VIJAYAWADA: That nothing moves in Andhra Pradesh has been proved right once again. The long-pending demand for construction of a regulator on Upputeru to save aqua farms during adverse seasonal conditions and prevent rebound of saline water into Kolleru Lake has been voiced once again on Wednesday at the fisheries stake holders’ meeting called by fisheries commissioner Rama Shankar Naik at the Sub-collector’s Office here.
The aqua farmers had been seeking an answer to their problems that arise out of the 60-km meandering river called Upputeru, which begins from the fifth contour of the lake and joins the Bay of Bengal. It drains out water that reaches the Kolleru Lake from various streams. Kolleru, the largest fresh water lake in the state, is in an area of 30,855 hectares in alluvial plains between Godavari and Krishna rivers.
AP Fish Farmers’ Association president Sitarama Raju urged the commissioner to take steps to end the problem, which they had been facing for decades. Though, farmers had been seeking some kind of mechanism to regulate water flow in Upputeru, since 1980s, nothing had been done so far, he said.
In 2009, a team of irrigation experts comprising M Panduranga Rao and PARK Raju, after studying Upputeru and the aqua farmers and agriculture holdings in the lake, suggested construction of a regulator at Padatataka.
The team felt that the regulator would serve three purposes: allowing excess water to go and join the sea whenever there are huge inflows into the lake, impound water for use by aqua industry when there are no inflows and prevent rebound of sea water into the Kolleru system, which happens during adverse conditions, leading to salination that could be a real threat to agriculture and aquaculture.
After listening to the farmers, who represented the need for regulator, the fisheries commissioner said that he would send a proposal to the government. With the help of satellite imaging, it came to the government’s notice that 17,000 hectares of land fit for aquaculture were lying fallow and that efforts would be made to help farmers to put them to use, he added.
The ryots also sought irrigation facility for their aqua farms, uniform power tariff, issues relating to VAT, marketing facility for the aqua products, good roads, aqua-research centres and reduction in the rate of interest on loans to aqua farms from 14 to eight per cent.