The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has called on farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to change the cropping pattern and reduce water-intensive farming in a bid to tide over the water crisis.
In a release, AAP said irrigation takes up 65 per cent of the Cauvery waters, whereas globally the share of agriculture in water use in a river basin is in the 20 per cent to 30 per cent range. “If we make agriculture even slightly more efficient in water use, we will never need to worry about drinking water shortage for a long time,” said the party.
It suggested that an independent monitoring authority be established to oversee the process by which agriculture in the Cauvery basin could be made less dependent on water.
Drawing attention to some of the prevailing methods of crop cultivation, Prithvi Reddy, State convener and national executive member, AAP-Karnataka, said agriculture should be more water-smart and both paddy and sugarcane could be cultivated with less water by switching to techniques such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
But adopting SRI has been extremely patchy and the extension services that the government operates are most defunct, and may as well be closed down, said Mr. Reddy.
The party also called upon the Centre to overhaul the water infrastructure of Bengaluru, which consumes about 4 per cent of the river water. It said the scheme should have multiple objectives of plugging the 20 per cent to 30 per cent loss of the piped water, putting at least 40 per cent of all Cauvery-sourced water to multiple use through dual piping in homes and offices, and establishment of a more nimble infrastructure to source water for the city from the 300-odd lakes in and around it.
“A scheme like this will double the piped water supply in Bengaluru and it will additionally have the effect of infusing some financial and technological life to the moribund BWSSB, which today operates like an unscientific infrastructure company rather than an intelligent manager of water resource,” according to AAP.
The other suggestions included de-silting of the existing reservoirs so as to augment their storage capacity, while a sincere effort should be made to restore the flow in the many tributaries of the river, the party said.
‘Establish an independent monitoring authority to oversee agriculture in the Cauvery basin’