SHIVAMOGGA: The state government’s proposal to supply 18 tmcft of water from Tunga and Bhadra rivers to quench the thirst of Bengaluru city has not gone down well with environmentalists, farmer leaders and water experts. The activists have questioned the decision, stating that the project is not ecologically viable. According to them, Shivamogga and Bhadravati cities are already bearing the brunt of scanty rainfall despite these rivers flowing within the cities’ limits.
There is already a proposal to draw 30 tmcft of Sharavati water from Linganamakki dam for Bengaluru. Amidst this, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has reportedly asked Water Resources Department officials to frame another plan to draw 18 tmcft of water from Tunga and Bhadra rivers too. Activists have hinted that the decision is going to rake up another controversy, which may also take a political colour.
The proposal attracted a lot of flak from various quarters as rainfall has been depleting alarmingly, with all rivers and tributaries in the Malenadu region losing their old charm. Karnataka Rajya Ratha Sangha and Hasiru Sene state president KT Gangadhar told The New Indian Express that inflow from the water sources of Malnad region, Tunga and Bhadra rivers, have been decreasing in November and December itself.
“Due to deforestation, water flowing from the ghats have come down. Both Tunga and Bhadra waters are diverted for Upper Bhadra Project to supply water to Chitradurga and Tumakuru. Water is also drawn from the tunga river under the Upper Tunga Project for supply to Haveri, Ranebennur and Masur. The people of Shivamogga city are reeling under water shortage and are getting water once in two days. When this is the situation, Kumaraswamy should not anger the people of the region. Besides, he should also not create a divide among people of Malnad and Bayaluseeme and cause damage to the unity of the state,” he said.
Gangadhar also said state could not use Hemavathi, Kabini and Cauvery waters as most of it went to Tamil Nadu. “The government could have used those water filled up to rejuvenate tanks. I would suggest the CM to go through the water-level data of Tunga and Bhadra of 10 years and think if such plans work out,” he added.
‘Malnad already hit by Bhadra project’
Environmental activist Ajay Kumar Sharma said that Malnad region has already been affected by the Upper Bhadra Project. “The plan comprises lifting 17.4 tmcft of water from the foreshore of Upper Tunga reservoir to Bhadra reservoir and further lifting 29.90 tmcft of water from Bhadra reservoir to the delivery chamber. If another 18 tmcft is diverted to supply water to Bengaluru, the condition will be worse,”
‘Govt should focus on Cauvery water’
Water expert S Vishwanath said that the project is not ecologically viable. “Many trees will be cut when pipelines are laid and energy consumption will increase due to the lifting of water,” he said. He suggested that the government should, instead, focus on Cauvery water instead of diverting water from faraway places. “The government should rejuvenate Arkavati too.”
Forum writes to AP, T’gana
The Malnad Wildlife and Cultural Foundation has sent a memorandum to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments as Tunga-Bhadra waters is used by these states as well. “Any project in the area should be decided by all three states,” said a member of the forum.