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Weed worries KE canal farmers

G. Nagaraja
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The phenomenon attributed to sewage being released into irrigation canals

In trouble: Workers removing weed in Krishna-Eluru canal near Denduluru in West Godavari district. The weed obstructs water flow. — Photo: A V G Prasad
In trouble: Workers removing weed in Krishna-Eluru canal near Denduluru in West Godavari district. The weed obstructs water flow. — Photo: A V G Prasad

ELUAfter the tape grass, it seems to be the turn of `poonachu', a kind of species of weed, that troubles the farmers under the Krishna-Eluru canal. The tape-grass with long ribbon-like leaves which exuberantly grew in places like Perikeedu, Atukuru and Kisarapalli upstream the canal in Krishna district subjected the tail-end farmers to hardship by blocking water flow in the last rabi. A vast extent of paddy fields in Pedapadu and Denduluru mandals withered for want of water during the season in spite of strenuous efforts by the members of the Water Users Associations (WUAs) to remove the weed by engaging hundreds of workers with their own funds.

The tail-end farmers are not spared of the weed problem even in the current khariff season. The paddy transplantation was undertaken quite behind the schedule because of the truant monsoons in the tail-end parts in the current season. The particular variety of `poonachu' whose origin is yet to be known, stalks the farmers. Another species called `banka nachu' adds to their woes. “Poonachu and banka nachu together, looking like a mosquitonet, act as a concrete wall against the water flow” laments Parvataneni Ranga Rao, Chairman of the Sitampet Distributary Committee. He attributes the phenomenon to the sewage being let into the irrigation canals by the Eluru Municipal Corporation (EMC).

‘More dangerous'

According to Tirumala Rao, Divsional Engineer of the Krishna-Eluru canal, Poonachu is more dangerous than the tape grass in obstructing the water flow. When the luskhars from the irrigation department tried to remove the particular variety of weed at Atukuru during the last season, it coiled around and made them almost immobilized, he recalled.

The Water Users Associations have engaged a battery of workers for weed removal in the canal downstream since Sunday in a desperate bid to save the standing crop to an extent of 7,000 acres under the Sitampet canal, a branch canal of the Krishna-Eluru canal.

The Irrigation officials are supposed to maintain the water level (FRL) at 3 metres at the Eluru eastern locks so as to ensure free flow of water to the tail-end fields by gravity. But the level fails to cross 2.5 metres because of the weed problem, complains of Mr. Ranga Rao.

The removal of weed for a stretch of 15km from Eluru head works to Muppavaram costs Rs 1 lakh each time. It grows not less than thrice in a season while the government funds the programme for only once”, he adds.

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