BENGALURU: Despite regular threats, BWSSB officials went ahead and disconnected hundreds of pumpsets that illegally withdrew water directly from the Cauvery river for the purpose of irrigation.
They also shutdown water entering three barrages. The end result: many millions litres of water saved and this in turn has helped the Board reduce the water outflow from the Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir to the city.
The crackdown by BWSSB on unauthorised pumpsets dotting the banks of Cauvery river commenced from January 2017. “In the five months till May-end, we have saved water equivalent to one month’s water requirement for Bengaluru from Cauvery river. This comes to nearly 1.58 tmcft,” said a reliable source. This kind of illegal pumping activity had been taking place for years from the KRS to the Dhanagere barrage in Kollegal Taluk and the Board was keen on putting an end to it, he added.
“The crackdown was carried out with the assistance of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited. Electricity Board officials also helped by disconnecting power supply to the pumpsets we identified as illegal,” the source said.
Such violations were high in Malavalli, T Narasipur, Srirangapatna, Madhava Mantri, Dhanagere and Satyagala areas. Drawing of water for irrigation through wells located near river beds is legal but drawing water directly from the river is not allowed by the law,” he explained.
Asked about the exact number of pumpsets, the official said they did not keep count but it ran into hundreds. “In some spots, we even found 50 pumps within 50 metres while some spots had less number of pumps,” he added.
On the action taken against the owners of the pumpsets, he said, “The owners were mostly farmers drawing water mainly to irrigate their fields. So, on humanitarian grounds, no complaint was booked or stringent action taken against them. Our objective was to save water flowing to the city and we are succeeding in it.” The pumps were dismantled and handed over to the owners.
Another crucial step taken by water board officials was to reduce the level of water at the sluice gates so that they do not enter into the barrages which were then diverted for irrigation. The barrages at Madhyamantri, Dhanagere and Satyagala thus became empty due to lack of water inflow, the source said.
“We tried to lock the barrage gates initially but realised the localites were opening them later at night. So, we decided to take the step of reducing the height of water so that they do not pass through the gate in the barrage.
Reduced KRS outflow
The results of both these major steps have begun to reveal BWSSB’s readings on water outflow. There was an outflow of 860 cusecs of water from KRS to Shiva Anaicut on May 1. By May 27, the outflow has been reduced to 477 cusecs.