Declining water levels, slow progress of delta modernisation project raise farmers’ hackles in Godavari and Krishna delta

It appears that the plight of farmers will have a considerable impact on the general elections and the local body polls, especially in the Krishna and Godavari delta regions. While erratic power supply has been a major worry for farmers in the upland region, declining water levels in the Godavari and the poor condition of canal system owing to the slow progress of the delta modernisation project threaten the paddy prospects to the Godavari and Krishna delta ryots.

Threat looming large

Farmers have taken up paddy cultivation in 6 lakh acres in West Godavari district including the 4.5-lakh acre under the Godavari Western delta and 23,000 acres under the Krishna-Eluru canal ayacut.

With water scarcity hitting them hard, farmers are staging protests demanding adequate water supply from the canals for the tail-end and high level patches in the Godavari delta at different places. Further, the peasants under the Losari Main Channel, Bhimavaram branch canal and I. Bhimavaram canal, with a total ayacut of 15,000 acres, have been up in arms against the enforcement of crop holiday by the administration to accelerate the modernisation works during this rabi. The drop in water levels poses a serious threat to the standing crops in the delta area.

Poor canal system

Under the Krishna-Eluru canal project, slow progress of modernisation works is raising farmers’ hackles. Of the total ayacut of 1.15 lakh acres under the Krishna-Eluru canal ayacut, paddy is cultivated in 23,000 acres in West Godavari and 7,000 acres in Krishna district. But the Irrigation authorities have failed to irrigate even the limited patches, in spite of the abundance of water in the Krishna, thanks to poor condition of the canal.

According to official information, works worth only Rs. 10 crore were executed in the last five years as against the Rs. 210 crore sanctioned by the government for its modernisation.

The delay has already caused a series of floods, leading to extensive crop damage in both the deltas.

In addition to this, the government has enforced crop holidays twice, forcing the farmers to forego their crops as part of the move to facilitate the project works.

Yet, the ambitious modernisation project has failed to inch ahead so for.