Deccan Chronicle

Delay in Upper Krishna Project: Farmers furious

Deccan Chronicle.| vittal shastri

Published on: July 24, 2018 | Updated on: July 24, 2018

Want time frame for completion of project.

The water level reached the threshhold level and 6500 cusecs of water was released from Bhadra dam, near Shivamogga on Tuesday	  KPN

The water level reached the threshhold level and 6500 cusecs of water was released from Bhadra dam, near Shivamogga on Tuesday KPN

Hubballi: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s statement on Monday questioning leaders demanding separate statehood for North-Karnataka on whether they would be even able to generate enough revenue for implementation of the Upper Krishna Project (UKP) if their wish was fulfilled, has evoked a sharp criticism from farmer leaders.  These leaders have sought a time-frame to complete the long-pending irrigation project and have attributed the delay in acquisition of land to lack of political will, fund crunch and differences between farmers and the government over fixing the compensation for parting with their land.

The displaced people of Bagalkot and Vijayapura, who will lose land for the third phase of UKP, have formed a single platform to seek adequate compensation for land acquisition as the project has not seen much progress even eight years after the Justice Brijesh Kumar Tribunal gave its award. The government will increase the height of Almatti dam from the present 519.6 metres to 524 metres under the third phase of the project. It is expected to submerge 22 villages and 1.20 lakh acres in Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts and ten wards of Bagalkot city. 

As many as 192 villages were already submerged in these districts and in Belagavi in the first phase. Therefore, the project will set a new record for the biggest land acquisition for any irrigation project in the country.

"The government had issued the notification to acquire 76,000 acres of farm land to be submerged in the Almatti backwaters. But, The new law stipulates that the compensation should be disbursed to the farmers within 60 days of such notification. But, this notification was cancelled just before the Assembly elections due to lack of funds. The government has not treated Upper Krishna Project on par with the Cauvery issue. Though the state government had vehemently opposed setting up of Cauvery management board, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy has been silent on the Krishna river issue and is instead targeting leaders of North Karnataka", Almatti Dam Victims Association convener Gundappa Muttaladinni said. 

With the state government failing to utilize the water by raising the Almatti dam height, farmer leaders claim that more than 100 tmc water remained unutilized this monsoon as around 1.50 lakh cusecs water is being released to Andhra Pradesh. The government had taken up a mega rehabilitation project involving shifting of hundreds of villages when Almatti dam was built in 2005. But, people in these rehabilitation centres are still reeling because of lack of basic amenities. Therefore, the farmer leaders are demanding that the government conduct an assessment of the likely social impact due to increase of the dam height. 

"The judgement of the tribunal should be notified in the gazette by the Central government to make the order binding on Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The State government should exert pressure on the Centre in this regard. More priority should be given to complete the third phase of the Upper Krishna project. Otherwise, the voices for separate statehood demand will get louder", said farmer leader Basavaraj Kumbar of Almatti village. 

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