MELINAJUGANAHALLI (DODDABALLAPUR TALUK):When Sir M Visvesvaraya visited Melinajuganahalli more than 100 years ago he visualised developing it as a catchment area, ideal to store water to supply to Doddaballapur and surrounding areas, which otherwise had no water source.
A pickup dam, which was constructed according to his plan and vision and opened in 1917, and later named after him, is now in a sorry state. On Sir MV’s — as Sir M Visvesvaraya was fondly called — birth anniversary (September 15), The New Indian Express highlights the “pathetic” state of the dam. With rapid quarrying, the hillocks through which water would flow down to the dam have been damaged.
Melinajuganahalli is only a few metres from Ghati Subramanya Temple in Doddaballapur.
The dam, when constructed, was equipped with advanced technology for its era — automatic crush gates to control level of water. Water from here flowed towards the North Pennar river and then into Andhra Pradesh via Gauribidanur. The catchment, area spread across 10.5 sq km, is enough to supply water to entire Doddaballapur and parts of Chikkaballapur.
With no maintenance, water in the dam has become dirty and it stinks. The authorities concerned do not remove silt on a regular basis. Since it is in a remote place, the misuse of the place is common. The pickup dam has no safety barricades and lacks toilets and other amenities.
Seventy-year-old Mutturayappa, a shepherd and a resident of a nearby village Jaganahalli, recalls how they used to drink water from this catchment area. “The water tasted sweet. We remember fetching water in pots from here to our village. We used the water for cooking and drinking. Now, I cannot even think of making my cattle drink this water,” he said. Mutturayappa said empty bottles and cigarette packets and cigarette butts are seen strewn around, not to mention leftover food.
According to Chikkaballapur/Doddaballapur Shashvatha Neeravari Horata Samiti president R Anjaneya Reddy, it is because of Sir MV’s vision that the dam was constructed. “But to help vested interests, authorities are allowing quarrying... green cover is declining ... water is not getting stored as it did before. This also means groundwater is not recharging as it should. This dam was constructed much Krishnaraja Sagar dam (Mandya), and has monumental heritage value,’’ he said.
M S Manjunath, Assistant Engineer (Minor Irrigation), said the dam was earlier under the Public Works Department (PWD) and then transferred to the zilla panchayat. Two years ago, it came under the Minor Irrigation Department. The dam is 55 metres in length and 8 metres in height.