Design flaw leaves water projects defunct

Many water supply schemes in drought-hit Belagavi and Bagalkot region have become defunct.

As many as 75 multi-village water supply schemes implemented with crores of public money in the drought-hit Belagavi and Bagalkot region have become defunct because of a “design flaw”, the state government has now found.

This was revealed by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda at a news conference on Saturday.

“During a recent review, officials said 75 already functioning multi-village schemes have stopped due to lack of water. It is a design flaw because they did not plan with an assured source of water. As a result, it has dried up,” Gowda said.

The “design flaw” in the case of these 75 schemes was that the assumed water source dried up in peak summer.

For many years, Karnataka has been implementing multi-village water supply schemes as they are seen as cheap and more effective in providing water supply. Existing multi-village schemes range in size and complexity covering a small group of villages or hundreds of them widely scattered.

These schemes rely on water sources that are local (tubewells) and remote (canals or rivers). So far, the government has approved schemes worth over Rs 11,000 crore covering hundreds of habitats.

“The core principle is to find reliable sources of water. In a decentralised model, it is difficult to ascertain availability of water,” Gowda explained.

The government, he said, does not want to repeat the mistake of not identifying reliable or assured sources of water for its ambitious Jaladhare universal drinking water project, which is estimated to cost over Rs 50,000 crore. It aims to provide water to rural habitations that are not already covered by any multi-village water supply scheme and which do not have a sustainable water source.

In the first phase, the project will be implemented in five districts — Raichur, Vijayapura, Ramanagaram, Mandya and Kolar. "The district-wise designs and estimates will be approved by the Cabinet over the next two months. It is taking time expressly because we want to design the scheme based on an assured sources, even if it costs more," Gowda said.

The assured source for the Kolar district, for instance, will be the Yettinahole project. "Land acquisition for the Yettinahole project is pending before the Cabinet. Once that is cleared, we will have an assured source for Kolar," Gowda, who is a native of Kolar, said.

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