Revive traditional water systems using rainwater and by developing greenery

A study team of India Water Portal, which records best practices in water management and conservation in the country, said that there is no need to divert the Nethravati to supply drinking water to some parched districts in central Karnataka. The portal is supported by Bangalore-based Arghyam, a public charitable foundation, working for safe, sustainable water for all.

Instead, the traditional water systems, such as tanks, wells, rivers and streams in those districts, should be revived using rainwater harvesting and developing greenery, the team said during an interactive meeting with media here on Monday.

The 14-member team was on a tour of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts for four days from October 24 studying some water management systems including water conservation through madakas in Avarse in Kundapur taluka. Madakas or small ponds need construction of wall on one side but surrounded by natural bunds on three sides.

Replying to a question, the team leader Ashis, who is from Rajasthan, said that community participation of people resulted in reviving the 22-km-long Nanduwali (river) in Alwar district of Rajasthan. The river had dried up for over three decades. People in 17 villages on the river basin in the district invested Rs. 30 lakh for five years from 2005 for conserving rainwater in farm bunds, ponds and for forest rejuvenation. The river started flowing after five years. Its indirect impact was that 285 wells on the river basin witnessed rising water tables. The villages on the river basin received an annual rainfall of 350 mm to 400 mm rain. “If this is a living example, why can’t the traditional water sources in parched central districts of Karnataka, which receive an annual rainfall of more than 400 mm, cannot be revived,” he asked.

When told that Karnataka government has proposed to spent more than Rs. 8,000 crore for supplying water (estimated at 24 TMC ft) to Kolar, Bangalore Rural, Chikkaballapur and Tumkur districts from the tributaries of the Nethravati such as Ettinahole in Sakaleshpur taluk, he said: “Imagine if a 22 km long river can be revived in five years by spending Rs. 30 lakh how many rivers can be revived by spending Rs. 8,000 crore in Karnataka.”

Mr. Ashis said the Indira Gandhi canal project supplying water from the Himalayas to Rajasthan to irrigate one lakh sq. km area has been able to irrigate only two per cent of the estimated plan. He also gave the example of how people in some villages of Thar region, which received only 100 mm annual rainfall, harvested water and cultivated wheat. He said that Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, which received an annual rainfall of 4,000 mm, had abundant scope for rainwater harvesting and water conservation.

They also presented a slideshow of success stories in Rajasthan and water conservation methods in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.