The controversial allotment of Amrithmahal Kaval (a type of grassland), in Chitradurga district to the Central government agencies has taken a new turn with the Chitradurga deputy commissioner seeking permission from Baba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) to allow temporary cattle grazing.
Following the allotment of 10,000 acres of grassland to six central government agencies including Isro, BARC and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and a state agency between 2008-2010, farmers have been left agitated as they can’t graze their cattle in the fenced area. The grassland is situated around 60 villages in the district.
On April 26, Deputy Commissioner S Sasikanth Senthil has written to the Isro and the BARC seeking their permission to ‘temporarily’ allow farmers to graze their cattle. The DC has also sought the agencies assent to rectify the damage done to the two tubewells and pipelines supplying water to the villages of Doddaullarthy and the Ullarthi Kaval.
In his letter, a copy of which Deccan Herald has obtained, Senthil has said: “In the light of the severe summer and ongoing drought for the third consecutive year, I request your institution to kindly permit the villagers access to the Goshala and to restore the water supply to its earlier state to help the farmers to tide over the summer.”
The note dispatched to the Central government organisations states that the inaccessibility to the Goshala and the destruction of the pipelines have been due to the
compound walls built by Isro and BARC at Amrithmahal Kaval.
Senior officials in the Isro told Deccan Herald that a separate team is handling the legal issues pertaining to the project in Chitradurga.
On whether Isro has taken any decision to allow temporary grazing as requested by the district authorities, an official said that no decision has been taken yet and he would have to verify the contents, if such a letter has reached Isro.
Opposing the grant of land to the Central government agencies, public meetings are being organised in the district. Most villagers have been complaining of how in the arid district of Chitradurga, where land holdings are small, people are heavily dependent on livestock rearing for a living.
The Amritmahal Kaval Hitarakshana Samiti, the organisation which is spearheading the protest against the diversion of the land, has recorded statements of farmers stating that every single household had at least a few livestock which they will have to sell in the absence of access to grazing lands. I