Damned by a dam

DEVELOPMENT

Damned by a dam

Cracks on the walls of houses built for evacuees

The Markandeya dam constructed near Shirur in Hukkeri taluk should have been a dream-come-true for farmers in the region. Instead, it has turned into a nightmare of sorts. The people who were displaced thanks to its construction have not been rehabilitated properly. Farmers who were from a decade, looking forward to the construction of the dam, are disappointed because it hasn’t been able to cater to water supply to their fields.

As many as nine villages were submerged in the backwaters of the dam. Three of the villages have been shifted. It has been five years since they have been shifted, but the displaced haven’t been provided any basic amenities.

Rangadholi and Gutti villages that were submerged in the backwaters have been shifted to a place near Santhibastawada in Belgaum taluk. However, the people shifted have not been provided proper drinking water facilities. The borewell water here is contaminated. The residents have resorted to availing drinking water from the Irrigation Board’s water tankers.

Poor amenities
The two villages don’t have other facilities either. There are no cemeteries and that has often posed a huge practical problem. “We have presented memorandums, but that hasn’t helped much,” says Lakkappa Bharanashetti.

Residents of Kenchanahutti, Nandi, Mavinahole, Bailur and Ningyanatti villages have been rehabilitated at Markandeyanagar near Waghanade in Belgaum taluk. There are over 400 houses here. But,  there are no medical facilities. The Board has constructed homes for those rehabilitated, but cracks have already started to appear on these houses. There are no proper drainage facilities here either. There is a primary school where construction work has been going on from the last two years. But till it is completed, all the high school classes are also conducted in the classrooms meant for primary class students. Two rooms in the primary school are earmarked for offices of the primary and high school. One room is used for midday meal preparation. Ten classes are held in the remaining seven rooms. One room accommodates two classes. In the primary school, there are five teachers fora strength of 220 students. There are no physical education teachers either. However, for the 66 students studying in the high school, there are as many as seven teachers!

The people rehabilitated from Rangadholi and Ningyanahatti near Basavanakudachi are also facing a lot of difficulties because of a lack of proper facilities. Some houses belonging to residents of these two villages have been submerged. The rest, who have not lost their homes, have had to trudge several kilometres to reach their fields. Many of them work in the industries near Belgaum.

Awaiting completion
The government gave the go-ahead for the Rs 120-crore dam project in the year 1996. So far, Rs 341 crore has been spent on the construction of the dam.
It has a storage capacity of 3.69 Tmc ft. The 71-kilometre-long right bank canal is expected to irrigate 18,215 hectares, while the 15-kilometre-long left bank canal is expected to irrigate 890 hectares of land. The construction of the main canal is nearing completion. But the canals that are meant to supply water to the fields are yet to be constructed.  It is waited to be seen when the dam becomes functional and irrigates at least 5,000 hectares.
(Translated by Savitha Karthik)

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