MU colleges shorten semester as Udupi faces water crisis
Manipal: As a precautionary measure to avoid severe water crisis in the months of April and May, colleges under Manipal University (MU) shortened the duration for the even semester.
While Manipal Institute of Technology’s (MIT) academic calendar has holidays setting in two weeks early, School Of Communication (SOC) has reduced the current semester’s span by almost a month. The university houses thousands of hostel dwellers who receive uninterrupted water supply round the clock with negligible restrictions on water consumption. However, during the peak summer months meeting this demand becomes a difficult task. For the purpose of spreading awareness amongst students, MU has put up ‘Save Water’ posters and water management circulars on the hostel notice boards.
MU’s Green Manipal initiative to ecologically sustain its campuses involves a waste water management system. Employing rainwater harvesting techniques during monsoons and efficient sewage treatment plants claim to render MU self-sufficient during the water-stressed periods. In spite of these sustainable practices, the step is to ensure that the hostels are vacated earlier especially during the acute crisis. The Kasturba Medical College (KMC) campus in Mangaluru unexpectedly closed down its hostels in May last year with a notice period of just two days to evacuate the premises, causing widespread bewilderment amongst students.
Essentially a rain-fed area, Manipal has an annual precipitation level of 500-560 cm. Despite witnessing one of the strongest monsoons across the country, the low availability of fresh water in Udupi taluk nearly caused its declaration as a drought-hit area last year. However this year, all three taluks in Udupi district have been declared drought hit.
The Baje Dam against the Swarna River, one of Manipal’s major water sources, will soon be rationing water owing to the declining water levels. The level stood at 5.62 m in February 2016, but has reduced to 5.32 m in the current year. In May 2016, the dam’s water level had dipped to an alarming 2.08 m. Udupi City Municipal Corporation (CMC) had denied water to the MU campus, decreasing the supply to a meagre 3 hours per day and the university was entirely dependent on borewells and private tankers for its daily consumption.
Problems faced by the urban locales of Manipal and Udupi regarding the disrupted water supply have grieved farmers too. Since January 8, cultivators in the Hiriadka-Perdoor region have not received any water for irrigation as the Baje Dam is directing their share of water towards the city. Coconut trees, banana plantations and arecanut are the major crops cultivated during this time of the year and require large amounts of water thereby further worsening the situation for the farmers.
Although the university administration seems better equipped to tackle drought this year, it remains to be seen if shortening the duration of the academic semester is a feasible arrangement.
Featured Photograph Courtesy: Dhruv Khanna
Manipal University adopts a waste water management system to sustain the water demands of the campuses.
Edited by Anirban Paul