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VIJAYAWADA: Water released from Nagarjunasagar for the Krishna delta has raised curtains on a new controversy. It not only raised tempers in all the three regions of the state but has spawned a bitter game of one-upmanship among the leaders cutting across all political parties. Initially, leaders from Telangana opposed the move and later their Rayalaseema counterparts joined the chorus against release of Krishna water to the coastal belt. "Crop in 18 lakh acres under the Krishna delta is facing threat following this unnecessary regional divide. It is unfortunate that a leader like BV Raghavulu is also opposing release of water to the delta," fumed Rythu Sangham leader MVS Nagireddy. While TRS leaders Harish Rao and Vinod Kumar kicked up a furore demanding that the government first meets the irrigation needs of Telanga farmers before supplying Nagarjunasagar water to the Krishna delta. But what took everyone by surprise was the action of minister Erasu Pratap Reddy who met the CM on Monday urging him not to draw water from Srisailam reservoir as Rayalaseema farmers would be hit badly. He said that water in Srisailam already reached the dead storage level. Rebutting the charges, Congress MLA Jogi Ramesh said it was ridiculous that ministers had also started playing regional card. "Unfortunately, leaders are widening the gulf among the regions for their selfish political gains. The formation of a delta is a nature's gift as it has the advantage of gravity. In fact, the Krishna delta contributes to the overall growth of economy of the state and not the coastal region alone," reasoned Guntur MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao. The Krishna delta is at the downstream of the river and is the first irrigated region in the state. In fact, Prakasam barrage was the first barrage constructed on Krishna River to regularize the water releases to the delta region. After Prakasam barrage, Nagarjunsagar was constructed 55 years ago. Curiously, Nagarjunasagar although aimed at supplying water to about 45 lakh acres both under the Krishna delta and its ayacut, the delta has been enjoying the first claim over the water only because of its terrain. Since the entire delta is located on the canals and lower reach to the river bed, the fields are inundated very frequently during the monsoon season. While going for early cropping is the only solution to protect crops in the delta region, Nagarjunasagar ayacut would not face such trouble due to its higher terrain. The delta region receives heavy rain during October and November every year which makes seedlings difficult to survive. Hence, the seedlings should be grown to such a level that it could withstand the natural calamities including cyclones. The only way to face such natural calamities is to nurture nurseries to their healthy growth by the end of July and go for cultivation by the first week of August at any cost, experts point out. For that, they should get water early by first week of June. "This cycle has been designed keeping in view the monsoon arrivals and there is no regional bias. Inundation of the fields due to heavy rain under Nagarjunasagar ayacut is rare," Nagamalleshwar Rao, an expert, said. In case, water releases are deferred and delayed further, the farmers might be forced to go for nurseries in late August, which could wash out in the subsequent rains. Strangely, leaders from other regions conveniently forget the fact that Krishna delta gets only around 80 tmc of water from Sagar while the delta has to tap waters from river streams like Munneru, Paleru, Kattaleru and vaira to the tune of about 120 cms of the total 200 tmcs it requires. "The delta could utilize the flood waters from these streams (120 tmcs) only when it is allowed to go for nurseries and seedlings by using the 80 tmc in the first phase," analysed former superintending engineer Sankara Rao. He asked as to how the political parties from Telangana and Rayalaseema are serving the interests of their farmers by opposing the release of water to the delta.

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