BENGALURU: Karnataka has big plans on the water front benefiting farmers and Bengalureans.
The state government will implement the Mekedatu drinking water project to meet the needs of a burgeoning Bengaluru, and will soon launch a mega drip irrigation project for sugarcane cultivation in the state by bringing more parched lands under irrigation.
After the bitter experience of consecutive droughts, Karnataka has also decided to speed up the projects for desiltation of Tungabhadra Dam and rejuvenation of Arkavathy river, Water Resources Minister M B Patil told reporters on Tuesday.
Karnataka has the second largest tracts of dry lands, just behind Rajasthan.
The government will soon invite global expression of interest for technical consultancy for implementing the drinking water project at Mekedatu, which is about 90 km from Bengaluru. The project envisages supply of drinking water to Bengaluru and other towns in the Cauvery basin. It will submerge about 2,500 acres of forest land, the minister said.
At present, Cauvery water is being pumped to Bengaluru from Torekadanahalli, which is about 100 km from the city.
Patil said Fali S Nariman, the head of Karnataka’s legal and technical advisory team on Cauvery basin projects, had advised the government to go ahead with the project. “The proposed project is within our land boundary and utilises our share of water in the Cauvery basin. Nariman has made it clear that Tamil Nadu will not have any grounds to stop it,” Patil said.
He also said Karnataka was bound to ensure flow of 192 tmcft of water at the Biligundlu monitoring station. “We are approaching the Central Water Commission seeking clearance for the project. We do not anticipate any resistance from Tamil Nadu as we are not violating any water sharing agreement or the Supreme Court direction. This is just a drinking water project and we are confident of getting the go-ahead from the Central Water Commission,” he said.
What State Can Use
Twenty-two points have been identified as potential spots for building balancing reservoirs at Mekedatu. However, a decision on the spot would be made based on the recommendations of the technical consultancy agency. The project would enable the state to utilise an additional 40-48 tmcft of water, which is almost equal to the storage capacity at KRS.
The mega drip irrigation project for sugarcane growers is expected to change the profile of sugarcane cultivation.
The project, to be launched in January 2015, proposes to bring 4.50 lakh hectares under cane cultivation with an agreement involving the Water Resources Department, the sugar factories and the growers.
The per acre cost of installing a drip or sprinkler irrigation system is estimated to be around `40,000. Of this amount, the government would provide `10,000, sugar factories `5,000 and the beneficiary farmers would bear the remaining cost.
“Efforts are on to convince the Union government and the Energy Department to chip in to further bring down the cost burden on the beneficiaries,” Patil said.
The programme has been formulated as part of the larger plan to prevent wastage of water, bring more land under irrigation with efficient use of water and raise the income of cane growers and sugar factories, he said.
The programme would bring huge benefits to not only the farmers and sugar factories, it would also help in generation of more power, he added.
The project is expected to cost about `4,500 crore and the state government has decided to provide `500 crore annually for the next three years in its budget for its implementation.
Desilting TB Dam
The government has decided to invite global expression of interest for desilting the Tunbabhandra Dam or building a balancing reservoir to utilise the 35 tmcft of water which is going waste due to accumulation of silt in the dam.
A similar initiative has been taken for the proposed project for revival of Arkavathy river.
If the TB dam is desilted, it would result in dumping of silt in an area of about 66,000 acres. So the government is also contemplating building a balancing reservoir to negate the reduction in capacity of the TB dam due to siltation.
For Yettinahole Project
The ambitious Yettinahole project for bringing Netravathy waters to the parched areas of Kolar and Chikballapur districts has been improvised through utilisation of 6 tmcft more of water. The project would now tap about 28 tmcft of water against the earlier estimation of 22 tmcft, Patil said.
The project would also bring water to Magadi and Nelamanga taluks of Bengaluru Rural district.