On Karnataka-Kerala border, harmony flows with water

Live & LET LIVE: People constructing a barrage using boulders, sandbags and plantain trunks at the Balekallu village across Shiriya river on Thursday.  

Two neighbouring villages, in Karnataka and Kerala, on Thursday almost completed this year’s ‘annual ritual’ — something they have been doing for three decades.

The ritual is nothing but the construction of a katta (temporary barrage) across the Shiriya River, which acts as the border between Karnataka and Kerala. In a rare display of bonhomie, the villagers — belonging to Manila in Karnataka and Puttige in Kerala — join hands to build this barrage to face the summer.

The barrage is built at the Balekallu village of Bantwal taluk, about 56 km from Mangaluru.


According to Rajesh Padekallu, Manila gram panchayat president, the practice has been on for about 30 years. For about eight years, the Puttige panchayat has been providing labour under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme while Manila villagers too provide men and material.

His brother, Jayaprakash Padekallu, said the water stored in the barrage helps irrigate about 300 acres of land comprising areca nut gardens and paddy fields of both the States. It recharges the groundwater in the region. The 50-metre long barrage is built using boulders, sandbags and plantain trunks, he said.

Hemavathi, a member of the Puttige gram panchayat, told The Hindu that though the river flows in Karnataka abutting her ward, the panchayat facilitates the barrage work for the benefits provided by it. This year, 538 man days of work had been completed so far, costing about Rs. 1.29 lakh, she said.

Appeal to governments

Usually, work starts in the first week of February. But this year, it was nearing completion because MGNREGA grants were made available early in January, Ms. Hemavathi said. This, she said, would help in storing more water this season.

Mr. Rajesh Padekallu said the panchayat had been urging the Karnataka government to build a permanent barrage. He said the panchayat as well as residents were willing to share water with their neighbours in Kerala as was being done at present, and wanted both the governments to act in this regard.

River Shiriya has its origin near Kolthige village in the Puttur taluk of Karnataka.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 9:25:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/On-Karnataka-Kerala-border-harmony-flows-with-water/article17151656.ece

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