On account of acute water scarcity, pumping of water from the Swarna river by using pumpsets and sinking of borewells and open wells have been banned in 500 m from the water source of the riverbed as drinking water has to be supplied to Udupi city.
Commissioner of Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) D. Manjunathaiah said that water from the Swarna river was being supplied from the Baje Dam to Udupi city and surrounding areas. But there was severe water scarcity. The inflow of water to Baje Dam had stopped in January.
With the result, the CMC was now left with no other alternative but to pump water from some big pits in the riverbed of the Swarna. These big pits had water in them. The water from these pits would be pumped to the reservoir at Baje. This water would then be purified by the water purification plant at Baje and supplied to the city and surrounding areas.
As a result, there would be no scope for the people close to the river banks to either pump water from the river or to sink borewells or construct openwell. Any violation of this directive or any attempt to stop/disrupt the pumping/dredging activity taken up by the CMC would invite legal action, he warned.
However, farmers living on either side of the banks of the Swarna river are unimpressed by the CMC’s move. Secretary of the Zilla Krishik Sangha Kudi Srinivas Bhat said that there was no water near the banks to either sink a borewell or an openwell. The CMC should have started water rationing to Udupi city a month ago. This would have left more water in the river, he said.
Farmers grew arecanut, coconut, and black pepper on about 15,000 acres of land on either side of the Swarna river. The authorities were giving water once a week to the farmers since January this year instead of twice a week as done earlier.
“We cannot object to water being supplied to the city for drinking purpose. But the authorities should compensate the farmers for the crop loss suffered by them ... cattle require water. This should be taken care of or it will affect dairy farming too,” he said.