RAICHUR: From walking miles to fetch water to being completely marooned — the lives of residents of Jegarkal, a tiny village in the Krishna river basin in Raichur, North Karnataka, have swung from one extreme to another in a little over a month. The southwest monsoon was weak in the first two months of the season (June and July), with the deficiency in North Interior Karnataka at a staggering 19% departure from the norm. However, come August, the region has seen an excess of 7% rainfall. Jegarkal was among the 51 villages identified by the state government as flood-prone, after the devastating floods of 2009.
The government had chalked out plans to relocate the villagers to safer places, but they did not agree to move — the Krishna basin was fertile and yielded at least four harvests annually. This means, the residents live with crippling cycles of drought and floods. Till last month, the residents of Jegarkal and other villages in the Krishna basin in Raichur district were worried about meeting their daily water needs. But today, the swirling Krishna has turned their lives upside down, forcing them to flee their villages.
“Just a few weeks ago, we would walk miles to fetch water. Sometimes, our children would go on bikes ... today, the same water is our problem. The Krishna has inundated our village and we are living in temporary shelters,” says Savitri, of Jegarkal. Each year, villages in Raichur and Yadgir districts are marooned when the dams gates open up. It’s the same story this year too, just more devastating.
As on Sunday, 5,04,802 cusecs of water was being discharged from Almatti and 6,15,443 cusecs from Narayanpur dams. Ironically, most of these villages are dependent on borewells and tankers for drinking water. With these villages on the “to-be-shifted” list, the government has no plans to solve their water woes. Santosh Kumar, a social activist from Raichur, feels the district administration must ensure that people living in the flood plains are shifted prior to the release of water from the two dams.
“The villagers are not ready to shift. Why will anyone leave their village for a few days of flood? The government must ensure that rehabilitation facilities are set up during the monsoon, after which the villagers can return home,” he adds. Residents of Yapaladinni echo these views.
“Both these villages have been ignored by the government as they are listed for rehabilitation. While some villagers are ready to move, many are not. The government had even given villagers money in 2009, but they never used it for the work it was meant for,” says a villager.
The next few days will be testing times for these villages.
“Raichur is not receiving any rain. The flood is due to a Krishna in spate. This means another cycle of drought in the coming months,” says a villager.