Save Kali Nadi: The Lifeline of Uttara Kannada (U.K.) District in Karnataka.

March 13, 2021

By Manjunath K. Shresthi


River Kali the giver of life to the western ghats and lifeline to the people of Uttara Kannada (U.K.) district lying in north-west state of Karnataka. Kali river originates at Diggi in Joida taluka of Uttara Kannada (U.K.) district  and joins the Arabian  sea at Karwar, the district head quarters.

A dam was built on river Kali and the work on Supa dam started in 1964 and the total completion of the dam was in 1985. Supa dam is located at Ganeshgudi in Joida taluka of Uttara Kannada district of north-west Karnataka.

According to available government statistics, a total of 47 villages known to have submerged during  the construction of  Supa dam and the backwaters are a grim reminder to it . And the irony is, there’s no drinking water for the people displaced by Supa dam. People moved to Joida and Ram Nagar  in Joida taluka of the same district after the Supa dam was built.

Residents of Joida and Ram Nagar face acute drinking water crisis throughout the year

The residents of Joida-Ram Nagar till date face acute water crisis for drinking, agriculture and other activities. There’s scarcity of drinking water throughout the year and only people with bore wells have water and they share it with people living in small houses without access to either bore wells or any source of potable water. The residents of Ram Nagar have been given only empty promises till date.

Water crisis in Dandeli in spite of river Kali flowing through the city

The jack well in Dandeli is located at Patel Nagar in old Dandeli and it does not pump water efficiently as it has been installed in 1950. The residents of Dandeli are firm that they will not give water to outside U.K. districts. There have been no awareness programs for the residents of Dandeli about giving water outside Uttara Kannada district.

The residents of Dandeli have an interesting take on the water supplied by Dandeli CMC as hawa-hawai “only air” in the water tap. Another member had to say that, “in the water taps, for the first 15 minutes there’s only air blowing’; in the next 15 minutes, there’s muddy water and after 15 minutes, there’s chlorine water. Majority of the residents want the old jack well problem to be fixed”. And only after all the problems have been addressed, they will think of giving water to people outside Uttara Kannada district. 

Another jack well with 15000 Horse power (HP) motor is being proposed to be installed @ Old Dandeli

A 15000 Horse Power (HP) Motor in the old Dandeli area will cause unimaginable noise pollution and adversely affect the health of the people of the surrounding areas.  There is a school and residential area in the vicinity of the proposed jack well.

The size and volume of the pipes can pump large volumes of water in one hour. Huge volumes of water will be diverted by 1-2 mtrs dimension pipes.

There is no clarity about the project. The concerned officials and the administration is keeping the people of Joida, Dandeli and all those dependent on the river in the dark.

Now the new demand is for supplying of drinking water to Alnavar and work is being done in an unscientific way on Haliyal road (pipe size 1-2 mtrs in diameter)

Till date the people in Alnavar in Dharwad district have not even once faced any sort of drinking water problems, and it now becomes clear that the water is not for the people of Alnavar and their demand for drinking water is full of lies.  From Alnavar, the Malaprabha river basin is six (06) kms.

Environmental norms are being violated, the river bank has been dug up next to the school at old Dandeli and the debris (mud) dumped in the river.

* What if the Kali river changes its course during monsoons? It will be a remedy worse than the disease.

Killing the Tourism Potential of Brand Dandeli

In Dandeli tourism and rafting is the mainstay of the home stay and resort owners and other allied activities too provides employment to the local people and to those from nearby areas. The Kali river is the only known natural resource available to the people and is a source of livelihood. It is known to be one of the richest eco-systems in the country and home to a diverse flora and fauna.

Dandeli is home to tiger reserve, elephant corridor @ Pansolli and a Hornbill Conservation Reserve.  Nowhere else in India there is a hornbill conservation going on and the Kali river is the lifeline for all flora and fauna and four (04) different types of hornbills are known to be found in the region.

A forest is the mother of the river and most of the rivers originate in the western ghats and then flow in different directions. The rainfall happens because of the rainforests.  Dandeli and its vicinity are a rich bio-diverse hotspot and the Kali river flows through the thick forests and  the reserves and lack of water in the river will adversely affect the ecosystem.  At last count there are 13 tigers as per documented evidence in Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR). Taking excess water will adversely affect bio-diversity and wildlife and the entire ecosystem will get degraded if the river waters are diverted for other commercial activities.  

Evergreen forests will be lost forever if the waters of Kali river water are given or diverted outside the district; there are elephant corridors; the area is also home to the Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR); crocodile parks and lush green forests will be destroyed. The government says that it plans to conserve the flora and fauna and contradicts itself when it decides to give water outside Uttara Kannada district. The concerned officials and the elected representatives should first understand genuinely the problems being faced by the people of Ram Nagar, Joida and Dandeli and then give water. If the environment is destroyed wild animals and plants cannot go to the Supreme Court (SC).

* River Kali is not a perennial river and the water is stocked in the Supa dam. Five tributaries form the lifeline of river Kali and they are: Kali, Kaneri, Nagi, Nashi and Pandhari. The tributaries empty in the back waters and water gets stocked at the current Supa dam. 

  *The sacrifices made by the people of Joida-Ram Nagar are known only to them and till date they have not got any type of concessions and credit still due to them.

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