‘Varuna Yantra’ is not all smoke

While the government is preparing to spend a whopping Rs 17.5 crore on conducting prayers in temples across the state to invoke the rain gods and counter the worst drought Karnataka has seen in the last 42 years, farmers in some of the districts have come up with a simpler and more scientific solution to the problem.

Farmers of Chitradurga, Davanagere , Gadag and other districts, in distress with the rain playing truant in June and July and upset with government's dilly-dallying over cloud seeding, are opting for Varuna Yantra, supposedly a good-old method with a proven record of bringing changes in the clouds, atop hills located close to reservoirs, water tanks and dams that have dried up. If experts are to be believed, Varuna Yantra is a scientific, less-expensive and easier way of inducing rain than cloud-seeding

All the villagers need to do is build a mandala or a 3.5 ft tall four-wall brick chamber over a 6X6 sqft area with sufficient ventilation to allow air in. Then 15 to 20 kgs of wood are set on fire inside and wet branches of banyan and fig trees weighing 50 kgs are added to the pyre even as five kgs of ammonium sulphate and salt are poured over it at regular intervals. Officers of the irrigation department, who have supervised the operation, say the process is scientific as the salt crystals dissolve in the atmosphere and influence cloud formation.

The smoke from the burning of sodium chloride creates depression and attracts clouds, according to them. The process lasts for nearly four hours. “Once the smoke reaches the clouds, one can expect rain usually after two to 72 hours,” say experts, pointing out that the method was successfully tried out in about 200 villages of Maharashtra last year.

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