Andhra Pradesh

Water, water everywhere

Anantapur is a rain shadow district and receives the second lowest quantum of rainfall after Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. This is the usual refrain of most political leaders and policy-makers in almost every speech they make in the district.

However, last week’s rain in the district would certainly make the refrain go away at least for a few more months given the bounty by the rain god to the district driving away not only the deficit in rainfall for the year, but also pitchforking the district technically into the “excess” category for the first time in decades.

The district received an average rainfall of 159 mm in just the first 12 days of October as against a mere 7.1 mm of rainfall for entire October last year!

Such has been the bounty of rainfall received by the district that 906 of the 1,265 tanks have filled up completely for the first time in almost two decades, while most of the remaining are filled to at least half their capacity. With rains predicted over the next few days, people hope that these tanks too will get filled.

Every single irrigation project in the district — small, medium or large — has received considerable inflows for the first time in several years, while some have received inflows for the first time ever since their construction.

More than 60,000 farm ponds dug up under the “Panta Sanjeevani” programme of the State government have finally and completely been made use of with almost every single one getting filled.

“Even if these farm ponds can’t support direct irrigation from the ponds, they are sure to recharge the ground water levels sufficiently enough to hold good for at least two more crops,” opined Narayana Reddy, a farmer of Kudair mandal headquarters village.

On the other hand, the Singanamala tank — one of the largest in the district — was filled to the brim for the first time in over a decade raising the hopes amongst the ayacut farmers of a good crop at least during the rabi reason after almost eight years of continuous drought.

The Pendekallu reservoir in the Pedda Pappur village, commissioned in 2010 with a capacity to store 0.65 tmcft of water and awaiting any little inflow till now, received 0.45 tmcft of water, of which 0.15 t mcft was released downstream into the Penna river on account of a breach to the reservoir close to its sluice gates.

Meanwhile, the Yogi Vemana reservoir, built on the river Chitravati in Mudigubba mandal with a capacity to hold 0.93 tmcft water and irrigate an ayacut of 12,000 acres, was filled for the first time after 2009. Even the gates of the reservoir were opened completely to release water downstream as the inflows continued to be high for a few days.

Reason

“Contrary to general expectation that the current rains are only a good news, it is also a cause for concern. Besides being an indication of extreme events in tune with the predictions of scientists regarding climate change, there is the immediate threat to the whatever little standing groundnut crop waiting for harvest being adversely affected”, said Y.V. Malla Reddy, noted environmentalist and director of Ecology Centre, an NGO working with farmers.

While stating that the current rains would help the district immensely by resuscitating most borewells by an inevitable and already visible uptick in the groundwater levels and helping fodder growth in common revenue and forest lands, Mr Malla Reddy opined that the need of the hour is for the government to evolve strategies to deal with such extreme natural events and help farmers accordingly.

“The government should enable farmers to sow at the most opportune time in tune with the rain or facilitate second sowing if the first crop fails. A reliable, vastly more improved and localised weather forecast system should be readied for better handling of such events”, Mr Malla Reddy opined.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2020 7:03:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/water-water-everywhere/article19862992.ece

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