Nagarjunasagar Project modernisation yielding results
Like previous years, there was no bountiful flood to Nagarjunasagar Project (NSP) either during the 2017 monsoon season. Despite this, farmers were able to reap a good harvest this rabi. The near complete modernisation works taken up on the NSP Left Canal and distributary system ensured reach of the project water to its entire command area.
Khammam/Nalgonda: Like previous years, there was no bountiful flood to Nagarjunasagar Project (NSP) either during the 2017 monsoon season. Despite this, farmers were able to reap a good harvest this rabi. The near complete modernisation works taken up on the NSP Left Canal and distributary system ensured reach of the project water to its entire command area.
It may be noted here that work on NSP modernisation, partly funded by the World Bank, began almost a decade ago to restore the dwindling capacity of the canals and to ensure waters to farthest areas of the ayacut by carrying repairs. It was then estimated that canals lost the designed carrying capacity to the extent of 32.5 per cent due to leakages, structural damages, vegetation etc. caused by the wear and tear of canals.
While spending on modernisation work in first six years was Rs 579 crore, it was Rs 1,258 crore since the formation of Telangana State in 2014, according to Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao. Stating that only 33 per cent work was completed during the combined AP, he claimed credit for speeding up the works since the formation of Telangana State in 2014.
While the original command area of the NSP in Telangana is 6.40 lakh acres, it fell to 4.76 lakh acres due to incapacitation of the canals. Now with 98 per cent of the modernisation work is completed, out of the 1.64 lakh acres gap ayacut under the NSP Left Canal, about 1.31 lakh acres was in a position to get water and the remaining would be covered by July this year, according to Irrigation officials.
Since the modernisation of canals, waters released from NSP dam which used to take three days to reach Palair Balancing Reservoir is now taking just about two days. On the other hand, the plans of Irrigation Department for the judicious use of waters through ‘on and off’ (varabandiin local parlance) supply pattern in this rabi has also paid dividends in Zone-1 (Nalgonda district) and Zone-2 (Khammam).
With an improvement in water transmission after the canal modernisation works, utilisation of water was also improved by leaps and bounds benefiting the farmers. According to the irrigation officials, around 5.20 lakh acres were irrigated with 44.78 tmc ft during 2017-18 rabi, with each tmc feet providing irrigation to 11,613 acres. The utilisation was much less during the 2016-17 rabi where each tmc feet of water providing irrigation to 10,639 acres.
The figures of 2013-14 and 2014-15 suggest that each tmc feet of water under the NSP Left Canal irrigated just 6,062 acres and 5,408 acres respectively. “The on and off supply pattern has also helped the farmers to reap a good harvest,” according to the NSP Chief Engineer S Sunil, who detailed paddy returns in both the zones.
Farmers who cultivated paddy in around 3.5 lakh acres this rabi, harvested around 1.30 lakh metric tonnes. The revival of 41 minor lift irrigation schemes under NSP at an estimated cost of Rs 98 crore has also brought around 70,000 acres under cultivation.