In Hemavathi dam backwaters, residents live on the edge

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liveHassan, August 7, 2013; Relocation promise remains just that; Houses on the verge of collapse

The 18 families in Appagowdanahalli of Alur taluk in the district live on the edge all through the year, especially during the rainy season and winter.

They are virtually out in the cold, despite being in the confines of the walls of their house. Living close to the banks of the backwaters of the Hemavathi reservoir, the walls are wet most of the time. The dampness weakens the walls and there is the threat of them collapsing any time.

Appagowdanahalli and neighbouring Siddapura are among the villages, populated mostly by farmers and poor workers, for which copious rains are not something to rejoice about. Moderate rain does warm the cockles of the heart of the residents here, as that provides water for their crops. But the going gets tough when it is excess and the reservoir brims over.

Three-and-a-half decades ago when the reservoir was constructed, a number of villages were relocated. However, people in some of the villages who had small lands and who got negligible sums as compensation chose to stay back.

They got small houses constructed on a higher altitude a little distance from their submerged village and to this day, continue to live in penury.

All that they have got for 15 years now are mere promises by the people’s representatives that they would be relocated to safer places by the government.

However, visit after visit by the officials has only been hopeless for them. Projects have been proposed, but have not moved beyond the drawing table. Come winter, despair does not dissipate. The wet ground turns a breeding ground for disease-causing mosquitoes.

Kalegowda, a resident of Appagowdanahalli, puts it best when he says that one can find people suffering from fever in all families during rainy season. The agony has not spared even the local Shiva temple, the lone place for spiritual solace for people in Appagowdanahalli. The damp walls of the temple came crashing down not long ago.

When the village residents planned to get the shrine reconstructed, local leaders said they would get it reconstructed. The promise has remained only that, Kalegowda said. He says the residents are ready to relocate if alternative dwelling arrangements are made.
Poor service

Susheela, another resident, said they have been paying property tax to the Gram Panchayat, but their only luxury is drinking water supply once in two days. Basic facilities have not been provided on the ground that the village is going to be shifted anyway.
The roads connecting the villages in the region are damaged.

The nights are a literal nightmare due to the cold winds blowing from the reservoir for residents in all these villages, even as they live in hope that seems distant at present.

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