Candidates going on campaign in Kolar district, whatever party they may represent, will have to face one question: How do you plan to quench our thirst?
With around 75 per cent of the villages under 166 gram panchayats in Kolar district facing an acute shortage of drinking water, the issue is certain to become a major poll plank in the parched region.
While drinking water shortage is one aspect of the crisis, farmers are reeling under continuous drought, affecting crops and livestock. The non-implementation of the much talked about Yergol drinking water project and doubts over accomplishment of the assurance by the State government regarding permanent drinking water project have left the residents in a lurch. Since the model code of conduct is not applicable to essential services such as providing drinking water, the authorities are drilling tubewells with the funds available under contingency plan and National Rural Drinking Water Project.
“While Rs. 23 crore has been released under contingency plan, Rs. 65 crore is available under NRDWP,” zilla panchayat president Chowdeshwari told The Hindu. However, seven of every 10 tubewells drilled are a failure. This is the result of over-exploitation of ground water in the dry region which has no river. Frequent and long disruption of power as well as low voltage has resulted in not utilising of even the available ground water.
“People should assert their fundamental right to have potable water instead of being carried away by the allurements of freebies supplied by politicians,” said T.M. Venkatesh, an activist of Kolar Jilla Shashwata Neeravari Horata Samiti.