The unusual rise in mercury levels up to 42 degrees Celsius in Kuppam in Chittoor district during the last one week is worrying people, followed by fall in the groundwater levels at several places.
Kuppam Assembly constituency, represented by Chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu since 1989, holds a vast rural belt in the district, in addition to teeming rural population. In spite of the efforts of the district administration to overcome the drinking water crisis, several villages are reeling under water crisis since decades. Except for depending on groundwater, so far there has been no any permanent source of drinking water to this tail-end region. The November 2015 rains brought some relief to Kuppam, with considerable improvement in groundwater levels, which generally dip to 1,000 to 1200 feet. It is observed that the water table is slowly returning to its previous levels in many areas of the constituency, but for a few villages such as Gudlanayanapalle and Mallanur.
Every summer, additional funds are pumped into the constituency to tackle the water crisis. Though the State government mooted the HNSS Handri Neeva Kuppam branch canal works with an outlay of over Rs. 400 crore, works on which are currently under brisk progress through Shantipuram and Gudupalle mandals, farmers and general public are worried that the canal is intended to supply only the surplus waters.
During the previous regime of the TDP before 2004, check dams were constructed on Palar river, with its course from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu via Kuppam, and after the TDP returned to power in bifurcated Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the height of the check dams was increased by a couple of feet. In spite of these measures, the last time people saw water in Palar river was seven years ago.
Villages around Kuppam town are facing severe water problem, and reports of women staging protests have come in recent days.
On Monday, people of Dalavai Kothapalle hamlet staged a demonstration at the mandal office in Kuppam, demanding water.
At present, residents of Kuppam are being supplied with water once in three days, leading to uneasy situation. Except for the areas facing drinking water shortage, the tankers are yet to be deployed for general use in the constituency. However, private suppliers are busy exploiting the phenomenon and charging Rs. 450 per tanker. Though the NTR Trust is operating mineral water plants in 29 outlets, their operation is limited to urban pockets and the supply is being charged, while difficulty persists at regular domestic usage.
Speaking to The Hindu , Kuppam Area Development Authority (KADA) Special Officer, Shyam Prasad said due to the impact of summer, the groundwater levels had decreased by three to four meters in recent days. “We have a summer contingency plan, and the government machinery is fully geared up to meet any emergency in water needs.
As there is no any permanent source, we are left with no other option, but to deploy tankers. By August, we will have another RO plant. This may mitigate the problem to a great extent,” the official said.