Severe rainfall deficit hits Karnataka: Farmers struggle as reservoirs reach dead-storage levels

At present, the state has only 144.550tmc of water left in 22 water reservoirs — only 24.42 percent of their total capacity.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 25, 2023 | 10:53 PMUpdatedJun 26, 2023 | 7:24 AM

Karnataka Elections

Aravind Kulkarni, a resident of Basavana Bagewadi in the Vijayapura district of Karnataka, is a gloomy farmer.

“We have not received a single good spell of rain since the onset of monsoon. This has delayed crop sowing and other agricultural activities. If it gets further delayed, it will impact the yield,” he told South First.

Kulkarni is not alone. This is the condition of farmers across Karnataka.

Even over two weeks after the arrival of monsoon to the state, many regions have a considerable shortfall of rainfall.

The monsoon arrived in the state on 10 June. In the first 25 days of June, the state recorded only 113.5 mm of rainfall against the usual average of 152.4 mm.

This amounts to a 25.52 percent deficit of rainfall, according to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC).

The catchment areas of major rivers such as Tungabhadra, Kaveri, Krishna, Malaprabha, and Ghataprabha are all running dry due to a shortage of rainfall.

Even the major water reservoirs — Almatti Dam, Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) Dam, Tungabhadra Dam, Naviluteertha Dam, and Kabini Dam — are all nearing dead-storage water levels due to a lack of water inflow.

Dead storage in a reservoir is the volume of water that is stored below the level of the lowest outlet or the minimum supply level at the facility. That water will not naturally flow out of the reservoir.

Also read: Parched North Karnataka districts face drinking water crisis

Malnad, coastal, and North Karnataka record deficit

Monsoon continues to evade many parts of the state. Malnad, coastal, and North Karnataka recorded a rainfall deficit, while South Karnataka recorded more than double the usual rain in the month of June.

According to the KSNDMC: “The Malnad region recorded 107.2 mm rainfall against the traditional rainfall of 265.8 mm. It accounts for a 60 percent deficit of rain in the Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, and Kodagu districts.”

It added: “The coastal region recorded a 53 percent rain deficit in June. It received 289 mm of rainfall against the normal rain of 618.5 mm. In North Karnataka, the rainfall deficit is 6 percent. It received a rainfall of 76.3 mm against the traditional rainfall of 81.5 mm.”

The centre also said: “South Karnataka recorded 103 percent of excess rainfall. It recorded a rainfall of 116.2 mm against the normal rainfall of 57.3 mm in June.”

Among the districts, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada recorded 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively, rain deficit in June.

Shivamogga and Kodagu recorded a rain deficit of 74 percent and 70 percent, respectively, in the same period.

Dharwad, Kalaburagi, Belagavi, Haveri, and Bidar also recorded rain deficits.

“The monsoon has not been good in Karnataka this year. We are facing a deficit of rain in all parts of the state. The weather forecast indicates good rain for the next few days,” an official from KSNDMC told South First on condition of anonymity.

“The state is likely to receive widespread moderate to heavy rains. Very heavy rains [are] likely over coastal Karnataka, scattered with very light to moderate rains [are] likely over Malnad and North Karnataka, and light rains [are] likely over South Karnataka for the next few days,” said the KSNDMC.

Also read: 3-year-old killed, 26 sick from contaminated water in Raichur

Monsoon delay hits farming

The delay in the monsoon has brought all farming activities to a halt in all regions in the state. Farmers continue to stare at the sky, praying for good rain.

“We have been praying to the rain gods for the last two weeks, but there is no sign of rain. Because of the shortage of rain, all the agricultural activities have come to a halt in the district. Even the reservoirs are running out of water,” Aravind Kulkarni told South First.

“Last year, we received good rainfall and agricultural activities had already started by this time in 2022. This year, we have not yet taken up agricultural activities and are waiting for the rain,” said Kulkarni, who grows toor dal across five acres of land.

The situation is no different in the Gadag district. “We have not received any rain for the last few weeks. We have made all the preparations to sow green gram, which is a 60-day crop, but there is no rain. If the rain gets delayed, it will affect the produce,” said Basanagouda Patil, a resident of the Rona taluka in Gadag.

Similarly, the farmers in Raichur, Kalaburagi, Shivamogga, Mysuru, Hassan, Belagavi, Dharwad, Chitradurga, and Davanagere are all waiting for rains to start the agricultural activities for this monsoon.

Even the state government has made necessary preparations to provide crops, fertilisers, and medicine to the farmers for the monsoon.

Green gram, toor dal, maize, onion, chilli, cotton, paddy, ragi, and groundnuts are the major crops in the kharif season in Karnataka.

Also read: World Bank okays $363m loan for Karnataka rural water supply

Water storage dips in reservoirs

The water storage has dipped in many reservoirs, including KRS and Almatti Dam, because of the lack of rain in the state.

At present, Karnataka has only 144.550 tmcft of water left in 22 water reservoirs. That is only 24.42 percent of the total capacity.

There is merely 22 percent of water left in the 16 reservoirs of the Krishna River basin and 27 percent left in four reservoirs of the Kaveri River basin.

According to the Water Resources Department, the KRS dam has recorded a live storage capacity of 1.422 tmcft against the gross storage of 49.452 tmcft. The inflow was a mere 552 cusecs and the outflow was 250 cusecs on 25 June.

The Almatti Dam recorded a live storage of 2.238 tmcft against the maximum storage capacity of 123.081 tmcft. The reservoir is not receiving any inflow, while the outflow is 590 cusecs.

The Tungabhadra Dam has reached the dead storage level of 4.154 tmcft against the total storage capacity of 105.788 tmcft. The inflow stands at 272 cusecs and the outflow is 377 cusecs.

Hidkal Dam, Malaprabha Dam, and Narayanapura Dam have reached dead-storage water levels.