Moderate to heavy rain and strong gusty winds of 40-50 kmph … the evening weather forecast, seen in conjunction with the overflowing Almati and Narayanapura dams, evoked a sense of forbearing. More so as inundated men, women, children, cattle, fodder—and everything else related to human civilisation and nature that can float —have been struggling to reach the safety of some dry island or perch in over a dozen districts of Karnataka.
Human settlements and lives in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Belagavi, Dharwad, Haveri, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Kodagu, Vijayapura, Raichur, Yadgir are reeling under flood fury. Around a dozen lives have been lost. Three more districts, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara and Mandya, are under red alert. Four reservoirs in northern Karnataka, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Almati and Narayanapura, particularly the last one, are just about being managed by upping outflows, causing inundation in the catchment areas.
It’s no small irony that, even a few weeks ago, Karnataka was pleading with Maharashtra to release 2 tmc of water to relieve its drought, and getting turned down in the absence of a quid pro quo. Now, that same Maharashtra has released 40 tmc into Karnataka to save itself from calamity! Floods have another tragic consequence: the non-productive outflow of water, which Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will be lamenting in a few months’ time. A blueprint of how to avoid unplanned disasters or reduce its damage over the short and long term has long been on the agenda. In Karnataka, now the bureaucrat is in charge. New Chief Minister
B S Yediyurappa, without a Cabinet, is a lone man fighting the waters. He has tackled floods in the past. Nothing much has changed in between, except his high command. But with weightier issues at hand, New Delhi has little time to ponder over a half-formed government. The flood fury, meanwhile, continues.