Reservoirs dry a month after monsoon onset

The dry KRS reservoir in Mandya district. DH FILE

It’s almost a month since the monsoon set in over Karnataka, but the state, especially South Interior Karnataka that forms the bulk of Cauvery catchment area, has witnessed an acute shortage of rainfall. Even rain surplus districts, including Kodagu — where the river Cauvery originates, have witnessed poor rainfall. This raises questions over the availability of potable water in the coming days, especially for Bengaluru, that gets nearly 80% of its water from Cauvery.

Surprisingly, North Karnataka region that is prone to droughts, has received excess to normal rainfall since June while South Karnataka districts where several dams are located, have witnessed deficient to scanty rainfall. According to sources in the revenue department, the state, as on July 10, witnessed a rainfall shortage of about 18%, with the districts of Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu reeling under 26% deficit. What is even more alarming is that among these districts, Kodagu witnessed the highest shortage till July 10, with a whopping 42%, followed by Chikkamagaluru (25%) and Shivamogga (22%).

While the state’s 13 major reservoirs, in July 2018 had 366.20 tmcft (44%) of water, the same reservoirs in 2019 till date have only 203.67 tmcft (25%) of water. The total live storage of the major reservoirs is 825.35 tmcft.

Meanwhile, with the delay affecting their agricultural preparation, farmers have been demanding release of water into canals in the Cauvery delta. If the government yields to farmers’ demands and releases water to canals for irrigation, people of Bengaluru will soon see dry taps.

Officials revealed to DH that Cauvery River, which had brought about 50 tmcft of storage last year at Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir, currently has brought in only 16.5 tmcft. “The present forecast suggests a weakening of monsoon over Karnataka at least for the next week. Already, we are reeling under severe shortage and the state is possibly staring at dry days,” Dr G S Srinivasa Reddy, director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre told DH.

According to meteorologists at the centre, the shortage of rainfall is predominantly due to a lack of favourable systems in the atmosphere. “While there were a few off-shore troughs in the first week of July ushering in heavy rain in Konkan and Northwest districts of Karnataka like Belagavi and Dharwad, there are no systems active towards the east triggering scanty or nil rainfall over South Interior Karnataka,” another scientist at KSNDMC said.

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