Deficient Pre-Monsoon Showers Behind Water Crisis in Karnataka
A farmer walk with a calf on parched lake bed at drought-hit Hukunda near Chikmagalur in Karnataka. 
A farmer walk with a calf on parched lake bed at drought-hit Hukunda near Chikmagalur in Karnataka. (Photo: PTI)

Deficient Pre-Monsoon Showers Behind Water Crisis in Karnataka

Along with the rest of the country, Karnataka is reeling under a severe water crisis as well.

The state government has declared 156 taluks out of the 176 taluks in the state drought-ridden as of December 2018. The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre said that this was primarily due to the dry spell from 1 October to 26 December, where the state recorded over 45% deficit rainfall.

Cities across the state are also facing an acute drinking water crisis with entire residential areas being almost completely reliant on private water tankers. Reportedly, such is the severity that more than 2,999 villages across the state are provided drinking water through private tankers.

Also Read : Karnataka CM Meets PM Modi, Asks For Early Release of Drought Fund

In March, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought the early release of Rs 2,064.30 crore funds as relief for drought-hit farmers.

Pre-Monsoon Deficit by 45% but Reservoir Water Levels Fine

Srinivasa Reddy, director of KSNDMC said the water level in the 13 reservoirs across the state was comparatively the same as it was last year, even though the pre-monsoon showers for 2018 were in excess of 54%.

“Last year because of the good pre-monsoon showers preceding the June rainfall, the Kabini reservoir was nearly full. Since the catchement areas were saturated during pre-monsoon itself, the monsoon was enough to fill the reservoirs up. But this time, because of reduced pre-monsoon showers, it will only reach saturation by June, if the rainfall is adequate,” he said.

Considering that the water year lasts from 1 June to May-end, Reddy said that this time of the year saw the water levels at their lowest, since inflows reduce after the pre-monsoon showers and utility increases.

Reddy said that the IMD has forecasted 97% of the long-period average for the monsoon in Karnataka, plus minus 4%. While a near-normal monsoon is on the cards, the distribution of the rain is more important than the quantity.

“Those areas that rely on water from dams directly won’t face much of an issue this monsoon like the cities of Bengaluru, Mysuru that are directly fed with Cauvery water. Those who rely on groundwater and barrages will actually have to be careful. Barrages are small 1-2 metre high structures that divert water from larger dams to small communities.”
Srinivasa Reddy to The Quint

He also added that the government had issued an order back in November 2018, stating that water must not be diverted for irrigation or farming purposes and drinking water supply must be prioritised.

Also Read : Water Crisis Leaves Chennai Dry, at the Mercy of Tankers

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