The district is facing a drought-like situation despite bountiful rains in the Cauvery catchment area and excess flow of water into the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam this monsoon. The canals of the tail-end villages did not get water and the lakes and ponds too did not fill up to the maximum level.
The KRS dam reached its maximum level of 124.80 ft in the month of October itself and the current water level of the dam is 116 ft. Even after releasing Tamil Nadu's share of water, the dam has adequate water. But, parts of the district are facing drinking water problems. Srirangapatna taluk, where the dam is situated, and Mandya taluk face water shortage. Villages of Nagamangala, KR Pet taluks are being supplied water in tankers. Shimsha Left Bank Canal in Maddur and tail-end villages of Malavalli taluk are not getting water.
Though Minor Irrigation Minister C S Puttaraju is from the district, no efforts have been taken to fill the tanks and ponds. In the hope of getting water for the summer crop, farmers went ahead to sow sugarcane on more than two lakh hectares of land. Besides, as paddy will be harvested soon, they are getting ready for sowing paddy for summer crop. But, farmers of the tail end villages are facing problems.
Farmer leader Haniyambadi Nagaraj said, though there is sufficient water in the dam and other water sources, the district has not become free from drought. "This is due to the failure of the elected representatives and Irrigation department officials. Moreover, no water will be available for agriculture, if the water level in the dam goes below the 100 ft mark," he said.
Farmer leaders are of the opinion that if the water supply is managed scientifically, it is possible to solve the water crisis of the district. "The unscientific management of water supply by the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam officials has created an artificial drought situation. Water is being released into the same canals again and again. There are no engineers to provide information," they alleged.
"There are several Water Consumer Cooperative Societies across the district. But the engineers do not attend their meetings to understand the reality. Many engineers, who have been transferred from other departments, do not have knowledge of irrigation. They do not follow the timetable and waste precious water," said society president M Yogeesh.
Speaking to DH, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Executive Engineer R Suresh said, all ponds and lakes would be filled by December. Now, water is being released to Shimsha Left Bank canals, as per requirement, he said.