Water crisis deepening: Karjol

Overexploitation of groundwater has led to alarming situation

Drinking water scarcity is likely to intensify, especially in the drought-hit areas, with the water level depleting fast in a majority of the minor irrigation (MI) tanks in the State, Minor Irrigation Minister Govind Karjol said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, he said of the total 3,529 MI tanks, nearly 1,332 are completely dry and about 1,160 tanks are filled upto less than 30 per cent of the total water capacity. Only 45 tanks have water to their full capacity in the State. As a result, an estimated four lakh hectares of agriculture land around these tanks have been affected.

The Minister said, of the 234 watershed areas, 64 of them - covering 38 taluks - have been declared overexploited. Groundwater in these places has become unfit even for agriculture use, let alone drinking. Groundwater exploitation in about 105 taluks has crossed the danger mark, he said. With tanks going dry, groundwater has depleted, causing acute scarcity of drinking water.

“Drinking water scarcity has been a bigger problem than unemployment in rural areas this summer. People can somehow find a job and earn their bread. But drinking water is a huge problem.”

Save every drop

There is no option but to transport water to these places through tankers and distribute to the affected people,” he said. He called upon the people to save every drop of water and adopt rainwater harvesting system to deal with water scarcity. As many as 123 taluks have been declared drought-hit in the State by the government.

Karjol said the department had prepared a comprehensive master plan, which envisages construction of about 2,600 new barrages and tanks across the State.

The department has identified places where new tanks and barrages can be constructed. The project requires an estimated Rs 1,500 crore for implementation, he said.

He said he had presented the plan before Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and urged him to include it in the 2012-13 budget. If the master plan is implemented, the effect of drought would minimise to a considerable extent, Karjol added.

Besides, the Minister said he had proposed to the chief minister to bring all water bodies under one agency for better management and maintenance.

It will be easy to take quick action if all water bodies are under one agency, he added.

The minister said the department had cleared encroachments in 2,258 MI tanks and recovered about 5,985 hectares of land. Encroachment of MI tanks is rampant in Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumkur, Bangalore urban, Bangalore rural, Ramanagar, Shimoga, Hassan and Haveri districts, the Minister said.

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