Mangaluru, Feb 23, 2019: Hundreds of farmers staged a protest against the district administration and Mescom for stopping power supply to irrigation pumpsets (IP sets) at Baje dam on Feb 22, Friday.
However, their bid to lay siege to the reservoir was foiled by the police. They also criticised the authorities concerned for not releasing water from Baje dam to save standing crops despite sufficient storage.
Zilla Krishika Sangha President Ramakrishna Sharma Bantakallu said the farmers were in distress as the crops cultivated in the surrounding areas of the Baje reservoir had wilted.
“The crops wilted as municipality officials had unnecessarily stopped the power supply to IP (irrigation pump) sets,” he charged.
He said farmers for the past 22 days had suffered despite sufficient quantity of water being impounded in the reservoir. The district administration should release water at least once in a week in order to save the remaining standing crops.
“Many families in the region are dependent on farming for livelihood and are in need of water for cultivation.”
The geography of the area is different from North Karnataka region, where there are a few water canals and other rivulets fulfilling the needs of the farmers. The protesters urged chief minister to direct the municipality and the district administration to release water to the farmers.
Lashing out at Udupi City Municipal Council, Zilla Krishika Sangha Secretary Kudi Srinivas Bhat said the CMC was heavily dependent on Baje dam to meet water requirement and was incapable of finding an alternative solution for the water crisis.
“Whenever there is crisis, the main targets are the poor farmers. The officials are blind towards the misuse of water in the city limits,” he alleged.
He said that around 950 agriculturists and 450 agricultural labourers were involved in farming on around 700 acres of land near Baje reservoir.
The agricultural land consists of 15,000 coconut trees on 300 acres, 60,000 arecanut trees on 120 acres, 20,000 plantation crop on 50 acres, vegetables are grown on 10 acres and paddy cultivated on 200 acres of land. The total cost of production is around Rs 12 crore.
Bhat said the officials falsely accused the farmers of consuming excessive water.