Farmers in Cauvery basin districts upset over restrictions imposed on use of water

Farmers say water is needed to protect crops

March 15, 2024 09:25 pm | Updated 09:44 pm IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of Cauvery river. Farmers have been insisting on release of water from KRS and Kabini dam for irrigation.

A file photo of Cauvery river. Farmers have been insisting on release of water from KRS and Kabini dam for irrigation.


Directives from authorities in the Cauvery basin districts prohibiting the use of river water for irrigation have agitated farmers and planters, particularly in Mysuru, Mandya, and Kodagu.

Farmers have asserted that this is crucial irrigation time to safeguard crops. However, with the State grappling with drought, priority is being given to supplying drinking water to Bengaluru, Mysuru, and other major towns.

In Kodagu, planters have initiated irrigation for their coffee plantations, but the district administration has prohibited the use of river water for it.

Nanda Ganapathy, a farmer, said: “Irrigation is a crucial process for ensuring good yields annually. However, the district administration has instructed farmers not to utilise river water for it. This decision will significantly affect coffee plantations, given the lack of adequate rainfall in Kodagu this year.”

On Friday, members of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) protested against the district administration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Madikeri.

K. Manu Somaiah, district president of KRRS said: “The Cauvery originates in Kodagu, yet it’s unfortunate that we are now facing water scarcity. The primary reason for the depletion of Cauvery water in the district is the destruction of forests and the use agricultural land in the name of real estate development, which has been permitted by the district administration.”

The Federation of Farmers’ Organisations and the State Sugarcane Growers’ Federation in Mandya have been urging the government to release water from the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini dam for irrigation to protect standing crops.

Kurubur Shanthakumar, a farmers’ leader, said: “Farmers from Old Mysore and Bengaluru are suffering owing to bar imposed on irrigation. We have appealed to the government to release water into canals to protect crops and provide drinking water to the people in the Cauvery basin. However, the government is prioritising water release to Tamil Nadu. This not only affects people’s access to drinking water but also poses challenges for livestock that is deprived of water.”

In Kodagu, towns like Madikeri, Virajpet, and Kushalnagar are facing a severe scarcity of drinking water. Even borewells and wells have dried up, and locals say authorities have not been responsive in addressing the crisis in the district.

Codava National Council president N.U. Nachappa said: “Kodagu serves as the primary catchment area for the Cauvery. We are significant stakeholders and shareholders of Cauvery water, yet we are being deprived of utilising it to satisfy our basic water needs.”

Speaking to The Hindu, Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Venkat Raja said: “The order is not to trouble anyone, especially farmers. With drought persisting this year and there being scarcity of drinking water, it’s crucial to conserve water for essential needs, especially with peak summer ahead. We are with farmers and have implemented numerous measures to address the water crisis in the district.”

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