Bangalore is unlikely to face a water crisis this year as reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, particularly KRS and Kabini, have enough stored as compared to last year.
The levels at the reservoirs are the highest in the last five years and inflow has continued due to rains in the past couple of days after the depression in the Bay of Bengal.
People in Mysore, especially farmers, were the worst affected last year and had laid siege to the reservoirs. They had also called for a Mandya-Mysore bandh following the Supreme Court’s directions to release water from Kabini and KRS to Tamil Nadu.
However, the situation has improved this year and there is bumper crop across the Cauvery basin. The Irrigation Department will release water for standing crops in Kabini achukat for the next 15 days and is likely to take up modernisation work.
As of now, Kabini has about 10 tmc ft, including 4.5 tmc ft in dead storage.
The water level at Kabini reservoir is at 2,275 ft as against its maximum of 2,284 ft, with inflow of 1,300 cusecs. Last year, the water level was only 2,265 ft as much of it was released to Tamil Nadu. The present reservoir levels will encourage farmers to grow semi-dry crops in the summer.
The water level at KRS is 119 ft as against its total capacity of 124 ft, with 37 tmc ft in live storage. Inflow is 3,143 cusecs while outflow is 690 cusecs.
At Hemavathi reservoir, the water level is 2,907 ft as against its maximum capacity of 2,922 ft. Officials have released water into various irrigation canals in Hemavathi and KRS achukats and will provide water till December 31.
The Cauvery basin has seen a decline in sugarcane cultivation as farmers are no longer interested in short-term crops due to the lack of water last year and also the prevailing drought situation for the last three years.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leader and MLA K S Puttanniah said Pandavapura sugar factory has crushed around 1.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane. They are running short of cane as farmers have not grown the crop, fearing the drought situation may continue. He said the cultivation area of sugarcane will increase only if the Cauvery basin continues to receive good rain.
Shivashankar, chief engineer of the Cauvery Niravari Nigam, said this year’s storage is much more as compared to last year.
He said the Cauvery achukat has witnessed good yield as the department had taken efforts to ensure water was supplied to irrigated areas. Paddy will be harvested in Kabini achukat if they are given water for another 15 days, he said.
Recalling the efforts taken last year to provide water to Bangalore and Mysore, he said there will be no drinking water scarcity in both Bangalore and Mysore.