ANDHRA PRADESH

Kodela rules out water release from N. Sagar dead storage

VIJAYAWADA SEPT. 21. The Health Minister, Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, has ruled out the possibility of releasing water from the dead storage of Nagarjunasagar and asked Krishna delta farmers to raise kharif paddy braving the risk.

Speaking to newspersons here today, he however said that the Government is committed to release whatever inflows are received at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar to the Krishna delta on a priority basis. He said that the Government would protect the riparian rights of the Krishna delta, which is the oldest delta, as per international norms. But it all depends on the rainfall in catchment areas in upper reaches and inflows at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar and hence the risk factor. He ruled out the possibility of releasing 80 tmcft of water from dead storage of Nagarjunasagar to Krishna delta as per its entitlement in Bachawat award.

He pointed out that the river sluices have not been operated for the last 30 years at Nagarjunasagar. The river sluices had to be lifted to release water from the dead storage. If the officials failed to lower the sluice gates, it would lead to a catastrophic situation, he said. So the Government needs to evaluate the possibility by experts before taking any decision in this regard. He said that it was a dicey situation for the Government. It can neither ask the farmers to raise the crop and regret later if they do not get adequate water. At the same time, it cannot ask them to restrain from raising the crop and regret if they received good inflows later. So he has been playing all along safely and asking farmers of Guntur district to raise the crop realising the risk involved, he said.

The Government has decided to give top priority to drinking water needs and then to Krishna delta where shallow black cotton soils do not permit cultivation of any crop other than paddy in kharif season. It all depends on rainfall, which is uncertain. The Irrigation Secretary, P.V.R.K. Sarma, has informed the delegation of the Krishna delta protection committee that inflows are normally expected up to December in Krishna river and so expressed confidence of saving the crop. It is unfortunate that the Congress leaders had unnecessarily dragged the official into the controversy. They used him only to call off their indefinite fast, he felt. He appealed to them to spare officials in their water politics. Interestingly, Dr. Sivaprasada Rao struck a different note from that of Agriculture Minister, Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, who during his whirlwind tour of Krishna eastern delta exhorted farmers to transplant the crop even now and promising them to get 80 tmcft of water from Nagarjunasagar at any cost.

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