VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh may suffer losses running to thousands of crores in case farmers fail to get timely water supply to raise crops like paddy, red chillies, horticulture crops and vegetables in command areas falling under Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala irrigation projects. This is imminent as the Telangana state government has started drawing water from the three projects, thereby depleting the water in reservoirs.
From the Nagarjunasagar right main canal (RMC), nearly 110 tmc ft of Krishna river water used to be supplied to its command area located in parts of Guntur and Prakasam districts from the dam.
Agriculture authorities say that red chilli used to be raised in about 74,000 hectares and paddy in 40,000 to 50,000 hectares, along with other crops including irrigated dry crops, in Guntur district. Farmers are getting ready to raise paddy and red chillies in the next 10 days as they have to raise nurseries for 45 days and later take up transplantation during kharif.
In the absence of a workable network of canals and water storage facilities in the district, farmers have to rely on water whenever it gets released. As red chillies are the main crop in the district, the farmers get an average yield of 60 quintals per hectare and a quintal of red chillies fetches them about Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 in the market. Any delay in getting water through Nagarjuna Sagar RMC will affect farmers as they may have to delay raising of crops or go in for raising irrigated dry crops like pulses, which are not lucrative propositions, in comparative terms.
Guntur agriculture joint director M. Vijaya Bharathi said, “Unless farmers get Krishna water for raising crops like paddy and red chillies for kharif season in time, they may delay raising crops and if there is no guarantee of getting water, they may even opt for irrigated dry (ID) crops. This will have a major impact on farm production.”
So is the case in parts of Krishna district too where farmers rely on Krishna water for raising paddy, maize, groundnut, horticulture crops and vegetables. Though some farmers depend on borewells, especially in upland areas, any delay in supply of water will have a cascading effect.
In parts of Prakasam district, paddy, red chillies and pulses are mainly raised and farmers start raising nurseries from July 15 and take up transplantation by mid-August. They expect a huge water supply to raise crops toward the end of August.
Prakasam agriculture joint director S. Srinivasa Rao said “Farmers start raising crops like paddy and red chillies from July 15. When confronted with water problems, they either delay or opt for ID crops.”
In Kurnool, the farmers are more cautious. They raise crops based on availability of water from Srisailam reservoir.
It should be noted that farmers have appealed to both AP and TS governments to resolve the water dispute amicably and ensure supply of water as directed by KRMB.
At the three project areas, a tense atmosphere continues to prevail. A huge posse of police personnel has been deployed by both state governments with TS continuing its power generation by releasing two to three tmc ft of water daily downstream.
Meanwhile, nearly 8,500 cusecs of water is being discharged downstream into the sea from Prakasam barrage, while Pulichintala project is having inflows of 39,359 cusecs of water.