Karnataka: Nearly 9 in 10 talukas hit by drought, 2/3rds of irrigation tanks run dryhttps://indianexpress.com/article/explained/karnataka-nearly-9-in-10-talukas-hit-by-drought-2-3rds-of-irrigation-tanks-run-dry-5779828/

Karnataka: Nearly 9 in 10 talukas hit by drought, 2/3rds of irrigation tanks run dry

The economic survey of the state for 2018-19 has projected “a negative growth of 4.8 percent in the agricultural sector because of the drought situation prevailing due to scarcity of rain”.

Karnataka: Nearly 9 in 10 talukas hit by drought, 2/3rds of irrigation tanks run dry
Weak monsoon rainfall over the last three years had already created drought-like conditions in much of Northern Karnataka before the weak northeast monsoon. (File/Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

How severe is the drought in Karnataka

Of 176 talukas, 156 have been listed as drought-hit following the failure of the northeast monsoon between October and December 2018. Of these, 107 talukas have been listed as having severe drought conditions and 49 under moderate drought conditions by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC)

The economic survey of the state for 2018-19 has projected “a negative growth of 4.8 percent in the agricultural sector because of the drought situation prevailing due to scarcity of rain”

How has rainfall been like

Weak monsoon rainfall over the last three years had already created drought-like conditions in much of Northern Karnataka before the weak northeast monsoon. Southern Karnataka, which relies heavily on the southwest monsoon, is better placed with water resources

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In 2018, North Interior Karnataka received 531.5 mm rainfall, which was 28% below the normal of 740.3 mm Rainfall was slightly more than normal in South Interior Karnataka (2%) and Coastal Karnataka (1%), according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data

Between June 1 and June 10 this year, 18 of the 30 districts received 20% above normal rainfall, and two districts received normal rainfall. The remaining 10 districts have received scanty to deficient rainfall. Varying amounts of rainfall are predicted for each of these regions this week.

How much water is stored in reservoirs?

Irrigation tanks in 11 districts — Bidar, Kalaburagi, Raichur, Vijayapura, Yadgir, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Koppal, Chitradurga, Gadag and Haveri — have dried up, KSNDMC data show. As of June 10, eight of 13 reservoirs are at levels lower than their average over 15 years. Of 3,611 minor irrigation tanks, just 1% have water that is more than half their capacity, 31% are at 20-50% while 68% are dry.

What measures has the government taken to combat the situation?

The state government has created multiple Cabinet sub-committees to address the situation. “Action has been taken to ensure availability of fodder for cattle and drinking water for people. Grants have been released to the Deputy Commissioners  under SDRF (State Drought Relief Fund) for relief work,” Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said recently. A grant of of Rs 300 crore has been created for zila panchayats and urban local bodies for relief operations wherever these cannot be taken up with NDRF and SDRF funds, state officials said. Relief work involves drinking water supply with tankers. The state has also appealed to the Centre for a grant of Rs 2,500 crore; Rs 950 crore has been allotted.

Explained: How severe is the water crisis in Maharashtra?

Is there a drinking water crisis in the capital Bengaluru?

Last year, a report by the BBC listed Bengaluru at second place, behind São Paulo, among 11 cities where per capita water supply would fall below 50 litres per day. Current supply averages around 65 litres per capita per day, while civic authorities aim to provide around 150 litres per day to every household. The city requires 1,400 million litres per day, and gets 1,250 MLD.

Better planned areas receive more water while poorer areas on the periphery receive only 40-45 litres per day at present. Outlying areas are entirely dependent on private water tankers. Due to depletion of groundwater, even borewells are running dry.

Water supply to Bengaluru depends on the Cauvery river, 100 km away, and the monsoon. A new Cauvery water scheme (stage five) being implemented with Japanese funding will provide all areas regular access to drinking water, according to the Bangalore Water Supply Board.

Also read | Gujarat – Little rain, just one key river

Is there a long-term solution to the drinking water crisis?

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One possibility is conservation of forests like the Western Ghats, where rivers such as the Cauvery originate, so as to mitigate the effects of climate change. The failure to protect the Western Ghats, and the unabated deforestation in the catchment of rivers like the Cauvery, have impacted rainfall patterns and reduced water flows, Professor Krishna Raj from the Centre for Economic Studies and Policy at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) wrote in a paper titled ‘Understanding India’s Water Balance in a Globalized Economy’.