Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pulichintala & Pattiseema saves Krishna Delta while KWDT II ditches

Krishna delta is turning into a rain-fed area with the prevailing drought conditions and fall in water levels in reservoirs of Krishna river. More than 40 per cent of farmers gave up cultivation with the drought conditions and the remaining farmers are unable to continue cultivation under bore wells. More pertinent problem is non-remunerative prices and fragmented land holdings apart from delay in getting water for timely paddy transplantation.

Prior to 1850, Krishna delta suffered famines and drought while Krishna river was flowing as usual into sea. Bezwada Anicut (today's Prakasam Barrage) was conceived during 1790's by East India Company but construction only started after Sir Arthur Cotton approved the scheme in 1850 and completed in 1855, after completion of Dowleswaram Barrage in 1852. Ever since there was no looking back and these two deltas became rice bowls supplying rice to entire state of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

After 100 years, Bezwada Anicut breached in 1952 floods and Prakasam Barrage was constructed upstream of Anicut between 1954-57 at less than Rs.3 crores. Including canal systems its value at today's corrected price levels could be about Rs.3,000 crores irrigating 13 lakh acres at an average per acre investment of less than  Rs.20,000 per acre and operating costs near NIL compared to Kaleswaram project with per acre capital cost of Rs.10,00,000 and annual operating cost of Rs. 25,000+ providing water for dry crops. Nagarjuna Sagar dam upstream has stabilized the delta immensely. With its rich soils Krishna delta gives highest yields of paddy producing paddy worth about Rs.6,000+ crores every year. Prakasam Barrage was the first Major Irrigation Project in South India and today owing to it, Krishna district became very rich district and Vijayawada, once a sleepy town smaller than Machilipatnam, Guntur, Gudivada, Nandigama & Nuzvid, with its excellent road & rail connectivity  grew leaps and bounds into a very large city and eventually became state's capital.

Timely transplantation of paddy during June/July is essential for Krishna delta because of frequent cyclones during October & November. Being low lying & water logged lands Krishna Delta can cultivate only paddy, which alone can withstand water logging, during kharif season.

With several projects having come up upstream on Krishna district and with no mechanisms to ensure timely release of irrigation water to Krishna delta has created difficulties to farmers of Krishna delta. Polavaram right canal was supposed to solve this problem but that project is also moving at snails pace with apathetic BJP - Modi government at Center. Sensing a delay of 5 to 8 years this Govt of AP, headed by Nara Chandrababu Naidu, has implemented Pattiseema Lift Irrigation, a temporary project, in a record time to pump Godavari flood waters into Polavaram right canal which was complete by about 80% during YSR & Congress regime, and diversion of 80 TMC water to Prakasam Barrage upstream to ensure paddy transplantation in delta during July. This would also ensure diversion of water saved at Srisailam Dam into Srisailam Right Bank Canal & other projects namely Pothireddipadu, Handri-Neeva, Galeri-Nagari etc. to perennially drought prone Rayalaseema region strengthening him politically as well.

While Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal - I headed by Justice RC Bachavat it its award of 1976 was considerate to lower riparian state of Andhra Pradesh, rejected several illogical issues raised by Karnataka with the sole aim of depriving water to AP as much as possible, allocated entire surplus & deficit waters to AP without claiming rights at 65% dependability and not allocating surplus waters to riparian states in the absence of strong enforcement arrangements. 

While allocated Krishna waters were utilized at Krishna delta and Nagarjuna Sagar Canals, AP (composite) has started several projects with the objective of diverting and utilizing surplus and flood waters from Srisailam back waters into Rayalaseema and Mahboobnagar & Nalgonda districts of Telangana, all were perennially drought prone, with the heavy duty Lift Irrigation motors now a days available.

Pulichintala Project completed except for R & R on Telangana state side (deliberately with sadistic intention of creating troubles to AP) with 46 TMC capacity will impound water during summer months from Nagarjuna Sagar releases mainly for power generation by TS, will be splendidly sufficient along with 80 TMC Pattiseema waters for timely transplantation in Krishna Delta.

However, Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal - II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, in its award of 2010 dealt a deadly blow to AP (while AP was entangled with the agitations for bifurcation and formation of Telangana state for political reasons) succumbed to pressures of Karnataka & Maharashtra politicians namely Veerappa Moily, Sharad Pawar, Shivraj Patil, Sushil Kumar Shinde etc managed to get entire average yield (allocated & unallocated waters at 75% yield, increasing from of 65%) of 2578 TMC allocated to riparian states, without any strong enforcing mechanisms in place, thus depriving AP of surplus waters by 317 TMC and with a ruling that Karnataka should release about 8-10 TMC during June & July from its Alamatti dam for benefit of AP. It is pertinent to state that Krishna Delta alone consumes 180 TMC of water with 40% i.e. 72 TMC,  required at the time of paddy transplantation. What purpose 16-20 TMC will serve, God only knows? 

Year 2015 being low rain fall year - while Karnataka & Maharashtra projects are full of water down stream AP received just 80 TMC inflows against 1001 TMC allocation and usual flow of more than 1500 TMC. There was no agriculture in Krishna basin in AP and drinking water in Krishna basin became an unmanageable problem.

As expected, Govt of AP filed Special Leave Petition in Supreme Court against KWDT II award and prayed for direction to Govt of India not to notify the award from implementation.

Previous ... KWDT I & II Awards

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