were diseased. They have been dying because of water shortage,” Ramaswamy added.
On Tuesday, the members of the zilla panchayat gathered outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office and demanded that the administration open gaushalas.
The angry bureaucrats put down a 15-day deadline for the administration to open the gaushalas and threatened to stage a massive protest if it failed to do so.
An official with the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department, however maintained that the foot-and-mouth disease, which has been plaguing the cattle in Hassan, has also spread to Chikkamagaluru.
“The district administration has not done anything to tackle the drought. We, (zilla panchayat officials) are the ones facing heat from the farmers and locals. No matter how many times we have written to them on the people’s behalf, the slow response to this crisis has made everyone angry,” Mahesh Wadiyar, a Ramaswamy, Chikkamagaluru zilla panchayat President told TNM.
Officials from the zilla panchayat said that they had petitioned the DC to set up gaushalas multiple times but their efforts had not been fruitful.
“Around 45 days ago, we had filed a request with the DC for setting up of gaushalas but no action has been taken and we have not got any intimation from them in this regard. Also, three months ago, we had put in a request for the same, which was also ignored,” Shivashankar said.
The members said that over the last two months many farmers have complained about the death of cattle.
The angry zilla panchayat members blamed the Animal Husbandry and Revenue Departments for shirking their responsibilities.
Water rationing in Chikkamagaluru
Water rationing has already begun in the district and residents have to manage with the meagre amount of water given to them.
With no tap water available, Chikkamagaluru residents get two drums of water once in three days from the Water Board.
“The water has to be used for drinking, cooking, cleaning and also for the cattle. There is not enough water and the cattle are dying because
Shivashankar also demanded that the Sringeri area be declared drought-hit as the water levels in river Thungabhadra has gone done drastically. Also, another member named Chandramma alleged that the funds being allotted for the drinking water is being misused and borewells are being dug illegally.
The members also criticized the director of Agriculture Department, MC Seetha for not giving out compensation to the families of 21 farmers who committed suicide in the district.
“MC Seetha initially said she had no knowledge about the delay in payment of compensation. The members then told her to get the details on the 21 deaths immediately and also the progress report on the compensation fund transfer. When she got back, it was revealed that none of the families had received compensation. We demanded that the issue be sorted out as soon as possible,” Ramaswamy said.