Drought conditions in Karnataka have left the water level in irrigation dams at the lowest, fueling fear of the worst water crisis in Karnataka in the last five years. State administration claims that 7500 villages are gripped in water shortage and another 15000 villages could be affected in the coming summer. State municipal administration minister Balachandra Jarkiholi reiterates that if there is not enough rain by March, the state will effectively run out of water with major reservoirs facing rapidly declining water levels.
The residents of Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore have already received a red alert from the authorities cautioning and suggesting reuse of water because of decreasing water level at Krishnarajasagar and Kabini dams. Rationing of water has already begun in Hubli-Dharwad.
Mangalore, banking on the good water level at Thumbe Dam, seems more concerned about distribution and has made it mandatory to install Global Positioning System (GPS) for water tankers to ensure fair distribution.
H.K Patil, a former water resources minister urges the government not to wait for April first week to announce contingency plans in the affected areas and take action immediately to thwart the impeding water crisis in Karnataka.
Karnataka is also working with Maharashtra to solve water scarcity in its neighbouring areas at the borders. Recently, the governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra have agreed in principle to exchange water for drought hit border areas. Maharashtra government wants 2 thousand million cubic feed (TMC) of water from Indi Branch canal, the Karnataka government has demanded 8 TMC of water from the Warna and Ujani dams.
Karnataka’s battle with Tamil Nadu over Cauvery water sharing issue is set to aggravate with Tamil Nadu having decided to file a suit in the Supreme Court of India seeking damages from Karnataka for the adamant approach of releasing water that caused loss of crops.
The sharing of waters of the river Cauvery has been the source of a serious conflict between the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The genesis of this conflict rests in two controversial agreements—one signed in 1892 and another in 1924—between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore. The 802 km Cauvery River has 32,000 sq km basin area in Karnataka and 44,000 sq km basin area in Tamil Nadu.
Photograph by ashwin kumar