Submergence spectre haunts Bagalkot

Major portion of the town already consumed by Almatti reservoir project

Half of Bagalkot town comes under water whenever the storage in the Almatti reservoir is maximum (519.60 metre). The backwater would cover the entire town if the height is allowed to be raised to 524.25 metre. Thus, the ‘boon’ in the award may prove a challenge for the authorities.

Submergence, relocation, compensation and rehabilitation haunted Bagalkot residents for four decades, and there are all signs of the spectre making a second coming. The submerged Bagalkot paved way for the birth of Navnagar.

Onerous task

The second round of submergence would consume as many as 3,700 buildings including houses, shops and prayer halls and the task is not that easy. The properties will have to notified for acquisition in terms of Land Acquisition Act and the process would be complete after payment of a ‘fair’ compensation. Then follows the onerous task of relocation and rehabilitation. It requires at least 1,500 acres of land to rehabilitate the project-displaced people. Providing basic amenities - formation of sites, road, water and power - entails additional expense of Rs 1,600 crore, and these are only initial estimates. The numbers may go up at the time of actual execution. Given that it is a government project, there is always scope for cost escalation.

Navnagar, the new town, too has remained underdeveloped as people are reluctant to shift. Of course, the first phase of rehabilitation was bogged down by several lacunae and inordinate delay. Residents are still troubled by poor transportation facility and joblessness, not to speak of civic infrastructure.With no measures to generate employment, the new bout of acquisition and rehabilitation may now doubt push the residents to penury. A time-bound and task-oriented programme is the only long lasting solution.

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