Need to conserve origin of rivers, W Ghats stressed

Dr Shrisha Kumar, professor at Vivekananda College, Puttur, speaks at an interaction on ‘Drought, What Next?’ organised by the Dakshina Kannada Working Journalists’ Association in Mangaluru on Tuesday.

The destruction of Shola forest, grassland that percolates water in the Western Ghats and the failure to protect the origin of rivers and its sources has led to water crisis in Dakshina Kannada, opined experts.

They were addressing the interaction programme on ‘Drought, What Next?’ organised by the Dakshina Kannada Working Journalists’ Association in the city on Tuesday.

Dinesh Holla, Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya (SSS) convenor, said that all the major projects taken up on the Western Ghats are aimed at destruction of the origin of rivers that take birth in the Ghats.

Hydro power units

He warned that all the nine tributaries of River Nethravathi on the Western Ghats face the threat of turning into dry beds due to the hydro power projects.

“The hydel power units Nidle, Mrityunjana stream and Gundya stopped functioning due to non-availability of water. If the tributaries on the stretch between Elaneeru and Pushpagiri are diverted in the name of permanent irrigation projects, then Dakshina Kannada will become a permanent drought-hit district,” he explained.

“The forest land in the ecosensitive areas of the Western Ghats have been encroached upon to convert it into coffee plantations and homestays. The government has not initiated any action against illegal home resorts and encroachments in the sensitive regions of the Western Ghats,” he added.

Holla expressed disappointment that the state government is implementing the Yettinahole project to supply water from Dakshina Kannada, which is a drought-hit district, to Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts, which are also drought-hit.

Rainwater harvesting

Dr Shrisha Kumar, professor at Vivekananda College, Puttur, said that concreting roads and drains has aggravated the water crisis. “There is no space for the rainwater to percolate in Mangaluru city. Further, the hillocks that had been percolating water in the rainy seasons have been levelled to give space for concrete high-rise buildings,” he pointed out.

Speaking further, he said, “If we fail to percolate the sweet water of the Earth, then sea water intrusion will increase in Mangaluru. All the open wells will have saline water in them in the future.”

Appealing to the citizens to go for rainwater harvesting, the professor said, “Rainwater from the roof of a house and building can be stored and used for daily chores.”

Stating that River Nethravathi flows 96 km in the district, he warned that a 30-km stretch of the river in the ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats should not be touched.

“Check dams can be constructed on the remaining 66 km stretch, without disturbing the flow of the river, which, in turn, will increase the groundwater level in the surrounding areas,” he explained.

Further, he also stressed the need for recycling water.

Landscape change

Dr Narendra Pai Derla, professor at the Government First Grade College, said, “The sustainable life system of the past has changed in the district. The madaga, lakes and natural water bodies have disappeared in the district. The landscape of the region too has changed with the expansion of horticultural crops and decline in paddy cultivation.”

He said the use of water has increased over a period of time and stressed on the need to minimise the use of water.

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