The mud embankment on a sidewall of the barrage on the Manjra river, built to impound water to be supplied to Bidar city, has breached, draining out large amounts of water. The barrage is not being used now.
Farmers say that they suspected a breach three weeks ago and complained to the officials, but no one turned up to inspect it. They suspect that lack of maintenance of the structure in the last few years may have led to the breach.
“Now, water has flooded fields on the north side and damaged crops. Moreover, the barrage has far less water that it should hold,” Vishwanath Patil Koutha, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader, said.
Some officials inspected the breach on Saturday, he said.
The barrage was built 14 years ago to impound 0.27 tmcft of water in the Manjra. It was used to fill a cistern of 18 million gallons per day capacity and supplied to the city. Pipelines were laid for 12 km from Janawada to the high capacity overhead tank near the fire station.
However, this system was found inefficient as half the water evaporated before it reached the barrage from the Karanja reservoir.
In 2013, the State government approved the 24×7 water supply project to the city by laying a 20-km pipeline directly from the reservoir.
Work is almost complete and filtered water is being supplied to some parts of the city on a pilot basis. There is confusion about who is supposed to maintain the Manjra barrage that is no longer in use.
The Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board (KUWSSB) that operated the barrage till 2014 says it has handed it over to the city municipal council (CMC).
But the CMC officials say that the KUWSSB is responsible for maintenance and bulk water supply while they are only responsible for door-to-door supply and billing.
Farmers feel that the government should repair the barrage and turn it into an irrigation project, if its utility as a drinking water supply project has ended. “This way, the government could utilise existing structures at minimal expenditure,” Mr. Koutha said.
The former Minister Bandeppa Kashempur has asked officials not to forget the water scarcity of 2015 and 2016.
“The government should realise that the Manjra barrage could be our saviour in such situations. It needs immediate attention,” he said.
The former MLA Prakash Khandre finds fault with political leaders who have remained blind to the situation.
District in- charge Minister Eshwar Khandre said he would instruct officials to take up repairs of the structure.
The barrage is not being used now, and lack of maintenance may have led to the breach