Though it poured, water tanks in the State have a less-than-bountiful look

With the level in Kanva reservoir low, water is being pumped from Shimsha river into the reservoir at Ramanagaram.  

Two months of rainfall has seen the landscape of south Karnataka change, with barren lands turning green and lakes coming back to life. However, despite record-setting rains, nearly 33% of the minor irrigation tanks in the region continue to remain empty.

These tanks make up a key component of the agrarian economy, with the 3,600 or so tanks in the State providing 102.1 tmcft of water used for agricultural as well as drinking purposes.

This year, 282 tanks — or nearly 8% of all the tanks in the State — have been filled to the brim, according to Minor Irrigation Department data taken till October 7. Worryingly, the data shows that 1,091 tanks, including 658 in south Karnataka, have not received any water at all. Surprisingly, tanks continue to remain more than half empty despite the region having seen excess rainfall of 37% so far in the year.

There is no denying that the situation has improved from the past year, when the monsoon deficit saw many parts of the State facing a fourth consecutive drought. This time last year, 46% of the tanks in south Karnataka were dry, while just two were fully filled.

Worst-hit districts

However, the disparity in brimming lakes is apparent. While this year’s monsoon was unusually kind to the drylands of south and central Karnataka, many tanks in Kolar, Tumakuru and Chitradurga districts continued to remain dry.

Tumakuru, for instance, which has staggered out of a five-year drought, still has 171 tanks — or, 46% of the total minor irrigation tanks in the district — that are empty. In all, over 85% of the tanks here are less than half-full. In Kolar, where monsoon ended at 24% excess, a staggering 86% of the tanks are empty.

In Ramanagaram district, which received 50% excess monsoon rains, water continues to be pumped from the Cauvery reservoirs into tanks and reservoirs, particularly the 1,920-acre Kanva reservoir where water from Shimsha river is being pumped in daily to make up for the relatively low levels.

“Catchment characteristics have changed and water flow into tanks may be hindered. But the high percentage of empty tanks is very surprising. We will cross-check this with remote sensing data,” said G.S. Srinivasa Reddy, director of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, which accrues the figures from various departments in their presentations to the State government.

Water expert Raja Rao has expressed doubts about the data. “While consecutive years of drought may have seen percolation increase, the intense spells of rain in September and October should have led to high run-off, which in effect flows into tanks and rivers. It is hard to believe that so many tanks have not seen inflow at all,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 1:08:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/though-it-poured-water-tanks-in-the-state-have-a-less-than-bountiful-look/article19902307.ece

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