Karnataka is facing an acute water crisis and could the Jaladhare And Jalamrutha schemes solve the state’s water woes?
Water Crisis In Karnataka – Quick Facts
- According to the IndiaSpend report 2018 – Karnataka declared 23 of its 30 districts drought affected
- Belagavi is considered a permanently drought-hit region
- 7 districts are under the scanty category. The departure from average rainfall is in these areas are between -99% and -60%.
Water Crisis In Karnataka – The Basics
According to the study conducted by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) in May 2019, the underground table across the state is decreasing in an alarming level.
The report points out that in over 80 taluks the groundwater level has fallen by over 4% resulting in the acute drinking water shortage. This year, water rationing was implemented even in the green rich districts like Shivamogga, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. The sea bird naval project was also hit by acute drinking water.
Three major cities of the state i.e. Mangaluru, Shivamogga, and Udupi were the worst hit. The condition of the rural areas was not different. Farmers selling their cattle due to the shortage of fodder and drinking water are a common scene across the northern part of the state.
The delay in the arrival of the Monsoon rainfall added to the misery of the farmers. A detailed report on the water crisis in the state is now made available here.
Jalavarsha – The Year Of Water
The Government of Karnataka (GoK) announced the year 2019 as the Jalavarsha (Year of water). As per the scheme, the government is planning to rejuvenate the village level water bodies to make the villages drought free in the coming years.
In his budget speech 2019-20, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced this scheme. In his speech, he had stated that water is essential for life. We are facing the adverse effect of global climatic changes through consecutive droughts. Therefore, our Government has declared 2019 as Jalavarsha.
It is proposed to implement Jalaamrutha Scheme, under which water preservation works will be taken up with a focus on water preservation, water literacy, re-energizing of water sources and green cover.
The aim is to to take up 20,000 water preservation works under Natural Resources Management Works in the next 2 years. These works will be taken up at a cost of INR 500 crore during this year.
Jaladhare And Jalamrutha Schemes
Drought is not new for Karnataka. Keeping in mind the rejuvenation of lakes and the underground table the state government launched Jalamrutha and Jaladhare projects. Both the schemes are implemented by the state Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department.
Jalamrutha scheme has been implemented based on the recommendations made by the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST). The council recommended the state government to revive the traditional water bodies across the state as a solution to the water crisis.
It recommended the check dams for the rivers and streams to hold water which will result in the underground water table recharge. Based on the recommendation, the project was announced in the state budget.
The project was officially launched on February 28. INR 500 crores has been earmarked for this scheme in the state budget. If everything goes as per the plan, over 20,000 traditional water bodies across the state will get a new lease of life.
The traditional water bodies include kalyanis (ponds in front of the temples), devara thirtha (holy water ponds), holy bath ponds (snana ghattas) etc. In most part of the state, these water bodies are facing untimely death due to the poor maintenance and throwing the plastic and other items.
Jalamrutha – Objective
Under the Jalamrutha, the traditional water bodies will be in the villages is rejuvenated through community participation. Locals are mobilized through village panchayats, NGOs and leaders to take up the rejuvenation works.
Till now the department of RDPR identified as many as 20,000 such water bodies across the state for the rejuvenation.
Local communities, youth organizations are roped in to take up the repair, desilting works, and cleanliness. Once the rejuvenation work is done, the water bodies will be monitored by a local committee. The idea behind the initiative is ensuring that in the summer of 2020, the villages will not face any water crisis.
How Jalamrutha Scheme Is Implemented
According to the authorities from the RDPR, a state level monitoring committee has been formed to monitor the implementation of this scheme. This committee is headed by the Chief Minister.
A director post has been created in the department to oversee the implementation. A Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) has been created to follow the project implementation. Experts in the watershed management, afforestation, community coordinators, CSR and outreach coordinators have been hired for the directorate, Jalamrutha.
Jaladhare And Jalamrutha Schemes –Rejuvenation Of The Traditional Water Bodies
12,000 check dams: another highlight of this scheme is that, along with the rejuvenation of the traditional water bodies, the RDPR is also planning to construct 12,000 check dams across the state to small streams and the rivers. These check dams will be used to store water locally. The idea behind this is that check dams recharge the groundwater.
Other Initiatives To Create Awareness
Water Literacy: According to the authorities, under the scheme, the state government will take up the water literacy movement, and the creation of new water bodies drive. Both are aimed at making the state drought free in the coming years by water conservation.
Focus On Community Participation: as per the plan, the project will be implemented through a decentralized structure at the village level. The authorities are planning to use the services of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding to ensure good funding for the scheme.
How To Participate In Jalamrutha Initiatives
According to the RDPR authorities, the individuals and the Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) are allowed to join hands with the state government in the implementation of this scheme.
The NGOs, individuals can work with the department as consultants and the participants. They can approach the Directorate of Jalamrutha scheme to know more.