Sharavathi. The lifeline of thousands of people. To the people of the State, Sharavathi is the beacon of hope, of development, after the Linganamakki Dam was raised across the river that flows throughout the year.
Yet, Sharavathi spells doom to the people of a few villages. After the Linganamakki Dam came up, their lives have taken a turn for the worse. At one hand are those who lost their homestead and fields but at least got some compensation under the rehabilitation package. On the other are those who are still suffering the loss of basic amenities after the backwaters of the mighty river came lapping up to their feet. The houses in these villages are not together but can be found scattered among the hills. People get to reside and cultivate the land wherever the backwaters have receded.
Deprived of basic facilities
Fifty years have passed since the dam was constructed to provide electricity to the entire State, yet, the people in these parts are deprived of the most basic facilities. Nobody listens to their woes too. Indeed, politicians make a difficult trip to these parts only to seek votes and nothing else. Moogi mane, Koula mane, Yala mane, Kolachagaru, Mavinakayi, Kugwera Mane and most of the villages on the left side of Talaguppa-Kargal Road in Sagar taluk are reeling under the havoc created by the Sharavathi backwaters. Before the construction of the Linganamakki Dam, these villages had a kucha road; now there is hardly any trace of it. The people of Moogi mane, Koula mane and Yala mane have to trek 10 km to board a bus. The children walk at least eight km through a hilly, forested area to go to their primary school. The people of Moogi mane, Koula mane and Yala mane must come to Iduvane, around 10 km on the rough track to collect their monthly rations. But it is no joke to trudge along with the burden of the rations. So people have to take the route on which vehicles ply, which is a good 20 km roundabout. Therefore, these people first ascertain the arrival of ration stock at the shop, then hire a jeep to carry the rations of all the houses in the village.
There is neither an anganwadi nor health services. People have to go to Iduvane or Kargal to avail of hospital and other services. Or to Talaguppa or Sagar town. The nearest hospital/ health centre is 10 km away! To sum it up, this area is without transport (read buses), school, hospital and other basic facilities.
The Linganamakki Dam has provided electricity to the entire State. The dam can be seen from any of the houses of Mavinkayi, Koula Mane or Moogi mane. The Sharavathi has indeed come close to their doorsteps. Yet, these people waited for 30 years to get electricity and got it only in 1985. Now, the only modern amenities these villages boast are the power and telephone connections!
It is four km from Kolachagaru to Iduvane. Yet, there is no proper road. One can spot patches of tar from a time when the road was a proper, asphalted one. This was much before the dam was built. Though officials have heard plea for repairing the road, the job is but half-done. The small stones used to metal the road are already jutting out. People trust little the assurance that the road will be asphalted after the monsoon.
A couple of bridges should be built to connect Kolachagaru, Koula mane and Moogi mane. Which will bring the buses from Sagar on their way to Kargal - Jog via Varadahalli.
This will help a lot of villages while there is an opportunity to lay a road without destroying the surrounding forest. Yet, there is no one to care about these things. Or is it time for another Bhagiratha to be born?
(Translated by B S Srivani)