Karnataka rivers in spate after record monsoon rains

Bengaluru: Rivers in Karnataka are in spate following record southwest monsoon rains over the last seven weeks, inundating low-lying areas, submerging road bridges and flooding farmlands, said an official on Monday.

“Heavy monsoon rains over coastal and Malnad regions since June have led to the reservoirs filling to their maximum levels and flooding the low-lying areas,” Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) Director G.S. Srinivasa Reddy told IANS here.

Major reservoirs in the Cauvery basin like the Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) in Mandya district, Kabini reservoir in Mysuru district across Kabini river, one of the major tributaries of Cauvery, and others have received water to their maximum capacity.

“With good rains in the catchment areas, the reservoirs are in a good condition. The state will not have the fear of facing a hydrological drought (due to low water supply in reservoirs or ground levels),” Reddy added.

Even as the state has received a 13 per cent excess monsoon rainfall till date since June 4 when the southwest monsoon set in over Karnataka, the distribution of rainfall has been uneven with south interior and northern districts continuing to face a rainfall deficit.

The southern districts of Chamarajanagar and Chikkaballapura and the northern districts of Ballari, Haveri, Vijayapura and Yadgir face a shortage of rainfall, according to the data from India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Bengaluru centre.

If the state does not receive good rains in August, nearly 50 per cent of Karnataka will have to face a drought as the rain-fed crops will not have enough water to grow, Reddy said.

“The KSNDMC has been receiving calls from several farmers in the south interior and northern districts that their crops are reaching a wilting stage. A large part of the state could see a drought without good rains ahead,” he added.

With the state’s reservoirs receiving water more than their capacity, Karnataka has been diverting the excess water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the past few weeks.

Happy over the excess rains filling the reservoirs, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who performed religious rituals and offered prayers at the KRS reservoir last week, said: “Good rain is nature’s solution to Cauvery issue.”

The apex court on February 16 increased Karnataka’s share of water by 14.75 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) to 284.75 from 270 tmc and lowered Tamil Nadu’s share to 404.25 tmc from 419 tmc.