Bangalore city’s drinking water needs are set to reach 22.68 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) by 2015, while as of now the river Cauvery would only be able to supply 17.22 TMC.
Moreover, the Tippagondanahalli reservoir, located just outside the city at the confluence of the Kumudvathi and the Arkavathy rivers, which has been supplying water since the 1930s, now runs dry.
The Kumudvathi River, which flows across 278 villages, covering 460 Sq. Km in 3 taluks, has the potential to augment Cauvery's water to satisfy Bangalore’s needs.
The main causes for the drying up of the river are urban encroachment and deforestation as well as unsustainable extraction of ground water and loss of traditional knowledge. Urban encroachment led to the destruction of the catchment areas that feed the river, while deforestation has loosened the soil’s water-holding capacity. Indiscriminate planting of species such as Eucalyptus also interfere with the natural recharge process.
The Art of Living Foundation, under the banner of the Volunteer For A Better India Movement, has taken up the responsibility of rejuvenating the river.
The project involves four main steps:
1 - Soil erosion control by checking the speed of rain water flow on stream paths with boulder checks
2 - Ground water recharging by making recharge wells and injection Wells at scientifically identified locations; these will bring up the water table in the catchment areas
3 - Rejuvenating local water bodies such as wells and tanks
4 - Planting trees to increase vegetation cover; this is a long-term but permanent solution for restoring the eco-system
The project was flagged off in early 2013 (in February), and so far five ground water reservoirs have been built on an experimental basis. Nine Gram Panchayats have also pledged their support and The Minor Irrigation and Water Resources Department has meanwhile offered full cooperation in the restoration of existing local water bodies in the region. While close to 100 boulder checks have already been placed, a 100 more will be placed before the next monsoon. The tree plantation drive is in full swing, with over 5000 saplings already planted in 14 villages in the Nelamangala taluk. The target for the drive is 1 lakh saplings over two years across the 278 villages the river runs through.
The results of the rejuvenation activities in eight villages have been very encouraging, where the existing water bodies have been rejuvenated due to this season’s bountiful rainfall.
The project also involves the local communities, who are encouraged to take responsibility for the restoration in their villages. Empowering programs like the Rural-Happiness workshop and Nav Chethana and Bala Chethana Shivirs are being conducted for the upliftment of the villagers while Youth Leadership Training Programs are also being initiated to create local leaders.
The project also works with farmers, encouraging them to form farmers' clubs at the Panchayat level to take the initiative in carrying out organic farming and community farming.
Every Sunday, over a hundred volunteers gather in the Sivaganga hills region to plant trees along the course of the river.