Kodagu may have a drought as never before

Agrarian crisis and severe water shortage in rural areas seem inevitable

With each passing day and with lakes, ponds and water bodies inside the forests and coffee plantations having gone dry, the possibility of one of the worst droughts in history is staring at the district.

The drought speaks not only of another agrarian crisis but also of a severe shortage of drinking water in rural areas. Reeling under drought situation the last two years, the district is already experiencing shortage of water.

The water-level in River Cauvery has declined drastically.  Although the state government has declared all three taluks in Kodagu as drought-hit, there are allegations that the district administration has failed to tackle drought. Somwarpet, Shanivarasanthe and Kushalnagar are the worst-affected with drought. Already, water is being supplied through tankers in a few villages in Shanivarasanthe.

Collecting water is a daily struggle for the residents of Biddalli, Kudigana, Kothanahalli, Haramakki, Kakalakoppa, Kiragandooru, Kakeri, Biligeri and Garvale villages. The residents have been collecting water from small streams as well.

Zilla Panchayat vice president Lokeshwari Gopal accused the officials of failing to supply water from a water body that flows in Garvale. The villages of Banavaram Siddalingapura, Halekote, Dodda Alavara in Hebbale have been facing water crisis, in spite of the Harangi reservoir being situated a few yards away from these villages.

The residents of Mullusoge Gram Panchayat are not getting regular supply of water for the last two months. As the gram panchayats have been unable to clear their bills, the tankers have stopped the supply of water.

“Even the long-term crops are facing shortage of water. The district had experienced untimely rainfall for two days last month. As a result, the coffee plants have blossomed. If the region fails to get rainfall in the next 15 days, then it will affect the coffee yield as well,” feel the farmers.

“Without water, it is a challenge to save coffee and black pepper vines in the district. With deficit rainfall, the water bodies have dried. Having no other option, farmers have to go for sinking borewells. Although the order of the state government giving its approval for sinking borewells in the district has brought relief to the farmers, the PDOs and police personnel are not allowing us to drill borewells,” said farmers.

The tribal colonies have also been hit with shortage of water. The availability of water in the colonies at Gonikoppa, Virajpet, Kushalnagar and Somwarpet taluks is meagre. Water scarcity is so severe that haadi residents walk for several kilometre to fetch water. Some of the layouts in Madikeri has been receiving water once in four to five days.

Even the wild animals are facing the impact of shortage of water inside Nagarahole National Park.  In search of water and green pasture, the wild animals have been straying into the coffee plantations at Kutta, Srimangala, Birunani, and Irpu.

Speaking to DH, sources in the Zilla Panchayat said a  delegation of members had met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah last month. The state government has released
Rs six crore for the task force three days ago. The amount would be utilised for completing the pending drinking water projects.

Zilla Panchayat president B A Harish said, “The Panchayat had sought Rs 29.40 crore to take up drought relief works in Kodagu. Without the release of funds, it would be difficult to tackle drought.”

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