Monsoon worries: Karnataka govt to take up cloud seeding

Krishna Byre Gowda

Bengaluru: “In newspapers we are seeing that in 2019 there is a possibility of deficit rainfall. We have already taken precautionary measures regarding this – for 2019-20 and 2020-21 – for two years we have decided to implement cloud seeding,” said Rural Development Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, even as the reports of rain deficit were doing the rounds. 

The Karnataka government taking steps to manage drought on a war footing has called for tenders for two years, and an estimated Rs 88 crore would be spent for the purpose, said a media report.

Gowda said by end of June cloud seeding process would be begun in the state, and that an expert committee had also given similar recommendation. Gowda briefed media persons about the project after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s video conferencing with Deputy Commissioners of districts and CEO of Zilla Panchayats on drought issue in the state.

Cloud seeding used to be done by August earlier and by the time the monsoon would have almost ended, but the government has decided to go for the process at the onset of the monsoon this time around. Two centres at Bengaluru and Hubbali and two aircraft would be utilised for the project.

“If there is good rain in one region, the centre there can be shifted as additional centre to where there is lack of rain. It will also be based on cloud cover,” he said.

Revenue Minister R V Deshpande said the government was  and that he has directed all Deputy Commissioners and CEOs to tour the districts to assess the situation.

Tahsildars have also been asked to travel to villages, panchayat headquarters and urban areas to understand the ground reality and work effectively, he said. He also termed as ‘far from the truth,’ Opposition leader B S Yeddyurappa’s criticism of the government’s management of drought and pointed out that due to the model code of conduct in force, the Chief Minister and Ministers had no powers to hold review meetings until recently, when they were permitted by the Election Commission to do so.

The ministers said the government has taken steps to provide drinking water through tankers, wherever there was shortage. In most places there was fodder stock for 12 weeks and corrective measures were being taken in areas facing shortage.

Gowda said a total of 2,999 villages in the state faced acute drinking water shortage. Among them in 1632 villages, 2322 tankers are being used to supply water and 1873 borewells have been taken on rent to provide water to 1367 villages.

Of the total of 6,428 urban wards, 451 wards are being provided water through tankers, he added. “DCs have Rs 713 crore, it should be used for borewell and tanker payments. Wherever new borewells are needed task forces have been given Rs 200 crore by RDPR department,” they said, adding that call centres have been started at every taluk, district and also state level to address drinking water shortage. Jobs were also being provided under MNREGA to stop migration of people from affected areas, they said.

NT Bureau