The visiting four-member Central team, headed by RR Jah, in the areas ravaged by the Lila cyclone last year, on Wednesday drew sharp protest from a section of farmers backed by PRP MLA Eeli Venkatamadhusudana Rao (Nani) of Tadepalligudem in West Godavari district. The MLA halted the convoy of the Central team on the Kolkata-Chennai National Highway-5 at Alampuram near Tanuku, demanding it give an audience to visit the Nandamuru Aqueduct and lend an audience to its `victims'. A large gathering of farmers, affected by floods due to the aqueduct waiting at Nandamuru to bring to the notice of the team about their plight, however, felt disappointed as the team members could not oblige their request `for want of time'.
The aqueduct built across the Yarrakalva at Nandamuru by Sir Arthur Cotton, the architect of the Godavari delta system, remained a mute witnesses to a clash of interest between the farmers in upper reaches and their counterparts downstream over its devastation caused to the farm fields. The stream originating at Konguvarigudem in the agency is served as an irrigation canal up to the Nandamuru Aqueduct while it has been named Yanamaduru drain right from the aqueduct to the point where it merged with Upputeru near Bhimavaram. Interestingly, it proved to be the sorrow of both upland and delta areas, thanks to its devastating nature. The old aqueduct was built with four spans during the period of Sir Arthur Cotton with a discharge capacity of 8,000 cusecs. A new aqueduct was recently built with seven spans with a discharge capacity of 20,000 cusecs. The farmers from Tanuku, Attili, Bhimavaram and Undi areas downstream obtained a stay order from court against operation of the new aqueduct until the modernisation of the Yanamadurru drain by widening and deepening of its course in order to save their fields from floods. A proposal was made for improvement of the drain with Rs 100 crore under the delta modernization project exclusively to meet the demand of the farmers downstream. The peasants in upper reaches however pressed for the operation of the new aqueduct by dismantling the old one and save their fields from submergence. Pitching for the cause of farmers in upper reaches, the PRP MLA said not less than 25,000 acres of paddy fields were subjected to submergence every time due to the age-old aqueduct due to its poor discharging capacity.