The Big Dip…
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The Big Dip…

April 18, 2024
  • KRS Dam water level plummets to 82.94 ft
  • The level was at 71.08 ft in April 2013
  • The lowest water level was at 65.90 ft in 2003

Srirangapatna: The water level at the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district, crucial for the livelihoods of millions of people, has plummeted to 82.94  feet today (Apr. 18), intensifying concerns amidst soaring summer heat.

Furthermore, the persistent severity of a weak monsoon situation over the past seven years has heightened apprehensions about the future. The dead storage level of the Dam is 60 ft.

The Dam has a maximum capacity to hold 49.452 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) and today’s capacity was at 12.142  tmcft while the live capacity is just 3.763 tmcft while the rest is dead storage.

Last year’s meagre rainfall and the delayed onset and withdrawal of monsoons have resulted in the Dam’s water collection reaching only 113 feet this year, despite its maximum capacity of 124.80 feet.

This marks a decrease of approximately 10 feet compared to the same period in 2023 which stood at 93.46 feet on Apr. 16. Today, the outflow stood at a mere 765 cubic feet per second (cusecs), and the inflow stands at 86 cusecs.

13-year data from 2012 to 2024

In the 13-year data from 2012 to 2024, the water level reached its lowest point on Apr. 11, 2013, when it plummeted to 71.08 feet. On Apr. 11, 2024, the water level was recorded at 83.91 feet, while in 2023 it stood at 93.88 feet.

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In 2022, the level remained comfortable at 104.65 feet even during peak summer. Similarly, on Apr. 11, 2021, it was 100.02 feet, in 2020 it was 103.84 feet, in 2019 it was 92.65 feet, in 2018 it was 78.44 feet, in 2017 it was 75.24 feet, in 2016 it was 81.39 feet, in 2015 it was 95.70 feet, in 2014 it was 95.67 feet, in 2013 it was 71.08 feet, and in 2012 Apr. 11, it was at 92.52 feet.

Drinking purposes only

Currently, water from the Cauvery river is strictly allocated for drinking purposes. Nonetheless, residents of Mandya, Mysuru, Ramanagara and Bengaluru are experiencing a shortage of drinking water with severe crises in certain pockets. If rainfall continues to elude us in the days ahead, there is a looming crisis in the supply of drinking water.

As the water levels in the Dam deplete, the State Government has declared that farmers in the KRS Dam’s downstream area will be unable to cultivate. In villages where 10 borewells are sunk, only six to seven are yielding water, exacerbating the dire situation.

Farmers are grappling with water scarcity for both irrigation and drinking purposes. Historical records indicate that in April 2003, the water level had plummeted to the lowest of 65.90 feet, highlighting the severity of the current situation.

Visvesvaraya Canal modernisation

Meanwhile, the modernisation project on the Visvesvaraya Canal, situated in KRS Dam downstream, has encountered setbacks, causing a prolonged lack of water flow. As a result, farmers in this region are experiencing severe distress.

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The extensive proliferation of weeds, aggravated by water scarcity and delays in canal modernisation, has resulted in significant losses for farmers. Despite imminent crisis, the State Government has failed to implement any relief measures. If water shortage persists, sugar factories in the district will probably be forced to suspend operations.

State Govt’s failure blamed

According to K.S. Nanjundegowda, a farmer and activist, the exacerbation of the situation is primarily due to the State Government’s failure to conserve water in the KRS Dam. Also, the lack of water flow in canals has led to a drastic decline in underground water levels.

“Despite assurances from the Government, Tamil Nadu received excess water. The Congress Government in Karnataka seemed more inclined to appease its ally, the DMK, rather than adhere to the relevant agreements. The release of abundant water to Tamil Nadu by the Karnataka Water Resources Minister and then shifting blame to the Cauvery Water Monitoring Authority — without presenting facts before it — is the Congress Government’s greatest achievement,” he added.

K. Raghuram, Superintending Engineer of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL), Mandya Circle, explained that only Mandya, Mysuru, Ramanagara and Bengaluru districts can access water from KRS Reservoir for drinking, considering the available water storage. Due to scarcity of water, diverting it for agricultural use is not viable.

Nonetheless, if substantial rainfall occurs in the upcoming days leading to significant inflow into the reservoir, water release for agricultural purposes may become possible, he added.

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