Situation grim as water levels in all reservoirs on the Krishna touch rock bottom

With just five days more left for June 15, the customary date for release of water to the Krishna Delta from the Prakasam Barrage, the rock-bottom levels of the water in the major reservoirs on the Krishna have confirmed the worst nightmares of the farmers.

The delta farmers have already forgone the rabi this year and are waiting anxiously to get on with kharif. The release of water became a serious issue with the release being inordinately delayed in the nine-year TDP rule.

Major issue

The release of water on June 15 every year was one of the election promises made to the delta farmers by the former Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The Congress government kept its word for five years and even nature cooperated with timely rain in the upper reaches of the river, helping in the quick filling of the reservoirs.

In the recent years, the government has slackened a little in releasing water though there was ample amount of water in the reservoirs. In 2011, water was released on June 26.

This year, the water situation is very grim with the levels touching rock bottom in the four major reservoirs on the Krishna. There is no water available as per norms for irrigation in Almatti and Srisailam, the water available in Tungabhadra is 1 tmcft. In Nagarajunasagar, it is 2 tmcft.

As the level of water in the reservoir gets close to the Dead Storage Level (DSL), no water is released for irrigation. Technically, the release of water should be stopped at the minimum drawdown level (MDDL), which is the minimum level of operation without any damage to the reservoir ecosystem.

The water level in all the four reservoirs is way below the MDDL and close to the DSL, beyond which water cannot be pumped up even for power generation.

There is nearly 150 tmcft “idle storage” below DSL of Nagarjunasagar reservoir that could theoretically be used by installing Water Powered Pump (WPP) at the base of the dam. But no such WPP has been installed until now. Even if it were installed, the pump would badly disturb the ecosystem of the reservoir.

Under these circumstances, it would take more then a month for water to be released to the Krishna Delta, provided there was rain in the upper reaches and reservoirs such as Almatti and Tungabhadra fill up quickly, Irrigation Department sources said.

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