With only two inches of water left at the mouth of the Mahadayi river, residents of Belagavi, Gadag, Bagalkote and Dharwad districts wait desperately for the monsoon.

As Mahadayi river mouth dries up 4 north Karnataka districts reel under water crisis
news Water Crisis Friday, May 24, 2019 - 14:12

Nagaratna Harikant

With River Mahadayi, a major source of potable water for the Mumbai-Karnataka region, drying up, north Karnataka reels under a severe water crisis, signalling one of the worst summers it has witnessed.

The mouth of the Mahadayi river at Degaon village in Bhimgad Reserve Forest in Khanapur taluk of Belagavi district has dried up even before the monsoon season.

In fact, water should have been available at the source until after May, claim the residents here. “Usually there would be water until the summer was over. But for the past 4-5 years, the river dries up in the summer. But this time, the water crisis has hit us even earlier,” says Raju Dhond, Degaon resident and gram panchayat member. Dhond claimed that according to the local officials the monsoon may arrive by June 16.

The much-talked Mahadayi river diversion project is aimed at providing water to Belagavi, Gadag, Bagalkote districts and to 11 taluks of Dharwad district, as there is no major water source in these districts. The project is aimed at supplying water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha river – which takes birth in Khanapur in Belagavi district – through a canal. However, the project is still on the anvil.

The river flows 35 km in Karnataka before entering the state of Goa where it is known as the Mandovi. The length of the river in Goa is 45 km and it joins the Arabian Sea at Panjim.

In fact, after years of protests, the Mahadayi tribunal, in its August 14, 2018 order, allotted 5.4 TMC of water to Karnataka. Besides this, 8.02 TMC of water has been allotted for power generation to the state. But even after 9 months, no file has moved yet. The Kalasa-Banduri Nala work that the state had undertaken – much before the verdict came out – had to be stopped after Goa objected to it.

Moreover, the Central government is yet to issue a notification on the tribunal’s direction. “We will take up the work once the Centre issues a notification in this regard,” Karnataka Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar had assured earlier.

While Mahadayi has become fodder for political parties, especially during campaigning for the previous state Assembly polls, no party raised the issue during the Lok Sabha election.

In reality, residents say that the situation is very grim as there is only two inches of water left at the river’s mouth. “There is no trace of water in the Kalasa-Bhanduri Nala, which is about 22 km from the river’s mouth. Lack of adequate rainfall in the Western Ghats has worsened the situation here. People living on the fringes of the forest where the river flows are worried about the harsh summer that is staring at them,” Santhosh, a resident of city said.

With the water crisis is worsening, locals are hoping that the newly-elected Central government will address the issue on priority to quench the thirst of people here.

Story by www.storyinfinity.com (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP).

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