MYSORE: With early onset of summer all but a foregone conclusion, all eyes are on the rain gods, for if the Cauvery catchment areas do not receive sufficient pre-monsoon showers, hassle-free water supply to Bangalore and other towns may remain a mirage.
Officials of the irrigation department are a worried lot indeed: with receding water levels in three primary reservoirs - Krishnaraja Sagar, Kabini and Hemavathi (see table) - they may need to perform a balancing act in meeting the needs of the urban population and farmers simultaneously.
2002 must bring many an unpleasant memory for Bangaloreans, when water levels in Kabini hit rock bottom before good rains in its catchment area turned saviour.
However, they may escape the water crisis as the irrigation department has decided to ban cultivation on the 4,000 acres that is irrigated by the Kabini right bank canal, where modernisation works will also be undertaken.
Taking stock of the live storage in all the three reservoirs, a consultative committee has suggested that farmers opt for semi-dry crops and has banned the cultivation of water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane in the tail-end region of the Cauvery achukat (canal).
Work on the Kabini canal will result in more water for other canals such as the Rampur-Ullahalli and left bank canals, discharging around 3.2 tmc of water. The remainder of 4 tmc will be used to supply drinking water to Bangalore. Also, the situation would only worsen if neighbouring Tamil Nadu demands the release of additional water.
Irrigation officials pleading anonymity told that enough water has reached Tamil Nadu during the rainy season, while pinning their hopes on early showers to defuse any potential conflict between the riparian states.
“Should Bangalore continue with its current rate of expansion, then we would definitely be looking at a bleak scenario,” the officials added.