R. Krishna Kumar

`Even if the project is commissioned, farmers will not benefit owing to accumulation of silt in canals'

MYSORE: When the crest gate of Taraka reservoir collapsed and water flooded the fields around H.D. Kote on Friday, it was yet another instance of farmers suffering owing to apathy of the administration.

Successive Governments have continued to ignore H.D. Kote which is reckoned to be among the most backward taluks in the State. It is also uniquely placed as the taluk has not one, but four reservoirs and yet the Government has failed to harness the available water and the reservoirs, baring Kabini, are always dry.

So agriculture continues to be rain-fed. Farmers who could otherwise raise at least three crops a year, are instead at nature's mercy and are perennially in debt and distress migration is a rule than exception.

Vivek Cariappa, an organic farmer and a member of the State Government's Task Force on Organic Farming, told The Hindu that from the four reservoirs - Kabini, Nugu, Hebbala and Taraka the taluk does not benefit from Kabini or Nugu as the beneficiaries are in the adjoining Nanjangud and T. Narsipur taluks. It is the Taraka and Hebbala reservoirs located on the Karnataka-Kerala border that benefit the taluk. These reservoirs, if completed, could help irrigate 45,000 acres of agricultural land downstream of the dam in H.D. Kote taluk.

`Denied permission'

The Taraka Lift Irrigation project entails pumping water to a distance of six km from the backwaters of Kabini into Taraka reservoir. Though the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) engineers claimed that the lift irrigation scheme would be commissioned by January as the "work was 80 per cent complete", Mr. Cariappa pointed out that the project has been held up as the Forest Department has refused permission for laying pipes from Sogalli to Taraka as they lie in the forest land.

Again, assuming that the project is commissioned in January, the farmers will still not benefit as the canals have not been desilted ever since the reservoir was commissioned in 1983. Mr. Cariappa, and other farmers from H.D. Kote have asked why the Government did not remove silt in canals for which Rs. 2.5 crore was sanctioned two years ago.

The general perception among farmers in the region is that the contractors, who were awarded the tender, refused to execute it and backtracked as a few leaders demanded a "cut" from the contract amount.