Express press service
DAVANAGERE/CHITRADURGA: There are many ways to save water and they all start with you, said Rajendra Singh, a prominent water advocate from Alwar in Rajasthan. Keeping this motto in mind and involving local communities in efforts to conserve water and rejuvenate lakes, the Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) has undertaken projects across the state.
Today, most reservoirs in the state are unusable or have low water storage due to lack of maintenance, silt deposition, encroachment, and waste dumping. Many reservoirs also dried up as their catchment areas were encroached and channels blocked. Aware of the seriousness of the situation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Dharamasthala in 2017, appealed for the preservation of the environment, Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari Dr D Veerendra Heggade took this initiative.
Five years later, the farmers, who used to lose crops or not sow during the summer, are happy because the reservoirs are overflowing even in the height of summer. Dr Heggade said: “Although Karnataka is endowed with rich water resources, lack of irrigation facilities is a harsh reality in most parts of Karnataka. More than 120 taluks are facing a drought situation. The SKDRDP initiated lake development works with the department of minor irrigation and zilla panchayats.
So far, we have undertaken the rejuvenation of 378 lakes across the state. The aim is to make Karnataka’s water surplus mainly in rural areas, where there is severe water shortage. SKDRDP volunteers and villagers are in charge of developing the water bodies. Lake user committees are in charge of reservoir rejuvenation work and post-regeneration maintenance. Committees are also responsible for the proper use of funds and resources and the timely completion of projects.
Duggappa Gowda, SKDRDP Regional Project Manager, Dharwad, said, “Heggade believes that water conservation is everyone’s responsibility and the next generation should be able to enjoy the resource. This is what prompted him to start the rural reservoir rejuvenation program — ‘Nammuru Namma Kere’.
Here, villagers, watershed farmers, the public, and the SKDRDP participate in works such as silt removal, entrance and exit repairs, dyke construction, canal cleaning, and more. The village community is allowed to bring the fertile silt to their farms. The cost of renting machinery for silt excavation is granted in the form of subsidies.
Farmers enjoy the benefits of the program for a long time as the water table in their respective regions rises. Each lake is being developed at a cost of Rs 5-10 lakh, he added. “So far, we have rejuvenated 378 lakes across the state and the maximum number of 39 water bodies have been developed in the drought-prone district of Tumakuru district,” he added.
The phenomenal success of “Nammuru Namma Kere” prompted the state government to make SKDRDP its partner in the implementation of the rural reservoir rejuvenation project, “Kere Sanjeevini”. Under this scheme, the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority only provides grants for the desilting of tanks. But it also has a provision to grant funds for other tank related works wherever needed, he added.
The projects are undertaken under the supervision of the “Kere Balakedarara Sangha” (Tank Users Committee), which is registered under the Cooperatives Act and financial transactions are conducted through the bank account opened in the name of the committee. Jana Jagruthi Vedike District Chairman MB Nagaraj Kakanuru said, “The work undertaken by SKDRDP is commendable. The module for motivating villagers, reservoir users and other stakeholders to unite them in desilation, silt transport and soil conservation is excellent. Villagers in other parts of the state should also have their tanks rejuvenated. The rejuvenated lakes will help raise water levels, which have fallen below 500 to 800 feet in most parts of the state.
He said, “With the Sasivehalli lift irrigation project and the Upper Bhadra projects gaining momentum, water will start flowing to the lakes in Chitradurga and Davangere districts. It is important for farmers to de-sand and rejuvenate the lakes. »
There is hope for good tides among farmers. Shivanandappa, an areca nut farmer from Santhebennur, said, “The desilting of the reservoir at Koratikere will help us tremendously as it will help retain the rainwater that is lost every year. With the improvement of the water table level, we expect a good yield of areca nuts.