Rice bowl of State may prove a cup of woes this year

Rice bowl of State may prove a cup of woes this year

Storage in Tungabhadra reservoir dips to 50-year low

Rice bowl of State may prove a cup of woes this year

Water is yet to be released for cultivation from the Tungabhadra Dam to its command areas comprising Bellary, Koppal and Raichur district, which is famously known as the rice bowl of the State.

 For the first time in over 50 years, water has not been released to the Tungabhadra Right and Left Canal, even though it is already August. The situation exposes the severity of the drought this time around. The canals irrigate an estimated eight lakh acres of land in these districts.

On Monday, water level in TB Dam stood at 1612.9 tmc feet against its maximum capacity of 1633 tmc feet. As there is no sufficient storage, water can’t be released for irrigation purpose. The Tungabhadra Irrigation Consultative Committee will soon take a decision over the release of water to the canals and also the quantum.

Poor inflow

Due to poor rainfall in the catchment areas of the river, the inflow to the dam has reduced drastically.

Precarious situation

The situation is precarious. If water is released for irrigation with the hope of better rain in the coming months, it will help farmers in cultivating the kharif crop. However, if the rain fails, there will be no water for the summer months. “Water should be released into the canals. Else, farmers will be adversely affected. If water is not released, the people may also face a food crisis,” said Mohan Kumar, farmers’ leader from Siruguppa.

Worst affected areas

Though TB Dam is situated in the district, most parts of the district fall under rain-fed irrigation areas.  The taluks of Huvinahadagali, Hagaribommanahalli, Kudligi, Sandur and a part of Bellary taluk fall under this category.

Usually, sowing is completed by June-July and one can see green cover all around by August. However, this year, due to the failure of monsoon, sowing activity has not been taken up, except in isolated cases. Even people who had taken up sowing are now repenting as monsoon has failed. The farmers are worried as they are staring at a drought like in the previous year. 

The plight of farmers, who are dependent on water from tanks for irrigation in these taluks, is no different. Most of the tanks have gone dry. Though irrigation undertaken with borewell water may provide some respite, irregular power supply coupled with the fast-depleting water table can put paid to the hopes.