Siddapur farmers protest against government's apathy

Why not offer Varahi water to Udupi district, asks MLC

Farmers from Siddapur and surrounding areas joined hands to protest against the government’s apathy by taking out a rally on Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion, MLC Prathapchandra Shetty said the government should pay utmost attention to ensure basic rights for the farmers. The government’s decision to snatch the Kumki rights away from the farmers will result in a huge tragedy, he warned. Kumki is a privilege given to the farmers.

However, in order to facilitate the corporates, the government has come up with a new idea to take away the farmers’ rights, Shetty said.

Noting that the Varahi project, which was started nearly 35 years ago, was useful to the farmers for some time, he said that in the past few days the river water has stopped flowing in region. The hydro power generating unit has been utilising water while the farmers have been suffering, he said. The unit should be banned from functioning, he demanded.

Shetty opined that the government policies related to the Varahi irrigation project paves way to qualms and conflicts.

If acres of deemed forests are being destroyed for the Yettinahole project to ensure water flow to a region 246 kilometres away at a cost of Rs 13,000 crore, why not the government contemplate on offering Varahi water to the whole of Udupi, which is a mere 50-60 kilometres away, he questioned. The water should be supplied from Hanehalli to Udupi, he said.

The bureaucracy has its own rationale for not embarking upon utilising Varahi and Seethanadhi water, which seems to be absurd. The ponds and lakes have dried up without proper maintenance. The multi-village drinking water scheme is not given a boost and this will result in severe drought in the days to come, he predicted.

Title deeds

The MLC said that title deeds are an issue which the farmers are encountering in recent times. He added that there are around 2,000 applications under the Akrama-Sakrama Yojane and the title deeds have not been distributed.

There are plenty of complications involved, such as deemed forests, that pose a threat to the Akrama-Sakrama Yojane, Shetty said. He said the administrative barriers have been creating problems for the farmers in assuring their basic rights.

Nearly 300 files in Kundapur pertaining to title deeds have been cancelled by the Kundapur tahsildar, citing the Supreme Court order, the MLC said. The bureaucracy has been completely corrupted and the mechanism works against the interests of the people, he rued.

Pointing out the loopholes in assuring homes to the homeless needy, Shetty said the houses or housing sites have not been provided to the needy in the past 15 years.

The problems with Section 94C of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, would not have arisen if the government had systematically planned the housing schemes. There have been encroachments and the innocent people are harassed, he added.

He asserted that the artificial sand scarcity is due to the government’s dual policy. When the government can ban the transport of sand to other states, why not ban
the sand transport to other districts as well, he questioned.

Farmer leader Umesh Shetty said that if at all the Varahi irrigation project proves to be successful, it will assure the youth who are at present migrating towards other occupations, a bright future in agriculture.

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