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Godavari delta dreads bifurcation of State

Highlights

The farmers of the rice of bowl of Andhra Pradesh are in panic over the possibility of bifurcation of the State. They fear that they would lose major...

  • Water, Hyderabad, main worries of twin Godavari districts
  • T may draw maximum water during drought
  • It may leave excess water during floods, affecting downstream
  • If Hyderabad is lost, education opportunities, jobs will be lost

Samson Raj

Rajahmundry: The farmers of the rice of bowl of Andhra Pradesh are in panic over the possibility of bifurcation of the State. They fear that they would lose major share in water if the State is divided. More than 10 lakh acres of fertile land is being cultivated in the twin Godavari districts and about 40 lakh metric tonnes of paddy are generated from two crops every year in East and West Godavari districts.

Though the agriculture is not profitable, about 2.20 lakh tenant farmers have no other means but to continue cultivation in the East Godavari district alone. Water sharing is a major issue that has gripped them of late. They cast doubts over proper distribution of water to their region as Telangana is situated in the upstream of rivers Godavari and Krishna. Add to their woes the projects in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Almatti dam in Karnataka was originally built for the drinking water purpose but was later transformed into an irrigation project. Babhali project in Maharashtra has also violated all the norms.

A majority of farmers in the district are opining that the people in the upper stream will always draw maximum water and release excess water during heavy floods which will submerge the downstream lands.

A farmer from Chindala Garuvu village of Amalapuram rural mandal in the East Godavari, Matta Mahalakshmi Prabhakar Rao, has made it clear that it will not be possible for the farmers in the East Godavari to go for second crop if the State is bifurcated as Telangana might draw as much as water possible either through projects or through lift irrigation schemes.

He reminded that as it is water is not reaching tail end lands at ground level at present. He made it clear hat there is no future for Andhra Pradesh without Polavaram as advocated by the architect of Godavari delta Sir Arthur Cotton 150 years ago. But, he expressed doubt that Telangana would join the bandwagon of states like Chhattisgarh and Odisha in opposing Polavaram project. He pointed out” I am giving higher education for my two children by working hard against all odds with the hope of them getting good job at Hyderabad and my fear is that my two children might come back to agriculture which is not profitable anymore once again as it is very difficult for them to get a good job at Hyderabad if the state is bifurcated.”

If the stare is bifurcated, is it not possible to prevent confrontations on water sharing? It seems that history is against that possibility even it seems possible on paper. There is an apex body, Central Water and Power Commission to address the grievance in connection with water sharing. But, the experts are opining that it has no teeth resulting in repeated violations like Alamatti and Babli. Irrigation experts are opining that Upper riparian rights and lower riparian rights should be addressed before bifurcation the state and a MoU should be signed.

The irony is that more than 3,000 tmcft of water released into the sea in the last three month whereas 80 tmcft of water is enough to cater the needs of the delta of twin Godavari districts. Water problem might emerge during the Rabi season in Godavari delta as only 500 to 1,000 cusecs water is available in Godavari at normal times whereas at least eight thousand cusecs water is needed. If the Polavaram project is built, it can store 195 tmcs of water.

What will happen to more than two lakh tenant farmers in East Godavari who are engaged in cultivation against all odds? Addala Gopalakrishna, a tenant farmer from Amalapuram, who is also recipient of prestigious National Virtual Academy Fellowship has mentioned that there is no alternative for food and any industry could closed if it incurred losses, but agriculture could not. If the state is bifurcated, he opined that water sharing will be very complicated and the Godavari delta would suffer a lot and made it clear no state in the country is following tribunal’s recommendations on water sharing and it became as easy as violating traffic rule. Higher education in the East Godavari district is the other major aspect which is going to be affected by the bifurcation of the state.

There are 32 engineering colleges in the district and about 10 thousand engineering graduates are coming out of the colleges. If the state is bifurcated and Hyderabad is remained as capital for Telangana, future of thousands of students who are seeking jobs at Hyderabad will be in doldrums. There is no ample scope in the cities like Vizag and Vijayawada for the job seekers, particularly for the students from IT stream. The plight of the girl graduates who are just coming out of the blocks and preparing go to the cities like Hyderabad for jobs will be miserable. Devarapalli Ramakrishna who settled in Rajahmundry after selling his fertile lands in Pamarru of K Gangavaram mandal in the East Godavari for the sake of education of his two daughters is very precarious about the future.

He mentioned that he spent earnings of his whole life on the education of two engineering graduate daughters and they are getting high salaries at Hyderabad. But, now when it seems that bifurcation is inevitable, he made it clear that he has apprehensions over the protection of his daughters as he strongly believe that political leaders will not be able protect the people from Seemandhra. He has observed that the feeling of insecurity is emerging at present as the separation is not taking peacefully and a sense of hatred has emerged. Now, he feels that it is not easy for him get their daughters married as it is not possible to get jobs with good salary outside Hyderabad.

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