Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drinking Water Crisis Worsens in Guntur India

With the irrigation department refusing to release water to fill the drinking water tanks in Guntur district, a population of over 40 lakhs is staring at a massive drinking water crisis. Shockingly, district collector V N Vishnu has directed the rural water supply (RWS) wing to supply water by tankers instead of seeking intervention of the state government.

Citing the ongoing works of modernization of delta and ayacut under Nagarjunasagar, the irrigation authorities turned down the pleas of the district administration to supply water. Nearly 235 summer storage tanks under Nagarjunasagar canal, 84 tanks under Krishna western delta and 31 tanks under Guntur channel have almost dried up. "We are clueless on supply of drinking water as all the sources have dried up," said a senior engineer of RWS.

With nearly 300 villages facing serious water crisis, the district administration is getting ready to supply water through tankers to all the villages. "Instead of supplying water till the tank point, we could channel water till some identified point as there is no source even to supply through tankers," said an executive engineer.

While the Sagar project authorities are reluctant to release water as the levels have dipped to new lows, the irrigation officials are holding back the releases citing modernization of delta works. "Though drinking water needs must be given high priority, we cannot release water till July 15," irrigation superintending engineer V S Ramesh Babu told TOI. He said even if they bring the works to a halt, it would take at least 20 days for the water to reach the tanks from the Sagar reservoir.

Sources said the authorities of Sagar project were opposing the release of water from the reservoir as the water levels touched a new low of 511 ft as against the full reservoir level of 590 ft. "There is only 209 tmc of water, which is not a realistic figure if the accumulated silt is taken into account. This water could be used only for emergencies," pointed out a senior official.

Last year, the water level was around 554 ft with a storage capacity of around 305 tmc but the situation turned worse this year as Sagar water was released for crops till March 31 due to immense political pressure. Ramesh Babu said that all the tanks were filled up till March 31 and the levels were sufficient to meet the drinking water needs for at least three months. "With the mercury levels soaring all the time, water in the tanks is drying up fast," said Vijayaprakash, SE, RWS.

Levels in the Srisailam dam went down to 800 ft as against the FRL of 885 ft with just 50 tmc of water storage. The level was at around 809 ft last summer.

The situation turned worse this year as Nagarjunasagar water was released for crops till March 31 due to immense political pressure. 

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