- Will KRS water be used for a milky-white water show?
- Officials say only ‘seepage water’ will be used
- Farmers allege more than 6 TMCft water to go waste
Mandya/ Malavalli: A Jalapathotsava (waterfall festival) is normally held when a waterfall is full to the brim and in full glory. But what about a Jalapathotsava when a waterfall is bone dry? Yes, a two-day Jalapathotsava at Gaganachukki Waterfall in Malavalli Taluk of Mandya District will be inaugurated tomorrow at a time when the waterfall is fully dry.
Worse, the neighbouring Bharachukki Waterfall in Chamarajanagar District too is dry and the Mandya District Administration, State Tourism Department have planned to use water from the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Reservoir though officials are not admitting it openly. They have said that only “seepage water from the KRS used to generate electricity will be used to fill the waterfalls with milky white water,” raising eyebrows.
The farmers of Mandya have not taken the issue lightly and have accused the State Government of neglecting their legitimate demand for water and clandestinely releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in the guise of Jalapathotsava. They alleged that at a time when summer is fast approaching with KRS water level standing at 120 feet and when the farmers need water for summer crops, the State Government is spending money and wasting water.
Rs. 1 crore budget
The Gaganachukki Jalapathotsava will begin tomorrow evening at Shivanasamudra and Mandya District Minister R. Ashoka will inaugurate the extravaganza along with Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi. In all, Rs. 1 crore will be spent and a helicopter ride has been organised to view the Jalapathotsava where each person has to pay Rs. 2,500 for a chopper ride.
Speaking to reporters, after a preliminary meeting with the officials on Thursday, Malavalli MLA K. Annadani appealed to the people to attend the festival in large numbers and make it a grand success. Annadani explained that Jalapathotsava was held for the first time in 2006. “As it could not be held for the last four years it has been decided to hold the festival now. As by-election was announced, the programme had to be postponed. Now, it has been decided to hold the festival on Jan. 18 and 19,” he said.
Kannada film director T.S. Nagabharana will flag off the procession on Jan. 18. Artistes from across the State will present a variety of programmes. Cultural programmes will be held from the morning on Jan. 19. Film actors will attend the programmes. Housing Minister V. Somanna and other dignitaries will attend the valedictory programme scheduled to be held in the evening. As part of the festival, ‘Ahara Mela’ and a ‘Job Mela’ will be organised on both days. Boating will be held in Malavalli Lake. A rangoli competition and exhibitions will also be held to attract visitors.
Farmers oppose move
Farmers of Mandya and Malavalli have opposed the Jalapathotsava claiming that it is unnecessary and waste of water which can be used for the summer crop in the near future. Farmers have questioned the need for holding the festival when the Government is yet to clear the sugarcane dues to the growers.
“We have been asking for water for our summer crops and no decision has been taken in this regard. Also, how can the government use KRS water to waste? The claim by the authorities that they will use seepage water for the Jalapathotsava is a joke. They are actually planning to use at least three to four TMCft of water from KRS and indirectly they are releasing it to Tamil Nadu,” farmers said.
For the water to reach Gaganachukki it has to be in full force and the existing falls is completely dry. Seepage water will not be of that force. “The officials are taking this as a prestige issue and are lying to farmers. Actually more than five TMCft of water is required for the two-day Jalapathotsava but the actual facts are hidden from us,” farmers said.
Farmers alleged that are affected due to the supply of sub-standard paddy seeds and the tail-end villages are not getting water in the canals and paddy procurement centres have not started functioning. “Is it necessary to hold Jalapathotsava, spending crores of rupees, neglecting the farmers’ needs? It is an attempt to release water to Tamil Nadu,” the farmers alleged.
Public event, private bikes!
Meanwhile, as part of the strategy to attract people to the Jalapathotsava, over 70 people participated in the ‘Bullet Rally’ yesterday. MLA K. Annadani, Mandya Deputy Commissioner M.V. Venkatesh, Additional Deputy Commissioner T. Yogesh and others inaugurated the rally by riding bikes.
However, the officials faced criticism as most of the bikes were from motorcycle-renting firms and the fuel expenses were borne by the District Administration. A majority of the rallyists used rental vehicles despite the district having a good number of similar bikes. The main aim of the rally was to promote the bike rental company and the brand instead of Jalapathotsava, the public alleged.