Picking up lessons from the bitter Cauvery dispute that has raised questions over the availability of water to Bengaluru city, the state government is exploring all possibilities suggested by experts. A day after a section of experts from IISc suggested harvesting of rainwater alone could quench the thirst of Bengaluru, yet another group of scientists proposed two alternatives—storing of west-flowing Nethravathi river water by constructing a dam or setting up desalination plants to purify sea water.
Caught in the pincer, the state government has directed the experts’ group to go to the public, especially in coastal areas, and elicit their opinion about the alternatives. A team of experts from IISc Prof TG Sitharam presented both the alternatives to Chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday. Sources privy to the presentation told media that the CM was convinced about the findings and told them that the government had no objection if people opt for it. Accordingly, the CM has reportedly directed the experts to hold a public consultation.
A senior official from the CM’s secretariat told BM, “About 25 TMC of water in Nethravathi river gets into the sea every week. On a monthly average, this accounts for 100 TMC. As all of us are aware, Nethravathi has considerable amount of water during the first three to four months of the monsoon. If a dam is built across to store that 300 to 350 TMC of water, it can be utilised for consumption in Bengaluru, Kolar or other regions of the state. This apart, the experts also suggested a desalination plant that would rid sea water of salts and supply it for potable purpose as practised in Hong Kong and Singapore.”
When Siddaramaiah questioned the scientists and experts about the cost involved, they reportedly said, “Constructing a dam and using the stored water would cost about Rs 30 to Rs 50 per thousand litres. Similarly, if the government goes in for a desalination project, it would cost anywhere between Rs 80 and Rs 100. It is advisable that rather than purifying the water later it is better to use it even before it reaches the sea by storing it in a reservoir.”
On the sidelines of the meeting, Bengaluru in-charge minister KJ Geroge said, “The Chief Minister has directed the experts to go to the people in coastal areas and get public consent. Later on depending on the outcome, the government will take a decision.” The experts have also suggested that Netravathi empties into the Arabian Sea at three different points and at one point it is naturally feasible to store the excess water and utilise it for potable purposes.
As coastal Karnataka was up against the Nethravathi diversion project that would deprive coastal areas not only from potable water but would affect the unique eco-system and estuarine flora-fauna, the experts have proposed having a storage facility at the downstream of the river so that people on both the sides will benefit from the project.
Credits Bangalore Mirror