Canacona bandharas running out of water

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By Albert Fernandes | NT

Canacona: With an objective of harvesting water for irrigation around 17 bandharas were constructed by the Canacona irrigation department, Margao, work division IX and work division II.  The bandharas are situated along river Talpona from Cotigao to Ardhofond and along the Gaondongrem river till it meets the Talpona river. Barring a few of the bandharas most of them have dried up and have become unfruitful to farmers for irrigation purpose.It is learnt that except for Dabel and Zatremol bandharas which are ideal for water storage, most of the other bandharas has seepage of water and need urgent attention.

Some of the farmers while speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’ said that the authorities do not inspect the bandharas and hence most of the bandharas have been unattended for the past several years.

Most of the farmers have abandoned agriculture and have left their fields fallow due to shortage of labourers.

Canacona Irrigation department official K Patil who is in charge of some of these bandharas said that there are 17-18 bandharas along the Talpona river and the bandharas have been constructed with a sole objective of conserving water for cultivation.  The residents living in the vicinity who are from the tribal community depend on agriculture for their living. Patil said that most of the farmers have opted for cultivating vegetables and have been reaping the benefits due to a number of government schemes available to them.

Patil informed that with the construction of these bandharas in the last 15 years the agricultural production has increased. Patil said that some of the tribal farmers use the water from the bandhara to cultivate the rabbi crop. He said that after the 2009 floods in Canacona most of the fields have been affected by silt and the water storage at the bandharas have dwindled. Patil said that though his department has been desilting some of these rivers, the water storage is unsatisfactory.

He said that the department had installed a pump house. Despite these efforts, the department cannot supply water to the parched lips because the catchment areas are now dry. Moreover, beneficiaries of the bandharas don’t allow the sluice gates to be opened to permit water to flow downstream.

These bandharas are located one each at Kalepantto near Yedda, Tamnamol, Astagal, Monem, Dabel, Shishegal, Borkoifond, all of which are located along the Talpona river while those along the tributaries of Gaondongrem river are Mastimol, Zhori, Pannam, Fatrafond, Borimol, Agali, Fulamol, Thalne.

Some of the other bandharas situated along the other rivulets/nullahs are Bataband, Galliem, Maxem, Agas along the river Galgibaga and river Maxem.  While most of the bandharas are meant for agriculture and allied activities, a few are also meant to contain salinity from entering agricultural areas.

Some of the villagers speaking on anonymity said that people are placing iron rods in the bandharas to catch fish while others are engaged in illegal activity of extracting sand from the surrounding areas.

More than 15 families who were cultivating vegetables at Kuskem in Cotigao have backed out this season due to poor water storage at the bandhara. It is learnt that more than 60 families have shown interest in cultivation of vegetables.

When this reporter contacted the Canacona irrigation department it is learnt that the Kuskem bandhara was constructed by Division IX, Margao. The assistant engineer when contacted said that his department has sent an estimate to the government to desilt the rivers and hopefully the issue will be solved by the next season.

He informed that after the 2009 flash floods in Canacona the issue of silt has erupted thereby reducing the storage capacity of water at the bandharas. He assured that the problem will be rectified and farmers will have no problem cultivating their fields for the next season.