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Tungabhadra Dam levels drop to dead storage

The Tungabhadra Reservoir, affected by drought, has seen its water level drop significantly. Currently, the dam holds only 3.40 TMC feet of water, reaching a dead storage stage.

The Tungabhadra Dam in Bellary has a total capacity of 105.79 TMC feet. However, as per the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Center’s (KSNMDC) report on May 18, only 3.40 TMC feet of water remain stored.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana share rights to the Tungabhadra Reservoir’s waters, which also supply drinking water to the districts of Koppal, Raichur, Bellary, and Vijayanagar.

The previous year, the reservoir did not fill due to inadequate southwest monsoon rains, leaving it nearly empty this summer. According to KSNMDC, the dam’s inflow is zero, while the outflow is 45 cusecs.

Rainfall in the hills typically flows into the Tunga and Bhadra rivers, eventually reaching the Tungabhadra Dam via the Tunga Dam in Gajanur and the Bhadra Dam in Shimoga. The Tunga Dam fills rapidly with good monsoon rainfall, but currently, the Bhadra Dam holds 13.41 TMC feet of water, with no flow into the river.

There will be no increase in Tungabhadra Dam’s water level for the next month. On May 18, 2023, the dam stored 3.83 TMC feet of water with an inflow of 45 cusecs, but now it is nearly empty.

A minimum of 4 TMC feet of water is required to support aquatic life, but the dam holds even less, raising concerns over drinking water shortages in dependent districts.

Of the current 3.40 TMC feet stored, only 1.40 TMC feet are usable, but its portability is questionable. The Tungabhadra Project Irrigation Advisory Committee has decided to release water solely for drinking, advising farmers against planting water-intensive crops like rice and pepper.

Rainfall from the east monsoon and monsoon affects the Tunga and Bhadra river hills, but it will take about a month for this water to reach Davanagere.

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