Shoring up

Drought-wary Karnataka prepares for summer

By E Vijayalakshmi
Published: Wednesday 31 December 2003

faced with the prospect of a severe drinking water crisis during the coming summer, the Karnataka government is likely to adopt a slew of pre-emptive measures. As a part of the exercise, the authorities may take over private borewells, close down sluice gates of minor irrigation tanks and urge farmers in command areas to give up cultivation of water-intensive crops over the next few months.

The panic button has been pressed because the state is reeling under its third successive drought and its water table is depleting at an alarming rate. V S Prakash, director, drought monitoring cell, Bangalore, points out: "We have to conserve as well as augment available water resources."

The state government is trying out various methods to convince the farming community to switch over from paddy and sugarcane to semi-arid crops. In this regard, it has carried out a series of advertisements in local newspapers.

The authorities are also planning to make available some irrigation borewells for drinking water needs. "Wherever the problem is acute, the state may requisition borewells for a certain period to provide drinking water," reveals Prakash. "Shutting sluice gates will also help in replenishing groundwater," he feels.

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