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March 26, 2021

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‘KATTAS’: FARMER-MADE CHECK DAMS OF KASARAGOD

Farmers, Yethadka, Kasaragod

Every year the farmers in Yethadka fund and build check dams at close intervals in the course of river Shiriya to save their crops and enhance the water yield of their land.

Called ‘kattas’ in local parlance, 16 of these structures, along with 5 others built by the government, act as speed breakers of water in a stretch of 20 km of the river.  While the ones built by the government agencies through contractors leave many things to be desired, the one built by the academic illiterates stand firm without letting even a drop of water seep through them.

These kattas have a hoary history dating back to 70 years.  And the workers who build these structures consider it a sacred task.  They do not wear footwear while constructing them.

Yethadka produces arecanut, coconut, pepper, cocoa, rice and nutmeg.  These crops are irrigated by the water from kattas during the summer months.  In fact, without these water retaining structures, Yethadka would not be, says a local journalist.

The largest of these is 40m across the river and 4m high.  Till recently, the workers used to pack granite stones using clay.  As it was labour intensive, they now stack sandbags against the granite and protect the sandbags with HDPE sheets.

As monsoon approaches, they remove the kattas for permitting free passage of water.  They keep the sandbags protected by the riverside for reuse next year. 

The government has two drinking water projects with about 400 beneficiaries.  That water for these two projects is siphoned from the kattas built by farmers at Kottelu and Nerapady itself speaks of the ripple effect of their effort.

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George Poikayil (text), The New Indian Express, March 19, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vidya Raja (text), thebetterindia, December 31, 2020

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''Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience."