North Karnataka stares at flood, south at drought

A file photo of the KRS dam. Reservoirs in the Cauvery basin have recorded their third least inflows since 1987.

Several districts of North Karnataka are in the grip of floods, a year after Kodagu and other Malnad districts suffered floods to devastating effect.

While very heavy rainfall in catchment areas of Krishna river has partially submerged several villages along its banks, reservoirs in the southern part of Karnataka in the Cauvery basin have recorded their third least inflow since 1987. The water level in Krishna threatens to increase further, raising the possibility of another flood of the scale that devastated the region almost a decade ago.

Forecasts have warned of intensifying flood situation in the coming days as fairly widespread rainfall is forecast in interior parts of the state and widespread rainfall along the coast and Malnad region.

Almatti reservoir, one of the largest in the state, built across River Krishna was receiving an inflow in excess of 2.2 lakh cusecs - around 20 tmcft - per day, from its catchment areas in Maharashtra and Belagavi district. In contrast, the four reservoirs in Cauvery basin, including KRS, have a combined storage of just 35 tmcft due to poor showers in the two monsoon months.

Flood and drought

While the prevailing condition has caused floods in North Karnataka, the southern part of the state is staring at a hydrological drought.

According to G S Srinivas Reddy, director of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Cell, around 60% of the rainy season was over. "By the end of July, reservoirs in the Cauvery basin should be full or have a combined storage of around 125 tmcft of water as compared to only 41.5 tmcft this year," he said.

"Despite the sporadic showers, the state neither has an agricultural nor meteorological drought. But we might face a hydrological drought if dry conditions persist in catchment areas of the state," he said.

Forecast

C S Patil, scientist, India Meteorological Department, Bengaluru, said monsoon activity was expected to improve during the month of August, allowing for an increased inflow to reservoirs.

"Due to a low-pressure region in the Bay of Bengal and resultant rainfall in south interior Karnataka region, more water will flow into the reservoirs in the coming days," he said.

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