Acute drought: Farmers resort to tankers for water supply

Acute drought and shortage of water for irrigation have forced farmers to depend on tankers to supply water to save their crops.

Drought has devastated the once-prosperous Chikkamagaluru district. They are using the services of tankers to irrigate the farm land.

About five persons in Lakhya and Lakshmipura own tankers to supply water for crops.
All the lakes, water bodies and borewells in the village have dried up. Gange Halla (Vedavathi river) stopped flowing in the region three decades ago. The groundwater table has declined drastically.The farmers removing pumpsets from the defunct borewells are a common scene at Lakhya village. They are eagerly waiting for tankers that arrive from cities to fetch water to safeguard cattle and crops.

A private borewell owner at Kote Layout charges Rs 100 for filling a water tanker. By the time the tanker reaches farm land, the farmers have to shell out Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,300. The farmers have been struggling to save tomato, black pepper, areca nut and coconut.

Tanker water supplier Shashidhar said, “On an average, I supply water in six trips in a day. Those who have drip irrigation facility and borewells have dried up purchase water from tankers to save their crops.”

Farmer Ramesh said, “I have cultivated tomato on two acres of land. The borewells have dried up. The tomato plants have started flowering. For the survival of plants till monsoon, I spend Rs 2,500 daily for the purchase of water from tankers. I had not dreamt that such a situation will come up in Chikkamagaluru district. Farming and farmers are on the verge of extinction.”

“I have been struggling to purchase seeds and fertilisers. A situation has arisen where we have to seek financial assistance for purchasing water as well,” he said.

Farmers Sabeer Khan and Sayyed Sadik said, “Looking at tomato plants cultivated on three acre land withering, we decided to purchase water to save the plants.”

L V Basavaraju had cultivated black pepper as a secondary crop with areca nut on a three acres of land. For the survival of pepper vines, he purchases six tankers of water daily.

Farmers from Lakhya, Lakshmipura, Kanive and Kuruvangi are mostly cultivating vegetables and supplying to the market. They are self-sufficient with farming and dairy farming. However, with the drought situation prevailing in the region, saving the crops and cattle have become a challenge for the farmers. 

Environmentalist D V Girish said, “River Gowrihalla, which originates in Shola forest of Mullayyanagiri, passes through Dasarahalli, Kanive to reach Lakhya. Later, the water body flows to Ayyanakere, Sakharayapatna, Kadur, Hosadurga and becomes Vedavathi river. The water from the river will be used by the farmers for irrigating the farm land. With the thinning of forest in the hilly range due to forest fire, the sources of river have dried up. As the river is not flowing, the farm land became arid and dry in the region.”

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