The southwest monsoon has evaded Karnataka with rainfall deficit close to 30 per cent in June and the Cauvery delta region seem to be the worst affected.
The rainfall in Malnad region, a crucial Cauvery catchment area, witnessed deficit of 42 per cent between June 1 and July 1. Experts believe the situation is set to worsen as they foresee weak rainfall in the crucial month of August as well.
“Sowing was delayed in many places. The Krishnarajasagara dam had eight tmc ft water on July 1 as compared to 72 tmc ft last year. The drought in the coming year will be even severe,” said Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) director G S Srinivasa Reddy.
“While we lost June rains, July and August are crucial for Cauvery. During each of these months, we receive about 90 tmc ft water. But the forecast suggests a weak monsoon ahead,” he adds.
Reddy feels that farmers in the Cauvery region of Mysuru, Mandya and Chamarajanagara, where groundnut, paddy, sugarcane and ragi are the primary crops, will lose a crop season if the rainfall is not adequate in the coming two weeks. Ragi and groundnut cultivation took place in just about one-fifth of the targeted sowing area.
Farmers in Mandya continued their protest for the 12th day in a row as they blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and protested against the government for not releasing Cauvery water.
“Our demand is clear. We want the government to protect the interest of the farmers and release water immediately, so that the standing crops are saved,” said Darshan Puttanaiah, a farmer leader.
The agitators also demanded that the State take measures to start cane crushing operations at the government-owned Mysugar mill. They demanded that the residents of Bengaluru use water judiciously as the precious resource was being diverted for the drinking water needs of the city.
According to a KSNDMC report, sowing was affected to the extent of 60 per cent in the state. As against the normal coverage of 25.58 lakh hectares as of June, the state witnessed sowing in only 10.59 lakh hectares of land. And of the 3,611 minor irrigation tanks in the state, 2,310 tanks (64 per cent) were completely dry.
The rainfall in the Kodagu region, which had plantation crops such as coffee, tea, rubber, cardamom and pepper, was affected as well. Kodagu was the worst affected district in the state with 58 per cent rainfall deficit. Farmers there expect a below average output this year.