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Is Kodagu heading for a water crisis?

Jeevan Chinnappa

Water-table in many places in the district has depleted by up to two metres in five years


  • Water-table shrinks in all three taluks of Kodagu
  • Indiscriminate drilling of borewells one of the reasons
  • Violation of norms while drilling borewells is rampant
  • There are 3,634 borewells in the district
  • Kodagu faces water shortage from March to May

    MADIKERI: If what geologists say with regard to the drinking water crisis in Kodagu is true, then the district is certainly heading for a drinking water crisis. That the water-table has fallen by more than two metres in some places in the district in five years is startling indeed.

    The water-table has shrunk in all the three taluks of the district. The depletion in Madikeri taluk last year (2004-05) was by 1.5 metres. It was down by 2.10 metres in Somwarpet taluk, which normally receives less rainfall than Madikeri and Virajpet taluks. In Virajpet taluk, it declined by two metres, according to sources in the Department of Mines and Geology here.

    Why does Kodagu, which receives good rainfall, suffer from water crisis every summer? Indiscriminate drilling of borewells resulting in the overexploitation of groundwater is said to be one of the reasons for the depletion of the water-table. Violation of scientific norms while drilling borewells is rampant in Kodagu. The distance between two borewells should be 250 metres. In many instances, this norm has been violated, says H.H. Sharief, senior geo-scientist, here.

    He, however, says that Kodagu is better placed compared to many other dry districts in the State. If laxity in recharging the water-table continues, things may go from bad to worse, Mr. Sharief adds. Some say that sand mining along the riverbeds, especially of the Cauvery, is one the reasons for the depletion in water-table around the course of the rivers. Water will not get absorbed but flows downstream during the rainy season. However, many disclaim this theory.

    According to sources, Kodagu has been declared as a hard rock area. Granite is one of them. Hard rock is not capable of absorbing water.Water ingression will occur only where the rocks are loose and therefore porous. As a result, only two to three per cent of rainwater percolates into the ground.

    This is said to be the main obstacle in the area of conserving rainwater. Therefore, check dams and pick-up dams are the best methods to recharge the water-table.

    There are 3,634 borewells in the district. Somwarpet taluk has the highest of 1,885, followed by 1,119 in Virajpet taluk and 660 in Madikeri taluk. Thirty-three borewells were drilled - six in Somwarpet taluk and 27 in Virajpet taluk last year.

    Of the total borewells, yield in 46 has come down. There are 13 such borewells in Madikeri taluk, six in Somwarpet taluk and 27 in Virajpet taluk.

    Almost all borewells are now being put to optimum use in the district because of the water shortage.

    Thirteen borewells would be repaired through the "hydro-fracture" method, Hemagiri, Executive Engineer of the Zilla Panchayat's Engineering wing, says.

    Kodagu being one of the highest rainfall areas in the State generally suffers from drinking water shortage from March to May.

    Normally, the monsoon sets in across the district in June. It is not just the people of Madikeri who face water shortage, but the entire district.

    Is the Cauvery anathema to Kodagu? It is hard to believe that the land where Cauvery originates is groping in the dark with regard to drinking water. The drinking water crisis has reached its crescendo and citizens are left to fend for themselves, a recurring phenomenon every summer.

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