Testing their luck on the lake

Bengaluru: Farmers living close to Varthur lake go an extra mile to source grass for their cattle. Mosquito bites, snakes in the lake, slush and silt can never deter farmers from cutting the grass that grows on the surface of water especially in the lakes.

Lokesh and Manjula, who own about eight cows and 25 sheep, come to Varthur every morning at 8 to collect the grass and feed their animals.

As the grass is grown on the lake bed that is filled with water, one has to take boat or they have to be specially trained to balance on bamboo stilts. Lokesh, a dairy farmer said: "We use two bamboo sticks and walk on them. While one stick is placed on the right side another stick is placed on the left side. While we place our foot on these bamboo sticks which keep floating, we cut the grass. As we move ahead, we have to keep throwing these bamboo sticks and simultaneously place our foot on it. This process will continue for hours and we collect around 200 kilos of grass every day."

His wife Manjula works equally hard. "I stand on the banks of the lake and throw a long rope so that the grass which is cut is tied in bundle. While I pull the same bundle and put it on the banks of the lake, he moves ahead to cut grass."

When asked, how he learnt this technique, Lokesh said: "We are poor and cannot afford machineries to cut grass. My father and grandfather used to cut the grass in the lake using same technique. I learnt it from them. I am not scared of any creatures under the water. I am used to this work now."

"The weight has to be equally distributed on both the bamboo sticks. If we try to float only on one stick then we will get submerged in the water," he added.

Meanwhile some farmers, who get grass more than 200 kilos, use small boats to get inside the water. Rajanna owns a small boat who collects around 500 kgs of grass from the lake. "I use the boat to get in the lake. If necessary I use bamboo sticks. Or else I cut the grass standing in the boat and my son helps in sailing the boat."

Tags:    lake Farmers