With 160 taluks dry, almost entire state may be declared drought-hit

Almost the entire state is likely to be declared drought-hit with 160 taluks of the total 176 taluks facing severe water shortage.

During the kharif season in 2016, the state government declared 139 taluks as drought-hit and sought Rs 4,702 crore funds from the Centre for drought relief works. During the rabi season, the list has gone up to 160 taluks.

With 25 of the 30 districts facing severe rainfall deficit in 2016, Karnataka could feel the drought effect during 2017 too, since rainfall is expected only in June.

Of the 30 districts, only one district—Bidar—had received excess rainfall. The four districts which have received normal rainfall are—Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar and Kalaburagi.

The state is facing hydrological, meteorological and agricultural drought as it failed to get rains during the pre-monsoon, south-west monsoon as well as north-east monsoon, according to G S Srinivas Reddy, director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre.

Reddy said the average normal rainfall for the state is about 1,155 mm, while the actual rainfall received was 831 mm from January to December last. The deficit was around 28%. “Rainfall recorded in 2016 is the lowest in the past 45 years. We have not considered the records prior to 1971. We will be staring at the present dry period till we get rains which could be in June,” the director said.

Drinking water

It’s not just agriculture in the Cauvery basin that will be hit by water shortage. Even meeting drinking water needs would be a challenge in the coming months. The four major reservoirs in the basin—KRS, Harangi, Kabini and Hemavathi— can impound 104.55 tmcft of water. As on Thursday, the available water was 15.4 tmcft.

On an average, 3 tmcft per month is required to meet the drinking water requirement of 40 towns including Bengaluru and Mysuru in addition to 600 villages in the Cauvery basin. Of the 15.4 tmcft available, only 11 tmcft would be available due to seepage and other losses. “For the next five months or till we get rains, we would have to manage with 11 tmcft. So, the available water has to be managed efficiently,” Reddy said.
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