Rayalaseema thirsts for water as Srisailam hits dead storage in Anantapur

Only 22 TMC ft of water is available for use in the reservoir.

ANANTAPUR: If one is lucky enough, it is possible to see the crest gates of the dam open and the water rush through them and fall from a height of 885 feet into the river below at Srisailam reservoir. But the acute shortage of water has made the dam site resemble dry land for the first time in two decades.

Only 22 TMC ft of water is available for use in the reservoir. No water was allocated for irrigation purposes since a year following poor inflows from the upstream areas of Karnataka. The second largest-capacity hydroelectric project in the country and main source of water for the Telugu states, Srisailam witnessed a water level at 784 ft as against its actual level of 885 ft.

Normally, dead storage is reported during the end of May, but this year, this has happened at the end of April itself. The reservoir received only 58 TMC ft of water last year and for the first time in its history. The construction of the dam started in 1960 and took over 20 years to complete. It was opened in 1981.

The reservoir storage level had fallen due to formation of silt. This amounted to a loss of about 50 TMC ft of water in the last three decades, official reports revealed. The authorities have been releasing water downstream ostensibly for drinking water purposes while Rayalaseema faces shortage of sources of both irrigation and drinking water. “Poor allocations hit the needs of the Rayalaseema region and increased after the state’s division,” CPI state secretary K.Ramakrishna observed.

“The rulers had no sympathy towards Rayalaseema or they could have convinced the Krishna Board for additional quotas following the state’s division,” he added. There was only a GO regarding increasing the storage level to 885 ft in 2004 during then Chief Minister Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy’s regime.

Poor rainfall from upstream areas of Karnataka resulted in poor inflows and storage at the Srisailam reservoir since a year, with water being allotted only to meet drinking water needs in the Krishna Delta and Telangana areas. Water towards Rayalaseema through Pothireddypadu Head Regulator can be drawn only if the water level touches 841 ft at the dam. Rayalaseema Parirakshana Samithi founder Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy alleged that the state government had simply diverted water down stream and to Telangana last year.

This has often led to protests, demonstrations and dharnas by the farmers and the public too to get drinking water because of the shortage of water in the region. Handri Neeva Sujalashravanti main irrigation and drinking water project with 40 TMC ft capacity depends on the backwaters of the Srisailam reservoir near Malyal in Nandikotkur mandal. Yet, uncertainty prevails over proper allocations to meet the needs of Rayalaseema.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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