While political parties are raising a hue and cry over the controversial Babli and other barrages across Godavari in Maharashtra, a section of experts say these projects could actually be a blessing in disguise for the Sri Ram Sagar Project (SRSP). Irrigation Engineers point out that the dozen projects upstream of the SRSP will act as silt arresters in due course providing the SRSP some relief from the disturbing aspect of sedimentation.

A few Engineers who were on a private visit to the ancient Brahmeshwar temple on the banks of Godavari in Lokeshwaram mandal of Adilabad district on Sivaratri found the silt deposits in the river to have accumulated to an alarming thickness of over 30 ft. Based on observations they suggested opposition parties to apply pressure on the government to address the problem of sedimentation in the river in addition to their objections on Babli project.

“The live storage capacity of the SRSP has decreased by about 30 per cent owing to heavy sedimentation in the reservoir and the entire 45 km backwater stretch of the river up to the temple town of Basar in Adilabad district. From the original 112 tmcft, it has come down to 80 tmcft according to a survey done by AP State Remote Sensing Agency in 2006 though the government claims the present storage level to be pegged at over 90 tmcft,’’ says one of the Engineers, understandably not wanting to be named.

‘Even the silt ejectors, sluices to discharge sediment, at SRSP have been buried permanently under the sediment. It is siltation which is likely to have an equal impact, if not more, than Babli on the 7 lakh acre ayacut in Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Warangal district in future,’’ he warned.

‘The Godavari water at Basar has turned murky which causes some variety of fish to shun the place,’ says Tondur Poshetti, a fisherman, as he hints at the environmental impact of sedimentation. The fisherman community in Nizamabad and Adilabad district will stand to lose under such an eventuality. The Babli barrage, located about 10 kms upstream from the State's border near Basar, will stop the initial inflows into the river which carry most of the silt. The water to be released from this project towards the end of July every year therefore will have comparatively little sediment quantity.