For the second consecutive year, farmers in the Cauvery basin may not get water for their summer crops because of an unprecedented water shortage.
An official said: “The water in the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin might not be sufficient for irrigation as we have to release water to Tamil Nadu and for drinking within Karnataka.”
The Cauvery consultative committee is likely to meet by the end of this month to decide if water can be released for summer crops.
According to Irrigation Department sources, live storage in the four major Cauvery reservoirs — Harangi, Hemavathy, K R Sagar and Kabini — adds up to just about 36 tmc ft.
The Cauvery tribunal’s award says Karnataka has to release 10 tmc ft to Tamil Nadu in January and 2.5 tmc ft every month thereafter till the monsoon sets in by the end of May.
Karnataka has already released a major share of Tamil Nadu’s January share. At least 10 tmc feet has to be released to Tamil Nadu over the next four months.
As Bangalore, Mysore and other areas in the basin depend on the Cauvery for drinking water, at least 10 tmc ft has to be reserved for them. The remaining 16 tmc ft will not be sufficient to meet the demands of the farmers in the Cauvery basin.
Harangi has less water than it did during the corresponding period last year. The extent of rainfall fell below normal during the last days of the monsoon.
Therefore, the inflow to the reservoirs was greatly reduced.
In Mysore, State Sugarcane Growers Association president Kuruburu Shanthakumar said agriculture doesn’t call for water right now as the paddy crops have been fully harvested.
The next sowing takes place only after the onset of monsoon. But the farmers need water in the canals in February and March to store the tanks and ponds with drinking water for livestock, he added.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Badagalapura Nagendra said though the situation doesn’t look grim now, things may take a turn for the worse if Tamil Nadu demands more water. (With inputs from Vincent D’Souza)