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The Pulichintala debate

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The Pulichintala debate

Postby Kallu mama » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:44 pm

The Pulichintala debate
Pulichintala, the ambitious project of the Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government, is a long-cherished dream of farmers in the Krishna delta region. The Pulichintala dam, 1,290 metres long and 42 metres high, is proposed to be built with an estimated cost of Rs 566 crore across the river Krishna at Pulichintala village in Guntur district and Nemalipuri village on other side of the river in Nalgonda district.

Renamed after the legendary irrigation engineer Dr K L Rao, the project is aimed at providing irrigation for 12.5 lakh acres in Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts. The efforts of the Congress government to speed up the project has fuelled regional passions with Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhar Rao warning of bloodbath if the project was to be realized.

Envisaged by TDP founder and former chief minister late N T Rama Rao, the project was caught in a politico-legal quagmire. For several decades, the project has been hanging fire with political parties sharply divided over its utility.

The Krishna delta, downstream of Nagarjunasagar, is the hardest hit in drought years and difficult times, as there is no balancing reservoir between Nagarjunasagar and the Prakasam barrage here to store water for irrigating the delta. Interestingly, though no inter-state problem is involved in taking up the project, it has turned into an intra-state problem. The proponents of Telangana contend that the project is detrimental to the interests of Telangana region while leaders from coastal Andhra say it is far from true. They refute the claims of the TRS that Pulichintala would help Krishna delta raise three crops while Telangana was denied water even for one crop.

The leaders from coastal Andhra say there is no possibility to raise the third crop in Krishna delta nor the project provides water even for one acre more than the existing 12.5 lakh acres. It would only help advance transplantation in the delta and save the crop from cyclones and improve the yields. Further, they argue that water used to be released to Krishna delta by May-end to enable the farmers to take up nurseries before. But after completion of Nagarjunasagar, water is released late so much that farmers could not complete transplantation even by August-end. The late transplanted crop becomes vulnerable to cyclones. After completion of Alamatti and other projects across the Krishna upstream, the prospects of Krishna delta getting water for first crop itself turned bleak.

So it was in this background that farmers raised the demand for Pulichintala at least to save 40 tmcft water going waste into the sea during April and May and take up nurseries early. The project would thus help stabilise the delta. It would also help generate 60 MW of power. Considering its usefulness, Krishna delta farmers agreed to contribute one bag of paddy per acre for six years to meet 50 per cent of the cost. Water thus saved can be released to Nagarjunasagar ayacut benefiting Telangana region and for Telugu Ganga ayacut benefiting Rayalaseema region also. Leaders from Rayalaseema contend that the region never got its due as per the gentleman agreement during the state formation in the allocation of Krishna waters. While people from coastal Andhra argue that the region did not get any irrigation project except Nagarjunasagar. All the projects like Telugu Ganga, Pulichintala, Velugodu, Polavaram have been languishing for want of funds or clearances.

Telangana Gets Lion’s Share

Of the total allocation of Rs 10,190.5 crores in the state budget, the Congress government accorded lion's share of Rs 4,674.5 crores for the major and medium irrigation sector in Telangana region. While Rs 4,225 crores has been allocated for major irrigation priority projects in Telangana, Rs 2,747 crores and Rs 2,545 crores for projects in Andhra and Rayalaseema, respectively.

Telangana region also received a major share of Rs. 499.50 crores for medium irrigation projects as against Rs 209 crores (Andhra) and Rs 15 crores (Rayalaseema). Among the projects in Telangana, the highest allocation of Rs 1,700 crores was made for the Godavari Water Utilisation Authority for taking up projects on Godavari river, including the J Chokka Rao Godavari Lift Irrigation Scheme (Devadula project) with an estimated Rs 1,012 crores.

A sum of Rs. 675 crores was earmarked for the Kalwakurthy lift irrigation scheme, Rs. 500 crores for the SRSP Flood Flow Canal, Rs. 475 crores for Bheema, Rs. 400 crores (SLBC) and Rs. 275 crores for Nettampadu and Rs. 200 crores for SRSP-II. In the Andhra region, Rs 1,000 crores was allocated for the Indirasagar project (Polavaram), Rs 475 crores for Pula Subbiah Veligonda project and Rs 300 crores for Pulichintala. The maximum allocation was made for Handri-Neeva Sujala Sravanti (Rs 975 crores) in Rayalaseema, followed by Galeru Nagari Sujala Sravanti (Rs 675 crores), Telugu Ganga (Rs 475 crores) and SRBC (Rs 200 crores).

What does the project do?

The Pulichintala project impounds about 46 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water and directly benefits about 12 lakh acres of land in Guntur and Krishna districts resulting in an additional yield of three quintals of paddy per acre per year. The project generates 60 mw of electricity which will benefit Nalgonda and Guntur districts.

The project, which is a balancing reservoir with a capacity of 46 tmcft, does not have its own ayacut, but strengthens the ayacut under the Prakasam barrage. The project does not have distributary canals. If Pulichintala project becomes a reality, the ayacut under Prakasam barrage need not depend on release of water from Nagarjuna Sagar during nursery and transplantation of paddy periods. The project will augment water in the Prakasam barrage reservoir.

The surplus water impounded in the Pulichintala reservoir will be released to the Prakasam barrage reservoir. If the project is completed, an additional yield of 6.74 quintals per hectare is expected to be achieved due to early transplantation of paddy crop with the monetary benefit estimated at Rs 113.60 crore every year.

The other benefits of the project include: generation of 60 mw of hydro-electric power, increase in ground water levels in Guntur and Nalgonda districts and development of pisi-culture. Besides, an annual income of Rs 84 crore is also expected to be generated by growing 28 lakh coconut trees on the bunds of the nursery tanks and Rs 80 crore by generating an additional yield of 40,000 tonnes of pulses every year.

The project would help peasants take up paddy cultivation in time in June and stabilise the existing 13.50 lakh acres in the Krishna delta region, which had been facing acute shortage of water eversince the upper riparian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra constructed projects to fully utilise the allocations made by the Bachawat tribunal.

Even as heated debates on the feasibility and utility of the project continue, the Congress government is determined to ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated time.
Kallu mama
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