Wednesday, May 08, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
The Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, held an emergency meeting at the Vidhana Soudha on Tuesday where it was decided to approach Maharashtra to release water from the Ujini Dam to the affected villages. It was decided as a long-term measure to build barrages across the river.
The emphasis should be on storage of water all over the State, as it would also help in recharging groundwater, besides augmenting supplies. It was, perhaps, for the first time the Supreme Court had issued such an order to the State on the issue of shortage of drinking water and the Government responded with alacrity.
Justice G.B.Pattanaik and Justice Brijesh Kumar of the Supreme Court on Monday told the State Government to take whatever steps it could -- either contacting the Maharashtra Government or providing water through water tankers to the villages. The court was acting on a public interest litigation petition preferred by Pachappa, President of the Bheema Neeru Rakshana Raithavarga Samithi, who sought the court's intervention in getting supply of drinking water immediately to the villages on the two banks of the river.
CM to write to Deshmukh
Speaking to presspersons after the meeting, the Minister for Water Resources, H.K.Patil, said the Chief Minister would be writing to his Maharashtra counterpart, Vilasrao Deshmukh, on regulated release of water to the villages from the Ujini Dam.
He noted that the State had moved Maharashtra in that regard in the past and a party delegation from the State, led by the Chief Minister, had visited Mumbai. Mr. Patil said that counsel for the State, Hegde, had informed the Supreme Court about the various measures taken to provide drinking water to the Bheema Basin villages.
The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, M.Y.Ghorpade, who explained the position with regard to the 157 habitations, said that 66 of them had piped water supply, 85 had mini water supply projects and the others were dependent on borewells. He noted that the months of April and May were difficult ones all over the State on account of summer despite the various measures taken as far as water supply was concerned.
Mr. Ghorpade said that the State would inform the court that ``everything possible has been done for the villages and whatever remained will be done whatever the cost.''
Mr. Patil noted that the problem arose because there was no flow of water in the Bheema since November last. The court had told the Central Water Commission to assess the situation and come out with a solution. The work on the construction of four barrages across the Bheema was taken up in 1994 and they were nearing completion. They were expected to be ready by August.
Today's meeting decided to build five barrages across the Bheema in Gulbarga District and complete them by August 2003. The work would be entrusted to the Krishna Jala Bhagya Nigam and the State Irrigation Development Corporation. He noted that storage could not be improved without the construction of barrages.
Mr. Patil further said that the meeting directed the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board to build up storage equivalent to three months' requirement in towns and cities.
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