With the Upper Bhadra project showing no sign of completion, most families in the drought-prone Chitradurga and Tumkaru districts are depending on reverse osmosis (RO) water plants for drinking water. Farmers, have left most of their land uncultivated. This is because the fluoride content is above permissible limits in the water from borewells here.
H.V. Mahalinga, a farmer of Hampayyanamalige in Chitradurga, told The Hindu, “My wife and children bring water from the RO plant at Hampayyanamalige Gollarahatti which is 1 km away from our village, for drinking and cooking.” He has 30 acres of land, but grows onions and flowers on just two acres. “I have a borewell which provides water for two acres. The remaining land has been left uncultivated as we do not get rains and there is no other source of water,” he said. For farmers, the water from the Upper Bhadra project would mean utilising the cultivable area.
At Pavagada, a perennially drought-hit taluk in Tumakuru, farmers are in distress. While those who have stayed back in the villages of Pavagada taluk are dependent on RO plants, many have left farming and migrated to cities, to work as construction workers, labourers in factories and security guards.
Nagendrappa, a farmer of Kariyammanapalya of Pavagada taluk, said, “I have four acres of land and I am completely dependent on rains for agriculture. I have not grown anything for over six years. Now, I do construction work in Bengaluru.” He used to grow groundnuts.
According to S. Shivaprasad, president, Pavagada taluk Neeravari Horata Vedike, “The fluoride content in the drinking water of 90% of the villages in Pavagada taluk is above permissible limits. This is affecting especially pregnant women and children.”
N. Arun Kumar, convener, Neeravari Horata Samiti, Chitradurga, said that land acquisition for the project was yet to begin here. At a meeting of MLAs, officers and farmer leaders in Chitradurga in January, they had sought the immediate start of the tender process for the construction of 188 km branch canals, he said.