Nellore: Though it is an emergency situation to take up desilting of irrigation canals before the onset of the monsoons, the irrigation department as well as people’s representatives of YSR Congress are in a dilemma over taking up the works.
While one reason for the quandary is paucity of funds, another is that only water users associations have to execute the works but they are dominated by Telugu Desam men as of now.
Usually water cess, charged at the rate of Rs 200 per acre from the farmers, is utilised for the desilting of canals every year, however, the revenue department has failed to collect the amount this time.
What worries the irrigation department is that the present condition of the canals will not allow proper supply of water to the entire ayacut under the canal because of silt deposits.
In this backdrop, farmers are certain to take both the engineers and the ruling party to task if they face any problem to irrigate standing crops. The fund requirement is to the extent of Rs 89 crore for removing silt in 240 irrigation canals in Nellore Central Division alone.
Farmers have been urging the government to release funds on a war footing and order the execution of the works without any delay.
Sources in the YSRC said that the government was planning to dissolve the existing water users associations to pave the way for YSRC leaders to take up desilting activity in canals.
The irrigation department is also worried over proper supply of water under each sluice as there is severe shortage of staff executing such work known as lascars.
They have advised the government to stop giving permission to excavate the soil from the water bodies free of cost while pointing to the loss of seigniorage fee to the extent of Rs 30 for each cubic meter of soil containing rich minerals.