The project will help irrigate between 1.5 lakh and 2 lakh acres
Efforts are on to revive a project pending since 1986, one which has long been forgotten in spite of its potential to transform the socio-economic profile of Chamarajanagar and parts of Mysore.
The project is Kabini II stage, which received administrative approval and technical sanctions but has yet to be implemented, although the then Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde laid the foundation stone for it in 1986. “If completed, it can greatly benefit tens of thousands of people in the drought-prone parts of Chamarajanagar and Mysore,” said H.V.S. Murthy, working president of the Kabini II Stage Welfare Committee.
Mr. Murthy, advocate and secretary of the Federation of Taxpayers’ Associations told The Hindu that committee members plan to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who hails from this region, and impress upon him the benefits of reviving the project. “Since Mr. Siddaramaiah is from the region, and aware of the project’s scope and importance to the local community, we are pinning our hopes on his intervention,” Mr. Murthy added.
The project can help irrigate between 1.5 lakh and 2 lakh acres and stabilise agriculture in the region, which is now conducted under rain-fed conditions. Due to the lack of irrigation facilities and a poor groundwater level, agriculture in the region depends on the rain.
The bulk of landless labourers migrate to the neighbouring Mysore and Mandya districts for employment or cross over to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The project can change this scenario for the better, and benefit nearly 190 villages in the region.
A technical committee, which was constituted by an earlier government to conduct a field survey, submitted its report suggesting the construction of a canal network extending to 120 km.
While more than one lakh farmers and agricultural labourers will be directly benefited, more than twice that number will stand to indirectly benefit from allied activities, according to Mr. Murthy.
More importantly, it can also help in reducing migration in the district.
One of the reasons for the non-implementation of the project is the Cauvery dispute with Tamil Nadu; however, a stakeholders’ committee pointed out that there would be sufficient water in the Kabini during the rainy season that could be harnessed for agriculture after meeting State’s obligation to Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, the delays in implementing the project has led to cost escalation; what was originally conceived to be a Rs. 360 crore project is now expected to cost Rs. 1,800 crore.
However, stakeholders such as Mr. Murthy argue that the lack of funds should not be a reason to abandon this project that as a bearing on the socio-economic condition of lakhs of people. On the contrary, the increase in agricultural and trade activities will go a long way in boosting revenue.
The State government should also begin rejuvenating lakes and water bodies in the region to restore the groundwater table which will help tide over prolonged drought conditions,” he added.