Water in KRS dam below dead storage level; farmers in trouble

Water in KRS dam below dead storage level; farmers in trouble

A file photo of near dry KRS dam in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district. DH Photo0

At a time when the farmers are demanding the release of water into the canals from Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam to save their crops, the Supreme Court’s direction to the state to release four tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu, has come as a huge blow.

The current water level in the dam is 72.24 feet, below the dead storage level of 74 feet. The Cauvery Neeravari Nigam has stopped the release of water into the canals in order to preserve it to meet drinking needs.

The farmers have been staging protest for more than a week demanding release of water.

Farmer leader K S Nanjundegowda said that they could have saved their crops if water was released for 10 more days. “The farmers took up sowing only after the officials promised to release water in the Irrigation Consultative Committee meeting. Now, the SC’s direction will leave us without water for even drinking needs. Mandya district, where highest number of farmers have committed suicide, will face worse situations,” he said.

Parts of Mandya district are already facing drinking water crisis. Water is being supplied in tankers to parts of KR Pet and Nagamangala taluks.  Farmer leader Haniambadi Nagaraj said, “We have been facing the worst drought for the past four years. After good rains last monsoon, the KRS dam crossed the 100-ft mark and the lakes were also filled. But, now we are facing a ‘green drought’ (hasiru baragala), which is very difficult to tackle”.

Currently, only 3.44 tmcft of water is available in the KRS dam for use. In all, there is only 9.94 tmcft of water in the Cauvery basin, which is not sufficient even for drinking needs. Besides, farmers are facing the threat of losing paddy on 15,408 hectares in the district. Sugarcane grown on 18,500 hectares of land also require two more rotations of water, say farmers.