ANDHRA PRADESH

Acute water scarcity looms over Tirupati

TIRUPATI, MARCH 24. Even before the summer reaches its peak, the mercury has started hovering around 40 degree Celsius in Tirupati and elsewhere, triggering an acute water scarcity in the semi-arid district, which is passing through a sixth consecutive drought year.

With the groundwater table touching rock-bottom, most borewells in the district, especially in the upland northern tracks, have become defunct causing a serious crisis in meeting the drinking water and irrigation needs of its drought-stricken people.

Rampant migration

The situation has become so hopeless that farmers and farm workers continue to leave their villages and households lock stock and barrel in search of livelihood in the nearby urban areas and in the neighbouring cities of Chennai and Bangalore. With fodder too going scarce in the aftermath of the acute drought, reports indicate that the farmers are indulging in distress sale of their cattle.

Reports also said that though the district administration is taking up the Food Assurance Programme to provide succour to the rural people in the drought-hit villages, not many are interested in working as labourers for the reason that the conditions laid down are not down-to-earth and helpful to them.

Despite the fact that some conditions were later relaxed to woo the farm workers back into the scheme, not many are said to be keen on accepting the works as they reportedly feel that they could earn much more and more easily by working as labourers in urban areas.

Tirupati worst hit

Meanwhile, an acute drinking water scarcity looks imminent in Tirupati in the coming months. While the Kalyani reservoir, the main source of drinking water to the town has nearly gone dry, the Kailasagiri reservoir, commissioned a couple of years ago, is said to be having water which could last only till June. The reason is obviously the monsoon failure and no scope to pump water any more from the Kandaleru reservoir in view of its own precarious water level. Sources said that it is already at the dead-storage level.

In Tirupati, even the alternative day supply from the Kailasagiri (Telugu Ganga) reservoir, is expected to be further slashed to a mere 45-minute supply from the present 90 minutes in the absence of any fresh flows from Kandaleru. The situation in the district both in terms of its irrigation and drinking water needs is not likely to improve if the monsoon evades the rain-shadow area this year too. The position is not any encouraging even with regard to the power supply in view of an `unannounced' power cut, both in the urban and rural areas.

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