Nellore: Somasila project cries for attention

Somasila project
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Somasila project

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The canals on Somasila Project are in a dilapidated state as it has been receiving huge inflows from upper catchment areas and freshly a crest gate of south feeder canal head regulator washed away in floodwaters on Friday

Nellore: The canals on Somasila Project are in a dilapidated state as it has been receiving huge inflows from upper catchment areas and freshly a crest gate of south feeder canal head regulator washed away in floodwaters on Friday.

The Somasila Project was constructed across river Pennar near Somasila village of Anantha Sagaram mandal in the district with a gross storage capacity of 78 TMC feet. River Pennar originates on the slope of Nandi hills in Karnataka and the river basin is fed by several tributaries such as Cheyyeru, Papagni, Chitravathy, Kundu and Sagileru. The foundation stone for the project was laid on June 4, 1975 by the former Chief Minister Jalagam Vengala Rao.

Initially, it was planned to stabilise 4.05 lakh acres of wet ayacut besides creating an irrigation potential of 1.79 lakh acres new ayacut to the total of 5.84 lakh acres transmitting 15 TMC feet of Krishna water received through Pothireddypadu Head Regulator to Kandaleru Reservoir for meeting the Chennai drinking water needs.

There are 3 lakh acres of lands under Telugu Ganga Project in Nellore and Chittoor districts where water has to be supplied for irrigation purpose. It was also initially planned to divert 5 TMC feet water from Pennar flood through High level Canal for Lift Irrigation Scheme to provide irrigation and drinking water facilities to the drought prone areas of Udayagiri and Atmakur constituencies.

The project is supplying 1.7 tmc feet of drinking water to various municipalities in Nellore such as 1.3 tmc feet water to Nellore, 0.3 tmc feet to Kavali and 0.1 tmc feet to Atmakur. The volume has been increasing due to spike in population year by year.

In 2015, flashfloods hit the district due to torrential rains for 20 days and the Somasila dam also faced trouble to manage gushing waters from Kapada and other regions. Similar situation prevailed in 2020 in which officials released more than 5 lakh cusecs of water for protecting the dam system. Opposition and left parties criticising that failure of the project management led to abrupt discharge of water from the project inundated huge areas. Now, in 2021, the same old story repeated, and the intensity had increased significantly in Kadapa district leading to disastrous situation in managing huge floods that finally impacted Somasila. Officials who decided to protect the huge water body released more than 5 lakh cusecs of water and 1.5 to 2 lakh cusecs of water added enroute giving nightmarish experience to low-lying villages and habitations.

Freshly, the damaged head regulator of South Feeder failed to manage water where a gate was washed away in floods affecting more than 40,000-acre farmlands. In fact, capacity of canal is only 350 cusecs of water and the gates have been giving troubles to staffers as and when they try to lift due to rust. The canal takes off at 2.58 km of SKFF Canal which starts from right side head regulator of Somasila dam, and its length is 74.725 kms. The excavation and construction of structures is completed except in forest reaches. The ayacut, so far, developed is 35,500 acres against the contemplated ayacut of 41, 000 acres, according to officials. B Venkata Ramana Reddy, SE of Somasila Project, informed that they were taking all measures to protect the gates making temporary arrangements.

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