Chikkapadasalagi village reaps rich benefits

Along with the water of the Krishna, the hopes of Annappa Shirahatti too were drying because of last year’s scanty rain.

The sugarcane farmer from Chikkapadasalagi village of Jamkhandi taluk had no choice but to agonizingly watch his cash-rich crop wither away.

“The situation was similar in 60,000 acres of sugarcane farms that were completely dependent on the Krishna. Owing to insufficient rain, my 10-acre farm reaped only 150 tonnes of sugarcane against a normal 600 tonnes,” Annappa Shirahatti said.

He said that the farmers of Nagnur village have spent around Rs. 1 crore to get borewells drilled for water. However, only 50 per cent of the borewells yield water.

In such a critical time, came a novel, yet irresistible offer that had the potential to fully revive the sugarcane crop to help farmers reap their normal yield.

“The offer was simple. Each farmer had to pay Rs. 15,000 for every 10 hp pumpset they used. The funds thus collected helped implement a unique project to supply adequate water to crops,” said Muttanna Hipparagi of Muttur village of Jamkhandi taluk. The project was to lift the backwaters of the Alamatti dam over the Chikkapadasalagi barrage built across the Krishna.

Siddu Nyamegouda, former Union Minister, who came up with the idea, made every effort to ensure the completion of the project in just a fortnight, without any government aid.

The cost of the project was estimated at Rs. 5 crore. It was aimed at irrigating 60,000 acres of sugarcane fields.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nyamegouda said, “Due to the drought in 2011 and 2012, sugarcane crop in 30 villages was damaged. That is when I thought it would be a good idea to make use of the Alamatti backwaters for irrigating sugarcane fields. Since the backwaters were stored on the other side of the barrage, all we had to do was to lift the water over the barrage using high capacity motors.”

According to Mr. Nyamegouda, farmers in the district need at least 0.032 tmcft of water for irrigating sugarcane crop. So, a project was taken up to lift 0.050 tmcft of water. Mr. Nyamegouda said that it was not easy to convince the farmers to contribute money for the project. However, after much deliberation, a considerable number of farmers agreed to contribute.

He said that around 8,000 families of the farmers have 4,200 pumpsets installed in their fields to draw water to supply it to over 60,000 acres of land. “The idea was finalised on December 19 and the project was completed on December 31,” he said.

He explained that for implementing the project, a group of farmers, under the banner of the Krishna Teera Raitha Sangha, contacted a private company based in Delhi to supply the required machinery and install them all within a very short period.

Mr. Nyamegouda said that though the government did not offer any funds, Minister for Water Resources Basavaraj Bommai gave approval to the project.

Stating that the sangha has sought permission from Hubli Electricity Supply Company to provide electricity, he said that for the time being, electricity is being drawn from the Jamkhandi Sugar Factory.

The next plan is to increase the height of the barrage by one meter at a cost of Rs. 2 crore. “Farmers are ready to contribute for the project that will commence after March,” he said.

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