A committee headed by former Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) chairman BN Thyagaraju has recommended the Karnataka government to stop power generation at the Linganamakki reservoir in phases so that the water can instead be used to address Bengaluru's drinking water needs.
According to the report, in 2051, Bengaluru's drinking water requirement will be 69.45 tmc feet, taking into account the increase in population. It concludes that diverting a main chunk of the water, after finding alternate sources of power, would help address Bengaluru's water needs by 2051.
The ten-member expert committee submitted a report - "Identifying water bodies to meet Bengaluru's long-term drinking water needs" - which states that the 60 tmc ft of water from the Sharavathi river, on which the Linganamakki reservoir is built, will address the drinking water needs of Bengaluru.
The reservoir is located in Shivamogga district, around 400 km west of Bengaluru, and is the source of water for the Sharavathi Hydel project.
Linganamakki Dam | Photograph via: USAID, Historical Archive
The water from the reservoir will have to be pumped to the Yagachi reservoir, 130 km away in Hassan district, from where the water will be transported by pipelines to Arkavathi basin around 170 km away. The water will then be supplied for use in Bengaluru.
The report also notes that some amount of electricity will be required for pumping the water. It urges the state government can turn to alternative options to generate power including oil, coal, nuclear, solar and wind energy.
This comes at a time the state government is set to prepare a detailed project report on drawing water from the reservoir. The BJP, whose former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa hails from Shivamogga, has termed the plan 'unscientific'.
Despite the reservations, the Karnataka government is set to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) on drawing water from the Linganamakki reservoir in Shivamogga, which is built on the Sharavathi river.
The hydel project in the reservoir, which has ten units generating power, can generate up to 1035 MW of power every day. According to engineers at the Linganamakki reservoir, the hydel project has the capacity to generate up to 24 million units per day.
The Karnataka government, after studying power generated by various sources, requests around 14 million units of power generation per day, according to engineers at the dam.
Residents and environmentalists organise protests
Environmentalists in Shivamogga have held public meetings in Shivamogga, Sagar, Hosanagara and Soraba ever since news of the government's intention to divert water from the Sharavathy River emerged in June. A district-wide bandh and protest was also held in July 10 in Shivamogga.
"We will give a response to the committee report in due time. Many villages in Sagar taluk were forced to bring water from tankers this year. When there is a drought-like situation, such a project is unfeasible and we will continue our protest against it," says Akhilesh Chipli, a Sagar-based environmentalist.
Residents and environmentalists have organised themselves under the banner 'Sharavathi Ulisi' (Save Sharavathi). They have held agitations in Bengaluru over the issue and urge the state government to take up initiatives like rainwater harvesting and rejuvenation of lakes in the city to address its water woes instead of taking water from river Sharavathi that lies almost 400 km away.