BELAGAVI: A large section of population across the Krishna basin in North Karnataka remains vulnerable to floods every monsoon, often caused due to the release of water from dams in Maharashtra. Despite large-scale destruction the floods often cause on both sides of the border in Maharashtra and North Karnataka, the state government has failed to find a lasting solution.
Incessant rain over the past week in several parts of North Karnataka did create a flood-like situation, but scanty and intermittent rain in the past three days brought some respite to both people and officials. To avoid a repeat of the devastation caused during the corresponding period last year, the state government has initiated stringent measures to keep a tab on water levels and release of water from all dams of Karnataka and Maharashtra in the past two weeks.
Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi met his Maharashtra counterpart Rajendra Patil Yadrawkar on Saturday near Ichalkaranji, Maharashtra, to discuss the measures taken by both sides to control the release of water into Krishna from Maharashtra, and into Krishna river in Maharashtra from the Bheema in Karnataka, along the Krishna basin. They took stock of precautionary measures and urged officials to ensure the safety of people and cattle in the event of floods.
“I have appealed to Yadrawkar to ensure that the Belagavi district administration is alerted before any decision is taken by the Maharashtra government to release water from its dams into Krishna river. Officials on both sides must exchange information about water levels in all dams and rivers. We have taken measures to avoid the damage caused last time,” said Jarkiholi.
He had said on Saturday that there is no flood-like situation in the Krishna basin and its surroundings this time, as water levels in dams and rivers is not so threatening. Villagers living in flood-prone areas need not panic, he added. According to the district administration, steps have been taken in all flood-prone areas, including deployment of NDRF teams, boats and diversion of traffic in areas where low-lying bridges are submerged due to the rising Krishna.
Based on release of water from Maharashtra, the government will decide on the exact outflow from Almatti dam, which currently contains 92.42 tmcft of water against its maximum capacity of 123 tmcft. The current inflow is 1.80 lakh cusecs, and so is outflow. However, the present level of Narayanpur dam in Yadgir district is 27.29 tmcft, against the maximum of 33.31 tmcft. As both Almatti and Narayanpur dam levels are still far from danger level, sources said that none of the areas along the Krishna basin in North Karnataka is facing the threat of floods yet. Water in the Koyna dam is at 71 tmcft, against its maximum capacity of 105 tmcft.
However, farmlands around Khanapur and Nippani region are submerged due to incessant rain three days ago, and traffic was also disrupted on several routes on the border. An 18-year-old boy from Dummarubinatti, Gokak taluk, was washed away in the overflowing Bellary nala three days ago while testing his agriculture pumpset, and his body was fished out.
SOLUTION HANGS FIRE
The demand for shifting all flood-prone villages from the Krishna banks and increasing the height of about 25 low-lying bridges and roads has been put on the backburner by the government. Maharashtra has been insisting that Karnataka government sign a water-sharing agreement to release 4 tmcft of water to Maharashtra, and in turn, the latter will release the same amount of water from the Koyna to control calamities on the border. However, Karnataka has remained non-committal on the issue as it does not have facilities to store water to release 4 tmcft to Maharashtra.