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Karnataka: Farmers stage protests in Bellary over water crisis; Cries for Tungabhadra river echoes

Farmers in Bellary, Vijayanagar district, protest for their share of Tungabhadra river water as the reservoir's low levels threaten crops. A bike rally to the Tungabhadra Management Board highlights the urgent need for canal water. The absence of monsoon rain makes farmers dependent on the canal, impacting millions of acres of crops and drinking water supply. The delay in canal water flow endangers crops, raising financial concerns for farmers.

Karnataka: Farmers stage protests in Bellary over water crisis; Cries for Tungabhadra river echoes vkp
First Published Oct 31, 2023, 11:24 AM IST

In Bellary, Vijayanagar district, a grave water crisis looms over the farmers as they gear up for a relentless protest demanding their rightful share of Tungabhadra river water. The Tungabhadra Reservoir, the state's second-largest, is critical for irrigating farmlands in several districts, including Andhra and Telangana. However, due to the reservoir not filling up to its expected capacity, the canal's water flow has dwindled, leaving farmers distressed and jeopardising their crops.

In a powerful demonstration of their plight, farmers embarked on a bike rally from Bellary to besiege the office of the Tungabhadra Management Board. Their message is clear: if they don't receive an adequate supply of canal water, their crops will face imminent ruin. For these farmers, it's a race against time.

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The grim situation traces back to the monsoon season. Had the monsoons favoured the Bellary region this year, they could have relied on rainwater before turning to canal water. However, the absence of rainfall leaves them entirely dependent on canal water. 

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The demand for water from the Tungabhadra Reservoir extends to Kurnool, Anantapur in Andhra, as well as Bellary, Koppal, Raichur, and Vijayanagar districts, encompassing millions of acres of crops and the essential drinking water supply.

Purushottama Gowda, Viresh, and Eriswami, among other farmers, express grave concerns about the fate of their crops. If the water flows into the canals at the end of December, it spells disaster for crops, particularly chilli and cotton. With each passing day, the spectre of financial loss looms larger for farmers who have already invested Rs 25,000 per acre in their crops. The dilemma is palpable, as safeguarding water reserves for the reservoir's health jeopardizes access to drinking water in the impending summer.

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