Soraba is a taluk of Karnataka which is located 366 kms away from Bangalore. It falls in the Malnad region, the region which is known for its rich water resources. It is said to have more than 3,000 natural water tanks. The Dandavati river flows across some of the taluks in this region. One of them is the Soraba taluk.
However, the whole region has been dry since the past decade. Out of the last 16 years, the region has been declared drought hit for thirteen years and flood hit for 10 years. The Soraba taluk receives late rainfall in such an amount that it floods most of the villages in the taluk. The river, Dandavati also gets flooded during this time. The villages that stand on the banks of the river get partially immersed in the flood water every time monsoon is about to end.
The question that may arise in our minds is that even after receiving plenty of rainfall and consisting so many ponds and canals, how the taluk can be so dry. The truth is that some parts of the taluk are green and irrigated whereas the picture of most of the villages such as Jade and Yenekoppa looks parched and lifeless. The reality lies in the awareness regarding conservation of water.
My film intends to depict that water conservation is not possible without the awareness and effort of the farmers themselves. Water conservation in such villages, where rainfall arrives only for a few months, plays a significant role. The government can only introduce schemes and technologies. But until and unless the conservation starts at the root level, the process cannot be successful. Therefore, the authorities are not the only ones to be blamed.
Moreover, the taluk was not declared drought hit in 2017.But, the statements by the villagers and the farmers speak of a different story. The villages look lifeless even now. The lands remain barren. In fact, ant houses can be spotted all over the agricultural lands. This depicts the length of time since crops were grown on these fields last. To add to their misery, they did not receive compensation received by the people in the drought-hit areas in 2017. The farmers say that they are compelled to stop the education of their children. Three meals a day is a far-fetched desire on some days. Even consumable water is supplied only once in three days. This has been the way of life in the taluk for years now. They work as “coolies” and house-helps to earn their living. On asking them why they do not shift to more profitable businesses like cattle rearing and milk selling. They say, “In order to rear cattle, we require grass and fodder. Due to the scarcity of water, we are unable to produce them. Therefore, we do not domesticate animals in our houses.”
The solution to all these miseries may be the conservation of water. It is an activity that has to be implemented on a large scale. Water can be conserved in enough amounts only if each and every villager is aware and takes up the responsibility to conserve water on individual levels. The director of the Agricultural Department, Soraba explain, “Instead of putting effort towards increasing the ground water level through rain water harvesting and other techniques, the farmers migrate to cities or get involved in labor work in the villages itself. This creates a hindrance in the process of conserving water at a bigger level.”
I conducted a survey with a sample size of 20 villagers each in Jade and Anavatti. Maximum of them are not aware about the activities that they can practice to conserve water while it rains. The few who know about it have shifted to other employments.
The message of my film is that no single entity can be blamed responsible for the unavailability of edible and usable water. In order to recover from such a tough situation, it is the requirement of the moment for everyone to come forward and join hands to work towards making the situation better and ending the struggle.