I was driving towards Bangalore from Mangalore in the middle of August. It was the independence day weekend. As I went up the winding roads of the Western Ghats, river Netravati was flowing down towards Mangalore on my right hand side. She has been in my conscience, right from my childhood days. During monsoons, there were floods and schools used to be closed for a day or two. We waited for those moments eagerly, without realising the life on the flood plains during such times. Some of my class mates lived there.
I have lived in Bangalore since 1987 and in rural Bangalore for the last 14 years. As rural Bangalore has become increasingly urban, the water table has sunk down to a good 700 + feet below the ground level. Most of the ponds and lakes are dry, land is parched and people have been clamouring for water. So some people in the state government of Karnataka worked out a scheme to pump up the ‘excess’ water to Bangalore rural district. They claimed it was getting ‘wasted’ during the monsoons and going into the sea. This idea has caught the imagination of the people of rural Bangalore district and they are looking forward to the water of Netravati to fill their tanks and lakes.
However the people of Mangalore are up in arms. This so called ‘waste’ water is important to maintain the balance of salinity in the delta. Apart form it, this project if implemented will destroy many acres of pristine rain forest. Energy required to pump this water to Bangalore which is about 180Km away and at a higher level too is enormous.
So, how does one provide water to rural Bangalore without upsetting the ecosystem?