Shimsha river, one of the biggest tributaries of the Cauvery, has completely dried up because of illegal sand extraction and lack of rain.
The dried river has left farmers in distress as it is the lone source of livelihood for thousands of families in Maddur taluk.
The Shimsha, lifeline of hundreds of villages in Nagamangala, Maddur and Malavalli taluks in the district, originates in the southern part of the Devarayanadurga hill in Tumkur district and flows for 221 km before joining the Cauvery.
Though the river is a tributary of the Cauvery, it feeds water to thousands of hectares in Tumkur, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts.
Nevertheless, the river has completely dried up now and one can see a vast stretch of the dried riverbed in Maddur.
Admitting that illegal sand extraction still persists, Maddur tahsildar H.L. Nagaraj said: “The lack of rain and the hot summer sun were also reasons for the pathetic state of the river. We have been conducting raids at places where sand is extracted regularly.”
The Maddur taluk administration has banned sand extraction in the riverbed. The officials are continuously seizing illegal sand lorries in the vicinity of the river course, he said.
Dr. Nagaraj said that the river is the only source of water for irrigation for thousands of farmers in at least 60 villages in Maddur taluk.
The sand found in the riverbed is considered the best for construction activities. Thus, despite the ban, people are extracting sand from the river, Nagaraju, a farmer from Maddur, said.
“The width of the river had shrunk due to the scorching sun and drought. But, it has completely dried up now because of illegal sand extraction,” he told The Hindu.
Those who extract sand from the riverbed supply it to Bangalore and some parts of Tamil Nadu in violation of restrictions. The revenue and the police officials should check illegal sand extraction. The Mandya district administration should immediately take steps to save the river, Siddegowda, a retired high school teacher in Maddur, said.
According to the workers engaged in the Bangalore-Mysore railway track doubling work, the river started drying up a few months ago. It has now completely dried up, they said.
“Those involved in sand extraction transport hundreds of trucks of sand from the riverbed every day,” a worker said.
Farmers at Bellur and surrounding villages, who depend on the river for agriculture, say that they have been facing acute water scarcity.