'Mad river' brings untold miseries

'Mad river' brings untold miseries

Loss in Bijapur district due to floods in Don estimated at Rs 33 crore

changing course: Silt accumulated in river Don, near Sarawada in Bijapur taluk. DH PHOTO

The locals call it hucchu hole (mad river) because of its flow, and the fact that it changes course frequently.

The river, which is almost dry for two-thirds of the year, causes misery for the people living on its banks, in the districts of Belgaum, Bijapur and Gulbarga.
Surprisingly, the water is salty and makes soil alkaline, affecting the fertility of the land. The silt in the river has become a major threat in the recent years. The flow is affected by the bushy growth in its course, and as a result, water floods the agricultural fields.
More than 36 villages of the district were severely affected by the floods. The villages face the threat of flood every year; however, this year, it has been devastating - the losses have been estimated at Rs 33 crore. There is now a proposal to permanently shift the people of Kotyal, Tonashyal, Ukumanal, Dashyal, Dhanyal of Bijapur taluk, Satihal, Donur of Basava Bagewadi taluk, Bolwad, Hadaginal villages of Muddebihal taluk which have been repeatedly facing flood. 

The length of Don is 194 km, and has a 3217 sq km catchment area. A plan was prepared to desilt the river, but it was not implemented. The Vajpayee-led Union government had prepared a pilot project and had released Rs five crore to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. Now, the Minor Irrigation Department of the State Government has released Rs 12 crore for the purpose, but works have to be started yet.
Experts say that desilting of the river would not solve the problem, as during the rainy season, the silt will accumulate again, as the catchment area has a lot of black cotton soil.

From Maharashtra
River Don flows from Kojanawadi of Jatta taluk in Maharashtra. It enters Karnataka at Bannurahalli in Athani taluk. It enters Bijapur district at Honawada and flows through Gulbarga district to join Krishna at Chayabhagavati village.