Floods in River Netravati, historically called the Bantwal river, in Karnataka are a common sight during the Southwest monsoon. The natives of the Bantwal town still relive the fear of devastating floods of 1974 whenever the water level rises, as it did recently in 2013 and 2015, and again this year in 2018.
Are all the changes in the river water level because of variations in the rainfall? Not quite, says a recent study from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay that has identified the land use patterns in the river basin as an important cause.
The study, published in Environmental Earth Sciences, suggests that urbanisation is the primary cause for the increase in draining of the rainwater and washing away of the soil downstream in the Netravati basin. It analysed five different time periods, starting from 1972 and one projected scenario for 2030 using a standard model called the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT).