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Budameru - the sorrow of Vijayawada

Staff Reporter

The drain has been posing problems since time immemorial

  • The British made an attempt to overcome the problem way back in 1895
  • Diversion scheme was constructed in 1960
  • There was a major flood again in 1989

    VIJAYAWADA: Nobody even knows that it exists until it goes into spate and floods agricultural lands, villages and towns along its, otherwise dry, course.

    Budameru Drain has been flooding areas in Vijayawada, Gudivada, Kaikaluru and finally villages that dot the edge of Kolleru Lake since time immemorial.

    According to records available, the British conducted a survey as early as in 1895 in a bid to find a solution to the problem. A diversion scheme was proposed near Kavuluru village, but nothing materialised.

    The big flood

    It took over 60 years for the diversion scheme to materialise and it was finally constructed in 1960. There was a big flood in 1964 and the embankment of the diversion channel breached flooding Kavuluru and other villages around it.

    Ever since there have been floods in the drain periodically. Budameru, which is dry most of the time, suddenly swells and causes loss of life, crop and property.

    The State Government commissioned Uttar Pradesh Chief Engineer Mitra to make a survey and suggest flood control measures in 1965. The Mitra Committee submitted its report in 1967, but nothing came out of it.

    Second diversion

    Meanwhile, Budameru floods have been ravaging areas in the fast growing Vijayawada city every now and then.

    There was a major flood in 1989 and minor floods in 1995, 1996 and 1998. While the Mitra Committee suggested a second diversion from the drain to the River Krishna further down its course at Kotta Cheruvu near Rayanapadu, a decision was taken to widen the existing diversion channel under the Cyclone Emergency Rehabilitation Programme (CERP).

    Attempts were made to increase the capacity of the present diversion channel from its earlier design capacity of 7,500 cusecs to 15,000 cusecs. This could not be achieved because of some bottlenecks.

    The discharge from the Vijayawada Thermal Power Station (VTPS), which uses water for cooling, is a major bottleneck.

    Even though flood goes up to a maximum of 40,000 cusecs, the channel has a capacity of only 15,000 cusecs at the point.

    The last 700-metre stretch, which was left without being widened, is another bottleneck.

    If the level at the Velagaleru Regulator, located upstream the VTPS, crosses the nine-metre mark, the gates are lifted and water is released into the regular course of the drain causing a flood in it which eventually inundates parts of Vijayawada.

    Extensive crop loss

    During the recent floods, farmers of Velagaleru opened the regulator gates suddenly causing extensive damage to cotton, chilli and paddy crop being cultivated downstream.

    The embankment of the regulator was also damaged by the roaring floodwaters.

    With a catchment of 260 square miles, the Budameru drain is always a source of danger says Andhra Pradesh Ryotu Sangham president Kolli Nageswara Rao.

    Visiting the Velagaleru Regulator with a team of newspersons on Saturday, he demanded that the Government find a permanent solution by implementing the recommendations of the Mitra committee.

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