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Worst drought in four decades, says Dy CM Shivakumar on Karnataka's water crisis

Worst drought in four decades, says Dy CM Shivakumar on Karnataka's water crisis
Bengaluru, Amid the acute water shortage in Bengaluru, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar said on Monday the State had not witnessed such a severe drought in the past three-four decades, and the next two months are "very much important." The administration is making all efforts to manage the crisis and supply water to the citizens, he said, adding, steps have been taken to control the water "mafia" in the city.

"In the last 30-40 years we had not seen such drought; though there was drought earlier we had never declared such a large number of taluks as drought-affected," Shivakumar told reporters here.

Shivakumar, also in-charge of Bengaluru development, said wherever Cauvery river water has to be supplied in the city, it is being done, but out of 13,900-odd borewells in Bengaluru, about 6,900 have become defunct.

"So to control the situation, we have arranged for tankers to supply water. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) are making all efforts in this regard," he added.

Karnataka has declared drought in 223 out of 240 taluks, out of which 196 are categorised as severely drought affected.

Alleging that the opposition (BJP-JD(S) combine) was trying to indulge in politics over the issue, Shivakumar said the administration has on its part made efforts to control the water "mafia", and provide water by taking it from private borewells, and also rates have been fixed based on distance travelled by the water tankers.

"A separate online system has been brought in for this and officials have been appointed to oversee this," he added.

Stating that the next two months are "very much important," Shivakumar, who is also the Water Resources Minister, said priority is to ensure that there is no wastage of water.

"(By implementing) Cauvery fifth stage (project) -- we will make all efforts to provide Cauvery water to 110 villages (around Bengaluru) at the earliest by May last week," he said.

To control the water "mafia", more than 1,500 private water tankers have registered so far and time has been extended for others also to register till March 15, Shivakumar further said. Police, Regional Transport Office (RTO), BBMP and BWSSB will monitor it and there will be a board with registration number on tankers.

"Operating illegally and charging exorbitantly Rs 5,000 or 6,000 (per tanker of water), such things are going on. To control, its price has been fixed based on the distance travelled," he noted.

In Bengaluru, Ramanagara, Magadi, Doddaballapura, Hoskote and surrounding areas, there are irrigation borewells, he said, adding that "we have taken a count of them, to draw water from there if an emergency situation arises."

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