While the officials have cut off the water supply for irrigation, farmers say drinking water is being released to neighbouring Andhra.

Irrigation lifeline cut in Ballari Farmers storm Tahsildar office cops resort to lathicharge
news Protest Friday, January 27, 2017 - 18:16

For 500 years, farmers in Ballari’s Hospete taluk have been irrigating their crop through two canals built during the reign of the Vijayanagara empire.

But this lifeline has been cut by the district administration, and the farmers are now angry. Agitating outside the Tahsildar’s office, outraged farmers tore down the building gates, and some of them even threw stones at the windows.

The protesters then stormed the office of the Tahsildar. Unable to control the mob, police officials resorted to lathicharge.

There are around 33 villages in Hospete taluk, where sugarcane, banana and paddy are cultivated. The Raya and Basava canals, which were built during reign of the Vijayanagara empire, have been a lifeline for the farmers’ irrigation needs.

According to Durgappa, the Manager of the Ballari Farmers’ Association, the Irrigation Consultative Committee (ICC), headed by the District Minister Santosh Lad, decided to stop the water supply from the Tungabhadra Dam to these canals.

“The ICC decided that the water would be used only for drinking water purposes. The committee did not consult with the farmers before making a decision,” said Gosal Barmappa, the association’s President.

He added: “We had also requested the district officials to allot 200 cusecs of water per day for 10 days in a month until the next monsoon. The officials did nothing to solve our problem and for the past 50 days the farmers have not been getting any water. This has made them angry, which led to the protest.”

Durgappa alleged that the cattle have no water, and the sugarcane and banana crop are on the verge of drying up.

“Between November 10 and December 10, officials had informed us that water would not be provided as the dam was under repair. After the repairs were done, they said that once the ICC meeting was over, water would be released. But now they are saying that farmers will not get water for cultivation,” said Barmappa

Farmers say they’ve already stopped cultivating paddy because of water shortage, and they’re now at a stage where they won’t be able to cultivate anything.

Barmappa also said that since 2014, farmers have been allotted 7.5 TMC of water through the two canals for irrigation purposes.

“The officials are giving away 1,500 cusecs of water every day to Andhra Pradesh. Are we not human beings? How did they get the water to give to another state? What about us? We are not going to stop protesting until the administration decides to give us the water we require, no matter how long it takes,” Durgappa said.

The farmers’ demands may not seem unreasonable. However, the taluk administration has another story to tell.

“Almost all the taluks of Karnataka have been drought-hit and the water level in all the dams in the state are very low. The Tungabhadra Dam caters to four districts in the state including Ballari, Koppala, Raichur and Karnool districts,” explained Vishwanath, Tahsildar of Hospete.  

“Currently the dam level stands at 5.9 TMC. This is almost half the amount that was available in the corresponding period last year, which was 11 TMC. How can we provide water for irrigation now?” the Tahsildar asked.

He said that the ICC would convene once more in a couple of days to discuss the demands put forth by the farmers.

“Almost all the taluks of Karnataka have been drought-hit and the water level in all the dams in the state are very low. The Tungabhadra Dam caters to four districts in the state including Ballari, Koppala, Raichur and Karnool districts,” explained Vishwanath, Tahsildar of Hospete.  

“Currently the dam level stands at 5.9 TMC. This is almost half the amount that was available in the corresponding period last year, which was 11 TMC. How can we provide water for irrigation now?” the Tahsildar asked.

He said that the ICC would convene once more in a couple of days to discuss the demands put forth by the farmers.

 

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