Chennai/Mysore: The Karnataka government has undertaken a 30-day Rs 5 crore cloud seeding operation in the Cauvery basin to meet the water requirements of its farmers and fulfil its obligation to Tamil Nadu with respect to the Cauvery waters.
The operation was launched on October 17 and November 15. During the operation period so far the water level in the Krishnarajasagar (KRS) reservoir has risen 1.37 feet to 107.37 feet on Sunday, from about 106 feet recorded when cloud seeding was launched.
Inflow into the reservoir has further improved on Sunday, coming as a relief to the state which has been directed to release 6.2 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee.
The government may extend the duration of the operation as the north-east monsoon extends till December 10. The government has awarded the cloud seeding contract to Agni Aero Sports Adventure Academy (AASAA) Pvt Ltd, a company based out of Bangalore and engaged in aviation-based activities, vide a global tender.
“The programme is underway with cloud seeding Piper Cheyenne aircraft primarily operating from the Mysore airport, covering the target areas of Harangi, Kabini, Hemavathi basins and KRS upstream and downstream areas,” said chief pilot Arvind Sharma said here at the weekend.
“Cloud seeding is a technology wherein suitable clouds are targeted and treated to improve their efficiency, leading to enhanced precipitation. Thus, it is not about creating clouds or artificial rain, but about increasing the yield of water from suitable clouds,” he said. A similar operation in Rajasthan, just before the present one in Karnataka, had enhanced precipitation to 24 per cent, while it could be between 18 and 20 per cent in Karnataka from the present 5 per cent.
G S R Sharma explained, meteorologists using weather forecast models, satellite imagery, radar data and other weather inputs identify area of probable activity/availability of suitable clouds. They then transmit the information to the pilot of the cloud seeding aircraft, who then conducts sorties, targetting the area or cloud at the specific time. He then releases the seeding material into the cloud. This enhances the cloud efficiency which otherwise bring droplets, resulting in increased precipitation and rainfall.
For the present operation, a control room has been set up at the Karnataka Engineering Research Station (KERC) at the KRS with a 250-km radius radar to identify clouds suitable for seeding.
Stating that it would be further beneficial if the operation was inter-state covering Tamil Nadu and Kerala states, Arvind Sharma felt Tamil Nadu should come forward to share cloud seeding cost as it would also benefit from the increased water flow.
The seeding operations, he made it clear, did not cover Tamil Nadu side and permission was sought from Kerala for seeding the major catchment area of Kabini there.
G S R Sharma told Business Standard on Sunday, “As the operation has been undertaken when the situation was 48 per cent below normal, and hence cloud seeding opportunities are limited too. It would be good if it is extended at least till this month-end to take advantage.”