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C. Ashok Kumar, Development Alternatives
K.C. Malhotra, Indian Statistical Institute
S. Raghuram and Manjulika Pais, Development Alternatives
Karnataka State is situated in the west central part of peninsular India with a 400 kilometer coastline. The physiographic divisions include the coastal belt (subdivided into the coastal plains and the Western Ghats), the Karnataka plateau (subdivided into the Malnad hills and the Maidan plains), and the central plains.
The state is located between 11ƒ and 18ƒ North latitude and 74ƒ and 78ƒ East longitude. It has a total area of 192,204 square kilometers (km2) and occupies 5.35 percent of the total geographical area of India. The present population of the state is 45 million people.
The geology is largely composed of greenstone belts, high-grade schists, and charnockites set in a vast expanse of migmatitic gneisses, all forming part of the shield area of peninsular India. The coastal margins of the state, bounded by the Arabian Sea, show a thin cover of recent and sub-recent sediments.
Karnataka has numerous rivers and streams contributing to surface water systems. Groundwater, especially in the regions east of the Western Ghats, is limited. The rivers and river systems conform to physiographic divisions, the principal water divide being the Western Ghats. The rivers swell during the monsoon; thereafter, many of them thin to a mere trickle. The streams of the Maidan are generally dry. The rivers of the coastal region include the Sharavati, Kalinadi, Nethravati, Bedthi, and the Aghanashini, which flow into the Arabian Sea. In the northern Maidan, the major rivers are the Tungabhadra, the Krishna, the Malaprabha, the Ghataprabha, and the Bheema. In the southern Maidan, the Cauvery, the Tungabhadra, the North and South Penner, and the Palar flow into the Bay of Bengal.
In 1901, the population of the state was 13 million. It has grown to 45 million in 1996. Between 1901 and 1981, the rate of increase was 183.75 percent. The sex ratio was 963 females to 1,000 males in 1981 and 958 females to 1,000 males in 1991. The population density in India as a whole was 178 per km2 in 1981, and the density of population in the state was 193 persons per km2. It has increased to 217 persons per km2 in 1991. The literacy rate in the state was 38.46 percent in 1981 and 55.8 percent in 1991.
The state of Karnataka is divided into 20 districts. The districts are further divided into taluks (blocks) for administrative convenience. The district of Tumkur adjoining the Bangalore district, has ten taluks. The district has an area of 10,596 km2 and had a population of 2.3 million in 1991. The literacy rate in 1981 was 36.92 percent and 46.2 percent in 1991. The major sources of employment are agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry, which engages almost 80 percent of the workforce.
The study area of Karnataka falls in Chikkanayakanahalli taluk (or district), which has a total area of 112,998 hectares. It had a population of 193,419 persons in 1991. The population density was 152 persons per km2 in 1981 and 173 persons per km2 in 1991. The literacy rate in 1981 was 41.47 percent and 49.4 percent in 1991.
The Chikkanayakanahalli taluk has two towns. The town of Huliyar has small industries that manufacture bricks and tiles, coir rope, and agricultural implements. A few villages such as Dasudi have small coir units. Agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry are the predominant economic activities in the taluk. They are not well developed due to the shortage of water. Agriculture provides only seasonal employment and the economic returns from the land are low. Non-agricultural economic activities are poorly developed.
The natural resource base of the taluk has steadily declined. Traditionally-used surface storage tanks, an important source of water for all purposes, have been silted up and many are defunct. Poor and erratic rainfall coupled with poor water management practice has resulted in a steady depletion of groundwater resources. In recent decades, the decrease in biomass availability, both fuelwood and green manure from forests, has had a negative impact on the livelihood of many rural communities. The type of fuel used for domestic purposes has shifted from firewood to the coconut fronds and leaves obtained from coconut plantations.
Traditional community water management systems, based on efficient water harvesting in earthen barraged tanks, provided a balance between availability and use. These systems also provided a fairly equitable distribution of water. The Gram Sabha (village elected representation) consisting of village members, made decisions, with every family contributing labor for general maintenance.
Traditional farming systems, which propagated the use of appropriate crops and practices like green manuring and organic recycling, have declined. Even though the shift during the 1960's from traditional sustainable farming system to the chemical "Green Revolution" agriculture brought about a marked increase in food production all over the country, it also resulted in soil depletion and the spread of monocultural crops. The hybrids, high-response varieties that react to conditions of plentiful water and chemical nutrition, have failed to make an impact in stressful dryland agricultural conditions. The collapse of traditional farming resulted in the neglect of community-used forests, which were the sources of green manure. Encroachment on public land for cultivation is a common feature in Karnataka and has resulted in more land being brought under cultivation at the expense of tree cover. Excessive irrigation for cash crops, especially plantations, has led to water stress in the region.
Most of the rain falls during the months of August and September. Pre-monsoon showers are common in May and September. The spatial and temporal variations in rainfall are very high. Although rainfall is spread over these months, there are few rainy days. Rain falls in roughly 20 of these days, with one or two showers having accumulations of more than 100 millimeters (mm) of water in 24 hours. The decline in rainfall in the area from 600 mm to 400 mm on average could be attributed to a micro-climatic change. The possible reasons are local deforestation and global warming.
The government continues to play a major role in the development process in the district. The development programs are conceived and implemented by the government with little local interaction. Efforts to address this issue have shown promise with the provision of Constitutional guarantees to the gram panchayats (GPs), the lowest level of elected representation, in 1995. They now require institutional support to discharge their responsibilities. However, the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector is not very well represented in the district, with Development Alternatives (DA) and Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation comprising the majority.
The case study area has four physiographic zones: the hilly regions, undulating highlands, gently sloping pediments, and pedeplains. The taluk is drained by the Tore Halla River which joins the Kare Tore River, a tributary of Suvarnamukhi. The natural vegetation is mostly poor scrub in the hills. A large proportion of the land is under different forms of wasteland (Table 1). Agriculture in the taluk is mostly single crop, and productivity is low. The average rainfall is roughly 600 mm a year. The temperature ranges from 15ƒ to 41ƒ Celsius.
The taluk has 234 villages, which constitute 28 GPs. The population growth rate between 1981 and 1991 was 12.6 percent, a decline from 18.96 percent for the decade between 1971 to 1981 (Table 2). The main reason for the decline in growth rate is out-migration to the nearby city of Bangalore. Temporary migration by marginal farmers and landless people in search of work is common during the summer season.Some of the well-to-do farmers also live in nearby towns because they offer better educational facilities and employment. A few labor-class families have also migrated permanently to work in factories and mines. The sex ratio (the number of females/ 1,000 males) for the taluk was 0.97 for 1994.
The study area includes three GPs out of the 28 in the taluk covering almost one fifth of its area. A brief description of these GPs follows. Table 3 provides an overview of the villages within the GPs.
The Dasudi GP lies on the border of Chikkanayakanahalli taluk and the Tumkur district. Towards the north is Hiriyur taluk of the Chitradurga district.This GP has three villages which provide revenue--comprising Marenadu, Dabbagunte and Dasudi--and 13 hamlets. Development Alternatives runs a forestry nursery in Dabbagunte and is involved in forestation of wastelands in this GP.Being a border area, this GP receives less attention and development funds from the district and taluk administrations.
The Hoyisalakatte GP has nine villages and four hamlets, lying on either side of the state highway between Huliyar and Sira. A part of the Muthugadahalli village falls within the Bukkapatna State Forest. Hoyisalakatte village is prominent due to its location at the road head to the interior villages. The Junior College at Boranakanive offers pre-university and job-oriented courses. Students from neighboring GPs, including Dasudi and Ganadalu, study at this college. The people of Hoyisalakatte have access to adequate health, education, and transportation infrastructure. During the non-agricultural season, however, people do not have much work.
The Gandhalu GP is situated between Hoyisalakatte and Huliyar town in the west. It has nine villages and three hamlets. The community is involved in the management of natural resources and infrastructure development. They have initiated and implemented many community programs such as the construction of a school building, the GP office, and tree planting.
The objective of the field survey was to collect data on water systems and demography. This activity was followed by the formulation of a conceptual framework in which initial hypotheses were drawn. Before the team went to the field, basic questionnaires for collecting information on demographic trends and issues of water sourcing and consumption were formulated. The demographic information from secondary sources, especially the census reports, were tabulated for each village. Once the data collection procedures were finalized, the team spent time interacting with local communities, observing, understanding, and documenting the linkages between demographic change and water consumption. The field survey was conducted in June 1996.
The study was conducted at different levels, starting from the household to the village and further to the GP level. A variety of techniques for primary data collection, including mapping, participatory rural appraisal (PRA), group meetings, and focused household questionnaire surveys, were used. Secondary data sources include census reports, reports of the Central Ground Water Board, and village records. For the demographic study, household-level data collection for a small sample was done in one village for each GP. In-depth interviews with two or three key respondents were conducted in all villages. The PRA techniques used for the study include mapping and group discussions. The group meetings were useful in understanding the major issues and perceptions of the community.
The demographic section addressed issues such as population growth and density, fertility and literacy. The reasons for a decline in population growth were also studied.In the section on natural resources, information was collected on land use changes over time. The section on water systems dealt with water sources and consumption patterns over two decades. Maps were prepared using PRA techniques to locate sources of water and to understand usage patterns.
After the completion of the field study, the data was compiled at the village and GP level. The compiled information was used to analyze the changing demographic and water consumption trends. The analysis and discussions that followed helped draw inferences and develop practical policy recommendations for water management at the local level.
Although the population has increased substantially between 1971 and 1991, the growth rate has declined from 24 percent for the decade 1971 to 1981 to 17 percent for the decade 1981 to 1991 (Table 4). Adoption of family planning measures, better health care, and changing attitudes resulting from the increased mobility of the rural population to urban areas for work have also contributed to the decline. However, the decline in the rate of population growth is primarily due to the permanent migration from a few villages at the beginning of the 1980s. Both temporary and permanent migration have taken place in the area. Out-migration between 1981 and 1991 is eight percent in Dasudi, 11 percent in Hoyisalakatte, and eight percent in Ganadhalu. In a few villages, such as Ambarapura (in Hoyisalakatte), the 25 percent decline in population is due to out-migration.
The density of population has increased on average for the three GPs from 73 persons per km2 in 1971, to 92 in 1981, and to 105 in 1991 (Table 5). The availability of land has decreased in two decades from 1.4 hectares per capita in 1971 to less than one hectare per person in 1991.
The male to female sex ratio in 1991 is 0.97 in Dasudi, 1.03 in Hoyisalakatte, and 1.06 in Ganadhalu. On average, the ratio is similar to that of the state and the taluk. The death rate has declined due to better health care. The birth rate is double the death rate. Infant mortality has decreased to 50 per 1,000 live births. The average life span has increased to 55 years.
The age of marriage for women has risen from 14 to at least 18; in many cases, women get married after they are 20 years old. For men, the age of marriage has increased from 18 to 21, and they are usually around 25 to 26 years old. Family planning and welfare measures are targeted at this group of young married women. Many women take permanent family planning measures after having two or three children.
The literacy rate has risen from 25 percent in 1971 to 57 percent in 1991, for all the GPs. The literacy rate for women has risen to 46 percent and for males to 69 percent. Changing attitudes are due to increased literacy rates and the enhanced reach of media.
Food consumption has risen in Dasudi by 53 percent, in Hoyisalakatte by 30 percent, and in Ganadhalu by 35 percent between 1971 and 1991. Finger millet (locally called ragi) is the staple food grain consumed in the area.A family of five consumes one ton of ragi per year (Table 6).
Five percent of the Dasudi population has access to toilets as compared to one percent of the population of the other two Gps. Dasudi has the largest number of toilets because of its government housing program for the rural poor, sponsored by UNICEF. At present this GP has a fair percentage of new houses with toilets, while prior to 1993, there were very few toilets.
This issue has a bearing on health since open defecation causes the spread of disease through the fecal contamination of food by houseflies, especially during the rainy season. The open defecation is in the habitat area surrounding the houses. Fecal contamination of groundwater is also not uncommon. The stagnant water lying in drains in almost all the villages is responsible for the spread of malaria since these waters are the breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies.
Sources which influence general awareness of population and environmental issues, including films, television programs, and schools, have increased over the last decade (Table 7). Enhanced means of communication have raised the aspirations of people living in these GPs.
Land under tree cover for the three GPs is only 16.1 percent of the total area, which is less than half the amount that should be maintained in tropical countries for a proper ecological balance. Even this 16 percent has very little tree cover, and the term forest denotes only ownership of this land by the forest department. This low tree cover has contributed in a significant way to high soil erosion, land degradation, and low groundwater infiltration.
Of the cultivated land, 45 percent is not irrigated. The rain-fed agricultural land is single-cropped land and lies fallow for at least eight months a year. The soil and moisture conservation measures on such exposed land is of poor quality. Runoff and erosion are high and these factors account for the low productive status.
Wastelands that can be cultivated form 23 percent of the total area, which includes land that was originally grazing land and tree groves. These village common lands are heavily exploited but not maintained. No one takes responsibility for the upkeep of common property. The productivity of these lands has also dropped due to continuous over-exploitation by grazing, deforestation, and the loss of topsoil.
A large portion of the land (16.5 percent) is not available for cultivation, including hilly and hard rock-exposed areas (Table 8). The lack of tree cover and subsequent loss of humus formation has had a negative impact on soil fertility.
Staple Food Production
The cultivated land under ragi is 80 percent of the cultivated rain-fed dryland. Under rainfed conditions, one hectare produces 0.9 tons per crop on average. The local consumption of ragi has risen from 2,700 tons in 1971 to 4,000 tons in 1991. The production of 3,000 tons in 1971 was sufficient to sustain the population. In 1991, the production of 5,500 tons was not only sufficient to feed the population, but it also generated a surplus for the market.
The area under fallow has increased since the new croplands are on sloping land, and in years of poor rainfall these lands are not cultivated. Disparities exist with the large and medium-sized farmers producing more than their consumption needs. Often, the small and marginal farmers depend on large and medium-sized farmers to meet a part of their food requirement.
Changes in Land Use
Between 1971 and 1981 the area under cultivation, including both annual crops and plantations, has more than doubled (Table 9). The amount of land under unirrigated conditions has increased from 4,512 hectares to 11,610 hectares. Consequently, single-cropped land, which amounts to 62 percent of the total geographical area of the three GPs, is left fallow for almost eight months a year. These lands have been insufficiently treated for soil and moisture conservation, resulting in topsoil erosion.
The amount of annually irrigated cropland has declined from 1,510 hectares in 1971 to 240 hectares in 1991. This decrease shows the shift in agricultural practices from staple food cultivation to cash crops such as coconut plantations, which consume a large portion of available water. Between 1971 and 1991, the area under plantation has grown from 618 hectares to 1,742 hectares; unirrigated coconut plantations from 450 hectares to 1,394 hectares; and irrigated coconut plantations from 168 hectares to 348 hectares. The cash crop economy has led to large inequities in water consumption which is reflected by the fact that only the rich can afford borewells and their borewells consume most of the water resource. The doubling of land area used for irrigated coconut plantations has played a major role in aggravating water scarcity. It has also contributed to the reduction of the amount of land under irrigation for annual crops to only 15 percent of the amount under irrigation in 1971.
Water for drinking, domestic use, and livestock
The sources for water are tanks, open wells, and borewells. Water in the area is used for irrigation, human consumption and domestic use, and livestock. A clear shift from the use of surface water to groundwater for drinking, domestic use, and livestock has occurred over the two decades (1971 to 1991).
Water for irrigation
Tanks and canal networks were the main source of water in 1971. In 1991, borewells have become the major and, often, the only source of water for irrigation (Table 10). The total area under irrigation has been reduced from 1,678 hectares in 1971 to 861 hectares in 1981 to 588 hectares in 1991.
Drinking water and domestic use
The per capita use of water for domestic purposes is 30 liters per day on average. In drought years, however, this amount drops to as low as ten liters per day. The consumption of water for domestic purposes increased by 45 percent in the years between 1971 and 1991 (Table 11).
Drinking water for livestock
The assumptions used in this analysis follow: one cow makes one cattle unit, one buffalo is two cattle units, and two sheep equal one cattle unit. On average, 30 liters per day is required per cattle unit to satisfy the animalsí water requirements. No rise in water consumption for livestock has occurred since the animal population has remained stagnant over the decades between 1971 and 1991 (Table 12).
Water for irrigation
Flood irrigation is practiced for both annual crops and plantations. For crops, the practice has been to irrigate the land continuously until the soil is completely wet. Six irrigations of 12,500 liters per hour per hectares are usually given to crops such as groundnut and sunflower. One hectare of land under such crops will need 48 hours of moisture, utilizing 3,600,000 liters of water per crop. In plantations, 16 irrigations are given on average per year. Each irrigation uses 15,000 liters of water for 30 hours per hectares. Water consumption per hectare is 7,200,000 liters per year. Table 13 depicts the source of water for irrigation in 1971 and 1991.
Analysis shows a decrease of 56 percent in the consumption of water for irrigation over the decades 1971, 1981, and 1991. A primary reason for this decline is that irrigation from tanks has almost disappeared due to siltation and low water availability. The increase in area under irrigated plantation has more than doubled, and water consumption also follows the same pattern (Table 14). The area under irrigated crops has decreased to 15 percent of that in 1971. Water for irrigation originates almost exclusively from borewells, which raises the cost of water unlike tank irrigation, which is powered by gravity rather than pumps. As a result, the irrigation area under plantations has increased, while the area irrigated under other crops has decreased. Economic reasons such as high incomes per hectare derived from plantations has been the primary reason for this change.
In 1971, water used for human and livestock consumption was seven percent as compared to 93 percent for irrigation. In 1991, the amount of water used by humans and livestock rose to almost 15 percent of the total, while the amount of water used for irrigation dropped to 85 percent. On the whole, both consumption and availability of water have decreased for the three GPs (Table 15). Figure 1 depicts the linkages between people, water resources, and consumption patterns.
The population growth rate between 1981 and 1991 has declined by half its number in the preceding decade, attributable to out-migration and better family planning. Although permanent migration from a few villages occurred during the 1980s, at present it has slowed down. The migration of the well-to-do for better educational facilities for their children is quite high. Educated young people also migrate to towns in search of jobs. Temporary migration for employment in coffee estates in adjoining districts is an annual occurance during the summer months. The density of population has risen from 73 per km2 in 1971 to 105 per km2 in 1991.
A constant improvement is seen in the quality of life, factors which include enhanced longevity, improved literacy rates, better roads, better access to transportation, and increased earning power. Population growth has led to a general increase in the consumption of most natural resources. The increase in the use of timber for house construction and firewood for domestic energy has resulted in high deforestation rates. Deforestation has had negative environmental impacts including reduced water availability and low crop productivity. The improvement in the earning power for a few has been at the cost of the majority of the population and the environment.
A significant increase, more than 100 percent, has occurred in the amount of land under cultivation. Cultivated land is currently 62 percent of the geographical area of the three GPs. These single-cropped lands are left fallow for almost eight months a year. The lack of cover crop or trees has resulted in high amounts of topsoil loss during the rains, which is typical of the overall situation in many other parts of the country. Local rainfall information seems to suggest a general decrease in the annual rainfall from 600 mm to 400 mm in the last decade.
The main sources of water in 1971 were tanks, canals, and open wells. In the 1990s, different sources of water exist. All the tanks and open wells have dried up, and canals do not have any water. The drying up of tanks has resulted in a decrease in irrigated area. Four hundred ninety borewells now irrigate an area of roughly 600 hectares. Borewell depths are deeper, and more energy is needed for pumping.
The major uses of water are for domestic purposes, drinking water for animals, and irrigation. For the large part of the year, borewells are the only source of water for these uses (drinking water comes from the handpumps fitted on borewells). Domestic water use has increased only marginally.
Poor sanitation practices result in the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhea during the rainy season. Malaria is common during the rainy season. Even though no major epidemics have occurred, a labor shortage exists during the agricultural season due to illness. Minor water conflicts related to drinking water issues are reported.
Per capita availability of all natural resources, including land and water, has declined.The availability of water has declined to a much greater extent than other resources for the small and marginal farmer due to the de facto ownership of water by large farmers who have private boreholes. Large and medium-sized landholders make up eight percent of the farmers in these GPs. These farmers use almost 90 percent of the groundwater, mostly for irrigating private coconut plantations. Large farmers own 30 to 40 acres of land; small farmers own roughly one to three acres. The decline in per capita land availability is due to the increase in family size and division of land holdings.
The irrigated area under annual crop has decreased significantly, while the area under plantation has increased. Water consumption for use in the plantation crops has doubled between 1971 and 1991. The use of tank irrigation has now shifted to deep borewell irrigation, thus raising the cost of irrigation water. At present, the consumption of water is greater than the recharge, demonstrated by the fact that ten percent of the borewells dug between 1985 and 1990 are dry today, indicating a drop in groundwater level. Few measures for recharging groundwater have been adopted by the community. Soil and moisture conservation practices are of poor quality.
The collapse of community water management systems has led to the silting of tanks and the decline in their use. The community has lost its control over individual water use. This has led to a free-for-all where the "able" have better access to the water resources. Today, tank desiltation by community effort is unheard of. Neither have they initiated soil and moisture conservation practices or afforestation programs. The general conclusion is that the area is moving towards a potentially unsustainable condition as far as water resources are concerned.
Projections for Population, Land, and Water
The per capita availability of water for all uses was 3,594 m3 in 1971 and 1,669 m3 in 1991. Assuming the same rainfall of 400 mm, and that local resource management practices are not improved, projections for the year 2010 show that per capita availability of water will drop to 1,346 m3 and 1,085 m3 in 2025, as shown in Table 16.
From evidence found in the field, it can be concluded that water stress conditions have already taken hold. Unless steps are taken to arrest this trend of poor natural resource management, water scarcity will take place in the near future. In all probability, under the same trends of population growth and resource management, water scarcity will occur beyond 2025.
The recommendations for future action include:
Recommendations for better management of natural resources include:
The pressure on natural resources result from overexploitation and mismanagement. Therefore, all efforts aimed at the sustainable development of the area must begin by increasing the involvement and commitment of the community and introducing better resource management practices.
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Development Alternatives, 1996. Action Plan for Chikkanayakanahalli. Balgalore: Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development, Development Alternatives and Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre, Department of Space.
Engelman, Robert, and LeRoy, Pamela, 1993. Sustaining Water: Population and the Future of Renewable Water Supplies. Washington, DC: Population and Environment Program, Population Action International.
Falkenmark, Malin, and Widstrand, Carl, 1992. Population and Water Resources: A Delicate Balance. (Population Bulletin 47). Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
Central Groundwater Board, Ministry of Water Resources, 1994. Groundwater Resources and Development Potential of Tumkur District, Karnataka. (Technical Report, Series D, no. 21.) Tumkur District, India: Central Groundwater Board, Ministry of Water Resources, Southwestern Region.
Karnataka State Gazetteer, 1982. Part I. Karnataka, India: Government of Karnataka.
Provisional Population Totals. Supplement to Paper I of 1991. Census of India, Series 11 of 1991, Karnataka. Karnataka, India: Directorate of Census Operations, 1991.
Serageldin, Ismail, 1995. Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources.Washington, DC:The World Bank.
Sinclair, Jan. ìGlobal Climate Change Has Already Begun.î Our Planet 3 (November 2, 1991): 14-15.
ìWater.î National Geographic Special Edition. (November 1993).
District: The primary division of a state.
Gram Panchayat: The lowest level of elected self-governance for an agglomeration of villages, usually 5,000 hectares in area and with a population of 5,000.
Intercropping: Cultivation of annual crops between the rows of coconut trees.
Monoculture: Cultivation of a single crop.
Polyculture: Cultivation of a variety of crops.
Sustainable agriculture: A low external input farming system promoting organic recycling and appropriate cropping patterns.
Taluk: Secondary division of a district, usually of 1,000 km2 area.
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