The Cauvery, like almost all rivers in India, is forest-fed. Historically, this region was covered in forests and tree cover. The soil was constantly replenished with nutrients and organic matter by animal waste and plant litter. Organic matter allowed the soil to absorb water, and thus feed the Cauvery. But as human population grows and tree cover reduces, the soil is no longer replenished. It no longer absorbs water and suffers erosion instead. The soil no longer feeds the Cauvery, which is drying up. The falling water levels and dying soil are taking a devastating toll on our farmers, who suffer failed harvests and crippling debt.
• Cauvery has depleted 39% in the last 70 years
• During the summer, the Cauvery is unable to reach the ocean
• A desolate, sandy bed is all that millions of people see for many months of the year
• 87% of the basin’s original tree cover has been lost
• 83% of farmers in Tamil Nadu and 77% of farmers in Karnataka are in debt
• 17 districts in Tamil Nadu were drought-hit in 2019
• 15 of the last 18 years have been drought years in Karnataka • Almost half the Cauvery basin suffers critical groundwater depletion