Tanks in Kolar district are fast disappearing. According to the Karnataka Gazetteer, the district had, in 2012, only 2,095 tanks from the 35,783 tanks in 1968, all falling victim to encroachment.
The Narsapur tank on National Highway 4 and Amanikere tank, also known as Kolarammakere tank, in Kolar town, are prime examples. People travelling on the national highway can see how industries have come up on Narsapur tank, and, of course, farming has been taken up in some part of the tank. About 20 km from there is the Amanikere tank where the situation is no better. Thousands of such tanks in the region are going through such transformations ultimately resulting in their disappearance.
It is not just the land mafia that can be blamed for encroaching upon the tanks. Even government departments have come up on several of them. What once used to be a major source of water for the people of the district, has now either been encroached upon or maintained badly.
The water-table in the district has gone down to 1,000 ft, and that has led to water shortage. Besides, groundwater has high arsenic and fluoride content thus posing a risk to the health of the people of the region. While the cry for bringing water from the Western Ghats to the Bayaluseeme districts of Central Karnataka getting louder, the vital issue of saving the tanks, which are the lifeline of the region, has been completely neglected. This is despite the Supreme Court’s direction to remove encroachments from government tanks, gokuntes and rajakaluves.
In addition to building structures on them, the tanks are being widely exploited to illegally extract sand. They are also being used to dump garbage. Such activities affect the percolation capacity of tanks and they are not getting filled with rainwater, though there has not been much difference in the average rainfall year after year in the past decade.
Construction of many government buildings, including hostels, an aquarium, the Devaraj Urs Bhavan and the Kannada Bhavan (work in progress), on the Amanikere tank bund appears to have stopped the district administration from taking action against private encroachers. Except for a scattered effort of revenue authorities, lack of concerted efforts to clear encroachments from tanks and rajakaluves is very evident in the district.