Kolar and Chickballapur forced to plan for floods
Over the past few days, all the tanks in Kolar and Chickballapur districts are overflowing and rivers are in spate, inundating several areas.
Kolar has reportedly suffered the most crop damage in the State — around 35,000 hectares of food grains, mainly ragi, and 7,000 hectares of horticultural crops, as per estimates of the State Government. The situation in Chickballapur is no different.
Environmentalist and water management expert S. Vishwanath said this showed the impact of climate change on rainfall pattern.
“Now even districts like Kolar and Chickballapur have to prepare for extreme rain events and have contingency plans to manage flood-like situations to prevent large-scale crop loss,” he said.
It is years since the six rivers — Arkavathi, Chitravathi, Papagni, Uttara Pinakini, Dakshina Pinakini and Palar — have been in spate like this. “Flooding in the areas where the rivers flow also highlights the need to clear encroachments, revive drain networks between the different tanks, apart from regularly repairing and maintaining the tank ecosystem as a flood mitigation measure,” Mr. Vishwanath said.
Irrigation expert N. Narasimhappa lamented the lack of political leadership in harnessing water resources in the two districts. “If the tanks were desilted and the canal system preserved, we could have saved and stored so much water this season,” he said.
Concretisation of the catchment areas of these six rivers has also contributed heavily to the flood-like situation in the two districts. Nirmala Gowda, trustee, Bangalore Environment Trust, pointed out that the river was mostly urban run-off, given the concretisation of catchment areas. Similar is the case with catchment areas of other rivers in the region.
Add to this is the problem of toxicity of the water flowing in these lakes. “When we followed the river course, we found that full dams had to release large volumes of water, which had led to heavy soil erosion. Given the amount of water and industrial effluents released, there are a lot of chemicals and toxicity still lurking in the river,” Ms. Gowda said of Arkavathi river.
The case of other rivers in the two neighbouring districts is no different. “While these rivers were not in flow, they had become cesspools of sewage and industrial effluents, which are now an intrinsic part of the water flow in these tanks and rivers,” Mr. Reddy pointed out.