Karnataka Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar on Thursday wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting him to release water to Karnataka due to severe drinking water shortage. 156 out of Karnataka's 176 taluks are reeling under drought, with many of the northern districts suffering from massive water shortage as well.
“On January 16, we met in the Aurangabad at the Micro Irrigation Conference and discussed the issue of drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka. I hope you remember it. The effects of such the drought are widely known to everyone. The northern Karnataka districts of Belagavi, Vijayapura, Kalaburgi and Yadgir are suffering from severe water shortage,” DK Shivakumar’s letter reads.
The minister further stated that the early onset of summer this year has resulted in the higher temperatures in these districts, causing shortage of drinking water. Shivakumar urged Fadnavis to released 2 TMC water from the Koyna Dam to the Krishna river and 2 TMC water from Ujjani Dam to the Bhadra river in Karnataka to help with drinking water requirements in north Karnataka.
“In the past, when Karnataka has faced such a situation, Maharashtra has released water to meet the drinking water needs of the people of Karnataka and I request you to do the same this time, on humanitarian grounds,” the letter adds.
On February 28, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said that Karnataka has witnessed 15 years of drought. “We are already supplying water in private tankers to 800 Gram Panchayats. The underground water table is going down, and at some places, even after drilling 1,500 feet, water is not traceable. We can supply fodder to cattle, supply drinking water in tankers, but all these are temporary arrangements,” Krishna Byre Gowda had said.
Over 370 villages are being provided drinking water through 706 tankers, and 401 villages through hired private borewells. In urban areas, 181 wards are being provided drinking water through tankers currently.
Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) had also said that the rain received between September 1, 2017 and February 20, 2018 was 40-60% less than what was expected, which has led to severe water scarcity.
In February this year, the state government had estimated that loss of crops owing to natural calamities, including floods/landslips and drought during both kharif and rabi seasons was worth Rs 32,335 crore.
The Centre so far has released RS 949.49 crore as drought relief as opposed to the state’s demand of Rs 4,460 crore.