Reservoirs in Cauvery basin hit rock bottom, farmers stare at impending drought

Reservoirs in Cauvery basin hit rock bottom, farmers stare at impending drought

Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-09-26 14:48 Tumakuru/Hassan: The state government’s decision to use Cauvery water for drinking requirements alone and thereby not releasing water to Tamil Nadu as directed by the Supreme Court in its Special Legislature session, last week, reflects the grim picture that the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin are presenting. For, the reservoirs have reached a dead storage facing the worst water crisis in the recent years. And farmers in these regions are struggling to save the rabi crop thanks to deficit monsoon this year.During the media visit understand the ground reality in the the Cauvery reservoirs, Bfirst.in found that the farmers in Hassan and Tumakuru have left their land untilled as they have not received good monsoon this year. In some areas, the crops are waiting for one last spell of monsoon before they are harvested.Just 80 kms away from Bengaluru, several villages in these two districts are staring at drought. “The ragi crop has sprouted, but there will be no yield. We need at least one spell of rainfall or timely release of water to save these crop. We hope for some miracle,” says Gangadhar, a farmer from Cholur.This dryand region has a canal running up to 240 kms and irrigates up to two lakh hectares. The farmers traditionally grow paddy, sugar cane and ragi here."Since the last two years, the farmers have been denied water for irrigation, so that it can be utilised for drinking purpose," says K Balakrishna, Chief Engineer, Hemavathi region irrigation department in Tumakuru. At Kittada Kuppe, the irrigation canal was filled with weeds and the lands adjoining it were parched. A few farmers have switched to horticulture by growing areca and coconut. They are dependent on borewells for water. This has drastically depleted groundwater.The reservoirs that are considered the saviours of farmers have hit the dead storage. This also makes it technically impossible for the state government to implement the Supreme Court order.At Gorur in Hassan district, where the river Hemavathy is dammed, the water level stood at 7.67 tmc with an inflow of 1780 cusecs on Monday. "We are not in a position to release any water now. Water is just above the dead storage. As a reason, we have already denied water for irrigation," says SV Sreenath, assistant executive engineer, Hemavathy reservoir.The dam at Gorur, which was commissioned in 1979 has a capacity of 37.103 tmc and can irrigate up to seven lakh acres including 45,756 acres of lift irrigation. It meets farming and drinking requirements in Hassan, Tumakuru, parts of Mandya and Mysuru districts. Of the 7.67 tmc of water available, only 3.30 tmc of water is available until June 2017.Even the Yagachi reservoir built across the rivulet Yagachi has reached the dead storage with just 1.25 tmc of water remaining. “This caters to the needs of villages in Belur, Alur and Hassn and Chikkamagalur taluks. However, this year has been the worst. The dam constructed in 2004 has a capacity of 3.603 tmc. However, with little water it would not be possible to meet even the drinking water requirements this year,” says P Rangaswamy, assistant executive engineer, Yegachi Reservoir.He further said that there was a deficit rainfall of about 47.97 per cent this year. This year’s water level in the reservoir recorded 1.213 tmc, the second lowest since the commissioning of the dam in the year 2013- 14.