Boomtown rap

Cauvery row: Why Karnataka must dig up other options

While it is convenient to blame the perennial drought for water woes, its implications are far more worrying and long-term in nature.

 |  Boomtown rap  |  3-minute read |   04-10-2016
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Karnataka is in its fifth consecutive year of drought. And like the parched plains of the northern part of the state, the IT capital of the nation, Bangalore, is suffering from immense water shortage.

With the Cauvery water-sharing dispute now back to the fore, Bangaloreans are staring at an uncertain future, as the city relies completely on the river for its drinking water needs.

It is time for the Karnataka government to explore other drinking water sources for Bangalore as it cannot continue to depend exclusively on the Cauvery anymore.

While it is convenient to blame the perennial drought or the Cauvery dispute for the water woes, the implications of the problem are far more worrying and long-term in nature.

The Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has a tough task on its hands in the coming days and it has to convince the government to embark on alternative plans to solve Bangalore's drinking water crisis.

One of the major drawbacks of Bangalore is that it does not have a river flowing next to it. As a consequence, water has to be drawn from various points along the Cauvery.

The BWSSB pumps 950 million litres of water per day (MLD) to the city from Cauvery as against a daily demand of 1,400MLD in Bangalore.

The city is already witnessing a shortage of 450MLD of water since 2011. A study conducted by the government projected the Bangalore population to reach 10.58 million by 2021 and the demand for water is expected to be 2,100MLD.

1424340146sigandur_t_100416100207.jpg Sharavathi river. (Photo credit: www.travelhi5.com)

However, the BWSSB would still face a shortage of 650MLD in 2021. The government has to blame itself for the situation as it ignored the problem all these years.

Just a decade ago, in addition to the Cauvery river, Bangalore drew drinking water from the Hesaraghatta lake (13.5MLD) and the Tippagondanahalli reservoir (149MLD).

Both reservoirs were fed by the Arkavathi river, but rampant encroachment in its catchment areas drastically reduced the inflow of water.

The government's plans to revive the Arkavathy did not materialise. While the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme Stage V is in progress to draw an additional 775MLD of water from the river to reduce the gap in demand and supply, it will take at least five to eight years for the project to materialise, while demand is expected to shoot up.

The BWSSB wants to draw water from the Linganamakki reservoir, located 420km from Bangalore.

Built across the west-flowing Sharavathi river, the Linganamakki reservoir is primarily a hydelpower project and much of the water flows into the Arabian Sea.

A technical committee headed by the former chairman of BWSSB, HN Tyagaraja, came up with the proposal to draw water to Bangalore from the Linganamakki reservoir at a cost of Rs 12,500 crore.

A largely ignored proposal, the government is forced to revive it in the wake of the water crisis in Bangalore. It is one of the most economically viable and practical options before Karnataka.

The Sharavathi river water is undisputed and Karnataka has full claim over it. The government can easily utilise 10TMC of water from the Linganamakki reservoir to meet the drinking water needs of the state capital.

Linganamakki reservoir is always at the maximum storage capacity throughout the year. The committee recommended a two-system pipeline to supply water from it to Bangalore.

Water has to be pumped to the Yagachi reservoir near Hassan (150 km from Bangalore) and from there it will flow automatically to the Tippagondahalli reservoir owing to gravity. The Tippagondanahalli reservoir is already connected to the BWSSB's pipeline.

The government might face hurdles in implementing the project owing to environmental issues. The Linganamakki reservoir is located amid thick Western Ghat jungles.

Thousands of trees have to be cut to lay the pipeline. Ground-level reservoirs have to be built inside the forests.

Unless Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project is carried out, drawing water from Linganamakki reservoir to Bangalore will remain a challenge.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read - Why Supreme Court must stay out of Cauvery row

Writer

Aravind Gowda Aravind Gowda @aravindshiv

The writer is a publicist, film scribe and political journalist.

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