Andhra Pradesh

Hopes sour as sweet lime crop withers in Anantapur district

Sweet lime farmer Siva Reddy of Mukundapuram showing the PABR Canal lining work in progress, which has hit their crop hard this year.

Sweet lime farmer Siva Reddy of Mukundapuram showing the PABR Canal lining work in progress, which has hit their crop hard this year.   | Photo Credit: R_V_S_PRASAD

Farmers fail to get water despite promises made by politicians and officials

Election Model Code of Conduct seems to be the barrier between the country’s best sweet lime growers in this village and the government help that is due to them as part of drought-proofing. Three months of farmers’ struggle for irrigating their fields has pushed them into despair as 50% of the crop has withered in six villages in Garladinne mandal of the district. But neither water has been released for their crops nor government subsidy given.

The farmers here had foreseen this situation of water scarcity and approached Irrigation Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao and Minister from the district Paritala Sunitha, who did not come to their rescue. They just need 0.5 tmcft of water from the Penna Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir (PABR) Dam into Mukundapuram tank.

Despite promises made by the politicians and the officials, it did not translate into reality.

“The quality of sweet lime fruits grown here exported to many countries and commands the best price in the market, but short-sightedness of politicians, and lack of proper planning by irrigation officials has landed us in the most piquant position as we cannot revive our crop,” a farmer Kodandaramulu told The Hindu.

‘Poll work’

CPI(M) district secretary V. Rambhupal took strong objection to the apathy of the officials in saving the crop by saying they were busy with election work. “As a political party we had represented to the District Collector and Irrigation SE, but every time we got to hear that election code did not allow us to help the farmers, which was pathetic,” he added.

When contacted, Horticulture Deputy Director B. Subbarayudu said that under drought-proofing funds can be released immediately. But he did not have any answer as to why no relief had reached the farmers though the polling was over on April 11. He said all the the proposals for subsidy that need government approval amount to ₹11.66 crore to rescue 2,596 farmers’ crop in 3,208 hectares and they have been sent to government and a reply was awaited.

The department has proposed 80% subsidy on ₹800 per tanker of water to be used by the farmers. The major beneficiaries will be sweet lime farmers in 2,000 hectares out of 52,460 being grown and 1,900 hectares of mango crop out of 53,000 hectares in the district. In all, the the proposals that need government’s approval are ₹11.66 crore to rescue 2,596 farmers’ crop in 3,208 hectares.

There are 4.8 lakh plants depending on irrigation water from Mukundapuram tank and of them about one lakh of various ages have withered, and the remaining can be revived only if water was released immediately from the PABR Dam. The PABR Right Canal lining work has been completed in this section and that has hit the farmers hard.

Without lining when water flows in the canal, it used to recharge groundwater allowing us to draw small quantities to keep our plants alive, said 60-year-old farmer Siva Reddy.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 12:28:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/hopes-sour-as-sweet-lime-crop-withers-in-anantapur-district/article27131646.ece

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