New law to end water theft by farmers

Last Updated 24 January 2019, 18:43 IST

Having spent a bomb on irrigation projects for years, the state government is worried about increasing incidents of illegal water diversion by farmers from the canals to their fields and the eventual shortage of water to the farmers in tail-end.

Anticipating similar trend all along the Yettinahole canal, passing through the parched ‘Bayaluseeme’ region, the government will soon bring in a legislation to put an end to such practice by farmers.

Addressing a state-level workshop organised by the National Water Mission and the state department of Water Resources, Irrigation Minister D K Shivakumar said on Thursday that the government would form a committee comprising officials from the irrigation, energy and police departments to draft the legislation and rules.

Yettinahole canal

“During the inspection of various projects I have seen farmers illegally drawing water from canals using diesel pumpsets. I have not seen this anywhere else, other than Karnataka.

“I am worried that if this happens along the Yettinahole canal, parched regions like Kolar, Chikkaballapur and Tumakuru will hardly get water. We have decided to enact a law and prevent water theft,” Shivakumar said.

Win 1 cr for check dams

Alarmed by the fast depleting water table in parts of Karnataka, especially Tumakuru, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural, Ramanagara and Chitradurga districts, the government has hit upon a novel idea to incentivise gram panchayats by motivating them to build as many check dams as they can under MGNREGA. The gram panchayat with the highest number of check-dams will be rewarded with a cash award of Rs 1 crore.

Shivakumar said, “Water is crucial for everything and we need to save it for the future. But we have overexploited the groundwater table and there is an immediate need to stop the running water and make it percolate to the ground. This can be achieved by building check-dams in all GP limits.”

The minister said, “All the 6,000 plus GPs will be bunched into 60 units. Each unit will be annually assessed for the number of check-dams built within the district.

The panchayat that builds the highest number of dams in a unit will be awarded Rs 1 crore and we have set aside Rs 60 crore for the project.”

(Published 24 January 2019, 18:27 IST)

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