Drought: People dependent on borewells hit hard

Drought: People dependent on borewells hit hard

Drought & desperation: Dry water bodies leave humans, cattle thirsty, trigger exodus

The Tungabhadra dam in Hosapete, Ballari district, has only three tmcft of water. According to officials, if the present temperature prevails, this water may be lost through evaporation. DH Photo/Shashikanth S Shembelli

Fast depleting underground water table due to severe drought has hit hard hundreds of people living in both towns and villages across Karnataka.

Minor Irrigation and Ground Water Development Department has recorded 84% decline in ground water table this summer. It has rendered hundreds of borewells and tanks dry, causing acute shortage of drinking water. An estimated 70% of the state’s 6.41 crore population depend on underground water source.

However, those dependent on river source, especially cities like Bengaluru and Mysuru, can heave a sigh of relief: there is enough water storage in majority of the 13 major reservoirs and dams to ensure supply till mid-June. Water level in dams this year is better compared to an average of the past 10 years’ storage during summer.

For instance, KRS and Kabini reservoirs have about 11 tmcft of water that can be used for drinking water supply. Last year, they together had only about 4.5 tmcft. As many as 47 towns, including Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mandya, and 625 villages get water from these reservoirs. The available water is sufficient for the supply till June end, as per data obtained from the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSDMC).

Similarly, Almatti reservoir has 23.33 tmcft water against 19.26 tmcft of last year. However, Varahi, Harangi, Ghataprabha and Malaprabha have less water compared to the last year’s storage.

KSDMC Director G S Srinivas Reddy told DH that about 2.75 tmcft of water is the monthly requirement in the Cauvery region. The available water is sufficient till June-end.

“Last year’s monsoon was normal. It rained well in catchment areas. So we have sufficient water to supply for drinking purpose this summer. The government has issued directions not to release water for irrigation purpose till it starts raining”, he added.

But the situation will become grim even in these places (where people depend up on river sources) if there is delay in the onset of monsoon. “We expect the monsoon to be on time and normal, especially in the catchment areas. Then the inflow to these reservoirs will increase.

If the monsoon is either delayed or becomes weak in June, then it will be difficult to ensure supply even in these cities, the Revenue Department officials said.

For supplying water to places dependent on borewells, the government is banking on tankers. As many as 2,554 parched villages are being supplied with tanker water now. The number of villages going dry due to depletion of ground water table is increasing day by day, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar said.

“Tahasildars and chief executive officers of zilla panchayats have been directed to tap all available sources of water to ensure supply.

The officials concerned have been given a free hand to take up digging borewells wherever necessary, besides buying water from private borewell owners,” he added.