The dwindling water level in the Godavari caused by failure of monsoon in the catchment is likely to cast a shadow over the prospects of rabi in the delta.
Paddy is raised in 8.96 lakh acres out of the total cultivable area of 10.13 lakh acres in the Godavari delta, classified into western, eastern and central delta systems, falling under West and East Godavari districts.
According to Venugopal Rao, Executive Engineer, Headworks division of the Dowleswaram Barrage, the crisis in 2008 is likely to repeat in the coming rabi. Irrigation personnel recorded surplus inflows of 15,000 cusecs at the barrage on Saturday as against the receipt of 75,000 cusecs in normal period.
The rabi crop with a duration of 105 days requires not less than 90 tmcft of water at the rate of 1 tmcft per 10,000 acres. It is assumed that around 24 tmcft could be available in the Godavari during the period. In such a situation, paddy growers from the two districts are heavily depending on the Sileru and the Kinnerasani, the tributaries of the Godavari. In the 2008 crisis, the government headed by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ensured the drawal of 48 tmcft from both Upper and Lower Silleru by claiming the State's share to the maximum extent from the pool of the Upper Sileru which falls under Orissa and 2.4 tmcft from the Kinnerasani. With the total availability of the water— 50.4tmcft from the Sileru and the Kinnerasani and 24tmcft from the Godavari — paddy farmers somehow managed to overcome the crisis. Besides, a section of farmers exploited 6tmcft of the river water downstream the barrage by installing pumpsets in a desperate bid to save their crops.
With harvesting in the current kharif scheduled to begin in the next 10-15 days, the administration is under pressure from public representatives and the peasant organisations to clear uncertainty over stabilisation of ayacut in rabi in the wake of the daunting water crisis.
The MLAs from Bhimavaram and Narsapur—P. Anjaneyulu and M. Prasada Raju— made an appeal at the meeting of the District Review Committee to the government to initiate discussions with Orissa government for drawal of water from the Upper Sileru as early as possible.