KARNATAKA

100 barrages across streams, rivulets

HUBLI May 22. About 100 barrages across streams and rivulets are to be constructed this year in the State.

The project is being taken up as a part of the novel "Namma Bandhara'' (our barrage), which has been designed to harness surface water for meeting the drinking water requirement and enlarging the scope for irrigation in the interiors.

The participatory nature of the implementation of the projects is unique: the users — individuals, industries, and organisations — will contribute their share of the cost of the project.

The project is estimated to cost about Rs. 150 crore, and the Government expects the users to contribute Rs. 50 crore. The Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam and the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam will provide the rest of the funds required.

The construction programme is expected to start after the monsoon floods recede this year, and the interregnum will be used to complete the formalities and finalise the modalities of construction, such as signing of the MoUs with the users, preparation of plans and estimates, and calling for tenders for the work. The only condition that the Government may place is that meeting the drinking water requirement will be the first charge on a barrage constructed under the project. By the time the next water year's services begin by June next year, the barrages will be ready to impound water. The Finance Department is looking into the percentage of contribution of the users.

Focus on `mini' projects

This is quite a revolutionary step in the annals of Karnataka, when the focus will turn from major to mini irrigation-cum-drinking-water projects, H.K. Patil, Minister for Water Resources, told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

The scheme was evolved in view of the drought conditions prevailing in the State. Eighteen of the 27 districts have an annual rainfall of less than 750 mm., and face drought. The State receives its normal rainfall of 1,139 mm. in only 55 days. There is seasonal variation in the rainfall, and 71 per cent of the annual rainfall is received during the South-west monsoon, 17 per cent during the North-east monsoon, and the rest during the pre-monsoon days. The uneven distribution of space and timing of rainfall has brought uncertainty to agricultural operations. Nearly one-third of the State, on average, experiences deficit rainfall during the crucial period of crop growth in the kharif season.

Although attention is given to the major rivers in the State, the minor rivers and nallas, which receive considerable inflows during the monsoons, have not received the importance they deserve. It was, therefore, felt that construction of diversion structures such as barrages offer the possibility of ensuring efficient use of surface water from streams.

Before finalising the strategy to be adopted for tapping the surface water of streams, the Government commissioned the Indian Resources Information and Management Technology, Bangalore (IN-RIMIT), to take up a pre-feasibility study, and identify the sites for the construction of barrages in the arid and semi-arid districts.

The IN-RIMIT has identified 368 potential sites with a dependable and utilisable yield of 50 per cent in each case for the construction of barrages. The barrages suggested are of different sizes, with the water yield ranging from a minimum of one tcm. (thousand cubic metres) to more than 200 tcm. The cost varies from Rs. 35 lakh to more than Rs. 1 crore.

The Government has selected 100 sites for the first phase of the programme, which begins this year. Both in terms of investment and time factor, construction of barrages will be cheaper than implementation of major irrigation projects, according to Mr. Patil, the author of the new approach.

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