Karnataka facing drought: CWC official

Karnataka facing drought: CWC official

Karnataka is facing a drought and water levels in reservoirs across the Cauvery river basin have dropped due to deficit rains, a Central Water Commission (CWC) official said Saturday.

"I have realised that there is drought in Karnataka due to deficit rainfall and water levels in the reservoirs of Cauvery are lower than last year due to a weak monsoon," CWC member K.C. Jacob told reporters here.

Assuring the state government that he would mention on his assessment of the ground situation in his report to the central monitoring committee (CMC) of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), Jacob said he met scores of farmers in Mysore and Mandya districts and heard their grievances.

"I will communicate to the CMC on what I have seen and grievances I heard from the affected farmers and their families," said Jacob, also a chief engineer in the water resources department.

The five-member central team Friday visited the two worst drought-hit districts Mandya and Mysore and assessed the damage to crops caused by a severe drought, depleting water levels in the river basin reservoirs at Kabini and Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam, about 120 km from Bangalore.

Headed by CWC directors B.P. Pandey and D. Ranga Reddy, Jacob, another chief engineer Manmohan and Union agriculture ministry's deputy commissioner P.K. Saha, the team also discussed the amount of inflow and outflow at the reservoirs and collected data on area of cultivation, water availability and crops grown in the old Mysore region.

The team also flew early Saturday to Hassan district, about 180 km from here, for an aerial survey of the river basin reservoirs in Harangi and Hemavathi command areas. In a related development, state water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai and state chief secretary S.V. Ranganath met CMC chairman and union Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh here and discussed the situation arising out of the Sep 28 Supreme Court's directive to comply with the Sep 19 CRA order to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to the neighbouring riparian state (Tamil Nadu).

"We have apprised Singh and his central team of the grim situation across the Cauvery basin and the depleting levels of water in all the four reservoirs. A delayed and weak monsoon led to 43 percent deficit rainfall in the catchment areas and drought conditions in the region," Bommai told reporters later.

The state requires about 30 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water for drinking purpose and 38 tmcft for harnessing the standing crops in both (kharif and rabi) seasons.

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