Will the long struggle for water get any attention this time around?

Protestors seeking construction of Narayanpur Right Bank Canal 5A during the Maski bandh agitation in January this year. file photo  

The 12-year-old struggle of many villages in poll-bound Maski constituency to get water from Narayanpur Right Bank Canal (NRBC) is gathering momentum yet again ahead of the bypolls.

The project envisages the construction of a new canal, 5A, from NRBC to irrigate around 77,000 hectares of rain-fed fields, between Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers in Raichur and Koppal districts. If implemented, the project is expected to benefit 108 villages in the Krishna-Tungabhadra doab. Of the intended beneficiary villages, 58 fall in Maski Assembly constituency that is going to polls on April 17.

Turning down the people’s demand for NRBC 5A for various reasons, including lack of technical feasibility, the government came up with the Nandawadagi Lift Irrigation Project, which envisaged lifting backwater from Basavasagara Reservoir (Narayanpur dam) built across the Krishna on the Raichur-Yadgir border and pumping it through pipelines for drip irrigation. The people, however, are keen on NRBC 5A. They argue that large-scale drip irrigation projects have failed to deliver and are not cost effective.

“These 108 villages between the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra are deprived of irrigation facilities even sitting at the mid of doab between Krishna and Tungabhadra. The implementation of the NRBC 5A project will provide sufficient water for flood irrigation and raise the groundwater table to trigger more agriculture activities,” said Venkatesh Patel, a farmer from Vatagal.

The farmers formed the NRBC 5A Canal Horata Samiti a few years ago and have been staging an indefinite protest demonstration on the premises of Haadi Basaveshwara Temple in Pamanakallur on a rotation basis. To mount more pressure on the government, the people in four gram panchayats – Vatagal, Ameengada, Pamanakallur, and Ankushdoddi – boycotted the recent gram panchayat elections.

The agitating farmers were unhappy with BJP candidate Pratap Gowda Patil, MLA since 2008, for opposing the project ever since they started the demand 12 years ago. They allege that he was protecting the interests of powerful contractors who had bagged the Nandawadagi Lift Irrigation Project work.

“We know that money and liquor might influence people in the elections. However, we have decided to push ahead with our protest, which is a genuine issue,” said Basavarajappa Gouda Haravapur, president of the samiti.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 5:57:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/will-the-long-struggle-for-water-get-any-attention-this-time-around/article34234137.ece

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