Once rain-soaked, coastal districts are now drought-hit

The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, known for heavy rains, are facing quite an unprecedented situation this year. The State government has declared two taluks in Dakhina Kannada, seven in Uttara Kannada and all three taluks in Udupi district drought hit.

While the districts faced severe water shortage last year too, the drought-hit tag is quite new. It was based on deficient south-east rainfall (October to December) during 2016 — resulting in depleting groundwater and moisture level drying water sources — that prompted the State to declare the taluks drought hit.

Though Dakshina Kannada and Udupi normally record a good annual 4,000mm average rainfall, it is for the first time they have joined the list of other parched drought-hit districts in the State. For example, while Bantwal recorded 70.8mm rainfall during this period against the normal rainfall of 213mm, Mangaluru received 92.5mm rain against the normal of 303mm.

Mangaluru mayor Harinath, who became a gram panchayat member in 1974, said that never had the undivided Dakshina Kannada (Udupi was carved out of it two decades ago) got the drought-hit tag. “There was flood in Mangaluru and Bantwal owing to heavy rainfall in 1974. I had joined others in distributing bread to people,” Mr. Harinath recalled. According to environmental biologist N.A. Madhyastha, destruction of forests and wetlands and poor management of water resources are responsible for the present state of affairs in the coastal districts.

Officials in the Department of Mines and Geology admitted that there was over exploitation of groundwater, and non-recharging of borewells.

For example, in Mangaluru taluk alone, the groundwater table dropped to 18m in January from 12.97m during the corresponding month (January) of 2016.

Pramod Madhwaraj, Udupi MLA and Minister of State for Fisheries, Youth Services and Sports, said owing to the drought-hit tag, every MLA would get fund of ₹60 lakh instead of ₹40 lakh for drought works.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 2:28:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Once-rain-soaked-coastal-districts-are-now-drought-hit/article17372477.ece

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