Farmer demands compensation

1,000 areca trees, 40 coconut trees damaged, claims farmer; hydel power project firm denies charge

Farmer demands compensation

Santhappa Bhandary, a farmer in Sangabettu village in Bantwal taluk has been struggling since August to get compensation for the loss of his areca garden, due to water-logging.

It all started when a hydel power project’s dam built across the river at Iruvailu started storing water for the generation of energy. The water entered the areca garden belonging to Bhandary and was stagnant in the garden for more than two and half months since June-end.

“The stagnant water has damaged 1,000 areca trees and 40 coconut trees on one-acre land. The areca trees have turned yellow and the flowers (hingara) of arecanut trees have shrunk. The strength of hingara indicates the quantity of nuts. With the excess water, the yield has reduced drastically. In the next two to three years, all the trees might die,” fears Bhandary.

He also complained that the 1,000 areca trees had been a source of around 30 quintals of arecanuts annually. “This year, however, the yield has reduced by half, giving me just 15 quintals. The rainfall in 2015, fortunately, was scanty. Had the region received the normal level of rain, all the trees would had died this year itself,” he explained with a sense of horror.

The tahsildar had, in his report dated August 25, 2015, on the crop loss, said, “The revenue inspector of Bantwal had stated in his report that with the construction of the dam to store water across the river for the hydel power project, water has entered the areca farm belonging to Santhappa Bhandary. The report has recommended payment of compensation from the company.”

‘Charges exaggerated’

The hydel power project company had, however, replied to the tahsildar and the deputy commissioner on December 15, 2015, claiming that it had established a 10.5 MW mini hydel power project across the River Iruvailu.

The company insisted that the project has just commenced operations and has not been functioning to its full capacity, but admitted that following the storage of water for power generation, water had entered the field of Santhappa Bhandary for a day or two.

“We have, therefore, reduced the level of water storage and have also ensured that no damage is caused to the plantations in the neighbouring areas. The damage that may have been caused is very minimal and not to the extent projected by Santhappa Bhandary. We are in the process of assessing the extent of damage caused to the plantation in the said land and also exploring the possibilities of protecting the neighbouring sites from any further damage. After the assessment, damage if any, will be handled properly,” the company assured.

The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene Secretary Manohar Shetty said that farmers need to be compensated for the loss of crops. “The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene will support farmer in the fight to seek compensation,” he said.

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