Tank beds get a green makeover

DEVELOPMENT

Tank beds get a green makeover

People power:  Greening of the tank bed at Tarikatte in Tumkur district.

Tumkur district, known for its many tanks, has often faced the problem of tank encroachment. However, there seems to be a turnaround, with communities which use water from these tanks, taking up the campaign to plant saplings in the tank bed areas.

The revenue department had identified 138.5 hectares of encroached land in 93 tanks that are being developed under the Jala Samvardhana Yojane. As many as 125.5 hectares have already been cleared of encroachments. Saplings are being planted in that land, now.

Take the tank in Sira taluk’s Kotta village. Nearly 26.39 hectares were encroached upon in the tank bed region. Seventeen farmers were raising crops in that region for many years now.

Some farmers raised raagi and maize, while others even grew coconut and areca trees in the region. After convening a village meeting, office-bearers of the Shri Kodi Malleshwara Swami Kere Abhivruddi Sangha appealed to farmers who had encroached upon the land in the tank area to give up on using it for irrigation .

They convinced the farmers that if they didn’t give up, the Rs 25 lakh released by the government towards tank development would be withdrawn. Association Secretary Shanthamma and her husband announced that they would also give up the land in the tank bed that they used for irrigation. This convinced the rest of the farmers to give up on cultivating land in the tank area.

Immediately after the land was freed up, the association members took the suggestion of the Jalasamvardhana Yojane officers and planted 15,000 honge saplings. The saplings, planted in 2010 July, are now over two feet tall. Nearly 80 per cent of the saplings have survived. The coconut and arecanut trees that stand in the encroached area are now under the custody of the Association. The revenue that these trees fetch will be used for tank development.

A similar story in other villages

It’s a similar story in Sira taluk’s Kerekyatanahalli. Twelves hectares that were encroached upon, are now being used to plant 6,000 honge saplings. The local tank development association members tend to these saplings.

Another example of community participation is Tarikatte in the taluk. At least eight hectares have been cleared of encroachment here. Today, 4,000 saplings have been planted in the tank bed area. The tree planting was a celebration, and was taken up with the enthusiasm and fervour of a village festival, points out the district’s environmental expert Nagaraj. Many varieties such as honge, bamboo, neem and tamarind have been planted here. “We need to raise a topu (orchard) adjoining the tank, which will be of use to everyone,” explains Nagaraj. Those who had encroached upon this land earlier, did not have any other land. Still, they realised the importance of developing the tank, and gave up on the encroached land, he points out. It’s the same story elsewhere in the district. In Pavagada taluk’s Gummaghatta, 15 hectares of land have been used to plant 14,000 saplings. The taluk’s J Ranganathapura, Nalladeegalabande, Potaganahalli have all seen the planting programme. Villages in Madhugiri taluk have also followed suit.

However, the process of clearing encroachments was not too easy, or smooth. But, the land was cleared of encroachments in the presence of the police. In a couple of tanks, development has been stalled because the encroachments have not been evicted. A majority of the 119 tanks taken up for development in 2009-10, have been cleared of encroachments, point out authorities.
Such a programme needs to be taken up across the State, to breathe new life into old tanks.

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