Minister urges officials to tackle the problem before the summer blitz

A total of 24 gram panchayats in the district, mainly in Mangalore and Bantwal taluks, face an acute shortage of water, said Panchayat Raj officials at the quarterly review meeting of development work in the district held in Mangalore on Monday.

With the worst of summer yet to come up, District in-charge Minister C.T. Ravi questioned authorities as to what was being done to ensure drinking water supply in the district. Mr. Ravi, who chaired the meeting, directed officials to ensure water supply through tankers to areas of acute water shortage.

Satyanarayan, Zilla Panchayat Executive Engineer, said a grant of Rs. 30 lakh had been given to each taluk to tackle the depleting water table in the district. “In February end and March beginning, the water table dips in the district. Our action plan includes getting a blast rig from Mysore, whose rental is Rs. 17,000, that can blast through the rocks and extend the depth of existing borewells that have gone dry,” he said.

Funds crunch

Strangely, 64 borewells in the district are without pumps and lie idle. The official said the department lacked funds to deposit with the Karnataka Electricity Board for installation of a pump.

Other projects to address the water problems in the district have run into similar bureaucratic dead ends and contractor problems. Construction on the proposed vented dam at Kinnigoli has been stalled due to paucity of funds, while only 25 per cent of civil work has been done on the Thumbe vented dam extension.

“The deadline has been revised to December-end, while civil work will be completed by June,” said an official of the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board.

Similarly, Irrigation Department officials said out of the six check dams proposed under the National Watershed Development Programme for Rain-fed Areas, only two had been completed, the rest being suspended until funds were available. Funds shortage also sees only 75 out of 122 minor irrigation projects undertaken.

Mani-Sampaje road

Another issue that drew the Minister’s ire was the Mani-Sampaje road. An official of the Karnataka road Development Corporation Limited said around 30 km of road were still left to be developed, and the contractor can only finish around 10 km before the revised May deadline. “It is the contractor’s fault for the one-year delay, and action will be taken,” he told Mr. Ravi who goaded him to penalise the contractor.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation official said while two buses now operate to Bajpe, they will ask for permission for four more buses in the upcoming Regional Transport Authority meeting.

The Minister asked the Food and Civil Supplies Department to review 19,811 BPL card applications that had been rejected.

They could be eligible under the new norms which do not require an income certificate nor allows for disqualification if the applicant owns an autorickshaw, he said.

Farewell

Possibly being his last review meeting as District in-charge minister, Mr. Ravi thanked the officials for the cooperation, while listing his “achievements” since he took over in August last year.

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