BENGALURU: People in Kolar have a lot on their mind this election season. The most pressing issue here is water crisis.In September 2018, the Karnataka High Court had allowed the pumping of partially treated sewage water to Kolar and parts of Bangalore Rural and Chikballapur district in the Koramangala-Challaghatta (KC) Valley project. However, in January this year, the Supreme Court stayed the HC order as the water was found to have higher than permissible amounts of E.coli bacteria, heavy metals and dissolved oxygen. This has left the farmers in Kolar a disappointed lot.
“We were happy that the lakes in Kolar will finally get some treated water from Bengaluru’s KC Valley. This would have recharged the groundwater and revived borewells. But, after the stay was put into place, getting water here, now seems like a distant dream. We do not need any loan waiver scheme or subsidy. We just want water,” said Narayanaswamy, a mango grower from Holagenahall at Kolar said.
Narayanaswamy has seven acres at Holagenahalli. “When treated water from KC Valley was allowed to fill the lakes in Kolar, Vallabhi and Narasapura lakes were full. After this, Agrahara, Janapatta and Mudawadi lakes were supposed to be filled, but with the stay on the project, this has come to a halt. Farmers who have their lands near Vallabhi and Narasapura lakes are getting water at 600 to 800 feet as against 1,200 or 1,400 feet earlier,” he said. Narayanaswamy’s village has Mudawadi lake nearby but it is almost dry now.
While the H D Kumaraswamy government has announced a loan waiver to woo farmers, this does not seem to be helping people in Kolar. With no rain and no river in Kolar, every day is a struggle for farmers here.
Reddappa, who owns three acres at Palya village in Srinivasapura taluk, said, all three borewells in his farm have dried up. “If it rains, we get little yield. Otherwise, it is yet another bad year. I used to get six tonnes of mangoes per acre, but now it has dropped to three,” he said.
Farmers in Kolar grow mangoes in around 42,000 hectares. While there are 16 lakh voters from Kolar Lok Sabha constituency, at least 12 lakh of them depend on agriculture and horticulture. Kolar District Mango Cultivators’ Association president Chinnappa Reddy said there are some 3 lakh mango growers in Kolar, mainly in Srinivasapura and Mulbagal and other taluks. “This apart, there are another 3 to 4 lakh people who are dependent on mangoes — be it farm labourers or those who work at the mango market. Their votes make a huge difference,” he said.
Even tomato growers have a tough time owing to the water crisis here. Kolar APMC is the second largest tomato market in Asia and the largest in South India.The people here showed great support for Congress during the assembly elections. Of the eight assembly segments, Congress won six seats while JD(S) won two and an independent won one. However, the Lok Sabha election is a different ball game here.
Many people are upset with the present MP K H Muniyappa. Srinivasa Gowda, a farmer from Srinivasapura, said, “We are strong Congress supporters. We never voted for any other candidate other than Congress and Muniyappa. But this time, I will not vote for him. He has done nothing other than spending time in New Delhi.”
Ashwath, a resident of Bethmanagala concurred, “If the BJP fields a better candidate, there are chances that the party will win. If Muniyappa wins again, it will be by a very low margin,” he said.