State plans vigilance wings to curb water theft

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar on Thursday said that his department would set up a vigilance wing to curb theft of water released into canals from various reservoirs of the state.

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Shivakumar said that the department had received complaints of canals being blocked in between, obstructing the flow of water meant for drinking and irrigation purposes. This was affecting farmers in many regions, he said.

Hence, the department had decided to set up vigilance wings under the four major irrigation corporations - Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL), Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd (KNNL), Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd (CNNL) and Visvesvaraya Jala Nigam Ltd (VJNL).

Shivakumar said that the wing would be set up on the lines of the one in Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (KPTCL), which monitors power theft.

“There are instances of farmers blocking the canals, and pumping water into their farmlands, from motors installed by them. There are even instances of gates being broken. Hence it has been decided to opt for this measure,” said Shivakumar.

The minister said that the vigilance wing would also ensure the security of the dams and reservoirs.

Shivakumar also said that the department was mapping the reservoirs and its levels, using drones. The minister said that he would shortly inspect reservoirs in the Cauvery basin with a team of officials.

Also, he would convene a special meeting to assess the health of all dams, and the upgradation works, if need be. The department would also arrange for a consultative meeting with irrigations experts, scientists and retired officers to bring about reforms in the irrigation sector.

Shivakumar said that the state government is confident of getting the Centre’s approval for the Mekedatu project, which envisages building a balancing reservoir across the river Cauvery near Kanakapura to store 67 tmcft water.

He, however, said the department was yet to get the environment clearance for the Rs 6,000-crore project. Nearly 5,000 hectares of forest land is said to get submerged if the project is given a go ahead. “Once we get the permission from the Centre, the project work will be expedited.”

Shivakumar said that Karnataka has released 310 tmcft Cauvery water to the neighbouring Tamil Nadu this month. Usually, in the month of August, around 82 tmcft water is released to Tamil Nadu.

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State plans vigilance wings to curb water theft

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