Monday 29 July 2013

River diversion report gathering dust

It has been a rather rainy month for Bangalore and all the brouhaha of a water famine has been pushed to the back foot and the authorities have once again gone back to their somnolent ways:  sitting on files, drawing up grandiose plans and pushing things relating to water needs of Bangalore under the carpet.
The rains have thus not only swept away the City’s growing thirst for water but also put a stop to the unending debate on the water woes of Bangalore. What Bangaloreans have failed to appreciate is that despite torrential rains in several districts of Karnataka, including Bangalore Mysore, Mandya, Coorg, Hassan, Chikamagalur, Mangalore, Udupi and Karwar, the Hesarghatta reservoir continues to remain dry and the Tippegondanahalli (TG Halli) reservoir is yet to get its quota of  inflow.
The groundwater levels in the City are going down and almost all sources of water be it the Arlkavathy, the Cauvery or any other lake or river is showing increasing levels of pollution. The less said about the Vrishabhavati the better. The Vrishabhavati is nothing but a river of sewage.
A committee constituted by the Irrigation Department on August 26, 2000 to look into the water needs of Bangalore has recommended harnessing West flowing rivers. These rivers, which take their birth in the Western Ghats, have been identified as potential sources of water supply to Bangalore.
This is the second committee that has gone into the issue. Some years ago, a detailed survey and project report was submitted  to Government for diversion of water from Nethravathy, Hemavathy, Tunga and Bhadra to drought-hit areas of the State and also to supply drinking water to Bangalore. This report has been gathering dust.
This report suggested diversion of river waters for agricultural and domestic purposes to vats tracts of land and urban areas in Doddaballapur, Kolar and Chikkaballapur and Bangalore districts. The committee had been headed by G. S. Paramasivaiya, an irrigation expert. The report on diverting excess water from rivers to drought-prone areas was submitted when S.M. Krishna was the Chief Minister. However, the report is yet to get technical and financial approval. Last year, the Government had stated that it had begun preparing the detailed project report (DPR) for the project but till now nothing has been heard of it.
The report suggested diversion of water from Nethravathy, Hemavathy, Tunga and Bhadra rivers by means of gravity diversion.
It said that the project, if implemented, would also recharge ground water as it would divert 245 TMC ft of water. It said the diversion and utilisation of west and east flowing rivers would provide the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) at least 12 TMC FT of water.
The State Government had entrusted the survey work to the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad, to conduct airborne laser terrain mapping. An amount of Rs 15.6 crore had also been earmarked for conducting the aerial survey to finalise the plan for implementing the project of gravity diversion of west-flowing rivers.
In turn, the NRSA had submitted to the State Government in 2011 a plan for airborne laser terrain mapping comprising a garland canal to carry water.
The report had identified Bangalore Urban and rural districts, Chikaballapur, Kolar, Chikamagalur, Tumkur, Hassan, Mandya,  Chitradurga, Davanagere and Bellary as beneficiaries of the project.

The project would also entail construction of  1,200 tanks in villages and 50 mini-reservoirs in the catchment and command areas. The project envisages construction of four garland canals, covering 1365 kilometres on the Western Ghats and 13 service canals stretching across 2237 km in north and east Karnataka. The garland canals would collect water from the ridges, transferring water by gravity to the command areas. The cost: Rs. 12,500 crores.

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