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Kandaleru water reaches Satyamurthi Sagar

By T. Ramakrishnan

CHENNAI, MARCH 8. Kandaleru water reached Satyamurthi Sagar at Poondi, one of the storage points of Chennai, this afternoon. ``Initial flows were recorded at 3.10 p.m. We expect to receive more in the coming days,'' says a senior official of the Public Works department (PWD).

Exactly 24 hours earlier (on Sunday afternoon), water reached Zero Point at Tamaraikuppam, where the Andhra Pradesh portion of Kandaleru-Poondi canal terminates and the limits of Tamil Nadu begin.

At that time, Zero Point recorded about 25 cusecs (cubic feet per second). Gradually, the inflow picked up and this afternoon, it was in the order of 100 cusecs.

The improvement in the inflow had its immediate impact in the flow to the Poondi reservoir. At 5 p.m., the inflow to the Poondi reservoir was 100 cusecs.

(Water from the Kandaleru dam, about 180 km north of Chennai, was formally released in mid-January. But, the flow encountered several problems, including unauthorised tapping. About a month ago, the water reached the Zero Point but did not flow further because of various problems. Subsequently, the Andhra Pradesh Government formed a task force to plug illegal tapping to ensure water transfer to Chennai.)

Both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu irrigation officials expect that the receipt will continue to rise. A team of senior officials of Andhra Pradesh Irrigation department led by K. Mahendranath, Chief Engineer, visited the Zero Point this afternoon to have first-hand information of the flow of water to Tamil Nadu.

Water managers of Chennai hope to receive a maximum of 200 cusecs for a month. In such an eventuality, the cumulative realisation will be 500 mcft (million cubic feet).

Given the fact that Chennai's reservoirs have a storage of about 145 million cubic feet (mcft), the expected realisation means three times what the reservoirs have. ``Though Kandaleru water may not satisfy our requirements totally, it will help in easing pressure temporarily on groundwater to some extent,'' says a water expert.

This morning, the storage of the Kandaleru dam stood at 2.49 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet). Though 500 cusecs of water is, on an average, pumped from the dam, 400 cusecs is let into the canal. ``The net outflow can even go up to 500 cusecs. But, one has to take into account low storage and the consequent operational difficulties,'' says a senior official of the Andhra Pradesh Irrigation department.

According to the city water managers, steps taken by the neighbouring State to curb illegal tapping coupled with lining of the canal in vulnerable stretches have helped faster flow of water this time.

Chennai Metrowater and the PWD have made efforts for lining the Baby Canal from Poondi to Tamaraipakkam and desilting the Tamil Nadu portion of the Kandaleru-Poondi Canal, Upper Supply Channel (Tamaraipakkam-Cholavaram) and Lower Supply Channel (Cholavaram-Red Hills). ``As per our plan, we will not store water in the Poondi and Cholavaram reservoirs so that we transfer it to Red Hills (terminal storage point of the city system),'' explains a Metrowater official. Minor channels have been dug up within the Poondi and Cholavaram reservoirs to facilitate water transfer to Red Hills without losing much.

Patrolling parties deployed

Our Hyderabad Special Correspondent reports:

Supply has been stopped for irrigation in Andhra Pradesh from Kandaleru. All sluices of the canal serving fields en route in Nellore and Chittoor districts have been closed up to March 18 to build up sufficient depth for the flow going to Chennai.

A senior official in the Irrigation department said that patrolling parties had been deployed along the canal to prevent tampering of the flow by farmers.

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