Mangaluru: Water rationing, elusive rain leave residents high and dry

Harsha Raj Gatty
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Mangaluru, May 26: 'People don't have water to wash their butt', a vinyl banner reads in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada. Another reads 'People are forced to drink filtered drain (toilet) water...’ Come to the coastal district, in the midst of scorching temperature soaring 32 degrees and upwards, the Mangaluru City Corporation’s (MCC) decision to ration water has not gone well with its residents.

Unlike parts of Karnataka that have been receiving bountiful rain, pre-monsoon rains have evaded the district. Apart from some drizzles across the city last week followed by light shower to average rain in Moodabidri, Beltangady and Puttur taluks.

Cutting across party lines, locals are up against vocally criticizing local leaders for rampant urbanization, depletion of trees and concretization across the region; that according to them has even lead to groundwater depletion that has affected water level in borewells and open-wells. The displays of union minister Sadananda Gowda, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily, along with local legislators of both BJP and Congress, have come up in several areas, with accusatory note for causing distress to the lives of the people.

An activist with Mangaluru Civic Group (MCG) Gerard Towers, recently during a protest against water shortage sported a bath towel, along with a bucket, soap tray and a mug, but claimed that he could not bath as water was scarce. "This is not a first, each year during summer there is water scarcity, but our elected representatives are not doing anything about it. Neither the natural water resources are rejuvenated, nor any plan of action appears to increase the capacity of water storage at the vented dams," he said.

According to the authorities while the daily requirement of the city inhabitants is 160 million litres (MLD) per day, the key source of water to the city - Thumbe vented dam - recently showed less than 4 metres against its maximum capacity of 6 metres.

The district authorities add that water rationing is a necessity owing to delay in the arrival of the monsoon in the coastal district, and poor collection in Netravati catchment areas and 'unprecedented' evaporation at dams (5 cm/day) such as Thumbe dam due to the soaring temperature. Water may last barely for another fortnight, they said.

Karnataka minister for urban development and DK district in-charge U T Khader said government does not mean to cause public inconvenience, but water rationing has to undertake as the last resort. In the present scenario (without rain), the water to the city will last up to June 15. However if we don’t control the supply, the water at Thumbe will last only till May 28," he said.

Facing one of the worst water crisis, alongside harsh summer, industrial, commercial, and private establishments have downsized their production capacity. While work at Mangaluru Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) has been brought to a complete halt, Mangaluru Refinery and Petroleum Limited (MRPL) and Mangaluru Chemical Fertilizer (MCF) have downsized their operations in petrochemical plants and chemical fertilisers respectively.

In accordance with the DC's order, since last month Mangaluru Electricity Supply Company (MESCOM) has been supplying electricity only three days in a week to agricultural pump sets, in the wake depleting water in the city.

Hotels are seen installing sign boards suggesting water is served on request, “Given the limited supply of water and storage facility, we are dedicating water chiefly for cooking and maintaining essential hygiene of vessels and restaurant premise,” a hotel operator at Milagres said.

On May 14, Dakshina Kannada PU College Principals Association submitted memorandum to the DC’s office petitioning for the postponement of the academic calendar year that is said to begin on May 20th. Many private PU colleges announced that the college will reopen from June 1. Both government and private schools put together, the district has 2,070 schools and 201 PU colleges. The school and college authorities are concerned that they will not be able to meet drinking water requirements or for toiletry purposes. "Moreover several educational institutions have signed up for providing lunch for the students. How do we meet this requirement without uninterrupted water supply?" an association member questioned.

With water being supplied for 96 hours at a stretch and 72 hours rationing, even the college hostels are advising the residents to go back to their native or make alternative arrangements of stay. “Only a few PhD fellows or guest faculty or external evaluators who are on temporary visit can be accommodated at this point, we don’t have sufficient water resource to serve the larger crowd," an administrative official of a popular medical college in Mangaluru city said.

In a recently held press conference, activist Dinesh Holla has attributed the state government’s decision to divert water from Yettinahole (one of the tributaries of Netravati river) for Yettinahole project as the major reason for water drying up in Dakshina Kannada. The convenor of green NGO Sahyadri Sanchaya, Holla said that the zero inflow to Thumbe from Netravati river can be directly attributed to the repercussion of the Yettinahole project. "The project has not only hit the city’s regular supply of water but also has left a disastrous effect on the lush green forests of the Western Ghats," Holla said. He also pointed out that despite being a burning issue, none of the political parties have committed to address the concern of water shortage in the city during summer and even people are acting indifferent to the matter, until they are affected by it.

Environmental activists in the district have also expressed concerns, that with callous concern for harnessing natural sources of water, the district will eventually fall victim to water tanker operators, which will form another mafia of fleecing people for want of basic requirement such as water.

At times cloudy weather continues to tease the district with slight drizzle signalling monsoon. "At times it seems like the clouds are going to make way for plentiful rain, but then at the very next our hopes are dashed," Athira, a flat resident at Kadri said. Several multi-storeyed apartment and sky rises are now turning towards the water-tanker providers to meet the water deficit.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media, Dakshina Kannada DC Sasikanth Senthil has said that going by the rain patterns for the last two decades, rain may be anticipated in June in Dakshina Kannada.

Further, the Karnataka government's recent call for tender on 'aircraft' cloud-seeding to meet rainfall deficit brings optimism among the people of Dakshina Kannada that the water crisis can be eventually stalled.


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Comment on this article

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Mon, May 27 2019

    DK will be facing a precarious WATER problem in coming years seeing the drying up of very old wells and water table going down drastically!

    People do not know source of tanker water supply and use it blindly for potable purposes; even bore water below 1000 ft contains arsenic and other heavy chemicals, very dangerous to human health, which people do not know!

    The way big skyscrapers are being built will put heavy load on the supply in times to come!as


    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vishal, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Sunitha, Udupi. Yes, you are absolutely correct. The 'intelligent' people of Mangalore have voted Nalin Kumar back to power because of the Modi wave. Fine, let us give him the benefit of the doubt and we will see in what way he will stop the Yettinahole project. So far our MP has done nothing much to write home about but let us see if he can bring pressure on the authorities and get this project scrapped. If he does succeed, he will earn my respect and gratitude and if he fails, he is not worth his salt.

    DisAgree Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • shashi, DUBAI

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Nalin will not do anything as usual and in the next election he will get votes just because he is BJP.

    DisAgree Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • sunitha, udupi

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Kamathmaam is blaming nehru even after 1 year in power-last year flood in mlore this year by feb-mar no water...............
    Nalin came back to power ...............In Fact you the mangaloreans voted him because of Modi wave............. now sing .modi modi modi modi.....and drink modi wave..........

    DisAgree [1] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vishal, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Once again, I am repeating what I have been saying all along. This is just the beginning. Much worse days are in front of us. This is not something we can take lightly. All of us should join together and stop the ill advised Yettinahole project. We must exert pressure on the elected representatives to take up this cause in the interest of the people of this region. The monsoon is round the corner and we must plant saplings on a war footing. Every nook and corner should be filled with trees. What is the use of development when the people don't have water to drink?

    DisAgree Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Edward R. Monteiro, Kulshekar, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Mr. Vishal, this is "Money Swindling project" and do you think these politicians will agree to the ill advised and " ecological disaster project" to stop ? Jai Hind.

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Af,,, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Modi Modi Modi.........

    DisAgree [1] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ganesh, South Kanara

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Are you saying the JDS/Congress State Government, the Congress controlled Municipal Corporation is useless ?

    DisAgree [4] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalorean, Mangaluru

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Local administration is fully failed in water management.

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Monty Dotor, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Mumbai with a huge population gets water mainly from lakes, why not desilt Lakes and waterways of Mangalore.Most of the rivers supplying water to cities in Gujarat and Rajasthan are bone dry in summer yet they get water daily, this is because of radial or French wells in the river beds. Mangalore has the luxury of 2 rivers, but the tragedy if not a single radial well. When will the administrators and politicians be more people centric when they talk of development.

    DisAgree Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  •, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Finally people realized the dangers of urbanisation & deforestation, concretizatooj..
    Plus now without A/C , we cannot survive, coz no trees left..
    Very bad state of affairs..

    DisAgree [1] Agree [24] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shamsuddin, Dubai

    Mon, May 27 2019

    But ModiG will come to our rescue with "debelopment"

    DisAgree [5] Agree [23] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Mon, May 27 2019

    God will never Abandon ...

    DisAgree [4] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohit, Mangalore

    Mon, May 27 2019

    Poor planning, poor far sight by any Govt. and de-forestation are the main reasons for water issues in Mangalore. Water harvesting, deepening the Thumbe dam, removal of silt accumulated in the bed of the rivers, should have been done by local administration, instead of calling press conferrence to highlight Central Govt. problem. Guys grow up, your tactics won't work any more and concrete proof is the latest Lok Sabha election results.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse


Title : Mangaluru: Water rationing, elusive rain leave residents high and dry


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