Mangaluru, May 22, 2019: Addressing the interaction programme on ‘Drought, What Next?’ organised by the Dakshina Kannada Working Journalists’ Association in the city on May 21, Tuesday.
Dinesh Holla, Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya (SSS) convenor, said that all the major projects taken up on the Western Ghats are resulting in destruction of the origin of rivers that take birth in the Ghats.The destruction of Shola forest, grassland that percolates water in the Western Ghats and the failure to protect the origin of rivers and its sources has led to water crisis in Dakshina Kannada, opined experts.
Hydro power units : Holla warned that all the nine tributaries of River Nethravathi on the Western Ghats face the threat of turning into dry beds due to the hydro power projects.
“The hydel power units Nidle, Mrityunjana stream and Gundya stopped functioning due to non-availability of water. If the tributaries on the stretch between Elaneeru and Pushpagiri are diverted in the name of permanent irrigation projects, then Dakshina Kannada will become a permanent drought-hit district,” he explained.
“The forest land in the ecosensitive areas of the Western Ghats have been encroached upon to convert it into coffee plantations and homestays. The government has not initiated any action against illegal home resorts and encroachments in the sensitive regions of the Western Ghats,” he added.
Holla expressed disappointment that the state government is implementing the Yettinahole project to supply water from Dakshina Kannada, which is a drought-hit district, to Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts, which are also drought-hit.
Rainwater harvesting : Dr Shrisha Kumar, professor at Vivekananda College, Puttur, said that concreting roads and drains has aggravated the water crisis. “There is no space for the rainwater to percolate in Mangaluru city. Further, the hillocks that had been percolating water in the rainy seasons have been levelled to give space for concrete high-rise buildings,” he pointed out.
Speaking further, he said, “If we fail to percolate the sweet water of the Earth, then sea water intrusion will increase in Mangaluru. All the open wells will have saline water in them in the future.”
Appealing to the citizens to go for rainwater harvesting, the professor said, “Rainwater from the roof of a house and building can be stored and used for daily chores.”
Stating that River Nethravathi flows 96 km in the district, he warned that a 30-km stretch of the river in the ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats should not be touched.
“Check dams can be constructed on the remaining 66 km stretch, without disturbing the flow of the river, which, in turn, will increase the groundwater level in the surrounding areas,” he explained.
Further, he also stressed the need for recycling water.
Landscape change : Dr Narendra Pai Derla, professor at the Government First Grade College, said, “The sustainable life system of the past has changed in the district. The madaga, lakes and natural water bodies have disappeared in the district. The landscape of the region too has changed with the expansion of horticultural crops and decline in paddy cultivation.”
He said the use of water has increased over a period of time and stressed on the need to minimise the use of water.
Dredging in Thumbe dam : DK district administration will take up dredging in the Thumbe dam to increase the water storage capacity of the dam. The work will begin in four days, said DK DC Sasikanth Senthil.
He was speaking to media, he said that the increase in water storage capacity through dredging will help in the next monsoon. “In addition, sand will be removed and distributed for construction purposes,” he said.
“A team led by the assistant commissioner will look into the dredging process. As the dredging can be continued in monsoon too, the availability of sand will be ensured,” the officer clarified.
To a query on the water woes experienced by schools and colleges, the deputy commissioner said that all the government schools will be supplied water through tankers. If any private institution makes a request for water, then arrangement will be made for supply through tankers on days when the Mangaluru City Corporation takes up rationing of supply, Senthil assured.
“If the monsoon is delayed further, then the strategy needs to be worked out to supply water to the citizens. Borewells and open wells have been cleaned and kept ready in case of any emergency to supply water,” he explained.