The talk of the villages is building ‘kattas’

A ‘katta’ built at Birmottu at Naravi village in Belthangady taluk by NSS volunteers of Alvas College and villagers.

A ‘katta’ built at Birmottu at Naravi village in Belthangady taluk by NSS volunteers of Alvas College and villagers.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

They hold water in rivulets, streams, and rivers for summer months and help recharge groundwater

The topic of conversation in the villages surrounding Naravi and Hosangady, near Moodbidri, these days is the ‘kattas’ (small bunds) built across the tributaries of the Phalguni to store water for summer.

This is thanks to the successful initiative of P. Dharanendra Kumar, a Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat member, and the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit of the Alva’s College in Moodbidri who ensured that six ‘kattas’ were built at Naravi and its adjacent Kutluru villages in five days, from December 9 to 13.

“This has now prompted more people from Naravi, Hosangady and their neighbouring Savya, Andinje, Marodi, Kashipatna villages to come forward to build ‘kattas’,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu, and added that people’s interest had made them to set a target of constructing 50 ‘kattas’ covering all these villages by next month-end. All these villages are in Belthangady taluk.

Prompted by the construction of six ‘kattas, the Hosangady Gram Panchayat on Monday decided to build an equal number ‘kattas’ in the panchayat’s jurisdiction and finalised the places.

‘Kattas’ are small bunds built across rivulets, streams, and rivers using soil and sand. They hold water for summer for various purposes and help in recharging groundwater. Building ‘kattas’ was a common practice in the coastal belt when paddy was being cultivated abundantly four decades ago. When arecanut plantations replaced paddy fields, the bunds also disappeared, with people opting for borewells to exploit groundwater.

Mr. Kumar said all the six ‘kattas’ built last week were new ones. No such ‘kattas’ used to be built in those places traditionally.

He said a traditional large ‘katta’ built every year at Peri under Hosangady Gram Panchayat limits from more than half a century by local people has been helping in holding water table up in a radius of 3 to 4 km even in hot May. The well of Mahalingeshwara temple at Kallani near Venoor would dry in summer. But when a small ‘katta’ was built across a rivulet about 500 m away from the temple last year by local people, the well had enough water in the summer months. These two instances prompted Mr. Kumar to take the lead to build more ‘kattas’ this year.

Local people and NSS volunteers have joined together to build them and it does not involve any labour charge. The other construction cost and food expenses are shared by local people.

Joseph N.M., associate professor in Economics, Sacred Heart College, Madantyar, who obtained his PhD for his thesis ‘A critical analysis of water resource management in Dakshina Kannada with special reference to Belthangady taluk’, said the ‘kattas’ hold water like sponge. They cannot be isolated in integrated water management. He has been taking a lead to build seven to eight ‘kattas’ across the Artila Halla, a rivulet, near Madantyar, along with NSS students from past two years.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:30:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/the-talk-of-the-villages-is-building-kattas/article30352283.ece

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