The severity of drought in the district can be explained best with the number of lakes that have gone dry this year. Out of 203 lakes in the district, 159 have completely dried up.
All seven taluks of the district have been declared drought-hit by the government. Most of the lakes in the district, including those under Cauvery catchment area, have dried up.
It may be mentioned that the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir did not reach its maximum level last year. The current water level in the KRS dam has slumped to 79 ft against the maximum level of 124.80 ft. Release of water into canals had been stopped from March end itself.
According to a survey, out of 203 lakes in the district, 44 lakes are partially filled, while the remaining have totally dried up. So, there is no water for drinking in several villages. The farmers of the region say, the lakes should have been filled before water was released into canals. While a few lakes were filled, some were left out.
When officials found it
difficult to release water for irrigation purpose to save the crops, the filling of lakes took a back seat. A few lakes irrigate hundreds of acres of land situated in the lower region (kelegade pradesha). As those lakes have dried up, the farmers could neither cultivate
paddy, sugar cane nor any and other crop this year, pushing them into financial straits, the farmers explained.
With a majority of the lakes drying up, the water table has depleted to an alarming level. Water is not available, even after drilling 600 ft at a few taluks in the district, it is said. The drying up of lakes has affected livestock to a great extent. Lakes play a major role in maintenance of cattle for washing, drinking and others.
Most of the lakes are filled with silt. Desilting works has not been taken up for several years now. While desilting was done under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) at some places, some others have been left unattended. It is also alleged that the drying up of lakes has been misused by vested interests, who have been encroaching them.