In South India, some need water, many lost to floods
Half of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka suffered from less rainfall; in nearby Kerala, around 10 lakh people lost their home due to excess water.Updated: Aug 28, 2018 08:03 IST
S Chellappan, 68, faces losses for the third year in a row for the want of water to irrigate his two-acre farm at Nagudi in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukkottai district.
Pudukkottai is not alone. Out of the 95 districts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, around half (47) have received deficient rainfall. In contrast, excess rainfall has caused the worst floods in Kerala, a few hundred kilometres away, in nearly 100 years. Over 300 people have been killed while around 10 lakh people have been displaced.
“It is always a battle to receive water from the Grand Anicut canal as we are at the tail-end. Most people in the village gave up on Kuruvai (short-term) cultivation in the June as a result. We were hopeful about Samba (rice cultivation that happens from August) this time as there was a good rainfall in Coorg, where the Cauvery River originates. However, our expectations have not been realised,” said Chellappan.
At least 1.3 million acres of agricultural land in eastern Tamil Nadu continues to be parched with no supply of water even as the rivers have been in spate and dams full in the state. Experts blame the failure of infrastructure in ensuring better utilisation of water for it.
Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association secretary Mannargudi S Ranganathan said the government has failed to remove silt from canals and strengthen the river banks since 2008. “It (the government) has also failed to maintain dams. This is the reason we are facing the issue now,” Ranganathan said.
The public works department (PWD) had sent a proposal to both the Centre and the state government to strengthen and restructure the Anicut Canal, which provides water to Chellappan’s village, at an estimated cost of Rs 2,264 crore. But the work could not start because the state has not sanctioned the initial funds even though the Centre accepted the proposal, a PWD official said requesting anonymity.
Tamil Nadu food minister R Kamaraj claimed the de-silting works were executed properly and accused the opposition of levelling allegations without evidence.
In neighbouring Karnataka, the southern, coastal and hilly regions have received good rainfall. But the northern region has not had much rain. This has resulted in lower sowing in the Kharif season.
Raichur has recorded 51% deficit rainfall. The northern Karnataka, on the whole, has seen a 27% deficit rain. In southern Karnataka, Kodagu district recorded very heavy rainfall that resulted in landslides and death of 17 people.
Raichur joint director (agriculture) Chetana Patil said so far sowing has happened only on 53% of the 3,55,000 hectares in the district. “Even if the rains pick up in the next month, as the monsoon stretches till September, it will be too late for the farmers here.” She said the sowing can reach maximum of 60% of the targeted area by September end.
Veeresh, a Raichur farmer, blamed the government’s failure in removing silt from Tungabhadra Dam and completing the upper Krishna project for the situation. He said Raichur is located between the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers.
He said it should ideally have not faced such a situation especially when both rivers had seen good inflows because of heavy rainfall in the hilly regions of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
“If silt is removed from the Tungabhadra dam, an additional 32 tmcft of water will become available. But this was never done. The apathy of the administration and the political class as a whole is completely responsible for this pathetic condition of the people here,” said farmer Maruthi Manpade.
In Andhra Pradesh, six of the 13 districts are facing a drought-like situation. Four Rayalaseema districts (Kadapa, Chittoor, Anantapur and Kurnool), and two south coastal districts (Prakasam and Nellore) are among the worst hit.
As many as 120 mandals in Srikakulam, East and West Godavari districts have faced flooding because of excess rainfall. Crops worth Rs 600 crore have been lost because of the flooding.
First Published: Aug 28, 2018 08:02 IST