BENGALURU: Depleting reservoir levels and the weak Northeast monsoon have set the alarm bells ringing in Bengaluru and drought-hit districts of the state. If rains continue to play truant, Bengaluru could face a severe drinking water shortage in the harsh summer months.
As of Wednesday, the total availability of water in the four major reservoirs of South Interior Karnataka was 19.33tmcft, according to T N Chikkarayappa, Managing Director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. In places like Chamarajanagar, officials say that borewells have started to dry up ‘all of a sudden’, forcing district administrations to prepare for contingency plans for a harsh summer. Across the state, temperatures too are hovering one to two degrees above normal.
The availability of a mere 19.33tmcft of water is a concern since at least 9tmcft of the water will be required for Bengaluru city for the next six months. According to Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board, the annual consumption of water in Bengaluru is 18tmcft.
A resolution by the state government not to release water from Krishna Raja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs to Tamil Nadu has been of little help. On September 23, both Legislative Assembly and the Council resolved not to release any water as reservoir levels had “reached alarmingly low levels”, with only 27.6tmcft water left in them. It also mandated the state government to utilise the available water from the four reservoirs in South Interior Karnataka, only to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and other towns in Karnataka’s Cauvery basin.
On October 3, both the Houses adopted a modified resolution to release Cauvery water to farmers after ensuring adequate storage to meet drinking water needs. However, successive decisions of the Supreme Court compelled the state to release water to Tamil Nadu.
Though both North Interior Karnataka and South Interior Karnataka regions have been equally affected by drought, the north fares a lot better in terms of water availability. Save Malaprabha, all other major reservoirs in the north have more water than the combined capacities of all four major reservoirs.
For instance, water availability in Bhadra and Tungabhadra dams is 25.98tmcft and 20.95tmcft respectively. The total water availability in all reservoirs in North Interior Karnataka region is 224.13tmcft.
Chamarajanagar is among the most drought-prone districts in the state. B Ramu, Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar district, told Express that water scarcity issues have cropped up in some parts of the district.
The water table has plummeted following the monsoon failure, and “borewells have suddenly gone dry in some places”. In order to meet the water demands, new borewells are being dug, he said. Considering the problems faced now, he said that a water shortage crisis is on the cards for the district in the coming summer months.
“Task forces will be set up to deal with the water scarcity issues. Though tanker water is not being supplied to any part of the district, we might have to take it up in the coming months,” he added.