Hasiru Bhoomi Trust, which is working on the rejuvenation of waterbodies in Hassan, has come down heavily on the Minor Irrigation Department for the uncontrolled extraction of surface soil going on at Satyamangala tank, which is located on the outskirts of Hassan city. Hundreds of tractor-loads of soil have been extracted, creating depressions all over the tank’s surface that is spread over 75 acres.
Subbu Swamy, president of the Trust, and R P Venkateshamurthy, a member, took a team of journalists to the tank premises on Monday. They alleged that some powerful men engaged in real estate business had removed a large quantity of soil for layout development. “They have created deep trenches on the tank surface. It is an act by the real estate lobby. Farmers take away only the black soil useful for agriculture purposes. But here, they have dug deep to extract the soil required to level the surface in residential layouts,” said Venkateshamurthy.
Subbu Swamy, a retired engineer, remarked that removal of sand in a haphazard manner would destroy the very purpose of having a tank. “There is another tank close by where, in the name of removing silt, a large quantity of soil was removed. To fill up that tank, ideally, we should receive 10 times the rainfall we are getting now. Eventually, it will never fill up. The fate of Satyamangala tank will also be similar,” he said.
The trust has demanded that the State government constitute a task force to conserve all existing tanks. The force should have sufficient staff to monitor the tanks and to check illegal activities on the premises, besides its encroachment. “Instead of making government departments responsible, the locals should get involved in water conservation activities,” he said.
The Trust has brought the issue to the notice of Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis, who has promised to look into it. “We demand that those who extracted soil be punished,” Venkateshmurthy said.