Staff Correspondent

Farmers in tail-end region upset over shortage of water

Crops will wither soon, say farmers Superintending Engineer promises water in five daysExecutive Engineer says it is not possibleMLAs pacify agitated farmers, ask them to wait for the next five or six daysNearly 1,000 illegal pumpsets have been installed upstream

DAVANGERE: Noisy scenes marred the meeting of farmers of the Bhadra tail-end region and the officials of the Irrigation Department here on Wednesday. At one point, farmers were about to assault the officials, but were prevented by Harpanahalli MLA P.T. Parameshwara Naik and Mayakonda MLA Ravindranath.

Farmers were upset about not getting Bhadra water to their fields through the canal. They said officials should be held responsible if the standing crops withered for want of water. Farmers in the tail-end region did not get water even after 25 days of water was released from the Bhadra Reservoir to the canal. They alleged that it was because of the callousness of the officials. After the meeting that lasted four hours, Superintending Engineer Venkappa said he will ensure that farmers in the tail-end region get water in five days. However, Executive Engineer of the Irrigation Department, Murthy, said it was not possible. Farmers started shouting against the contradictory statements made by officials of the department.

The MLAs then pacified the farmers and asked them to wait for the next five or six days. If the promise is not fulfilled, they will agitate, the MLAs said.

Meanwhile, the MLAs also asked the Superintending Engineer to write to the Secretary of the Irrigation Department, asking him to come to Davangere next Tuesday, the day on which a meeting of the farmers is scheduled.

Earlier, Mr. Ravindranath and Mr. Parameshwara Naik said that they had toured many villages in the tail-end region and found that the standing crops were on the verge of withering because of lack of water. "Go to villages and see the plight of the farmers," they told the officials. The water level in the reservoir was the maximum following the good rain last year, they said. Water was provided to farmers even when the dam was not filled to capacity earlier, they said.

The Executive Engineer said that there was a similar demand for water from farmers upstream. They also noted that a large number of farmers were drawing water illegally from the channel using pumpsets. Nearly 1,000 illegal pumpsets have been installed upstream, between the 61 km and 103 km stretch on the canal. As a result, water, which was let into the canal, was not reaching the tail-end areas. Officials promised that they will release the stipulated 1,200 cusecs of water so that water reaches tail-end areas. The Executive Engineer said that he will appeal to his superiors to launch a drive to remove illegal pumpsets.