Farmers, Eluru Municipal Corporation at loggerheads over sharing of water

The huge water crisis in the areas served by the Krishna and the Godavari has led to an urban-rural divide with the Eluru Municipal Corporation (EMC) and farmers at loggerheads over the sharing of water from the Godavari-Eluru western canal.

In a bid to save the standing paddy crop, desperate farmers from Kovvali, Ponangi, Dosapadu, Palagudem and several other villages from Denduluru and Eluru rural mandals reportedly stalled the attempts of the EMC authorities to draw water at the Eastern locks for filling its two summer storage tanks. Farmers at the tail end of the canal system contend that they lose standing crop if water is diverted to summer storage tanks.

An ayacut of 1.06 lakh acres was stabilised under the Godavari-Eluru canal for rabi. The Irrigation Department is supposed to make available 20 cusecs of water for drinking purpose in Eluru city, 35 cusecs for irrigation of 5,000 acres under the Sitampet channel and 55 cusecs for 6,000 acres under the Ponangi Punta in Eluru rural mandal in addition to the stabilised ayacut.

A quantum of 775 cusecs is being released from the river into the Eluru Canal which is said to be insufficient to meet the irrigation and drinking water needs. Backed by city MLA Alla Kalikrishna Srinivas, Municipal Commissioner A. Sivakoti Prasad reportedly met the Superintending Engineer, western circle, recently seeking the share of the city from the canal water.

The Commissioner told The Hindu the water level in the tank at Ranigari Tota with a storage capacity of 68 million litres dropped by 2 ft as against its FRL at 14ft while the massive new tank at Malkan Palli remained useless in the light of a raging protest by farmers against diverting the water to the city.

This has forced the municipal corporation to curtail the supply of drinking water to once in a day as against the previous practice of two shifts a day.

It has engaged tankers for water supply in the tail-end areas. “It appears to be a tough task for the MCE to provide water to over 45,000 households with around 3 lakh population”, says V.V. Ramana Rao, Executive Engineer of the MCE.