Harapanahalli and Jagalur taluks reeling under severe drought

Severe drought in Harapanahalli and Jagalur taluks of Davangere district is forcing many people to resort to distress sale of cattle and migrate from their villages and tandas to coffee plantations in Chikmagalur and Kodagu in search of work.

According to sources, nearly 600 families have migrated from villages and Lambani tandas Harapanahalli taluk in search of work in the last couple of weeks. Many farmers, whose dream of cultivating summer crops was shattered owing to the extended dry spell, have sold their cattle to buy foodgrains and other essential commodities.

Gomala Bai and Devi Bai of Harakanalu tanda, who sold their cattle (four and two cattle heads respectively) to a slaughterhouse in Hagaribommanahalli through an agent, told The Hindu they were forced to sell the cattle for a few thousand rupees because no fodder was available.

The district administration has maintained that there is no serious fodder scarcity in any part of the district other than Jagalur taluk, where it has set up a fodder bank. The ‘goshala' set up in Gurusiddapura village in Jagalur taluk houses over 250 cattle heads. The administration is planning to set up another goshala in the taluk.

‘Callous officials'

L.B. Halesh Naika, leader of the Prantha Krishi Koolikarmikara Sangha, said that at least two goshalas would have been set up in Harapanahalli taluk apart from a fodder bank in Harapanahalli town if any official had visited the affected tandas and assessed the situation there.

He said most of the villages in Harapanahalli taluk were reeling under severe drought. Officials, however, were yet to consider the situation serious enough to take up relief work, he said.

All hopes lost

Lakshman Naika, Hemla Naika and Narasingha Naika of Harakanalu tanda said they had lost all hopes of cultivating summer crop this year and were heading for coffee plantations in Chikmagalur along with their families in search of work.

They said there was severe shortage of water in their tanda. Only one of the four borewells in the tanda was functional and it was common to see people quarrelling for a pot of water. Repeated demands to the authorities to get an overhead tank constructed in the tanda had fallen on deaf ears, they said.

Mr. Hemla Naika and Mr. Narasingha Naika own four and six acres of land respectively. They said they could not cultivate any crop this season in view of the extended dry spell. They hoped that they could lead a better life at least for a couple of months by working in coffee plantations.

They said no official had visited their tanda so far to take stock of the situation.

Deprived of benefit

Tanda residents said most of them had been deprived of the benefit of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act owing to “procedural reasons”.

Mr. Lakshman Naika said his wife was given job under the scheme for 100 days. “But what should we do after 100 days of employment? Does the government want the poor to starve for the remaining days?” he said.

According to official sources, 46 villages in Harapanahalli taluk were facing severe drinking water shortage and efforts were on supply water to these villages through tankers. New borewells were being sunk in 16 villages. Alternative methods were being explored to provide water to other villages where water table had depleted, the sources said. A sum of Rs. 79 lakh was released to the taluk recently to for providing drinking water.

Over 380 villages in Jagalur taluk were facing drinking water crisis. However, according to district administration, the situation is severe in only 50 villages where relief works have been taken up at a cost of Rs. 1.8 crore.