By Muralidhara Shetty
Hoovina Hadagali, April 2019.
Hanumana Gowda and his family have to switch between two houses depending on the water levels of the Singatalur dam. One of his house is a permanent house which is near the dam premises and temporary house in the newly allocated place. It’s 5km far from his home and the dam premises.
It is not just Hanumana Gowda’s situation. It is the same with most of the people who have their houses in Allipura. Most of them have to switch between two houses frequently depending on the water levels of the Sigatalur dam. It has affected the school life of the children there and made life difficult for the senior citizens of the village.
“I have to shift between two places very often. It is okay for adults but what about the children and elders. There are some old people without any children. It is very difficult for such people to switch places. We did not get shifting charges from the government side yet. The government says they will provide shifting charges only after we finish constructing our houses or finish constructing half of the house. “ said Hanumana Gowda, Farmer from Allipura.
It all started in the year 2000 when the state government decided to construct a dam at Singatalur area which 2 kilometers away from Allipura village. The project was planned to construct a dam with a capacity of 8 TMC water. To provide irrigation water to 40,000 hectors of land in Gadaga, Koppala and Ballari regions. Then the plan changed again in 2004 to increase the dam capacity to 12.03TMC to provide water to 1,20,000 hectors of land. The estimated project cost was Rs 900 Crores.
Dam construction is started in the year 2002. So far 85% of the project is completed. They don’t store more than 3.43TMC of water in the dam. If they store more than 3.4TMC water, villagers living under submerge area will get flooded. Because of this, they are storing water only up to 35% to 40% of the dam’s capacity. Every time when the water level in the dam goes up, villagers go request or protest near the dam to reduce the water level of the dam.
Land accusation department of Singatalur project is given sites to the villagers in the year 2015 to construct the new houses. It has also paid compensation to the agricultural and other lands which come under submerge area of the dam as per rates of the land in that area.
Compensation to construct new houses is given in 2008 and sites have been given in 2015.
“Only 40 people have constructed their homes in a new place. Around 300 families of Allipura are still living in the submerged area. So far we are trying to convince them to vacate the place. We did not take any strict actions. If we take some strict actions, it is going to be a problem because it involves villagers and the farmers. We have formed a rehabilitation team which working on vacating the people. It is run by A K Sharma. We have to complete the project before 2022. We are trying our best to finish it on or before the deadline. But villagers living near the dam are not all supportive” said B R Rathod, In-charge executive, Hadagali division II.
Tungabhadra Power Company limited is the power plant near Singatallur dam. It is not generating power up to its designed capacity because the water level never goes above 30% to 40% dam’s capacity.
“We are not in a position to make any demands from the government. Almost all of the compensation is been given already. The only mistake the government did is taking 7 years time to sanction the house construction compensation. Delay in sanction and less pressure at that time from the government made people stay back in the old place.” Said Viraiah Shivanagaiah Hiremat, Farmer and Lawyer, Allipura.
Crops around the dams get flooded with water. Government officials say that compensation to these lands has been given already and sometimes when it rains suddenly water levels go up and crops get flooded with water. There is more 100s hectors land of which comes under the submerged area of the dam.
“If the project is completed successfully, it can provide irrigation water to more than 2,00,000 hectors land. The power generated from the power plant is going to meet the power needs of two taluks. It is going to be useful for both the people and the government in many ways. Village shifting has become an obstacle to the project. To give compensation again or to provide them with the house under this project will cost the government another Rs 50 crore.” said B R Rathod, In-charge executive of Hadagali.
“It will take another one year. It’s a slow process. We can’t put much pressure on people. People have to understand that they are living in submerge area. We are increasing the water level day by day. We are sending the notices. We are making announcements. People who construct the basement and walls of the house will get complete shifting charges. After elections, particularly Allipura, which is a concern for us. We will call for a village meeting. We will involve revenue department, Zilla Parishad member and police force. We will solve this issue.” said A K Sharma, rehabilitation head.