Karnataka- Groundwater table – IBT
In a major project aimed at ensuring water security to about 30,000 villages, the Karnataka government plans to harness surface water from surplus basins to fill up tanks and lakes in water deficit areas and rejuvenate the groundwater table under the slogan “Oorigondu Kere—Aa Kerege Nadiya Neeru”. In this context what do you understand by Inter Basin Transfer (IBT)? Briefly write about the benefits and challenges of IBT.
Introduction: (upto 30 words) Give introduction to the project proposed by the Karnataka Government
Body: (upto 100 words) Explain IBT, its socio-economic benefits, challenges and effects on the environment.
Conclusion: (upto 30 words) Mention about the alternatives to IBT which are much safer and ecofriendly - water conservation mechanisms such as rainwater harvesting, watershed management etc.
- Inter-basin transfer is the moving of water from a watershed with a surplus (donor basin) to a watershed suffering from a shortage (recipient basin). The water is transferred primarily to alleviate water scarcity in the recipient basin and travels long distances via complex pipeline and canal systems.
- Other reasons include recipient basin hydropower generation and the navigation route expansion.
- Inter-basin transfers are often considered a controversial practice, as the environmental and socio-economic consequences for the donor basin can be high, and difficult to predict. Therefore, it is strictly regulated in many areas and completely prohibited in others.
- Inter-basin transfers are usually regulated by law and can only be implemented if certain conditions are met (e.g. only a limited amount of water is transferred, water conservation plans are included as part of the project, downstream flow protection plans are established, etc.) and the relevant water rights are obtained.
- Critical considerations include ensuring that the transfer does not disrupt any water-dependent activities or access in the donor basin and that it meets relevant environmental protection laws and regulations.
- Implementation involves the building of pipes or canals to divert water from the donor to the recipient watershed. This requires technical expertise and includes, for example, dredging and installation of pipes, as well as other diversion and storage structures.
- Diversion structure maintenance, in addition to environmental and socioeconomic impact monitoring, ensures optimal operation. Pipes and other equipment should be regularly checked, and repaired when necessary, to minimize potential transfer water loss and ensure maximum efficiency of resource use.
- Environmental Benefits: Supports groundwater recharge in the receiving watershed and alleviates negative ecosystem impacts associated with critical water shortage.
- Socioeconomic Benefits: Increases water supply in the recipient basin to help meet a wide range of water demands, for example for agriculture, domestic use, recreation, industry, power generation, etc. On a national level it may improve the economic efficiency of resource use.
- Opportunities: Provision of freshwater in recipient basin, providing numerous socio-economic benefits. If well managed (and the negative environmental impacts can be limited) it can provide climate change adaptation benefits in water scarce regions.
- Prevents Flooding: IBT can ensure prevention of flooding in Donor Basin.
- Usually costly and time-consuming
- Potential negative socio-economic consequences for communities downstream from the donor basin
- Watershed removal changes river dynamics and can negatively affect ecosystem balance, including water quality and flora and fauna
- Potential negative environmental impacts in areas hosting transfer structures.
- May result in submergence of ecologically sensitive zones
Interlinking of rivers have many benefits. But this should be the last resort. India receives plenty of rainfall, but most of these rainwater is going into drains. If we capture all these rainwater, India will not face water scarcity in the coming years. If India invests enough on water conservation mechanisms such as rainwater harvesting, watershed management etc on a war-footing, we may not need Inter-basin water transfer projects.
The idea of “Inter Basin Transfer” (IBT) will involve diversion of 484 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water from various west-flowing rivers with the least impact on the environment to fill up nearly 36,000 tanks and lakes across Karnataka.
In a concept note submitted by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 10, the state has urged the Centre to consider the scheme under the “National Perspective Plan” (NPP) for speedy implementation and early realisation of the project under the slogan “Oorigondu Kere—Aa Kerege Nadiya Neeru” (A tank for each village — fed by a river).
Why is it necessary?
- Considering various awards of water dispute tribunals, the gross water allocation to Karnataka is about 1,230 tmc. By 2050, Karnataka, for its potable, industrial and agricultural use may require about 3,000 tmc of water with a net shortfall of about 1,770 tmc.
- Though the government has taken several steps to conserve water, studies have confirmed IBT as a feasible solution for meeting the growing demand for water.
- About 2,000 tmc of water from west-flowing rivers is being drained annually into the sea without getting harnessed. This can be utilised by diverting them to the east.
- The Prime Minister wants to provide drinking water to every village by 2022 and this will be a reality only through IBT by linking rivers across Karnataka. This is in keeping with the Centre’s vision of Himalayan and Peninsular River Linking.
- According to the plan, the government has proposed to fill 36,000 tanks by linking them to Kumaradhara, Netravathi, Sharavathi, Bedthi and Aghanashini rivers.
- The CM has also sought financial assistance to cover the 4,823 gram panchayats and urban local bodies as part of the recently launched Atal Bhujal Yojana which will be implemented in 1,199 GPs across 14 districts.
The CM has also apprised the Centre that he has chosen Tumakuru district for implementation of the pilot project.