The recent news of two frogs being married in Udupi, Karnataka to appease the rain gods might have amused a lot of us. As much as it tells about the superstition, it also points to the desperation of the villagers with respect to water scarcity in the country.
On June 8, a man in Bengaluru set a camp outside the city local civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) office in RG Halli. About 60 houses in his lane were not given water connection. Despite multiple requests, the issue was not paid heed to, forcing Srinivas M to take this step. He decided to end his strike on June 10, after the officials assured him an action. This is both an example of negligence of authority as well as that of water shortage pushing people to take measures like these.
As many as 1,900 villages in about 30 districts in Karnataka are facing drought-like conditions. About 2,600 water tankers have been dispatched to ease the crisis. The Karnataka state government has declared 3,122 regions to be severely affected by drinking water scarcity.
Water Crisis in Karnataka
North Karnataka region including the Hyderabad-Karnataka region is grappling with the critical situation of the water crisis. This region is pinning hopes on the Maharashtra water. It is expected that if rains arrive early in Maharashtra, water will be released to the region.
Residents of Athani village in Belagavi district will now be launching a protest against the Maharashtra government. They are demanding the release of water from the Krishna river.
The gravity of the situation can very well be understood from a few startling examples. A sterilisation camp at Kalaburagi government hospital was recently cancelled. The reason? The medical team realised that the facility did not have enough water for over 30 surgeries.
In fact, water scarcity has pushed Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in districts like Bidar, Kalaburagi and Ballari to resort to ways to minimise water usage. Doctors of the region say that the dependence on private tankers has only increased. The fact that temperatures are soaring to 41 degree Celsius is making the situation worse in the area.
Otherwise, rain-rich coastal Karnataka is also witnessing severe water scarcity. It received below normal rainfall post-monsoon (180.4mm against expected 263mm) and during January-May(36.6mm against expected 50.3mm). Resultant of this, the groundwater table has also depleted to a record low-level.
As per local reports, the schools are forced to function only for the first half as there is no drinking water in Udupi district. Additionally, mid-day meals have been stopped in over 100 schools in the Karkala taluk. The Baje dam across the Swarna river, which is the main source of water for the district, has ‘reached dead-storage limit’.
Reopening of schools in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district was postponed from late-May to early-June due to water scarcity.
Groundwater Level & Drying Reservoirs
According to the data from the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, 138 of the 176 taluks in the state have very low groundwater levels. The worst affected are Bagepalli, Chikkaballapura, Sidlaghatta, Bangarpet and Kolar. The groundwater level is below 60 meters in Kolar and Chikkaballapur district.
The state has 13 major reservoirs, including Supa, Narayanapura, Bhadra, Tungabhadra, among others. As per Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, the water level at all the reservoirs has hit a record low. There is only 155 TMC of water in total in these reservoirs.
It is often said that the third world war would be fought over water. While earlier it was said to bring water scarcity to people’s attention, this adage no longer seems an exaggeration. This article is a part of series The Logical Indian is focussing on to bring to you reports of water scarcity which is only getting worse.
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