The reservoir that waits to roar
The Gundlupet taluk in Chamarajanagar district, known for the popular Himavad Gopalaswamy shrine, is also the gateway to Bandipur National Park.
If all had proceeded according to plan, the taluk would have had another attraction in the form of a reservoir which would have given the farmers of the area some hope; unfortunately the reservoir was filled to its brim only once.
Nalluramani Kere dam was built across the Gundlu river, a perennial river of Kabini, at Ingalavadi village. Now it has gone dry. The dam stands tall, arousing the curiosity of passersby on Padagur road, about 4.5 km from Gundlupet town. It belongs to the Kaveri Neeravari Nigam, Attagolipura sub-division, Chamarajanagar district.
According to available information, the reservoir which was built in 1986, was the brain child of then MLA K S Nagaratnamma. She was also the first woman speaker of the State Legislative Assembly between 1976 and 78. She wanted the farmers to benefit from the reservoir. The dam is of the centre bund type with a side channel spillway comprising right and left side channels. The catchment area is 416.7 sq km.
The area of irrigation on the right side is 655 acres of land and left- 2,597 acres, covering villages like Hegdalli, Madapura, Akkalpura among several others. The height of the dam is 47.68 ft with storage capacity of 231.7 million cubic feet.
A local farmer told Spectrum that when the dam was built, the farmers hoped they would be able to draw huge amounts of water for agriculture. However, instead of aiding irrigation, the overflow of the water destroyed standing crops in 1987. The stagnant water also caused the closure of the road as it posed a threat to vehicular traffic.
Ganga pooje (a customary ritual performed when a reservoir fills, to ward off evils) was also performed. Barring that year, the reservoir failed to reach its full capacity. It didn’t take too long for the farmers to realise their wait would be to no avail. The farmers then began to rely upon either borewells for irrigation or underground water resources to rejuvenate wells.
When the reservoir was planned, it was believed that rainwater that flows from the Gopalaswamy Hills would reach Berambadi lake and culminate at the Nalluramani reservoir through the Mallayanapura and Kodalli tanks. Kodalli tank, also known as Doddakere for its huge area, according to locals, is the elder sister of Nalluramani.
A shepherdess pointed out to this reporter about a belief in the town that Nalluramani will fill only when the sister lake reaches its brim.
The origin of Nalluramani is also interesting. It was name after a village of the same name which existed nearby. The villagers were relocated to another place, to pave way for the construction of reservoir.
What remains now is the bund area, occupied by weeds and shrubs. The canal that passes through the reservoir holds little water as and when it rains. The name of the lake painted in Kannada overlooks the road proudly proclaiming the facility.
A proposal is underway at Kaveri Neeravari Nigama to restore the lake reservoir with the four others in the vicinity. If this becomes reality, a total of 230 acres of lake area (including all the five lakes) are expected to come back to life.