Hopes dry up as Bheema goes barren

Hopes dry up as Bheema goes barren

Irrigation pumpsets suck out the last few drops leaving villagers desperate in Yadgir

It is as if the Bheema is now a river of sand rather than water. The river basin is virtually dry  and elders say it is the worst crisis they have seen in 30 years. The youngsters don’t remember the river-bed going dry in their lifetime.

Forget watering the withering fields, people and animals are finding it difficult to find those few precious drops to keep themselves alive. Worse, the basin of Krishna - the only other river flowing in the district - too has gone dry.

Siddalingappa, an elderly farmer from Lingeri village in the taluk, folds his hands skywards, praying for divine intervention to put an end to one of the worst droughts he has seen in his lifetime.

“The last such famine was in 1971, when the Bheema had gone bone dry.  The crisis is so severe that one can see piles of dead fish everywhere on the river-bed. The stench is unbearable,” he said.  The rotting fish are contaminating whatever little water there is in the river.

There are instances of cattle, which consumed this water, dying due to various infections. People in Lingeri, Koulur and other nearby villages are able to get water from a couple of borewells in the vicinity only during the few hours when there is power supply, says Gangadhar of Lingeri.

The acute shortage of water has led to the death of both small and big fish in the river basin.

A few desperate fishermen are taking away the dead fish. There have also been deaths of amphibians and reptiles due to the dry spell.

Motors (pumpsets) are being used to pump the last drops to the fields, compounding the worries of the villagers.

The drawing of water using motors is depleting the levels in the barrages, which may completely reduce availability of drinking water for the towns and cities in the next couple of days. The order by the deputy commissioner to stop power supply to the motors has fallen on deaf ears. This is only going to increase the people’s daily struggle for water even as summer peaks in the coming days.

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