Keeping water crisis at bay in Karnataka

Even as the monsoon has been poor in many districts of the state, effective management of inflow and outflow from various dams and rivers over the past few months seems to have prevented a possible drinking water crisis. Although a dry spell persisted in several areas of North and Hyderabad Karnataka for several weeks during the monsoon, the available sources of water have been effectively utilised to ensure supply of drinking water to the affected areas.

The dry areas of Kalaburgi, Vijayapura and Ballari are likely to face drinking water problems if the authorities fail to utilise the available or alternative sources of water. However, officials are confident that the government will implement all measures needed to avoid a crisis situation. With a large number of taluks already declared drought-hit, the government is facing an uphill task to avoid a water crisis in summer, which is fast approaching.


Though Vijayapura district has been declared drought-hit due to scanty rainfall, the district may not face a severe drinking water crisis in the coming summer due to availability of water in the Almatti dam. The authorities said the dam did not receive enough water due to low rainfall, yet it has sufficient for drinking water needs till June this year. Meanwhile, the government has issued directions to not release water for irrigation from the dam, and reserve it for drinking till the next monsoon. Amid this, the district administration has pressed some 18 tankers into service to supply drinking water to parts of Tikota and Indi taluk. District Minister MB Patil directed officials to identify private borewells and list out villages that may face a water crisis. These private borewells can be utilised to supply water through tankers during emergencies, he said during a recent KDP meeting.


Though there is no drinking water problem in Udupi district as of now, the summer is going to be harsh as there was scarcity of rainfall in the last monsoon. Udupi received 3,525mm rainfall from January 1 till December-end 2023, against the normal rainfall of 4,534mm. However, the rainfall pattern was not favourable either, as initially it poured and then there was no sign of rain in August and September. Udupi DC Dr Vidyakumari said the District Disaster Management Committee had held a meeting recently, and it was understood that water scarcity had not hit the district so far. However, the situation may not remain favourable by February-end, so tahsildars have been instructed to hold a meeting to discuss the drinking water issue every week. ‘’We have about 76 private borewells that have been identified by engineers. If the need arises, water will be sourced from those borewells,’’ the DC said. There is no scarcity of water in Baje dam, that supplies water to Udupi city. However, people should start using water judiciously, the DC said.


Though summer is three months away, some villages of Kalaburagi district have already started facing a drinking water crisis. According to official sources, three villages of Aland taluk are hit by shortage, and water is supplied from private borewells. The district administration has identified 282 villages and 17 wards which could face a drinking water crisis — Afzalpur taluk has 86 villages, the highest number, followed by Aland (45 villages}, Kalaburagi (40), Sedam (28), Kamalapur (23), Kalagi (17), Chincholi (15) and Chittapur taluk (14). Official sources said the tender for supplying water through tankers was called in December itself, but as none of the agencies responded, a re-tender was called on January 5 for supplying drinking water through tankers.

Meanwhile, the zilla panchayat has identified 157 private borewells with a high water yield for villages which are expected to face a shortage in the coming months. District unit president of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha Sharanabasappa Mamashetty said that about 35 villages are already facing a water crisis and the district administration is downplaying its severity. He said that people in the villages, especially those from the Banjara community, have started migrating as they have no work and the water problem is growing.


Ballari district, including the city of Ballari, has been facing a drinking water crisis for the past one month. Though summer is yet to arrive, city residents are getting water once every 10 to 15 days. In villages, people depend on public water tanks but even there, supply is limited, and they are angry with the administration. During his recent visit, Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda promised to set up a task force to handle the water crisis effectively. Deputy Commissioner Prashanth Kumar Mishra said this year, the district is facing nearly 40 per cent deficit rainfall. Officials conducted a series of meetings with taluk officials to manage the drought situation.


Despite a failed monsoon and the government declaring Mysuru as drought-hit, the district will not face a drinking water problem till May or June. Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) officials say water in the KRS, Kabini, Taraka and Harangi dams can be managed for drinking purposes till June. Mysuru and Bengaluru will not face a drinking water crisis. As per a recent report which CNNL submitted to the revenue minister, there will be no water problem till June. If there are pre-monsoon showers in March-April, they can provide drinking water till September. Meanwhile, the authorities have identified 102 villages which may face a drinking water problem.

To address the issue, they have listed 93 borewells which have enough water. In the event of a crisis, water will be supplied through these borewells. Despite a weak monsoon, the water level in KRS is 93ft, Nugu dam 78.8ft, Kabini 180ft and Harangi dam 142ft. At KRS Dam, water can be drawn till 60ft. Around 5,000 cusecs of water is required daily to supply drinking water for Mysuru, Bengaluru, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts.

To ensure there is enough water in the dams till the monsoon, CNNL authorities are releasing water from dams to canals for standing crops in the catchment areas of Kabini and KRS dams, on kattu paddathi basis, and have already stopped releasing water for paddy crops. DC KV Rajendra said there will be no drinking water problem for people and livestock till the monsoon, as the dams hold enough water.


Following a good amount of rainfall in the past three years, Kolar district, identified as a parched district, is not facing a drinking water crisis. Through the newly inaugurated Yerogol dam, drinking water is being supplied to Bangarpet and Kolar, and there is sufficient water for another nine months, said Kolar Deputy Commissioner Akram Pasha. In other taluks, an action plan has been prepared to dig 500 borewells in rural areas, and 200 borewells in urban areas, and there is no question of supplying drinking water through private tankers. If required, water will be supplied through town and city municipalities.


Required drinking water in Bengaluru per month is 1.6 tmcft

BWSSB says storage at KRS and Kabini is 28 tmcft each

To address drinking water woes, BWSSB pins hope on D5,500-cr TK Halli project

775 million litres of water per day for 110 villages

In tail-end Bengaluru, residents depend on water tankers, pay up D1,500 per tanker load of 12,000 litres, and Rs 900 per 7,000-litre load.

12,000 public borewells will also cater to drinking water needs during summer

(Inputs from S Velayudham/ Kolar, Prakash Samaga/ Udupi, Firoz Rozindar/ Vijayapura, Kiran Balannanavar/Ballari, Ramakrishna Badseshi/Kalaburagi, BK Laxmikantha/Mysuru)

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