Lost and found

This is also the time when some 80 farmers from Karmadi and four other villages get together to clean the underground spring called talaparige (Tala in Kannada means underground and parige, fountain or fairy). The spring will nourish their 153 hectares (ha) of crops through the months of March and April.

Underground springs were once an integral part of the irrigation system in Tumkur, Chitradurga, Bellary and Koppal districts of the state. People began abandoning them in the 1960s and 70s when borewells became popular. Mining in river beds has destroyed many such springs.
Frequent monsoon failures and reduced rainfall also played a role. In the past couple of years, Dhanya, a Tumkur-based non-profit, has started spreading awareness about talapariges.

The first village to take up the challenge was Basavanahalli, where the women campaigned with the administration to get money for desilting the channels and the mouth of two underground springs in the village tank. About 14 ha of land, belonging to 35 farmers of the village, has been receiving water for the past two years; the village has moved from growing a single crop to two crops on those 14 ha.
Talapariges are unique to areas with sandy soil and a rocky sub stratum. They are mostly found in the beds of ponds, streams and rivers. While the sandy soil ensures ample water percolation, the rocky substratum prevents the water from percolating too deep. During summers when rivers and ponds go dry, this water sweetened and purified by filtration through the soil is still oozing out.
People dig a pit at the site of the spring, build a stone wall around it to prevent siltation, and construct channels on the surrounding land, providing a gradient for the water to flow.

Under Karnataka’s Jalasamvardhana Yojana Sangha, a scheme for revival of tanks, several underground springs have been resurrected. Coordinator of the scheme, Nagaraja Naik, is all for a large-scale revival of such springs. “In Madhugiri and Pavagada, where we have revived such talapariges, people have shifted to them for drinking water because the borewell water has high fluoride levels,” he says.
Mallikarjuna Hosapalya, head of Dhanya, adds, “Our next step is to lobby with the government for reviving talapariges instead of sinking borewells under drinking water schemes.”

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