Karnataka's mega plan to fill 36,000 tanks, lakes

DH Exclusive | Karnataka aims to tap west-flowing rivers to fill 36,000 tanks, lakes

Sharavathi Rive. Credit: DH Photo

In a major project aimed at ensuring water security to about 30,000 villages, the state government plans to harness surface water from surplus basins to fill up tanks and lakes in water deficit areas and rejuvenate the groundwater table.

The idea of “Inter Basin Transfer” (IBT) will involve diversion of 484 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water from various west-flowing rivers with the least impact on the environment to fill up nearly 36,000 tanks and lakes across Karnataka.

In a concept note submitted by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 10, a copy of which is accessed by DH, the state has urged the Centre to consider the scheme under the “National Perspective Plan” (NPP) for speedy implementation and early realisation of the project under the slogan “Oorigondu Kere—Aa Kerege Nadiya Neeru” (A tank for each village — fed by a river). The CM has also apprised the Centre that he has chosen Tumakuru district for implementation of the pilot project.

In his letter to the PM, Yediyurappa stated, “Considering various awards of water dispute tribunals, the gross water allocation to Karnataka is about 1,230 tmcft. By 2050, Karnataka, for its potable, industrial and agricultural use may require about 3,000 tmcft of water with a net shortfall of about 1,770 tmcft. Though the government has taken several steps to conserve water, studies have confirmed IBT as a feasible solution for meeting the growing demand for water.”

The CM has also said that about 2,000 tmcft of water from west-flowing rivers is being drained annually into the sea without getting harnessed. This can be utilised by diverting them to the east.

Confirming the move, sources close to the CM said, “The Prime Minister wants to provide drinking water to every village by 2022 and this will be a reality only through IBT by linking rivers across Karnataka, This is in keeping with the Centre’s vision of Himalayan and Peninsular River Linking.”

According to the plan, the government has proposed to fill 36,000 tanks by linking them to Kumaradhara, Netravathi, Sharavathi, Bedthi and Aghanashini rivers.

This apart, the CM has also sought financial assistance to cover the 4,823 gram panchayats and urban local bodies as part of the recently launched Atal Bhujal Yojana which will be implemented in 1,199 GPs across 14 districts.

Sources close to the CM revealed to DH that Tumakuru was chosen based on the proposal submitted by Tumakuru parliamentarian G S Basavaraju, who has been working on the idea of one lake for every village to be fed by river water based on irrigation expert G S Paramashivaiah’s report. Kundaranahalli Ramesh of Abhivruddi Revolution Forum in Tumakuru who is conceptualising the project in Tumakuru district said, “Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, leaders from Tumakuru and Union ministers from Karnataka must lead a delegation to PM seeking support for the project.”

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