The submerged Holy Rosary Church stands on dry ground already
A complete view of the ruins of the Holy Rosary Church, which was submerged in the backwaters of Hemavati reservoir, stands testimony to the fall in the water-level in the reservoir. The full view of the church was expected only during summer. However this year, summer, in a way, has begun too early. Visitors, who had to use boats to reach the ruins, can now drive right up to the church’s entrance.
Fr. A. Saldanha, parish priest of the new Holy Rosary Church, at Shettihalli near here, said the complete view of the submerged church was normally available during summer. “At the ruins in April, when the water is normally low, we organise an annual meet of people who were relocated during the construction of the reservoir. This time, however, the church is accessible in December itself,” he said.
Outflow to be stopped
The reservoir’s total storage is so low that the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (CNNL) has decided to stop releasing water into the canal, which used to benefit farmers in Hassan and Tumkur districts. The standing crops in both districts need water for at least the next 20 days for minimum quantity of crop. However, according to CNNL officers, if they continued to release water for agriculture they would not be able to meet the drinking water requirements.
As on Wednesday, the total water storage in the reservoir was 9.9 tmcft. Of this, only 5.5 tmcft was live storage. “We can release only another 1.5 tmcft through canals. The rest is needed for drinking purposes,” Mr. Venkataramanappa, assistant engineer, CNNL (dam division), told The Hindu .
Recently, the Agriculture Department estimated that the total loss incurred by the farm sector due to drought in the district was Rs. 60 crore. “We are assessing the loss again by collecting data village-wise. According to our estimation, it may go beyond Rs. 60 crore,” said B. Shivaraj, Joint Director, Agriculture.
If the release of water into canals was stopped, the paddy grown over vast areas would be badly affected. “Farmers require water till the end of December,” he said.
The officers were reminded of a similar situation following a drought in 2002–03.
Normally during December, there is sufficient water in the reservoir. On this day last year, the total storage was 20.31 tmcft, approximately 11 tmcft more than what it is this year. The water-level in the reservoir on Wednesday was 2,880.63 ft against the full reservoir level of 2,922 ft. However, during this time last year, the level was 2,901.01 ft.