Staring at severe water scarcity, the state government has embarked on a massive mission to rejuvenate traditional water bodies. Making use of space and remote sensing technology, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department has mapped water bodies that are dried up, vanished or encroached upon.
As part of the ‘Jalamrutha’ initiative, the RDPR department has rolled out a rejuvenation project for every zilla panchayat to prepare a detailed plan on making use of these water bodies to collect rainwater and use it during crises besides enriching the groundwater table. As part of the programme, using geospatial technology and satellite imagery, a whopping 13,294 water bodies comprising temple ponds (kalyanis), small village ponds (kuntes), gokkate (cattle tanks) and katte (lakes) will be revived.
“These water bodies, besides holding socio-religious importance, have been a lifeline of the people, especially in arid zones for over 15 centuries. Of late, we have been losing them for various land use patterns. If these bodies were to hold the run-off water and retain it for a few days, it will help recharge the surrounding areas during distress,” a senior official of RDPR revealed.
Giving an insight into the project, RDPR Minister Krishna Byregowda said, “We intend to create a statewide movement to save water. As part of the programme, we have been using satellite imagery, geographical coordinates of these water bodies to scientifically document and rejuvenate them.” U T Vijay, Principal Scientific Officer of Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) said, “The groundwater level is depleting at an alarming rate across the state.”
Rejuvenating these water bodies will be a game changer in the days to come as these will turn out to be acquifiers.”
Interestingly, the most drought-prone districts like Ramanagaram, Kolar and Chikkaballapur have revealed the highest number of traditional water bodies suggesting the importance and the need for rejuvenation.
The groundwater in these districts has not only dropped below 1,000 ft but has also been contaminated with hard metals which are taking a toll on the local population.
As many as 3,518 temple ponds, 2,360 tanks, 3,316 cattle tanks and 4,071 large water tanks have been mapped already. “
Of all the water bodies, village ponds comprise about 40%, followed by small tanks 28%,” yet another technical officer pointed.