Monsoon moods: From friendly to furious, in a first

A village, Hire-Hattiholi, along the banks of Malaprabha has tailspun into chaos. It's unprecedented, say the villagers
Last Updated : 31 August 2019, 07:46 IST
Last Updated : 31 August 2019, 07:46 IST

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Never in the history of Naviluteertha dam — built across River Malaprabha — was there a record release of 1 lakh cusec water. It happened this monsoon and led to a series of disasters in the Krishna basin area of Belagavi.

The swollen Malaprabha was the harshest on Hire-Hattiholi, a village on its banks.

For the villagers, the river had always been pivotal in nurturing their agricultural activities. The village’s location in the rain-shadow region of the Western Ghats enabled the growth of paddy in kharif season (monsoon) and black gram and jowar in rabi season. Sugar cane, too, had begun to make inroads.

The monsoon’s flooding damaged the paddy crop beyond recovery.

The villagers’ expected rising and receding of water levels due to seasonal rain was overturned as the water rose and reached their knee during the first week of August. The villagers left their homes and belongings for safety. And then the floods ravaged the houses. A total of 150 people took refuge in a school. The 209 students who attended school here will have to attend schools nearby to resume education.

When the floods receded, the displaced returned to the debris in the hope of recovering things of importance — documents, utensils, wooden logs etc.

Adappa Mallappa Nemannavar, who has lived most of his 70-plus years by the riverbank, recalled: “I have never seen a flood of such intensity. There was a flood in 1953, but not to this extent. My parents and grandparents never told tales of the river’s flooding. Even the floods of 2005 did not impact us this much.”

Shantavva Mariyappa Makkaji, who, with his granddaughters, was going through what remained of his house, said: “The ferocity of Malaprabha shattered our life. There is nothing left for our survival.”

In 1998, the state government allotted residential plots to the families along the riverbank in an effort to move the village away. However, 22 families stayed on at the old settlement.

“With time, 22 families became 51 families, who are now in need of permanent rehabilitation. "We are at it,” says Khanapur Tahsildar S B Ullagaddi.

Not just here, many villages on the banks of Krishna and its tributaries Doodhganga, Vedaganga, Panchaganga and Ghataprabha (in Chikkodi, Athani, Hukkeri, Raibag and Gokak) have been affected.

Yet, something has survived nature’s onslaught in Hire-Hattiholi: the Jain Basadi.

Published 31 August 2019, 07:14 IST

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