Farmers’ leader threatens to launch stir if demand for tertiary treatment of K.C. Valley and H.N. Valley water is not fulfilled

People of Kolar and Chickballapur have a long list of water projects, that they hope will take off under the new Congress government

Published - May 16, 2023 09:29 pm IST - Bengaluru

Treated water coming out of canal through Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley (K.C. Valley) lift irrigation project where treated water from Bengaluru is being supplied to fill up lakes in neighbouring dry districts of Bengaluru Rural, Kolar.

Treated water coming out of canal through Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley (K.C. Valley) lift irrigation project where treated water from Bengaluru is being supplied to fill up lakes in neighbouring dry districts of Bengaluru Rural, Kolar. | Photo Credit: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

People and activists of Kolar and Chickballapur districts are hopeful that various water projects, that would bring water to the two parched districts, would get a fillip under the new Congress government, which has got a comfortable majority in Karnataka. 

The two districts had seen a “Vote for Water” campaign in the run up to the Assembly polls and Congress has won 4 of 6 seats in Kolar and three of five seats in Chickballapur, in the recently concluded Assembly polls. 

Activists from the two districts seem to have lost hope on the success of Yettinahole Project that plans to provide water from Netravati river to the two districts and are now pinning their hopes on providing treated water from Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley and Hebbal-Nagawara Valley projects, that were initiated by Congress, during its earlier tenure. 

Demand for tertiary treatment

“We will restart our protests demanding tertiary treatment of water from K.C. Valley, being used to fill tanks in the two districts. The new government will anyway present a new Budget shortly. We want to ensure the government earmarks enough funds for water projects in the two districts. If that is not the case, eventually, we will launch an indefinite strike,” said farmers’ leader Abbani Shivappa, from Kolar. 

There is widespread support for the K.C. Valley and H.N. Valley projects where treated sewage water from the city’s lakes are being supplied to fill the tanks of these districts. Due to these projects and good rains over the past three years, all the tanks in the two districts are full, to the brim, and this has improved the quality of underground water table. However, there are objections raised on the quality of this treated water. “Untreated K.C. Valley and H.N. Valley water is affecting the health of cattle, people and it is also destroying our crops. Ever since the project was implemented, we have been demanding tertiary treatment. But, this demand has consistently been neglected. We hope this is taken up immediately under the new government,” Mr. Shivappa. 

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has also ordered, in August 2021, to the Chief Engineer of Minor Irrigation Department, to install tertiary treatment plants at major tanks out of the 126 tanks filled using the treated sewage water from BWSSB STPs. However, there has been no development on the front since then.

No water from Upper Bhadra Project yet

Kolar and Chickballapur districts had been earmarked a share of 4 TMC water from the Upper Bhadra Project and the State government had even opened a UBP office in Kolar district. But after the Yettinahole project was announced for the two districts, the office was shifted to Tumakuru and UBP was implemented for Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts. “There has been complete silence on our rightful share of 4 TMC water from the project. If the new government doesn’t provide us our rightful share, we will take up a legal fight to get the same,” said Mr. Shivappa. 

People lose hope on Yettinahole project

Farmer and irrigation activists seem to have lost hope on the success of the Yettinahole Project, that has dominated the two districts’ politics for at least a decade now. The project involves diverting 24 TMC of water from West-flowing streams in Netravati basin to drought prone districts including Kolar and Chickballapur. After nearly a decade and the project cost ballooning from 14,000 crore to 25,000 crore, the two districts haven’t got a single drop of water yet. 

Anjaneya Reddy, president, Shashvata Neeravari Horata Samiti, Chickballapur said the Yettinahole Project DPR itself was faulty as was pointed out by Central Water Commission and water was not available for the two districts in the project. “The hydrological studies have been faulty and based on this false data, the government is spending thousands of crore. Our demand is that the new government should immediately take up a fresh hydrological study of the entire project area and come out with the facts,” he said.

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