Dams · Karnataka

Karnataka: Profile of 2015-16 Drought

Karnataka is witnessing drought for the third successive year; rainfall has been deficient since 2012-13. Because of the rainfall deficit, reservoirs did not fill up completely. Coupled with the hot summer temperatures in March and April 2016, the stored water has now almost depleted. Groundwater, the saviour in times of failure of rainfall, has dipped severely because of years of reckless exploitation for irrigating water guzzling crops in semi arid soils. With even drinking water becoming scarce, agricultural activity has come to a standstill in the region. The drought in 2015 was preceded by unseasonal rains damaging the previous harvest. The monsoon deficit led to a dip in kharif output throughout the State in 2015.  The drought spread even to the normally lush Cauvery basin prompting digging and deepening of borewells. While southern Karnataka received some heavy rains in November, districts in Northern Karnataka again saw failure of rains with some districts such as Kalaburagi, Koppal and Yadgir registering over 70% deficiency in rainfall. There has been a near complete failure of crops in Northern Karnataka, with both rabi and kharif crops being wiped out, even as area under sugarcane has gone up! The northern region, which also lags in development indices, is in the clutches of rural distress – over a thousand farmers have committed suicide. Mass migration to cities is being witnessed.

  • Drinking Water Crisis
    • As of April 2016, villages in the 12 districts of northern Karnataka are in the grip of a severe drinking water crisis. District administrations have been supplying limited water through tankers but they do not cover several villages. Moreover the tankers visit every village only once in 2-3 days.
    • For the women in Yadgir, Bidar and Dharwad districts, the entire day revolves around standing in queues to obtain sufficient water from borewells and other available water sources which are fast drying up. Dalit families have alleged that the panchayat officials deny them clean water. The drinking water problem has further worsened in Kalaburagi district adjacent to Latur in Maharashtra. The number of villages in Kalaburagi, getting drinking water through tankers has increased to 210 from 180 in the last 3 days of April. In some villages, young girls are risking life and limb climbing 30 feet down into wells stepping on narrow stones jutting out of the walls to collect a few cups of water from the bottom of the well. In many northern districts such as Belagavi, all kinds of private enterprises selling water have surfaced, initiated by people having access to water. Some villages are forced to buy drinking water from private suppliers. Those who can not afford are drinking hard borewell water.
    • People are scrapping riverbeds of dry rivers for water. Taps at temples and charitable institutions have turned into sources of drinking water for some.
    • Many are drinking hard water and rationing the water they drink. There is chance of outbreak of epidemics due to shortage of water. People are also skipping bathing and washing clothes.
    • Districts in South Karnataka are also suffering from water shortages and borewells are now being sunk as deep as 1,300 feet in Kolar and Chikkaballapur. In Chitradurga district, water is being supplied through tankers to 22 villages where groundwater has totally dried up and the situation has become worrisome.
    • Midday meals hit: Apr 24 2016: In Chamarajanagar district, though the schools have adequate rations, they have no water for cooking and the mid-day meal scheme is about to stop in the region. Schools have toilets but teachers and students defecate in the open, as water is in short supply. Most wells have dried and women have to walk long distances to fetch water. In the protected forest areas covering much of the district, the law forbids borewells, roads, and even power connections.

anita drought

19-year-old Anita Suryakant became at least the second girl to be injured by falling around 30-feet into the stone-lined well

  • Cities on verge of crisis as water in reservoirs depletes
    • As of Apr 2016, major cities and towns are facing water crisis as the water level in major dams is nearing dead storage. Cities are in greater danger than villages because of their high density of population and complete dependence on dam water. Bengaluru and Mysuru, are assured of supply till June end. Davangere is on the verge of a drinking water crisis as the reservoirs have water only to supply for another 30 days.
    • On Apr 29, 2016, the Water Resources Minister said that the government is ready to use the dead storage in reservoirs to supply drinking water across the state. This is usually a measure to be taken only in emergency circumstances. If it does not rain in June, the state will completely run out of drinking water.
    • Storage levels in reservoirs of Cauvery and Krishna basins have plummeted. In the Cauvery basin, the level in all four major reservoirs – Hemavati, Kabini, Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS), and Harangi, is lower than last year. The water available in the reservoirs is only half of what was available last year at this time. The Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir that supplies water to Bengaluru, Mysuru, parts of Bengaluru Rural, Mandya and Ramanagaram districts of Karnataka has also dipped to alarming levels.
    • Reservoirs did not fill up sufficiently because of the scanty rains during the South West Monsoons in 2015. Towards the end of the monsoon, the KRS reservoir had not even filled up to half the quantity of water that it had the previous year. Similarly, Almatti dam in Vijayapura district was only half full at the end of Aug 2015 while it was full the previous year in August. The water level in the Almatti dam is coming down rapidly because of high evaporation rates in the searing heat. The current storage of water could barely last till June.
    • On March 28, 2016 the Mangalore city corporation got the hydropower project at Shambhoor on the upstream of Thumbe dam to release water to fill up Thumbe dam fully. This became necessary after Thumbe had water left only to last 10 days. Again in April, the level fell dangerously because of the hot weather and use for domestic and industrial purposes. On Apr 25, officials announced that there was water for only another 12 days. Beyond that the only hope is on rains.
    • On May 6, 2016, another new low was reached this drought: Nethravati has dried up, leading to water crisis for Mangalore refinery, it has starting shutting down phase III of its operations, leading to reduction of diesel and petrol production by 50 and 30%. MRPL was using 3 MGD of sewage from Mangalore to treat and reuse.
    • In March 2016, districts depending on the Krishna River such as Belagavi, Vijayapura and Bagalkote in Northern Karnataka were facing a water crisis, as Maharashtra had still not released the state’s share of water from its dams. In mid March, the state government requested Maharashtra to release 4 tmcft water from its reservoirs into the Krishna and the Bhima river course to mitigate acute water shortage. In mid April, Maharashtra started releasing water to Karnataka and released 2 tmcft of water. The government has asked farmers to not draw water for irrigation and use it only for drinking.
    • Here it should be noted that Maharashtra continues to divert over 3 BCM of water from Bhima and Kirshna basins to high rainfall Konkan area even in this drought year. SANDRP had repeatedly written to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and others to stop that in this drought year, without any impact. If this diversion was stopped it would also benefit the downstream Krishna basin states of Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
    • The fisheries industry has been affected as reservoirs have reached dead storage levels and rivers have dried up. Livelihoods of around 3 lakh fishermen have been hit according to the figures of the state fisheries department. Price of fish has gone up drastically.


People bring drinking water after trekking up a hill at Mansalapura village

  • Depleting groundwater has worsened the crisis: Comparing the current drought to the 1972 famine, local farmers say that the impact is more severe now as the groundwater is dwindling.
    • Karnataka farmers have been switching from paddy and millets to cash crops such as cotton and sugarcane over the last decade. Cane cultivation has increased 103%, from 2.21 lakh hectares to 4.5 lakh hectares. These crops also consume huge amounts of water which is sourced by the farmers from the groundwater in districts such as Belagavi, Bagalkot and Koppal .
    • The back to back drought of 3 years has further increased exploitation of groundwater. But there have been negligible efforts to recharge the aquifer by planting trees or rainwater harvesting. In Kalaburagi, the district administration is making efforts to emulate the Jal Yukta Shivar program of Maharashtra government, a program for water conservation projects based on people’s participation in neighbouring Latur. As the Karnataka government has not undertaken any such program, the district panchayat CEO has initiated such water conservation works under MGNREGA. On May 5, 2016, the state government announced a new scheme, ‘Kere Sanjeevini’ to rejuvenate lakes and clean their feeder channels specially the ones that supply drinking water.
    • Over-exploitation of groundwater and increased water pollution has also been caused by rapid urbanization, population growth, agricultural expansion, industrial growth and poor water governance. Indiscriminate sand mining has also reduced the water holding capacity.
  • Agriculture:
    • Kharif failure: The southwest monsoon season started well in the month of June. But the rains were deficient in following months. As a result, the kharif crop that farmers planted in response to the early monsoon, withered away. Of the 74 lakh ha of land under kharif crops, seeds weren’t sown on 8 lakh ha and the drought wiped out 37 lakh ha of crops. Farmers suffered kharif damage of Rs. 14471 crore.
    • Rabi: In the Rabi season, cultivation of every major crop other than sugarcane went down. The sowing area of wheat, one of the major winter crops, shrunk by 30% from normal. But, sugarcane was planted in over 60,000 ha in the state, which is 134% more than the usual area in which it is cultivated! Rainfall in Sept 2015 persuaded some farmers to take up Rabi sowing which failed because of deficient rains later in the season.
    • Out of the 13.58 lakh ha under Rabi cultivation in the Belagavi revenue division comprising Bagalkot, Belagavi, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Uttara Kannada and Vijayapura, the crop loss was over 33% in over 10 lakh ha.
    • The Rabi failure shows lack of planning and management by the state. Rabi depends on moisture but by the end of 2015, there was absolutely no moisture. The districts of north interior Karnataka which suffered the most extensive damage of rabi crops lie in an arid area and have poor irrigation facilities. According G.R. Chintala, Chief General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Bengaluru  drought-prone area in State has also increased from 63% to 72% of the total area owing to erratic monsoon and lack of drought-proofing methods. Farm ponds could have helped in storing water and making it available for irrigation but they have been dug at very few places. The Rabi crop was bound to fail.
    • Reduced cultivation in 2016: Pre-monsoon rain has been deficient in April 2016. Even large landowners with fields partly irrigated by groundwater have not taken up summer planting fearing that the groundwater might run out.
    • No water for irrigation: In Sept 2015, the State government decided to impose a ban on using water for irrigation or release of water for irrigation from the barrages constructed across rivers in drought-hit areas in the State. The available water in the barrages was set aside to meet drinking water requirements. Again in March 2016, the state Water Resources Minister said that the department has stopped releasing water into canals for summer crops. Water for drinking was to be given priority over irrigation and industries. To prevent use of water for irrigation, electricity supply was being disconnected along the riparian areas of Ghataprabha and Malaprabha and Krishna rivers in Apr 2016.
    • Sugarcane behind suicides: Karnataka is the third largest sugar grower in the country. In March 2016, cane was reportedly being cultivated in Bidar district even thought there was shortage of drinking water and farmers had suffered crop loss due to poor rainfall during the previous monsoon. The farmers use tubewells for irrigation. Sugarcane assures good returns, rates do not fluctuate, harvest, transportation are all easy and it has political backing. While the government needs to restrict and eliminate sugarcane cultivation for the equitable and sustainable water use, long-term benefits of farmers, it has in fact cleared six new sugar factories with investment in crores in drought-hit areas of the state such as Belagavi, Bagalkot and Kalaburagi.
    • A majority of the farmers who committed suicide in well-irrigated districts are said to be sugarcane growers who fell into a debt trap. Farmers have not been paid their dues by sugar mills. Sugar mills in Karnataka owe farmers roughly Rs. 4000 crore as arrears since 2013 as sugar is being over produced bringing down prices. Hence the farmers have to borrow for the next crop and are trapped in debt because of crop loss.
    • The hot weather and lack of rains in March and April 2016 is likely to reduce coffee Almost 70% of coffee plantations are yet to receive their first rainfall and the soil moisture is also poor because of the extended hot and dry spell. Crops are likely to wilt and dry.
    • The absence of pre-monsoon showers has shrunk the size of mangoes. Mangoes are also falling off the trees before ripening. Karnataka is among the top mango-growing states in the country. Mango is cultivated in 1.7 lakh ha in 16 districts, including Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Dharwad and Ramanagaram.
    • In Chitradurga and Dakshina Kannada districts, several acres of arecanut and coconut plantations are getting destroyed due to lack of water, causing irreparable losses.
    • As crops are drying up, vegetable prices are increasing as of Apr 2016.
  • Fodder shortage:
    • Fodder has to be bought at high prices or cattle have to walked long distances in search of pastures.
    • Apr 19 2016: Farmers are putting their cattle up for sale at throwaway prices and taking them to slaughter houses even along the Cauvery basin.
    • Apr 2016: The state has opened goshalas in the Belagavi revenue division to provide fodder for cattle but these are too few in number. The CM inaugurated two fodder banks in Yadgir district in Apr 2016 but they have not started functioning yet. Local farmers complained that while the government sourced the fodder from big farmers free of cost, it was charging the locals Rs 3 per kg.
  • Unemployment
    • Apr 2016: The water scarcity crisis has been compounded by lack of employment. There is no employment to be found in northern Karnataka, which has been an under developed region. There are no jobs in farms as there are no crops in the fields. In Ballari and Raichur districts, there is no farming or industry and mining has also stopped.
    • The loss of crops has left farmers in debt and at the mercy of moneylenders.
    • NREGA work is also not provided although villagers are on the register. Villagers in Raichur district, allege that the officials use earthmovers, dig up trenches, and pocket the money.
    • The daily wage under NREGA is Rs 234 but the workers receive much lesser wage. The income is insufficient to meet the increased expenditure from having to purchase water. There have been reports of labourers falling ill from consuming unsafe water provided at work sites. The wages are also delayed by months.
  • Power Crisis due to unreliable hydropower and impact of water crisis on thermal projects:
    • In Sept 2015 it was reported that the State was facing a major power crisis. 70% of Karnataka’s power comes from hydropower. The scarce rains were not enough to fill the reservoirs in the state. The 3 major reservoirs of Linganmakki, Mani and Supa were generating just 46% of their capacity. In Mar 2016, four units of the 1720 MW Raichur Thermal power plant were shut down due to lack of water in the Krishna River. By March 2016, the gap between demand and supply had come up to 2600 MW. The hydel power plant in Almatti dam has generated the lowest ever quantum of electricity this year because of the acute water shortage.
    • Almost 25% of the state’s power generation goes to Bengaluru where technology and start up companies are affected by the power crisis. The city is seeing load shedding of over 4 hours daily.
    • Rural areas have power cuts for 8-12 hours daily. The long hours of load shedding causes difficulties in operating pumps to draw water. For many their entire day is spent on waiting for procuring water from the available sources. Farmers dependent on groundwater-based pump-sets for irrigation are hit due to erratic power supply.
    • On Apr 30 2016, it was reported that the Almatti Dam had reached dead storage level after the little water it had was released to the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS). Officials have said that the the dead storage water will be used to provide drinking water to Vijayapura and parts of Bagalkot district until June. Power generation at the RTPS is accorded high priority as the state is heavily dependent on it for its power generation. However, it is questionable whether power generation, which would benefit distant industries and cities more, should take precedence over drinking water needs of the local people and how democratically these decisions are made. This is particularly since Union Power Minister has declared that India is POWER SUPLUS, as declared by Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal to NDTV on May 6, 2016.


Almatti, one of the major reservoirs of Karnataka and the lifeline of Vijayapura district,  reached dead storage level over a month before the arrival of monsoon

In such times, what do the people do?

  • Suicides: There were 978 farmer suicides in Karnataka, the highest ever in the state, between April and December 2015. Suicides continue to be reported in 2016. Surprisingly, well-irrigated districts such as Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan and Belagavi saw higher numbers of suicide. The state government has increased the compensation for bereaved families from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
  • Migration:
    • Migration from the drought-affected regions started as far back as November from Raichur, Yadgir, Vijayapura and Kalaburagi districts. Villagers are migrating in search of water and employment. In some cases, entire families have migrated. At other places, the entire working population has left, leaving the elders to face the hardships of searching for water and surviving on meager amounts.
    • In March 2016, it was reported that most of the villages in rain-fed areas were deserted as people left for cities such as Bengaluru and Pune to make a living as unskilled labourers in the construction sector. They were rendered jobless, as they could not take up farming in their villages because of drought.
    • Following the announcement by the Water Resources department that it would not release any water from reservoirs for irrigation, people from many villages even in irrigated belts along the Tungabhadra and Krishna left for big cities in search of work.
    • Apr 29 2016: Newspapers reported that houses are locked and hundreds of families have deserted their villages from the drought-hit Chamarajanagar district to work as labourers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Tribals of the district blame the Forest Department for the large-scale migration as the department has banned collecting gooseberry, honey and other forest produce in the last few years.
  • Protests: On Mar 3 2016, the Police lathicharged a large group of farmers who came to Bengaluru in tractors when they tried to move towards the State Legislature. They had come to agitate against the water problems in the drought-hit districts like Kolar, Chikkaballapur and Bengaluru rural. The farmers called for a bandh in Kolar and Chikkaballapur the following day to protest the lathicharge.
  • Child marriages: In Yadgir district, many are getting their daughters married, many of them below 18 years of age, before they migrate to big cities in search of jobs to be assured of the girls’ “safety” back home.

Efforts by State government to counter drinking water crisis

  • In Aug 2015, while declaring drought, the state government released Rs 150 crore to supply drinking water to drought-hit talukas and fodder for livestock. Water was being supplied in tankers to 813 villages and 61 urban local bodies.
  • On Apr 25 2016, the CM directed taking over all the live private borewells located in and around the drought-hit areas on rental basis to sort out the water problem. The CM also promised to hike rates to contractors drilling borewells for the government.
  • Apr 30 2016. In Hassan district, the district authorities are trying to convince the owners of private borewells to share water to combat drinking water woes in the worst hit areas of the district.

Splurging in times of scarcity

  • IPL Cricket matches: The IPL final has been moved from Mumbai to Bangalore after the Bombay HC intervened to shift the cricket matches out of Maharashtra. In view of the drought conditions, the Karnataka HC directed the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to ensure no water is wasted during the match. The Chinnaswamy cricket stadium in Bengaluru uses 70,000 litres/day on match days.
  • Washing off dust for the CM: In Apr 2016, about 5000 litres of water were emptied to prevent dust from rising from a road that the CM was visiting as part of his tour of drought-hit areas. at Bilagi

State declared drought (Kharif and Rabi); assistance sought from Centre

  • In Aug 2015, 27 out of the 30 districts were declared drought-hit by the state government becoming the first state to declare drought. An extreme situation was being faced for the fifth consecutive year – groundwater levels dipped, storage of water in reservoirs too was poor. The severity of the drought was highest in the 12 districts of North Interior Karnataka. 
  • Karnataka asked the Centre for an assistance of Rs. 3050 crore in September 2015. According to the state government’s assessment, Karnataka suffered a damage of Rs. 14,471 crore in over 3.2 million ha of crop area because of the drought.
  • The Centre on Nov 9, 2015 approved Rs. 1540 crore for drought relief for Karnataka.
  • In late Jan 2016, the Karnataka government declared the 12 districts of North interior Karnataka – Ballari, Raichur, Koppala, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Bidar, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Gadag, Haveri and Dharwad – as drought affected for the Rabi season. The Karnataka government reported drought impact on Rabi crops in 22.33 lakh ha. Karnataka was the only state to declare widespread damage to the rabi crop and seek central assistance. The State reported an estimated crop loss in 70% of sown area. The actual crop loss could be worse as reports were based on “visual data” gathered from the fields. Scientific crop assessment had not been conducted, as agricultural department was short staffed and busy with distributing subsidy.
  • The state sought 1417 crore towards mitigating crop failure amounting to a loss of Rs. 1290 crore, Rs. 74.67 crore animal husbandry damage and roughly Rs. 52 crore to provide water assistance to rural and urban settlements.
  • On Apr 22 2016, the Centre approved Rs. 723.23 crore for drought relief in Karnataka.
  • On Apr 30, 2016, the state government released funds adding up to Rs 100 crore to all the districts of the state for providing drinking water and fodder and to open goshalas as per the guidelines of the Union Government. The highest amount of Rs 10 crore was released to Kalaburagi, Belagavi and Vijayapura districts while Bidar, Yadgiri, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts were given Rs. 5 crore each.


With the water levels in tanks and reservoirs dipping, bigger varieties of fish have become rare and their price gone up drastically

Why ‘drought-relief’ brings no real relief

  • Though the government claims that the farmers have suffered damage of Rs. 14,471 crore, the state received only Rs. 1,540 crore for relief.
  • Officials said that farmers who lost crops due to poor rains during Kharif 2015 are expected to get relief only by May 2016 due to delays in gathering farmers’ bank account details. Upcoming local body elections are also delaying relief distribution.
  • There are contradictory reports on the dispersal of the Kharif relief. Some reports claimed the relief had been distributed to 80% of farmers in Belagavi revenue division by Feb 2016.
  • In Raichur district, most claim that they have not received a single paisa even four months after applying for crop loss compensation. Some have received amounts in the range of Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 2000 which is just a pittance.
  • In Bidar district, the government has granted drought compensation of Rs. 2800 for farmers having up to 5 acres of land and Rs. 4000 to those with higher landholding. But those amounts are way less than the expenditure on cultivation and inputs.


NREGA statistics based on data from http://nrega.nic.in/

  • Amount over Rs. 20 crore is unpaid from NREGA wages for 2015-16 and the total NREGA expenditure from 2015-16, which has not been paid yet, is over Rs. 94 crore.
  • The average wage per day for 2015-16 was Rs 203.69 and for 2016-17 so far has been Rs 222.88.
  • In the financial year 2015-16, the expenditure on wages was a poor 61.38% of the total expenditure on NREGA.
  • The average number of employment days per household in 2015-16 was 48.45 although the entitled number of workdays per household had been increased to 150 in the drought-hit districts. Of the households that worked under NREGA in 2015-16, 10.78% were employed for 100 days or more.


Karnataka Rainfall (in mm) this year –

Season Normal Actual Deviation
Pre Monsoon (Mar-May 2015) 123.4 184.6 50%
Southwest Monsoon (June-Sept 2015) 832.3 679.9 -18%
Northeast Monsoon (Oct-Dec 2015) 188.1 174.1 -7%
Winter (Jan-Feb 2016) 4.3 2.4 -43%

District wise rainfall during monsoons

Karnataka ARM

District SW Monsoon (June-Sept 2015) Deviation NE Monsoon (Oct-Dec 2015) Deviation
Coastal Karnataka
Dakshina Kannada -23% Deficit 20% Excess
Udupi -15% Normal 29% Excess
Uttara Kannada -33% Deficit -23% Deficit
North Interior Karnataka
Bagalkote -16% Normal -51% Deficit
Belagavi -38% Deficit -41% Deficit
Bidar -38% Deficit -55% Deficit
Dharwad -34% Deficit -37% Deficit
Gadag -22% Deficit -46% Deficit
Haveri -20% Deficit -32% Deficit
Kalaburagi -34% Deficit -72% Scanty
Koppal -6% Normal -72% Scanty
Raichur -16% Normal -55% Deficit
Vijayapura -29% Deficit -49% Deficit
Yadgir -45% Deficit -74% Scanty
South Interior Karnataka
Ballari -2% Normal -39% Deficit
Bengaluru Rural 11% Normal 13% Normal
Bengaluru Urban -8% Normal 48% Excess
Chamarajanagar -4% Normal 30% Excess
Chikaballapura 11% Normal 82% Excess
Chikkamagaluru -30% Deficit 7% Normal
Chitradurga 33% Excess 11% Normal
Davangere 2% Normal -26% Deficit
Hassan -10% Normal -4% Normal
Kodagu -14% Normal -20% Deficit
Kolar 0% Normal 111% Excess
Mandya 15% Normal 38% Excess
Mysuru 27% Excess 8% Normal
Ramanagara 4% Normal 13% Normal
Shivamogga 3% Normal -11% Normal
Tumakuru 23% Excess 54% Excess

Karnataka Taluk wise rainfall map 2015

Karnataka Hobli wise rainfall mapSource: http://www.imdbangalore.gov.in/

RESERVOIR STATUS (as of Apr 28, 2016; The average of last 10 years is taken as ‘normal’)

Reservoirs having less than 50% of normal storage:

Malaprabha: 31%    

Tungabhadra: 34%

Kabini: 38%              

Ghataprabha: 40%

Harangi: 47%                       

Bhadra: 49%

Vanivilas Sagar: 50%

Storage as % of live capacity at full reservoir level (FRL):

Reservoir Present Last year Normal
Krishnaraja Sagar 16 25 21
Tungabhadra 2 2 6
Ghataprabha 4 13 9
Bhadra 19 42 39
Linganamakki 24 23 26
Narayanpur 22 22 33
Malaprabha 2 10 8
Kabini 4 48 10
Hemavathy 11 13 12
Harangi 7 10 15
Supa 23 41 31
VaniVilas 7 5 13
Almatti 5 8 8
Gerusoppa 73 85 88

Source: CWC

River Basins (as of Apr 28, 2016)

Water levels (in BCM) in river basins: (Source: CWC)

  • Krishna: 32.831 (FRL); 6.266 (Apr 2015); 2.169(Apr 2016); 67.05% below normal
  • Cauvery and East Flowing Rivers: 8.359 (FRL); 2.033 (Apr 2015); 1.685 (Apr 2016); 37.87% below normal
  • West flowing rivers of South: 14.766 (FRL); 5.047 (Apr 2015); 3.842 (Apr 2016); 16.33% below normal

Seeds of success in dealing with Drought: Like in most other states, in Karnataka too we can see examples of how the people have dealt with the drought in manner that has some seeds of success for others to learn from. We have compiled some here:

Dharward Dist, Navalgund taluk 20 Villages

How Some Karnataka Farmers Are Defeating The Drought About 20 villages in the drought-hit Navalgund taluk of Dharward district stand as a stark contrast to the calamity prevailing in the neighbourhood. A majority of farmers in these villages are unaffected by the drought. They are able to cultivate crops and keep them healthy by sufficiently watering them, and are making profits. Their insurance, so to speak, against the natural disaster, are the farm ponds they have dug with the help of the Deshpande Foundation. The Foundation is supporting the digging of farm ponds in Navalgund taluk. The farm ponds dug in low-lying areas allow farmers to harvest occasional rainfall, store water and use it to provide timely irrigation to their crops. The result: farmers are able to irrigate and harvest three crops in a year. Their income has more than doubled and they are experimenting with commercial crop like papaya, beyond traditional ones like cotton, maize, onion, chilly, pulses.


Ramanagara District Channapatna taluk

Tackling drought, the Channapatna way  When most of the areas in the State are reeling under the worst drought in decades, Channapatna taluk presents a contrasting picture. There are no signs of drought in its villages, despite being drought prone. In fact, the Channapatna MLA, who used to haggle with the government earlier to get drought assistance, has categorically told authorities that his constituency does not need any relief. The villagers of this taluk, which used to suffer from acute drinking water shortage, are finding this summer much more comfortable than the previous ones in the last 17-18 years. This transformation happened owing to a project taken up in Dec, 2014 that recharged the groundwater in the parched area by filling up tanks in the villages with water from Shimsha river, which is a tributary of the Cauvery. Under the project, 65 tanks, including Kanva reservoir and 17 major tanks, were filled from the Iggaluru barrage on Shimsha.

Mandya District  

Former IT Engineer Is Using A Brilliant Plan To End Farmer Suicide The farmers of Mandya district which is notorious for farmers’ suicides is presently experiencing an agricultural revolution of sorts as farmers are now selling organic produce for a profit. To make farming more professional and profitable using organic methods, Madhuchandan SC, fondly called ‘Madhuanna’ left a lucrative career in the US in August 2014 and started the Mandya Organic Farmers Cooperative Society with 270 farmers, who produce and sell their own organic farm products.

Anuradha UV, SANDRP (uv.anuradha@gmail.com,

 with inputs from Bhim Singh Rawat and Himanshu Thakkar)

You may also like to see

Odisha Drought 2016

Telangana Drought-2016

Andhra Pradesh Drought 2016

Drought and Marathwada: An Oft repeated Traged

2 thoughts on “Karnataka: Profile of 2015-16 Drought

  1. In the rain shaddow zones of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh expected drought in 30 to 60% of the years on an average with the Bellary the highest. However, they vary very high during the below and above the average precipitation cycles.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy


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