Water
Experts, however, note that the plan is not sustainable and the government has not yet conducted public consultation sessions.

Phase 1 of the Karnataka government’s ambitious Jaladhare project, aimed at providing piped water supply to every household in the state, is all set to begin this year.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda on Friday said that the state government is expected to release Rs 1,300 crore for the first phase, which will see drinking water pipelines installed from reservoirs in Mandya, Raichur, Bijapur and Kolar districts.

According to Chief Engineer of the Rural Water Supply Department Prasad, who is in charge of the project, the detailed project report (DPR) for the project for only Mandya has already been prepared.

“The DPR is awaiting cabinet approval. The project aims at extracting drinking water from KRS and Kabini dams to each and every household in Mandya via pipeline. Just like Bengaluru, which gets Cauvery water, all districts in the state will get drinking water in taps in their home. The water will be drawn from local reservoirs,” Prasad said.

The ambitious project is estimated to cost Rs 53,000 crore and made its appearance in Chief Minister Kumaraswamy’s maiden budget of 2018-19. The project involves construction of pipelines and purification mechanisms so clean drinking water is supplied to every household.

“Based on the feasibility study that was conducted, by 2050, the population of Karnataka will require only 10% of the live storage of water in all reservoirs in the state for drinking water purpose. This is close to 70 TMC. This is not a lot and the project will provide water security to everyone in the state,” Prasad added.

However, environmental activist Leo Saldanah says that the piped water project is not going to solve the water security issue looming over Karnataka. “Big infrastructure projects such as Jaladhare will require laying down of pipelines. There is barely any water in these reservoirs and the pipes are going to be clogged with muck rather than have full fledged water moving through it. The project will require regular maintenance, which means investing more money and more money to pump water which means more thermal power needed to generate electricity. This is a carbon-inclusive approach, which is not sustainable in the long run,” Leo says.

Leo also notes that the government not yet conducted public consultation sessions for the project. 

He maintains that the government must concentrate on solutions that require minimum investment but reap maximum benefits. He suggests ensuring that every household has a rainwater harvesting system to maintain groundwater levels.  

“Not a single drop of rainwater must be wasted. In rural areas, especially, ensuring that all open wells are desilted will ensure that rain water is collected. Every home must be rain water proofed so that every drop is collected and reused. This is not going to cost the government thousands of crores of rupees. It is economical and sustainable,” Leo added.