Drought: Water tankers to be tracked with GPS

All tankers supplying water to drought-hit villages and towns should be “immediately” equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) to prevent misuse, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy directed officials Wednesday as several parts of the state are reeling under drought.

As many as 2,999 villages face serious water shortage. Over 2,000 tankers and over 1,800 private borewells have been hired to meet the need.

Kumaraswamy, Revenue Minister R V Deshpande and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda reviewed the drought situation with deputy commissioners and Zilla Panchayat chief executive officers via video conference.

This was the first comprehensive review since the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections came into force and it was only last week the Election Commission permitted the state’s political leadership to hold such meetings.  

“GPS shows the movement of the tankers from the source where they fill up water to the residential area or ward where it goes. It helps prevent misuse,” RDPR principal secretary L K Atheeq said.

“New tanker owners say they need time to instal GPS, thus excusing themselves from being tracked. Instead of compromising our position, we have asked DCs to buy GPS devices and recover the cost from the tankers later,” he added.

The government has declared 156 of 176 taluks in the state as drought-hit. “The number of tankers and borewells this time is the highest we have used,” Deshpande said. The government is spending about Rs 4.87 lakh per day on water supply through tankers.

Availability of cattle fodder appears grim. Fodder banks across the state have 62.48 lakh tonnes of fodder for 1.29 crore cattle and the stock is expected to last only for 12 weeks.

“The pre-monsoon rainfall was 40% lesser. In districts like Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Mysuru and Tumakuru, sowing should have happened on 2.5 lakh hectares, but only 30,000 hectares have been covered,” Deshpande said. “The DCs and CEOs have been directed to tour districts,” he said. 

According to Gowda, the total human-days under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have touched 10.47 crore, highest in the state’s history.

He hit out at the BJP for accusing the government of doing little to tackle drought.

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