Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K. Chandrasekhara Rao on Wednesday alleged that the “illegal and politically ill-motivated irrigation projects” promoted by the former Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, under the garb of ‘Jalayagnam’ were responsible for the flood fury in Andhra Pradesh.
“It is a case of human failure rather than the nature’s fury,” he told journalists here and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to order a CBI probe into all Jalayagnam projects meant to store as much as 345 tmcft of water.
The “engineering procurement and construction” (EPC) contract system, introduced by Reddy in ‘Jalayagnam’ works, was “another fraud to favour contractors and allow them to loot the exchequer,” he said.
Mr. Rao said the YSR government went against the Bachawat Tribunal recommendation and the interest of power generation, and increased the Minimum Draw Down Level (MDDL) of the Srisailam project from 834 to 854 feet without consulting experts. It was done with the mala fide intention of keeping the MDDL much above the sill level of the Pothireddypadu Head Regulator (PHR) which was 841 feet. The PHR was an outlet for diverting Krishna waters to the illegal projects being constructed outside the basin, he said.
To make Krishna waters available to the PHR, the government deliberately kept the level in the Srisailam reservoir almost up to the brim — the full reservoir level of 884 feet) — ignoring the interests of power generation and the irrigation needs of Nagarjuna Sagar farmers, the TRS leader said.
By September-end, the level in Srisailam touched 885 feet. Yet the government did not release water to the Nagarjuna Sagar project, and so agriculture on 22 lakh acres under its right and left bank canals was affected. “The intention obviously was to release the available water to all the illegal projects, starving the legally entitled ayacuts under Nagarjuna Sagar.”
When a sudden inflow from the Krishna floods reached the Srisailam reservoir, it was already full to the brim, whereas the Nagarjuna Sagar was almost empty. Water gushing into Srisailam could not, therefore, be stored, nor could it be released downstream at the same speed. Consequently, the spread of backwaters of Srisailam inundated Kurnool and Mahbubnagar districts. Moreover, the swollen Tungabhadra (from Karnataka) made the situation worse. The tragedy could have been avoided had the government released water from Srisailam to Nagarjuna Sagar at the right time, Mr. Rao said.