Apathy results in water depletion near Konaje

Peoples reps, officials fail to understand seriousness of problems: Villagers


 The lush green surroundings of Kairangala village near Konaje. . DH photo

However, here is a classic case of official apathy wherein the authorities concerned have shown lackadaisical attitude in solving the issue.

It all began with denial of permission to Infosys to dig borewell on their premises (nearly two years ago) and subsequent digging of three borewells by three persons (who are also relatives) in the vicinity and construction of a huge tank (which can hold upto 65,000 litres water) by one of them at Ermadi in Kairangala village of Bantwal taluk. Though no one bothered about the same initially, the depletion in water level in neighbours’ homes raised villagers’ eyebrows. Soon afterwards, they learnt that the continuous pumping of water by the trio had resulted in the depletion of water in the nearby wells. In fact, according to a few villagers, about 40 to 50 tankers (with 12,000 litre capacity) were being transported daily and Infosys campus is said to be one of the major consumers.

Realising the seriousness of the situation, the residents of Kairangala village under the banner Kairangala Phajeeru Gramagala Sarvajanika Hitarakshana Vedike, complained to the Deputy Commissioner (on February 16, 2009) that water was being sold illegally from Ermadi and because of they feared that there could water scarcity in the days to come.

“Ermadi residents Martin D’Souza, Anil D’Souza and Herald D’Souza have dug borewells in their premises and are selling thousands of litres of water everyday, which has resulted in depletion of water in the surrounding open wells and borewells, the main sources of water to the locals,” the complaint, signed by 54 residents, stated.

The DC immediately directed the Geology Department to verify the facts and submit a report. After surveying the region on March 5 and March 9, the officials noted that regular drawing of water by the trio for commercial purpose might result in sharp decline of water-level in the nearby open wells and borewells. Two days after the Geology department submitted the report, the Assistant Commissioner issued a notice to the trio on March 19 and asked them to stop selling water.

As the trio did not respond to the notice, the Assistant Commissioner seized four tankers supplying water from the region on March 28.

Opponent a friend

Though the villagers were happy, their happiness was short lived as the trio not only resumed their water business within a month, but also brought injuction (on April 16) from the court which stated that the status quo must be maintained.

However, the undeterred villagers, filed another complaint to the DC in which they stated that the trio had furnished wrong information to the court (to get injuction). They also stated that there was no mention about sale of water by the trio.

More interestingly, the trio made a friend of theirs (Francis Cutinho) as their opponent to ‘fight’ the case, instead of any one of the 54 signatories (complainants).  A few villagers also said that the trio had threatened them with dire consequences if they opposed them. “When one of the complaints decided to take initiative and approach the court, his house was burgled, following which the villagers are all the more worried,” a villager who did not wish to be quoted said.

“We are not blaming the officials. At the same time, we have not got justice. The government slogan says “Kudiyiri Shudda Jala, Kapaadi Antharjala” (Drink pure water, save underground water), but justice has been eluding us for the last two years,” the villagers rue.

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