Mangaluru, April 10, 2015: With water being discharged on an experimental basis in the first phase of Right Bank Canal (RBC) and Left Bank Canal (LBC) of the only major irrigation scheme of Coastal Karnataka Varahi Irrigation Project, a long-pending demand of the farmers is nearing realisation after 35 years.
For the last five days, water is being released on experimental basis since March 28 much to the delight of the farmers. The farmers staged a relay dharna from January 1 to 16, 2015, demanding expeditious completion of the project.
Although the foundation stone for the Varahi project and the Brahmavar Cooperative Sugar Factory was laid in 1979 in Udupi district, the latter started functioning in 1985. The factory was started on the premise that the project, expected to provide irrigation facilities to 15,702 hectares (ha) of land, would encourage farmers to grow sugarcane in undivided Dakshina Kannada district.
Though administrative approval for the project was given on March 27, 1979, the work on it started only in 2004. But the factory shut down its operations in the same year (2004) due to mounting losses.
After Vinay Kumar Sorake became urban development and Udupi district incharge minister he took keen interest in speeding up of project work and prevailed upon the chief minister and Major irrigation minister to release fund to complete the project.
R. Nataraj, Chief Engineer Incharge of Varahi Irrigation Project, said water was being released from the Varahi Dam near Siddapura upto the 19th km of the RBC and the 23rd km of LBC. This would help in irrigating 3,000 ha of land. An amount of Rs. 590 crore had been spent on the first phase of the Varahi Irrigation Project.
In the second phase of the project, the LBC would be constructed from the 30th to 44th km, while the RBC would be constructed from 19th to 42nd km. But there were land acquisition and forest land issues to be resolved. “It will take two years to complete the second phase, which is estimated to cost Rs. 390 crore,” Mr. Nataraj said.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is expected to inaugurate the first phase of the Varahi Irrigation Project on August 20. “After the inauguration, water will be released regularly in both the canals,” he said.