DAKSHINA PINAKINI RIVER REJUVENATION –
A PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT
A Detailed Project Profile
- The River
- The need for and the feasibility of its rejuvenation
- The Rural Pinakini:-
- The current agricultural scenario.
- The cropping pattern.
- Strategies for rejuvenation.
- The Urban Pinakini.
- Adoption of Modern and Advanced Science and
- Cost Estimates and Time Schedule.
- People’s Movement.
- The Project Execution Body.
- Legal Authority of the Trust to Execute this Project.
- The River
The Dakshina Pinakini River rises in the Nandi Hills in Chikballapur District of Karnataka state, and flows south and then east for 400 kilometres through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Cuddalore.
The Dakshina Pinakini River is also known as South Pennar. And when it flows into Tamil Nadu, it takes on the names of Thenpennai, before turning into the Ponnaiyar River.
The Dakshina Pinakini, today, comprises two clear stages:
- The Dakshina Pinakini That Was finds mention in Sangam and medieval (Thevaram – Bhakti cult era) literature, where it is depicted as rich with lush vegetation on its banks. There are many ancient temples that dot its banks. The sand build of the river was impressive and suggests that it may have been a perennial river with a large water flow in the past. Most of this sand has been excavated to construct much of Bengaluru city. The Dakshina Pinakini That Was, today, is a dead river that ‘flows’ from Chikballapur to a point between Seegehalli in Bengaluru South Taluk and Mallasandra in Hosakote Taluk, a distance of approx. 78 km from Kandwara Kere.
- The Dakshina Pinakini That Is a modern-day miracle: a dead river that is made live by the transmutation of Cauvery water into sewage. This sewage runs into the Dakshina Pinakini through Bengaluru’s numerous tank cascades, as its flows along its outskirts for approx. 28 km from the point sewage begins to flow to the TN boundary. The river is live, a source of water for agriculture and even drinking water for villages on its embankments.
The Dakshina Pinakini in Karnataka consists of two sub-basins totalling 3726 Sq Km. The larger sub-basin through which the main river flows comprises of 2759 Sq km, while the smaller basin comprises of 967 Sq Km.
The Dakshina Pinakini River flows through Chikballapur, Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru Urban and Kolar districts, before flowing into Tamil Nadu. It passes through the 12 (twelve) Taluks of Chikkaballapura, Siddlaghatta, Chintamani, Devanahalli, Hoskote, Kolar, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru East, Bengaluru South, Anekal, Malur and Bangarpet.
The Dakshina Pinakini River basin is estimated to cover 3688 Sq.Kms of land area in Karnataka State, with an estimated population of, 1,64,79,969, as detailed in the following map:-
A unique feature of Dakshina Pinakini is that it is an independent river right from its point of origin down to the place of its merger with the Bay of Bengal. It is neither a tributary to any other river nor has it got any tributaries to itself. It has also assumed considerable importance as it flows through Bengaluru, the world famous Garden City, with the most salubrious climate imaginable; a City which is possibly the most cosmopolitan of all Cities in the Country; the nerve centre of the very economy of Karnataka State and the Silicon Valley of the East. Another interesting feature of the River is the endowment of an annual rainfall of 700 to 900 millimeters, which contributed to its sustained affluence.
For the purposes of our study as well as the proper formulation of the very venture itself, the River basin can conveniently be divided into the Rural Pinakini and the Urban Pinakini, catering differently to the people of different needs, tastes, habits and purposes. It is a pity that such a river that has found mention in the ancient literatures and has been a divine source of civilized and comfortable living of lakhs of people in its basin, is almost extinct today. The reasons for the current degenerated state of the river are:
- Absence of a proper, systematic and comprehensive harvesting of the rains.
- Indiscriminate use of the water by the different sections of the people.
- Lack of concerted efforts towards maintenance and upkeep of the various types of water bodies, like wells, ponds, tanks and lakes that ensured the perennial nature of the River.
- Unscientific drawal of underground sources of water, without compensatory recharge measures.
- The non-evolution of a single Authority to monitor the use of the river water by different sections of the society; to undertake Water Budgeting and its strict adherence and to take both corrective measures wherever necessary and to ensure the pristine environment the river as such.
- Unprecedented increase in the population;
- The need for and feasibility of its Rejuvenation.
It is an obvious fact that the people who are now inhabiting this River basin area are not getting adequate supply of water for drinking, domestic use and irrigation. Almost 3 lakhs hectares of cultivable land in these 12 Taluks which have the potential of assuring 2 or 3 crops every year, are now giving only one crop; The entire population of the area are not getting even 100 litres of water per day per capita, as against the International Standards of 200 to 250 litres per day. It is therefore only absolutely necessary that a well thought out plan of action is initiated towards reviving this River itself.
It has been established by Geo-Hydrologists, Geologists and Water Management Experts that the revival of Dakshina Pinakini , to its original glory, is a distinct possibility for two simple reasons, that is, (i) the rainfall situation and (ii) the geological structure of the basin. The official records show that the rainfall in the area of between 700 and 900 millimeters every year has not failed at all in the past 60 to 70 years and it can safely be assumed that such quantum of rainfall would continue for many more decades to come, provided the overall ecology and environment of the region is protected and improved.
Scientific studies have also revealed that, the geological structure of the area is such that major parts of the South Pinakini River are underlain by hard rocks and presence of ground water is subject to availability of secondary porosity i.e. joints, fractures, fissures and weathered residuum. In these rocks, the ground water occurs in shallow unconfined aquifers in the weathered residuum and under semi-confined conditions in deeper fracture and joints. Ground water exploration in South Pinakini River terrain has proved existence of water bearing fractures down to 300m and more. Since these aquifers have limited storage capacity, the variation in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon water levels is quite large. It is seen that regional ground water levels in these areas have not declined and there are certain pockets only where substantial decline in ground water resources has been registered. Therefore, there is a every possibility of further development of groundwater resources: but it needs to be supplemented by suitable rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to groundwater measures to augment the ground water resources it may thus be seen that the venture to rejuvenate the River is feasible due to a)The Annual rainfall endowment and the Geohydrological nature of the terrain of the basin, in both the Rural and urban areas.
- The Rural Pinakini
As the very name itself suggests, the Rural Pinakini refers to the Villages and Towns of the basin area, where agriculture and allied activities are even now the predominant source of livelihood of the people living therein. It must be remembered that Agriculture is the primary user of water with 80% of India’s water going towards irrigation. Unfortunately, Agricultural Policies of the Government have had a pronounced tilt towards water guzzling crops like Sugarcane and Paddy resulting in unsustainable exploitation of ground water. It is astonishing that Sugarcane which is cultivated on less than 4/% of total cropped area takes away almost 70% of irrigation water in Karnataka. This over exploitation of water has resulted in harmful environmental and climate changes, which need to be reversed. Consequently, the River Rejuvenation Work in these areas will relate to improving, significantly, the productivity and sustainability of the agricultural or cultivable lands.
- The current agricultural scenario.
It has been ascertained that the net sown/cropped area of the 12 Taluks is about 3,00,000 hectares of land, with about 90 percent of the farmers being small and marginal farmers, each holding less than 1 hectare of land. There are about 42,500 open wells, 1,10,000 bore wells and about 3,050 tanks in the Rural areas of these Taluks, which are meant to store the rain water for use beyond the monsoon.
- The cropping pattern.
Fortunately, the farmers in these areas, are presently raising crops which are not water-intensive. The major crops (Cereals, Millets and Oil seeds) grown are, (i) Maize, (ii) Finger Millet (Ragi), (iii) Horse gram, (iv) Red gram, (v) Avare, (vi) Cowpea, (vii) Groundnut and (viii) Castor. There is absolutely no cultivation of paddy or sugarcane which are water guzzlers in this basin. There are, however, large tracts of land where fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, flowers and spices are also grown. Consequently, there will be no need for any drastic changes in the cropping pattern in the River Basin Area and the Rejuvenation efforts would only go to increase the productivity in respect of these crops and to ensure a sustainable agricultural environment.
- Strategies for Rejuvenation.
It is axiomatic that efficient conservation of rainwater and diversion of runoff is the central issue in successful rejuvenation of Dakshina Pinakini River. Considering the dominance of Alfisols (Red soil with sandy to sandy loam texture) in all the 12 Taluks of the basin, with poor water holding capacity and extremely deplorable nutrient status; and having better infiltration with the added problem of soil crusting; but an annual rainfall of 750-850mm, the soil and water resources can be properly and purposefully managed using an integrated approach. It has already been established that Watershed Development is central and crucial to this approach. A watershed is an area of land where all the water, which drains off it or flows beneath it, drains into a single point or body of storage. An efficient management of the watersheds is fundamental to human existence, for it is the integrated use of the land, vegetation and water resources that harmonizes actions between the upstream and downstream areas; to raise agricultural productivity; increase farmers’ incomes and also rejuvenate the very natural resource base, continuously and consistently.
It is indeed a matter of gratification that Karnataka State has got considerable experience in watershed development in comparatively larger tracts of land in a number of districts, thanks to the World Bank assisted Karnataka Watershed Development Project, known as, SUJALA, from the year 2000 onwards. Firstly, For the first time in the Country’s history, this Project adopted the latest technology developed by the Department of Space of Government of India, in the use of Satellite Remote Sensing and the Geographic Information System to map in detail the farmers’ lands, which maps clearly depicted the depth, texture and colour of the soils; prospects of ground water, indicating sites for recharging ground water and locating water harvesting structures and the gradient of the slopes. This kind of land mapping facilitated the decision making process in the determination of the type of physical interventions that would ensure long term soil and water conservation in each of the farmer’s lands. It was also for the first time that high resolution satellite images were placed before the farmers themselves, even in the remotest Villages, for their personal study of the actual characteristics of their lands and also understand the types of the actual works that would enable their lands get the required capacity towards soil and water conservation.
Secondly, in another key innovation, Indian Space Research Organisation, developed a unique approach for monitoring and evaluation that integrated Remote Sensing, GIS Mapping and Management Information System, with the conventional, ground based monitoring techniques, to provide state-of-the-art information to track the progress of the works and also assess continuously their impacts. This rigorous method of monitoring performance, on an ongoing basis, enabled the planners, at every level, to maintain transparency, enforce accountability and apply mid course corrections wherever necessary, leading to the desired results on the ground. The adoption of such a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation process made the Project highly successful, resulting in a clear and visible improvement in the crop yields and consequent enhancement of the standard of living of the farmers. The World Bank in India in its Report on “Innovations in Development, 2011 – Issue 2” has furnished the details of the social and economic benefits of SUJALA. It has stated “By the end of the project, crop yields and cropping intensity in these rainfed areas increased significantly. These were also accompanied by a shift towards higher value annual and permanent crops. (especially horticultural crops such as mangoes). Crop yields increased by about 25 percent, on average, across different crops, relative to control groups. Run off and soil erosion were reduced. The percentage of irrigated area increased between 6 percent and 14 percent across project sites; average milk yields rose by about 20 percent; and ground water was available for longer periods.
Household incomes increased by about 40 percent for small and marginal farmers (less than 5 acres), more than 50 percent for landless and close to 80 percent for larger farmers. Overall, the project improved the lives of 230,000 direct beneficiaries, contributing to a reduction of out-migration by about 70 percent”.
It is this kind of watershed development that would be taken up in the entire Dakshina Pinakini area. Additionally, it is also providential that Prof. T. Hanumatha Rao, former Engineer-in-Chief (Irrigation), Govt. of Andhra Pradesh and a former Consultant to the United Nations, conceived the FOUR WATERS CONCEPT, which is, “a symphony of several proven structural earth works and vegetative activities. The main emphasis is on the utilization of local rainfall water fully by storing most of it below ground, and using this ground water to raise three crops in a year even during drought years. This eliminates the need for constructing major or medium dams across major rivers, thus automatically ending river water disputes and the need for tribunals etc., The goal in this new technology is to bring up the water table level to 1 meter below ground level in all rain fed agricultural areas of India, where the average annual rainfall is more than 550mm, and extract this ground water in the weathered zone (not rock) aquifers”. This concept has been successfully adopted in States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, with significant, positive results.
The Dakshina Pinakini Project would take advantage of these experiences in watershed development and adopt them in all the micro watersheds of the basin. It has been ascertained that the River Basin area has been delineated into 700 micro watersheds, each of an area of about 500 hectares. Complete details of these micro watersheds have already been obtained from the State’s Watershed Development Department.
To elaborate the above stated watershed development strategy, the following details are also furnished:-
- Identification of units of development :
The delineated individual micro-watersheds are being considered as the units of developmental interventions. Consequently, the precise site and soil characteristics of all the lands that compose the micro watersheds will be ascertained by physical survey and the activities to be designed and undertaken will be determined for each of the lands on a site specific basis. The National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, Regional Centre, Bangalore has already developed a very scientific method of the survey, called Land Resource Inventory for Watershed Planning and Development for each micro-watershed. This method of survey would be adopted in all these 700 micro watersheds in the project area and the actual physical interventions, particularly the structural earth works and vegetative activities, would be finalized. It is proposed to undertake this detailed survey, in all the 12 Talukas simultaneously and complete the work of the Land Resources Survey, before taking up any field level intervention works. The possible interventions in these micro-watershed include –
- Soil and water conservation:
Field based soil and water conservation measures are an integral part of the project. The main aim of these measures is to reduce or prevent water and wind erosion, while achieving the desired moisture for sustainable soil health, agricultural production and river revival. The field-based rain water harvesting measures found promising for these taluks are discussed here under.
- Tillage: Plough furrows can hold water in the depressions and thereby increase the infiltration. The important tillage concepts to be considered are:-
- Contour cultivation : When done across the slope, the plough furrows check runoff, reduce the velocity of runoff water and improve storage.
- Summer tillage : is a traditional practice helps in the storage of pre-sowing rainfall, helps in control of perennial weeds, pests and enables early sowing with onset of rains.
- Deep tillage : once in 2-3 years under crop rotation using tractor drawn implements conserves more moisture in the lower strata of soil.
- Deep trenches: in widely spaced plantations can help for in-situ conservation of moisture.
- Conservation tillage : is any tillage system, which leaves at least 30% of the soil surface covered with residues after a crop is planted. It implies that a greater quantity of plant residues would be present at all times during the interval between crops.
- Bunding: Formation of bunds across slope at suitable intervals depending on field slope can impound the rainwater in the inter-bund space, increase its infiltration and improve soil moisture storage. Leveling of inter-bund space is essential to ensure uniform spread of water and avoid water stagnation in patches. The bunds can be classified into three types
i). Contour bunding: Bunds constructed along the contours or across the slope are called contour bunds. These can be constructed on the land slopes varying from 2 to 10%. The criterion for spacing of contour bunds is to intercept the water before it attains erosive velocity. This depends on slope, soil, and rainfall, cropping programme and conservation practices adopted. The cross-section of bund can be determined based on the volume of water impounded behind the contour bunds and the seepage line across the bund. Bunds of 1 m basal width, 0.5 m top width and 0.5 m height along the contour (across the slope) fit well for these red soils. The distance between two contour bunds depends on slope.
ii). Graded/ field bunding: Graded bunds consist of constructing wide and shallow channels across the slope very near to the contour ridge. These channels induce and regulate the excess runoff water and remove the same with non-erosive velocities. Graded bunds are preferred in the areas where rainfall is >800 mm. The grade of the channel varies from 0.2 to 0.4% depending on soil type. Bunds of 30-45 cm basal width and 15-20 cm height are formed across slope at an interval of 20-30 m depending on the slope. The inter-bund area is leveled and cropped. It is suitable for medium deep to deep red soils with slopes up to 2%.
iii. Compartmental bunding: Small bunds of 15 cm width and 15 cm height are formed in both directions (along and across slope) to divide the field into small basins or compartments. It is suitable for red soils with a slope of 0.5 to 1%. The bunds can be formed before sowing or immediately after sowing with local wooden plough.
- Contour farming: Ploughing and all other operations along the contour (across the slope) and sowing reduce soil erosion.
- Soil health improvement: Application of organic manures like FYM, green manuring, crop residues and tank silt improve soil physical conditions in long run besides supplying nutrients. Improvement in soil structure improves rate of infiltration.
- Moisture conservation furrow system: is a simple and low cost in-situ water conservation practice. The furrows can be made either during planting time or during intercultural operation using country plough at every 8-12 feet distance. Two to three passes in the same furrow may be needed to obtain the required furrow size.
- Mulching: reduces soil loss considerably by protecting the soil from direct impact of rain drop and reducing to keep the sediment carried out by runoff. A minimum plant residue ground cover of 30 per cent is necessary to keep runoff and soil loss within acceptable limits. Mulching crop wastes / weeds, pebbles etc can be practiced in all the soil types.
- Basin listing / scooping: Formation of small depressions (basins) of 10-15 cm depth and 10-15 cm width at regular intervals using an implement called basin lister helps to collect rainfall and improve its storage. It is usually done before sowing. It is suitable for all soil types and crops in low rainfall areas. Scoops / pits in full moon or half-moon shape is advantageous in widely spaced plantation specially on low rainfall situation.
- a) Broad based terraces: consists of a channel with a ridge on its lower and whose function is to drain surface runoff or it absorb runoff can be adopted in slopes < 10%.
- b) Zingg conservation bench terraces: In this practice, 1/3 to ¼ area on the upstream side of the bund are levelled. The rainwater is allowed to spread uniformly along the bund in levelled portion. The bunds have to be raised at every 4-5 years interval.
- c) Stone terraces: are small embankments constructed with stones across the hill slopes. These are justified where stones are available in adequate quantities near to the site. These can be used for growing annual crops and perennial tree plantations.
- Construction of water storage structures outside the farmers’ lands.
- Land based conservation practices can conserve rain water to a maximum of 70-75 per cent and rest will pass out of the field. Intensive rains beyond infiltration capacity of the soil make excess water to flow on the soil surface called ‘Runoff’. The runoff is a function of rainfall intensity, soil texture, soil cover and physiography. Normally, 25-30% of the rainfall flows as runoff of which 25-30% can be harvested through rain water harvesting structures, outside farmers land, with an intention of either protective irrigation or ground water recharge. Opinions vary on the proportion of runoff to be retained in the watershed and the portion that needs to flow out of the catchment. To maintain ecological balance and to serve the interest of downstream population, watersheds may retain 25-30% of the runoff and allow the remaining to flow through the streams. These are helpful in improving surface and groundwater availability. Check Dams, tanks and community ponds are such important large sized structures which help conserving soil, water and recharging ground water. While smaller structures viz., farm ponds and bore well recharge pits, storage / recharge in defunct wells etc., can be adopted by the individual farmers, the important rain water harvesting structures outside the farmers’ land holdings are:-
- Check dam: Masonry check dams are permanent structures that can effectively used for controlling gully erosion, water harvesting and groundwater recharging. These structures are preferred at sites where velocity of runoff water flow in gullies/streams is very high and stable structure is needed to withstand the difficult condition. Proper investigations, planning and design are needed before construction of check dams. Check dams can be constructed with stone, sand filled bags or masonry under high rainfall situation for both conserving soil and safe disposal of excess water without endangering the natural resource base.
- Nala bund / percolation tank: A structure consisting of a homogeneous earthen embankment constructed across the valleys in arable and non-arable lands to store runoff for percolation to recharge ground water and to make water available for social and agricultural use at surface level is termed nala bund or percolation tank depending on the location and quantity of stored water.
- Farm pond: Farm ponds are very age old practice of harvesting runoff water. These are water bodies constructed either by excavating a pit or forming an embankment across a water-course or the combination of both. Farm pond size is decided based on the runoff, total requirement of water for irrigation, livestock and domestic use. Considering an annual rainfall of <1000 mm, a farm pond of 250 m3 capacity with 12 X 12 m bottom width, 6 X 6 m top width, 3 m depth and lined either with soil: cement (8:1) or cement masonry after laying polythene sheet is ideal per hectare in red soils.
- Defunct open well recharge: In hard rock areas, the nearby nala water may be diverted to the defunct/running open well through the filters for recharging the aquifers. It is the location specific technology, where, natural stream/nala is existing, then the wells located on the vicinity of the nala may be used for recharging.
- Bore well recharge pit: Recharging of ground water is another issue needs to be addressed for ecological sustenance.
- Bund planting program (Inter-terrace management – Vegetative barrier):For better control of runoff water by decreasing its velocity within the bunded area and to achieve uniform distribution throughout the field, establishment of khus (VetivaraSpp) or Nase grass (Pennisetumhohenekere) as live barrier on contour as inter-terrace land treatment enhance crop productivity, controls soil loss and maintains soil fertility.
- Tree planting on bunds all along the field borders: Development of vegetation is another important arena for effective rain water management. Tree growing upright, having multi-purpose advantage (biomass for green manure, Fodder, fuel, timber etc), not posing any competition to crops may be planned in east – west direction. Meliadubia, silver oak subabul, glyricidia are suitable for bund planting. These loopings of these trees must be used either as fodder for animals or green manuring the soil.
- Cleaning of feeder channels, diversion drains, river course: For safe diversion of runoff water needs cleanly maintained channels free from accumulation of silt, weeds etc. which needs to be cleaned properly for the safe carrying of excess runoff.
- Cleaning and de-silting of tanks : Tank system is well established in the basin, which needs rejuvenation and maintenance through stabilization of tank bunds, de-silting, protection of tank beds against encroachment.
- Afforestation on community lands : The community lands viz., gomals, school premises, barren waste lands needs tree planting program. The low water requiring, hardy tree species need to be considered for planting.
- Replacing eucalyptus in a phased manner: It is an unfortunate fact that the cultivation of eucalyptus trees in a large scale in these 12 talukas is one of the prime reasons for the scarcity of underground water. The Government of Karnataka has recently issued orders banning the growth of eucalyptus trees throughout the State. Taking advantage of these Government Orders and also the rationale behind this historic decision, all the existing eucalyptus plantations in these talukas need to be replaced with multi-purpose tree species in an accelerated manner so that the ground water remains at reasonably higher levels.
- Sustainable crop production technologies:
- a) Cropping system: The basin has a diversified cropping system comprising maize, finger millet, pigeon pea, horse gram, field bean, cowpea, groundnut, castor, millets under dry lands, vegetable and fruits in bore well irrigated areas. Selection of crops should be based on the land use capability, water availability period, substitution of efficient crops for traditional crops and contingent practices under weather aberrations.
- Adoption of double cropping is possible because of bi-modal distribution of rainfall in the basin. The important double cropping systems for red soil region are sesame / fodder crop / cowpea / green gram, followed by finger millet / horse gram / chilli.
- Intercrops are the viable options under dry land situation as an insurance against crop failure associated with the uncertain rain. Adoption of intercropping systems can be done for the economic sustainability of the BASIN. Pigeon pea + maize (1:4), pigeon pea + cowpea (1:1), finger millet + pigeon pea (8:2), groundnut + pigeon pea (8:2), groundnut + castor (8:1), finger millet + field bean (8-10:1) are the promising cropping systems for the basin.
- Selection of suitable varieties according to the time of sowing, emphasis for cultivation of nutritious minor millets viz., navane, same, baragu, haraka, udulu etc, and adoption of contingent plan forms the important aspects of cropping system.
- The utilization of land resources based on the land use capability needs greater emphasis including alternate land use systems. The encroachment of forests, gomalas (grazing lands), ‘gunduthopu’ and other community lands including eroded and gullied land along a drainage line, which is almost denuded and their productivity is very low. For imparting stability to the dry farming system, alternate land use systems incorporating tree components, such as alley cropping, agri-horticulture, agro-forestry, horti-pasture and silvi-pasture systems, can be adopted successfully. Trees which yield fodder and other economic products may hold promise in dry lands rather than timber yielding trees. The main advantage of the alternate land use systems is that these systems utilize effectively natural resources including off season rainfall for productive purpose apart from ensuring flow of income and employment throughout the season. Selection of appropriate alternate land use system depends on land capability, environmental condition, soil type, family needs, market acceptability and demand. Mango / sapota with finger millet / horse gram / stylosanthus are the proven potential agri-horti systems in Southern Karnataka.
- b) Integrated balanced nutrient management: Integrated balanced nutrition not only help for improving productivity of crop but also contribute for soil health enhancement. Organic manures including green manures, bio-fertilizers and soil test based organic nutrients are ideal.
- Organic Farming – Its absolute relevance to the Project.
At this juncture, it is considered necessary and wise to deliberate on the relevance of Organic Farming to the very River Rejuvenation Project It has been officially declared that nearly 75% of soils of all the 12 Taluks of the River Basin are highly deficient in the most vital Organic Carbon, Sulphur and boron and 15%to 79% are deficient in phosphorus, potassium and zinc. This alarming state of soil degradation is obviously due to the indiscriminate and continued application of large doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the name of Green Revolution. This has been acknowledged, unhesitantly, by the Karnataka Government, in its statement, “Many farmers of Karnataka felt that they are fighting a losing battle with the `high yield variety- fertilizer-pesticide package’ of Green Revolution.” The Government has, perhaps, realized the futility of pursuing with this package and has declared , in its Organic Farming Policy- 2017, that ”Organic Farming, a system with the broad principle of live and let live, is recognized as the best system of farming under the prevailing conditions”. This Policy has, in fact, a vision “to transform agriculture in Karnataka into a sustainable, remunerative and respectable occupation and to enable the farmers of the State to reap the benefits of dynamic opportunities”. It has recognized that “Organic Farming is the best sustainable production system which promises and enhances agro-eco system’s health including biological cycles and soil biological activity with higher productivity and profitability.
In the light and backdrop of these realities and policy declarations, it is proposed that the Dakshina Pinakini Project would endeavour, systematically and scientifically, and with enlightened perseverance, to persuade all the farmers of the Basin Area to take up to Organic Farming of all the cereals, millets, pulses, oil seeds, fruit crops, vegetables, spices, plantation crops, flower crops and mulberry, to which they are historically and comfortably accustomed and derive all the benefits that organic farming guarantees. It is sincerely believed that this laudable goal of only Organic Farming can be achieved in the Basin Area in a period of 5 (five) years and will be the most natural consequence (cause and effect) of the River Rejuvenation.
It is again a matter of satisfaction that Karnataka has already made good progress in motivating about One Lakh farmers, in various Districts, to join the Organic Farming Movement and about One Lakh Hectors of Land has become Organic. It has been ascertain that, of these farmers, about 4300 farmers are persuing Organic farming in about 4200 Hectors in the 12 taluks of Dakshina Pinakini Basin, establishing thereby that the commitment level to Organic Farming in this area is satisfactory. In fact these 4300 farmers would become its Ambassadors who would themselves spread the Organic message throughout the basin area, with the Project providing expert professional advice and required financial assistance.
The Project would take advantage of the solid foundation which has been laid in this field in the past 20years and build an impressive superstructure encompassing the entire gamut of this traditionally healthier, nutritious and wholesome food production method. It is proposed to :-
- Established two Organic Farming Research Institutes with possible assistance from Israel:
- Take up a massive and extensive awareness and educational program, reaching every Farmer in the basin area within 1year:
- Help the construction of exclusive Organic Gowdowns and Warehouses:
- Facilitate at least 5 inspired farmers, having large land holdings, to establish most modern Organic Seed Farms, producing the purest and most potent seeds of Maize, Groundnut, Potato, Onion, Grapes and Pulses:
- Promote the setting up of Centralised Organic produce collection , grading and packing centers:
- Help the setting up of atleast one large Maize Processing Industrial unit and :
Promote the establishment of a high quality and professional supply chain and infrastructure for fruits and vegetables
- Integrated farming system: It is a resource management strategy which ensures livelihood security apart from food, nutrition, income and employment security. For the sustainability of dry land agriculture, a holistic approach based on bio-physical resources of farmers would help in efficient use of natural resources by small and marginal farmers. The system should encompass food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fruit and livestock etc components in order to achieve sustainability. Combinations of crop + dry land horticulture / sericulture + sheep / goat are ideal integrations for the basin. It aims at increasing income and employment from small holdings by integrating various farm enterprises and recycling of crop residues and by-products within the farm.
In practical terms, the Project would undertake “structural earth works and “vegetative activities” in every farmer’s lands as well as public lands in these 12 Taluks, which watershed development will substantially increase agricultural production, farm productivity and the farmers’ incomes. These would mean that the entire rainfall in the basin will be fully harvested and conserved for use within the basin on an annual basis. This will also imply, incidentally, that all the existing tanks, ponds, kalyanis, open wells and bore wells would get filled up or recharged every year and thus ensure sustainability. Another, but most important, advantage that will accrue from the restoration of the Rural Pinakini is that all the people living in the many villages and towns of the 12 Taluks would get water for drinking and domestic use as well.
- The Urban Pinakini
The Urban Pinakini refers mostly to the Bengaluru City. As stated earlier, and also in fact, the ‘problem’ of water in the two parts is very different. In the rural part, the problem is water scarcity. Surface flows have dried up, and groundwater is also disappearing. In the urban part, the problem is primarily water pollution, as visible in the chain of polluted lakes and the flows that continue beyond the last lake in the chain (Varthur lake). But there is also scarcity, such as in Whitefield and in all the villages that have been brought into the Jurisdiction of BBMP more than a decade ago.
Moreover, the problem is not just scarcity or pollution, but how it is being addressed, that is, at what other environmental costs. In particular, Bengaluru depends heavily on importing water from Cauvery (100km away, 300m lower) and so uses the highest amount of electricity per KL of water in all of India. Building another Cauvery pipeline (5th stage) will impose additional environmental costs, including forest loss. Hence, addressing the problems of Urban Dakshina Pinakini (UDP) requires a different approach from that taken in rural areas.
Current scenario in Bengaluru and its reasons
- Water Quantity:
- Imported: Bengaluru currently imports 1400 MLD of Cauvery water. This is augmented by about 600 MLD of groundwater pumping (part of which is Cauvery water itself that leaks to groundwater before reaching the consumer).
- Of the rainfall, a significant part (maybe 30%) is of course used by plants in green spaces and home gardens.
- Possibly 10% ends up as groundwater recharge, but the pumping of groundwater is much more than that.
- Remaining ~60% flows out of the city as storm water, passing through the lake system. (Lake system does not manage to store much of this, because it is full of sewage).
- Reuse of treated water within Bengaluru is less than 30 MLD (including from BWSSB and in apartments).
- Note however, that farmers downstream of Varthur are reusing a very substantial amount (but it is polluted water, which is endangering their health and that of consumers).
- In all of the above, the share of UDP may be about 60% (the Hebbal Valley and the Koramangala Chellaghatta Valley areas of Bengaluru).
- Water Quality:
- The water pollution is caused mainly by sewage that is discharged untreated or poorly treated, and also industrial effluents that are poorly treated.
- Sewage treatment plant capacities have lagged behind the requirement, and existing plants do not operate at capacity for various reasons:
- Sewage treatment was not a priority—many sewerage networks simply discharge into a lake or river
- Lack of monitoring of BWSSB STPs by KSPCB and by citizens (to whom most plants are invisible)
- Clogged/broken or incomplete UGD networks that connect to STPs
- Poor monitoring by KSPCB of apartments that are supposed to have their own STPs, and of industrial ETPs adds to the problem (but is not the major part of the problem).
- The current approach to addressing the problem of sewage entering lakes is to create bypass drains. This is supposed to ensure that only storm water enters the lakes. There are two problems:
- Storm water is also polluted
- If implemented, this means the lakes will dry up by the middle of summer
- Water sharing:
- BWSSB’s approach has introduced multiple disparities:
- Regional: periphery does not get any Cauvery water, when core can wash cars and water lawns with Cauvery water
- Between similar class consumers: Apartment dwellers are charged 2-3 times the rate charged to bungalow dwellers
- Between lower middle class and upper classes: by charging slab rate per connection rather than per household, densely populated buildings pay higher rates
- Slum dwellers are being charged same as middle class, when folks in erstwhile TMCs are paying nothing or low fixed charges.
- BWSSB’s approach has introduced multiple disparities:
However, It is a matter of satisfaction that many plans have been drawn up by various institutions for the revival and rehabilitation of lakes, for the treatment of waste -water, for the harvesting of rainwater and for the management of solid waste and industrial effluents. Many community groups too are at work with lakes, parks and solid waste management.
The average rainfall over Bengaluru is 750mm per year. The Quantity of water precipitated over an area of 1 Sqr kilo meter amounts to 750,000,000 ltrs. Since the urban sprawl of Bengaluru City is of an area of more than 1000Sqklm, the total yield from the rainfall over this area approximates to 750,000,000 million ltrs. This quantity, however is not spread evenly throughout the area but restricted to about 60 rainy days and that too to a single hour or less on most of the days. Only 10% of this quantity is expected to be available for storage underground, the rest being accounted for by surface floor and evapotranspiration.
It appears that so far no scientific attempts have been made to capture this rainwater to recharge the groundwater reservoir and most of it is allowed to flow away. Fortunately modern technology is available to catch and store this water were it falls and make it available for use when needed this possibility is, in fact the fundamental basis for venturing into the rejuvenation of Dakshini Pinakini River .
It is this scientific principle again that our forefathers have already put up a large number of water reservoirs, particularly the famous Lakes of Bengaluru. It has come to light that Bengaluru was also known as a city of lakes. These lakes were however clean water lakes till about 50 years ago. They have all now become polluted. Sporadic afforts have been or being made to restore them to the original status, particularly by treating the waste water properly. The following pictures give a glimes of the present status of a few of these Lakes.
Jakkur Waste water Treatment Plant. Many such WWTPs are proposed in the Dakshina Pinakini basin. Making sure they work well and some parts of the treated wastewater flows into the tanks of the Dakshina Pinakini is needed.
- The inter connectedness of tanks is through Raja Kaluveys such as this between Jakkur and Rachenahalli. Making sure that all Rajakaluves in the Dakshina Pinakini catchment are clear of encroachments and maintained lies at the heart of the revival of the river.
- The tanks of the Dakshina Pinakini need to be in a healthy condition. Grade A of the Pollution Control Board nomenclature. Fishing should be an activity and the waters of all the tanks should be able to support this livelihood.
- Groundwater in the Dakshina Pinakini basin is being monitored. Both the quantity and quality of groundwater especially in the shallow aquifers should be ensured.
- Wetlands are an integral part of lakes and tanks harbouring great bio-diversity and cleaning and polishing lake waters. In the Dakshina Pinakini each and every lake should have wetlands and they should be managed well.
- The Dakshina Pinakini is a series of tanks and Rajakaluves and is the lifeline for two thirds of the city.
- Keeping this heritage alive would call for the setting up of a River Basin institution to synchronise all plans, programmes and projects in the river basin.
- River Basin Institution : What is needed is a coherent and comprehensive picture of the overall initiatives and to make sure that the plans are rolled out as actions in a transparent manner and the linkage between each of the projects and its impact on the river understood.
- The basic and comprehensive role, duties and responsibilities of the suggested River Basin Institution would have to adopt the following approach.
The suggested approach
While large urban concentrations like Bengaluru probably cannot do without importing water, we are convinced that if all environmental and financial costs are taken into account, a fair, sustainable and financially viable water system would have to include:
- Use of local (rain) water to the maximum extent possible,
- Substantial reuse of greywater after treatment
- Improving water access for the poor, fairer charges, and limiting extravagant consumption by the rich.
Some simple steps:
Many different steps are required for this to happen. Just a few of these are listed below:
- Building more lakeside and smaller scale STPs in locations where citizens can continuously monitor their performance.
- Using lakes to store both treated wastewater AND storm water, by reusing the treated water from the lakes in the neighborhoods
- Mandatory metering and charging of all groundwater consumption in the city, starting with commercial and industrial operations and then extending to households.
It may thus be seen that the Urban Dakshina Pinakini consists, primarily, of a series of lakes in Bengaluru and consequently its rejuvenation entails largely on the reclamation and further development of these lakes. Biome Environmental Trust, Bengaluru has prepared a comprehensive, absolutely thought provoking and action inspiring document on these lakes. This Trust has, in fact, declared that this document could be used as a community resource. Accordingly this document is advantageously reproduced as an Annexure. The most important suggestion of BIOME Environmental Trust is that communities of people living around these lakes should realize that they are a public resource belonging to them and therefore they should take an active role in their management.
Drinking Water for the Urban population.
Apart from reclaiming all the traditional and existing urban lakes and developing them into permanent, sustained and spectacular centers of cultural, religious and leisure activities of the communities that live around them, the Project would make serious efforts to convert a few of them as Reservoirs for Drinking Water to the Bengalurians living nearby. In this endeavour, the Project will seek scientific and technological assistance from other countries which have made amazing advancements in this field.
For instance, the country’s Prime Minister recently visited Israel, which is considered, throughout the world, as Agriculturally the Most Efficient and has signed a significant and important Agreement, “India-Israel Development Co-operation – Three Year Work Programme in agricultural -2018-2010” and also agreement, “Strategic Partnership in Water and Agriculture”. These agreements envisage the establishment of Centres of Excellence in the Country in different aspects of agriculture, Farmer Producers’ Organizations (FPOs) and provision of quality planting materials and the transfer of post-harvest technical knowhow. These bilateral agreements with Israel are perfectly timely (Just In Time) and appropriate for our efforts to rejuvenate Dakshina Pinakini. Efforts would, therefore, be made to prepare detailed project proposals on the most important aspects of Agriculture and Water Management for submission to Israeli Authorities, seeking their assistance in all these scientific and technological inputs.
Besides, the Project would also examine in detail the possibility of creating bypass drains to harvest the rain waters directly and the construction of new lakes meant only for drinking water purposes.
- Adoption of Modern and Advanced Science and Technology.
The exposition of the problems and solutions relating to the waters of Dakshina Pinakini, contained in the previous chapters highlight one common undercurrent in both the Rural Pinakini and Urban Pinakini and that is the need for the adoption of the most modern and advanced scientific and technological measures that would account for the entire river’s early and complete revival and rejuvenation. In the Rural Areas, the most modern watershed development measures stated above would be adequate only for the soil and water conservation.but the adoption of Best Agriculturtal Practices that are in prevailance in Israel, with necessary area- specific and crop- specific adaptation measures, would guarantee substantial improvement in the quality, production and productivity of all the food grown in the Dakshini Pinakini Region.
In so far as the Urban Pinakini area is concerned, the first and foremost thing to do would be to harvest the rainwater’s and store at least 10% of it underground . The possibility of the construction of large storage tanks below the ground in the different parts of the Dakshina pinakini basin Area will be taken up for serious consideration and implementation . Besides the recharging of the excisting bore wells and the open wells would also be taken up on priority. The Technology development in regard to these two measures is again notable and therefore they will be adopted for successful rainwater harvesting for storage underground and also restoration of a few Lakhs of bore wells which have already been put up at a huge cost.
But the restoration of the lakes and tanks in Bengaluru City would necessitate the adoption of latest technologies. For instance, the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) technology has witnessed in the past few years the highest degree of scientific analysis and the development of (1) Micro and Ultra filtration of the sewage water combined with Activated Sludge Process; (2) Membrane Bio-Reactor Technology; (3) Moving Bed Bio Reactor Technology etc., with varying levels of capital investment and land requirements. In this background, the Project would undertake a detailed comparative study of the various available technologies and adopt the most suitable ones for the different lakes, based on the land available and the intense characteristics of the effluent in the respective areas. The philosophy behind this approach will be that clean water should be made available to the people of the basin area, whatever may be the costs involved.
- Cost Estimates and Time Schedule
The preparation of the precise cost estimates of the different components of the Project of this magnitude would take considerable time and energy. However, it has been fairly accurately assessed that the Watershed Development measures in the rural Pinakini would entail a financial outlay of about Rs.20, 000/- (Rupees twenty thousand only) for every hectare of cultivable land. Accordingly, the Watershed Development of 3,00,000 Hectares of land falling within the Basin Area, would cost Rs.600 Crores. Besides, the Project would have to undertake simultaneous measures to restore, to their original capacity, all the traditional water bodies that were in existence till about 40-50 years ago, like, lakes, tanks, ponds, open wells, bore wells etc., It is broadly estimated that these works would require about Rs.300 Crores, at the rate of Rs.25 Crores to each of these 12 Talukas. Thus the Rural Pinakini would require about 900 crores.
As far as Urban Pinakini is concerned the rejunuvation work consists of
- Restoration of all lakes, tanks, Kalyanis (Temple pounds), open wells , borewells etc and facilitating their periodical recharge:
- Installation of Sewage Treatment Plans in all the lakes which are now receiving wholly untreated are partly treated sewage water and get polluted in varying degrees :
- Creation of fool proof Infrastructure that will ensure harvesting of rainwater directly and carry it to clean water reservoirs of different sizes in different location, newly built up for the purpose.
It is learnt that there are about 210 Lakes in Bengaluru City, of which more than 100 Lakes are situated in the Dakshina Pinakini Basin.Area it is estimated that the restoration of these more than 100 lakes, along with the installation of latest Technology STP s and the creation of a few new water bodies would entail a financial outlay of about Rs.900 Crores .
Another most important and vital component of the Project would be to establish a permanent world class Human Resources Development ways that would produce and provide, for the decades to come, larger numbers of Agricultural Scientist of the various disciplines of Soil Science, Agronomy , Seed production , water (Irrigation) management, food processing , Agricultural Marketing and Organic Farming . Accordingly the project proposes to make the required financial investments for the purpose in the Agricultural, Horticultural and Sericulture Colleges and training institutes already existing in the basin area and also established a few new educational institutions to fill up the gap. An outlay of Rs.100 Crores is envisaged for this most important purpose.
Lastly, the meaningful, utilitarian and extensive propagation of Organic Framing throughout the basin area, which the project proposes to take up immediately, would require financial investments of a high order. These investments are not expected to be made by the commercial private sector and therefore the project itself will have to make them. A some of Rs.100 Crores is proposed to be included for the schemes that have been listed out in the earlier chapter on Organic Farming.
Accordingly, the total fund requirements of the Project could be assumed on a preliminary basis, to be of the order of Rs.2000 Crores.
A project of this importance, magnitude and diversity will succeed only if it is executed the most expeditiously, all in one go. It is therefore proposed that all the components of the project should be taken up in tandem and completed in a period of three years. This period of time would also accommodate a scientific analysis of and review of the actual effects of the Watershed development works, on a continuous basis and also for taking up corrective measures, if and wherever required. Besides, the progress made in the adoption of the latest technologies for the various components of the project and the quality of the work that is executed are proposed to be entrusted to an independent, third Country Technology Consultancy Firms, to ensure the best quality of the implementation of the project itself. The only precondition for this kind of time schedule is the continuous and consistent availability of financial resources.
It has been widely recognized that the NGO s (Non Governmental Organisation’s) do constitute the Fifth Estate of the Country and that they are emerging as critical change agents today contributing considerably towards Nation Building. The Dakshina Pinakini River Rejuvenation Trust, which will become one of the most unique NGO s of the Country will make meaningful, lasting, positive impact on the life’s of about 1 Crore people, by a complete transformation of the total Environment and Ecology of the River Basin Area, particularly by restoration and conservation of the natural water bodies, springs, lakes, ponds and wells. In the process it will also achieve the conservation of indigenous flora and fauna.
The Trust is conscious of the existence and availability of large Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Funds in the State and also elsewhere in the Country. The River Rejuvenation project is, by its nature, purpose and content, one that is eminently and justifiably qualified to attract the CSR Funds without any reservations. Donations from the Corporate Bodies to this Project will satisfy all the criteria that have been prescribed by the Companies (Corporate Social responsibility Policy) Act 2013 and Rules made thereunder. Accordingly the Trust will make all out efforts to mobilize the financial resources required for the Project from these CSR funds of as many Companies as possible.
- People’s Movement :-
The project for the rejuvenation of Dakshina Pinakini River is, as stated earlier, aimed at providing continuous and uninterrupted supply of water to more than 1 Crore People inhabiting its basin. All the measures that have been proposed for the rejuvenation effort directly relate to or personally impact the people themselves. It is therefore absolutely necessary and wise that the Project Executing Body gets the various sections of the people directly associated with the different components of the project, so that they get to understand the rationale and minutest details of the measures proposed to be adopted in the various sectors and stages of the project. This kind of direct involvement of the people can be achieved by the large number of groups of people, who would get the benefit of these measures. On this basis, in the rural areas, all the Farmers cultivating the lands in each micro watershed, would formed into Micro Watershed Farmers’ Groups. These Groups shall be responsible for taking policy decision on issues like cropping pattern, construction of ponds in the micro watershed, the agricultural practices to be adopted etc and also to ensure strict adherence to these decisions faithfully and sincerely. Accordingly there would be 700 Micro Watershed Farmers’ Groups who would be fully and continuously associated with even the preparation of the detailed action plans for their micro watershed and also their implementation.
Similarly, in the urban area, all the people living around each of the lakes proposed to be rejuvenated shall be formed into Lake Users Groups, who will be associated with the very preparation of the Detailed Project Report for their respective lakes and also the monitoring of the project implementation at every stage. Additionally, Citizens’ Groups would also be formed for the purpose of preparing the rain water harvesting plans in different parts of the Urban Areas and monitoring their Execution.
These measures would not only make this entire project a Peoples movement but also ensure absolute transparency in every stage of its formulation and implementation.
8.The Project Execution Body
It may be seen, from the above exposition of the present state of the Dakshina Pinakini and also the absolutely positive, thoroughly comprehensive, highly Scientific, technological and strong measures suggested to Rejuvenate the River, it is imperative that the entire project should be taken up by an Organisation, which can (a) command the necessary human and financial resources and also have professional competence and financial/administrative autonomy; (b) motivate all the various sections of the population inhabiting this basin to actively participate in it; (c) obtain the people’s mandate and (d) execute the Project in the most effective manner. It will then attain the status of a People’s Movement, in its form and content. It was accordingly decided that a body of Scientists, Technologists, Water Management Specialists, Social Activists, Farmers, Financial Experts and experienced Administrators be formed as a Trust which would execute the Project. The Dakshinia Pinakini River Rejuvenation Trust, with 45 Trustees, has since been got registered for the purpose.
- Legal Authority Of the Trust To Execute this Project:-
It has been consciously decided that this project should be undertaken as a Peoples Movement and in the larger interests of the 1 Crore People living in the River Basin Area. The Trust will formulate and execute the Project on behalf of these people, many of whom may like to and in fact become members of the Trust. In fact there are Ten farmers and Four motivated citizens of Bengaluru City who have been sincerely working on the restoration of a few lakes, have already been included in the Board of Trustees. The formation of the Micro Watershed Farmers’ Groups, the Lake Users Groups and the Citizens Groups for Rain Water Harvesting will complete the process of full association of all the people in the Basin Area, with the Project .Therefore the Trust will have the complete and clear mandate of the people and will take up this Project on their behalf, without any restrictions or conditions. The only area in which the Trust will require the formal consent of the Governmental Authorities relates to all the public assets situated in the basin area, like the various kinds of water bodies. The Trust will approach the State Government for the grant of generic permission to the Trust for taking up of the rejuvenation work on all these public assets, in all its aspects and features.
DAKSHINA PINAKINI RIVER REJUVENATION –
A PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT
Major works to be taken up in Rural Pinakini
- Formation of Trench –cum- Bunds (10’ X 5’ X 2’) in about 275,000 Hectares of cultivated lands.
- Restoration of about 3050 Tanks in the Rural Areas.
- Recharging of 1, 10,000 Bore wells.
- Restoration/ Reconstruction of about 42,000 open wells.
- Rejuvenation of all Kalyanis.
- Making of Permanent arrangements for production of organic compost with crop residues, leaf litter, dedicated trees including mulberry etc.
- Strengthening and expansion of food-grade warehousing infrastructure.
- Establishment of Common (society) processing, grading and packing centres.
- Comprehensive and detailed Organic farming measures.
- Removal of all Eucalyptus Trees in the entire Basin Area.
DAKSHINA PINAKINI RIVER REJUVENATION –
A PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT
Major works to be taken up in Urban Pinakini
- Restoration and Development of more than 150 Lakes in Bengaluru City (North, East and South Taluks).
- Establishment of Sewage Treatment Plants for each of the Lakes.
- Undertaking Scientific and effective Rainwater harvesting in all the open areas of the City.
- Recharging of about 4, 00,000 Bore wells, Open wells and kalyanis.
- Measures for the sustained maintenance, upkeep and conservation of all lakes and the statutory buffer Zones.
- Assisting BWSSB in completing the Under Ground Drainage infrastructure in the entire Basin Area.