No drinking water, no toilets, faraway school: Village of Belagalu tells a tale of neglect

Residents of this hamlet in Shivamogga live without the most basic facilities like drinking water, electricity, toilets, transport, school, anganwadi centre among others

Updated - June 12, 2023 05:51 pm IST

Published - June 11, 2023 05:12 pm IST - Belagalu (Shivamogga)

Belagalu hamlet in Shivamogga district has no basic amenities, including drinking water supply, roads and school.

Belagalu hamlet in Shivamogga district has no basic amenities, including drinking water supply, roads and school. | Photo Credit: SATHISH G.T.

If parents in this Karnataka village want to send their children to an Anganwadi centre, they have to walk at least four kilometres through the forests. Children in primary school walk the distance every day to reach their school in the neighbouring village, which is part of the neighbouring district.

This is the plight of people residing at Belagalu village located on the borders of Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru districts. The village, with a population of 70 people on the backwaters of the Tunga Dam (Gajanur), is part of Shivamogga taluk, while the school in which the children have been admitted is located at Korala Koppa village in N.R. Pura taluk of Chikkamagaluru district.

“I was born here and hardly went out of the village all these years. Life has by and large, remained the same since my childhood,” said Kundramma, a senior citizen of the village, probably in her 70s.

The residents of Belagalu belong to Adi Karnataka community, a Scheduled Caste, and none of them owns a piece of land. 

The residents of Belagalu belong to Adi Karnataka community, a Scheduled Caste, and none of them owns a piece of land.  | Photo Credit: SATHISH G.T.

The residents belong to Adi Karnataka community, a Scheduled Caste, and none of them owns a piece of land. Each family is cultivating about 20–30 guntas of land with no records in their name. They have applied to the government for the grant of the same land.

Both men and women earn their livelihood by working in agricultural fields. “Men get ₹500 a day, while women get ₹300. Except for the elderly and toddlers, everybody goes to work,” said Puttaswamy, who dropped out of school after Class 9.

Only graduate

Shwetha, who completed her B.Sc. last year, is the only person from the village to get a degree. A couple of students have joined diploma courses as well. But so far, nobody in the village has landed a job that earns a regular income.

None of the houses get drinking water. They fetch water from the Tunga Dam backwaters. “During summers, the water looks clean. When it starts raining, it turns muddy. But we have no alternative source,” said Bhogesh. Except for eight families, all other houses in the village are without a toilet.

No public transport

None of the houses get drinking water. Except for eight families, all other houses are without a toilet.

None of the houses get drinking water. Except for eight families, all other houses are without a toilet. | Photo Credit: SATHISH G.T.

The villagers do not enjoy public transportation facilities too. “We are dependent on autorickshaws to carry heavy luggage. The fair price shop is located at Umblebailu, about 13 kilometres away. We carry the bags halfway by bus, and from Korala Koppa village, we hire auto rickshaws which charge ₹100,” said Basavaraju, 67. Sometimes, they pay more than the cost of foodgrains for the autorickshaw ride.

Though the village was provided with power supply about eight years ago, many thatched huts continue to function without an electricity connection. “For decades, we had no power supply. We don’t know how long we should struggle to get drinking water facilities, sites for houses and land in our name, besides the transport facility,” Puttamma lamented.

Amidst wild animals

They live on a revenue land surrounded by the forest. However, they are not afraid of wild animals. “The animals will not hurt us. We often spot elephants and all sorts of animals. We are happy with the place we live in. But we are afraid of Forest Department officials, who always suspect our role when something happens in the forests,” said Basavaraj.

Following repeated demands from the residents, the Umblebailu Gram Panchayat officials have conducted a survey of the needs of the village. K.K. Aravind, a member of the panchayat, who represents Kakanahosudi ward, said the GP had conducted a survey and listed the requirements. “We are making efforts to provide the residents with all the basic facilities,” he said.

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