Rs 500-crore Jalamrutha conservation project needs push

Rs 500-crore Jalamrutha conservation project needs big push

Jalamrutha is a community-driven movement launched by the RDPR department for water conservation across Karnataka.  Credit: iStock image

Only 23% of traditional water bodies identified under Karnataka State Jalamrutha Project are in ‘execution’ mode, the Jalamrutha Directorate under the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) said.

Jalamrutha is a community-driven movement launched by the RDPR department for water conservation across Karnataka. A brainchild of former Agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda, the project was launched nearly 11 months ago with a budget of Rs 500 crore, initially for a two-year period has now been extended to three years.

The Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) through satellite imagery had identified 13,129 traditional water bodies (temple ponds, small village ponds, cattle tanks, and lakes) for revival, and prepared the plan estimates for 11,895.

But so far, only around 2,993 water bodies (22.79%) are in execution mode. The water bodies are revived by the Directorate of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which comes under RDPR. L K Atheeq, RDPR Principal Secretary, said, “Our progress has been affected by excess rain, this year.”

Confirming this, B Nijalingappa, Director of Jalamrutha, said that barring the parched districts like Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru, Chitradurga and Ramanagara, desilting of water bodies hasn’t been possible due to excess rainfall in other districts.

He maintained that a scientific estimate is yet to be provided by the competent authority on how much it would cost to revive these water bodies. Also, the work had begun only on a small percentage of water bodies as the project is not ‘target-oriented’, he added.

Dr U T Vijay, Principal Scientific Officer, KSCST, said, “We evaluated water bodies for three years starting April 2017. It’s the assessment of status of traditional water harvesting systems in Karnataka using geospatial technologies for rejuvenation.”

“We physically visited 14,000 structures like kalyanis, kuntes, gokattes and kattes (below 10 acres and above three acres) across all panchayats in Karnataka, and assessed its physical, hydrological status and source of water (surface or groundwater), its capacity, present silt status, inlet and outlet status, and created the Geographic
Information Database (GIS),” he said.

Information was collected for 20 parameters for each structure, and suggested seven to eight scientific measures for its rejuvenation like desilting, clearance of inlets, outlets and side bunds, including approximate cost of 3,200 kalyanis, 3,600 kuntes, 4,200 gokattes, and 4,600 kattes were evaluated. 

Karnataka is the second most arid state in the country after Rajasthan.

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