Thousands of people in Krishna and Guntur districts are on tenterhooks since Monday noon as an enormous quantity of 10.5 lakh cusecs, released from Nagarjunasagar, reached the Krishna Barrage in Vijayawada and threatened to submerge villages downstream.
However, irrigation officials said there was no cause for alarm as they were regulating the flow of water from Nagarjunasagar as well as releases from Prakasam Barrage in a planned manner. He said the outflow from Prakasam Barrage would be brought down to nine lakh cuses by Monday evening thus reducing the threat of submersion to villages downstream of the barrage. Moreover, the bunds of canals that criss-cross the two districts had been strengthened during the last two days to prevent them from breaching, he said.
Meanwhile, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi reached Hyderabad and went on an aerial survey of the flood-affected districts accompanied by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and A. P. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah. The government has estimated the flood damage at Rs. 1,225 crore and urged the Centre to declare it as a national calamity.
The government has estimated the number of people affected by the floods so far at 13 lakhs. This number does not include people living downstream of Nagarjunasagar where the Krishna has inundated about 200 villages in Nalgonda, Guntur and Krishna districts. About two lakh more people have been rendered homeless.
The all-important road link between Hyderabad and Vijayawada was snapped on Monday as flood waters of the Krishna flowed over parts of National Highway 9 at Keesara, Kanchikacherla, Ibrahimpatnam and other places. The large expanse of water that engulfed villages in Avanigadda area, close to the Bay of Bengal, reminded one of the 1977 tidal wave tragedy of Diviseema.
In Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts where the floods in the Krishna and in its two major tributaries, the Tungabhadra and Handri, heaped misery on lakhs of people, the situation has improved though the government has now the massive task of providing relief and rehabilitation. However, normalcy was yet to be restored in Nandyal town in Kurnool, half of which was submerged by flash floods in the Kundu river on its outskirts.
The heaviest flood in over a 100 years hit the Prakasam Barrage on Krishna River threatening several villages downstream even as the toll due to heavy rains and rampaging floods in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra climbed to 240.
River Krishna virtually turned into a sea in all its fury as a record 10.61 lakh cusecs of flood water reached Prakasam Barrage.
This is the heaviest flood in river Krishna in more than 106 years as the previous record stands at 10.30 lakh cusecs in 1903, irrigation authorities said in Vijayawada.
While Karnataka accounted for 178 deaths following recovery of 10 more bodies in northern and coastal regions of the state, Andhra Pradesh registered 37 deaths while Maharashtra 25. Over two lakh homes have been washed away in the three states where the receding monsoon has caused extensive damage to crops.