Special Correspondent

`Drought-prone areas stand to benefit'

  • MLA P. Rama Rao discusses the issue with Chief Minister
  • N.G. Ranga Foundation leader accompanies the MLA

    ONGOLE: Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has ordered investigation of the second phase of Nagarjuna Sagar project to benefit drought-prone areas of Podili, Kondepi, Kandukur, Udayagiri, Kavali and Atmakur of Prakasam and Nellore districts.

    Congress MLA Pothula Rama Rao and president of N.G. Ranga Foundation Bandlamudi Subba Rao told newspersons here on Saturday that this was a sequel to their meeting the Chief Minister in Hyderabad recently.

    First right

    They said that they had impressed upon Dr. Reddy that these areas would have first right on water diverted from the Godavari to the Krishna basin. As the government was vigorously pursuing diversion of Godavari waters to the Krishna basin, they said that the second phase of the Nagarjuna Sagar project should be taken up to benefit these areas.

    They pointed out that the Nagarjuna Sagar right canal was originally planned to carry 21,000 cusecs at head reach and empty 4,000 cusecs into the Penna at the tail end. But the project was divided into two phases due to financial constraints.

    In the first phase, the right canal was planned over 140 miles up to the Musi in Prakasam district and in the second phase it would traverse another 136 miles to join the Penna at Somasila to irrigate a total of 18.59 lakh acres.

    Initial capacity

    The right canal was in fact dug up with a capacity to carry 21,000 cusecs up to 50th mile. But the second phase was later given up, sacrificing the interests of lakhs of farmers in drought-prone areas. This was the only project that was given up despite availability of dependable water.

    Meanwhile, the Bachawat Tribunal allotted 800 tmcft of Krishna waters to Andhra Pradesh, including 264 tmcft earmarked for Nagarjuna Sagar. But it allowed the State to utilise 529.1 tmcft of surplus waters available.

    The State Government represented that it needed 40 tmcft more to meet the needs of even first phase of Nagarjuna Sagar project and 203 tmcft more for the second phase. The Gulati Commission, appointed to study feasibility of diverting Godavari waters to the Krishna basin in 1961, recommended that the surplus waters of the Godavari could be diverted by Albaka-Pulichintala link canal and Polavaram-Vijayawada link canal. Then Union Minister for Irrigation Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim told Lok Sabha in 1963 that Nagarjuna Sagar second phase could be taken up after completion of investigations on Godavari supplies.

    So, the leaders argued that Nagarjuna Sagar second phase should be taken up on priority to provide irrigation to the perennially drought-affected areas.