Water

Water-stressed in India: Officials in Karnataka’s Chitradurga clueless about JSA

The district scored zero in some Jal Shakti Abhiyan indicators

 
By G S Ujjanappa
Published: Friday 20 March 2020
A view of the Chitradurga Fort in Karnataka's Chitradurga district Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A view of the Chitradurga Fort in Karnataka's Chitradurga district Photo: Wikimedia Commons A view of the Chitradurga Fort in Karnataka's Chitradurga district Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Karnataka’s Chitradurga is one of the country’s driest districts. It has witnessed 59 droughts in a century, from 1901 to 2000, according to the district’s agriculture department.

But government officials Down To Earth reached out to were clueless about the Union government’s Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) initiative.

Chitradurga ranked 196 with a 12.73 per cent score on work done under the JSA initiative across 255 water-stressed districts.

The initiative keeps track of a district's progress in six core areas: Water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies or tanks, water reuse, bore well recharge structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation.

Chitradurga scored zero in the indicators for renovation of traditional and other water bodies or tanks, reuse and recharge structures as well as watershed development and intensive afforestation.

District officials were not ready to discuss the initiative because they were either not aware of the scheme or had no goals or reports on work done to resolve the state of the district’s water resources.

“We have carried out department mandated work instead of work done under Jal Shakti Abhiyan,” said V Sadasiva, Chitradurga’s joint director of agriculture.

Officials from the district’s watershed and irrigation departments said they would not discuss JSA on the record.

“There were no funds for this scheme. So why is the government taking stock under it?” asked a senior irrigation department official.

Chitradurga received 593 mm and 294 mm of annual and monsoon rain, respectively. This is below the country’s average annual rain and monsoon rain at 650 mm and 870 mm, respectively.

All of Chitradurga’s five talukas (blocks) — Challakere, Chitradurga, Hiriyur, Holalkere and Hosadurga— fall under the ‘over exploited’ category for ground water.

Annual ground water extraction is more than annual extractable ground water resource in all the five talukas.

Some projects — pertaining to recharging dried up bore wells in a few talukas —started six years ago, however, showed results, according to Sadasiva.

The district received full marks in block and district conservation plans (10 per cent).

Officials, however, chose to not share their plans.

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