An army of people, irrespective of age, gender and status, rushing towards water sources outside their villages with empty plastic pots, and returning with filled cans and quarrelling among themselves for petty reasons while filling the water in containers is a common scene across rural areas in the district.
“People in my village spend a lot of time on fetching water under the hot sun. As soon as the pumpsets installed on agricultural lands are switched on, they rush towards it,” Rangappa Gowda, a farmer in Dugganur village, around 30 km from here, says pointing at people carrying water pots.
Raichur district is a part Doab, the land between two converging rivers, the Krishna and the Tungabhadra. They form the north and south borders of the district.
It also has a wide canal network with the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal, its sub-canals, distributaries, and land-outlets spreading across rural areas.
Vijaya Jyothsna, Chief Executive Officer of Raichur Zilla Panchayat, however, says that the ZP is ready to handle the situation.
“A crisis-like situation is not yet reported from anywhere in the district. Many tanks in rural areas are filled and last for another 45 days,” she told The Hindu.
Accepting that the government had not yet released any funds towards the Rs. 7-crore proposal that ZP sent in February, the CEO said there would no dearth of funds as far as calamities and drinking water was concerned. “If the government doesn’t release the funds, we will use the money reserved for other purpose and address the drinking water issue,” she said.
There are more than 1,400 hamlets including around 850 revenue villages in the district. Most of them, except a few along the banks of the two rivers, are facing drinking water crisis. A major reason for this is the dependence on overexploited groundwater rather than surface water. More than 80 per cent of drinking water projects installed across rural areas are dependent on groundwater. Even the groundwater in many villages is unfit for drinking as it is contaminated with arsenic and fluoride toxic.
Hanumanagouda Belagurki, senior farmers’ leader and irrigation expert, attributes the water crisis to the short-sightedness of the rulers. He said a comprehensive and lasting plan should be formulated to hold back the rain water that flows out of the State in rainy season to utilise it in the summer.
“Raichur district, which two major rivers and streams and rivulets flowing in, should not face a water crisis. Building small check-dams across streams, canalising river water during rainy season to tanks to be built across rural areas and recharging groundwater could be thought of,” he says.
Many drinking water projects, including those under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, are commissioned in several villages.
Yet, they are insufficient to meet the massive demand in summer.