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Plan to reclaim 1.5 lakh ha of waterlogged, saline land

T.S. Ranganna
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The damage to an arecanut plantation on account of salinity.— File Photo
The damage to an arecanut plantation on account of salinity.— File Photo

There is good news for farmers whose fields are either waterlogged or affected by salinity and alkalinity. The Directorate of Command Area Development Authorities (CAD) is preparing a project to drain water out of such fields, treat the soil and make them productive.

This project will be targeted at Bellary, Raichur, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gulbarga, Davangere and Shimoga districts, said CAD Director M. Shivaswamy. He said a proposal for reclaiming 1.5 lakh ha of land in arid, semi-arid regions, where precipitation is low and salinity and alkalinity are common problems, is under preparation. He said the proposal would be submitted to the Department of Water Resources in a few months, which would in turn forward it to the Union Water Resources Ministry for sanctioning funds.

Explaining the project, he said that soil with high percentage of soluble salts can be reclaimed by leaching and drainage.

Alkali soil and soils with relatively high percentage of sodium salts are not readily reclaimed by this method alone. It may require additional chemical treatment to flocculate the soil particles and restore soil permeability before leaching and drainage, he said.

Evaluation done by scientists from the Agricultural Research Station of the University of Agricultural Sciences at Gangavati on the reclamation project at Badanahatti of Kurugodu subdivison of Bellary district 10 years ago showed encouraging results. During 2000-01, the first year of the project, the water table in the waterlogged land decreased and helped increase the yield significantly. For instance, yield of maize and paddy in 2000-01 went up by 10.5 quintal per hectare and it rose to 30.39 and 37.44 quintals, respectively in 2005-06.

Mr. Shivaswamy said that in Mysore, Gulbarga, UKP, Bheemarayanagudi, Belgaum, Munirabad and Shimoga, 90,063.93 ha was water logged; 90,174.91 ha and 31,800.87 ha was saline and alkaline; respectively, as on March 31, 2013, and funds to the extent of Rs. 624.50 crore was awaited for reclaiming the land. He said 61 proposals for reclaiming 27,061.19 ha of land in the above seven districts at a cost of Rs. 78.78 crore is pending with the Union government.

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