The name “Cauvery” literally means “one who brings abundance.” But this once mighty river is mighty no more.
In the last year, the suffering of farmers and their suicides in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the Cauvery basin, have made national headlines. The depletion of Cauvery and the distress of farmers are two manifestations of the same problem.
- Cauvery has depleted over 40% in the last 70 years
- 87% of the basin’s original tree cover has been lost
- During the summer, Cauvery is unable to reach the ocean
- 70% of Cauvery basin’s soil suffers erosion
- 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
Why Cauvery Is Dying
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 Cauvery.
As Trees Disappear…
Growing human populations and inefficient agriculture practices have led to an extreme loss of tree cover and the soil is no longer sufficiently replenished. The soil no longer absorbs water efficiently and suffers erosion instead. The soil, having lost its ability to retain water, is unable to sustain Cauvery. As a result, the river 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.
To reverse this dire situation, revitalize Cauvery, rejuvenate the soil, and improve farmers’ income, Cauvery Calling will support farmers to plant 242 crore trees. It is estimated that these 242 crore trees will increase water retention in Cauvery basin by about 40%.