VIJAYAWADA: Irrigation Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao said that realising the importance of water conservation, the government has come up with several programmes to conserve water and enhance surface and groundwater resources in the state through effective management.
Speaking after inaugurating a two-day national seminar on Water Resources Management at the PB Siddhartha Arts and Sciences College in Vijayawada on Thursday, he said as many as 40,000 tanks in the state have been de-silted under the ‘Neeru-Chettu’.
He said the desiltation has enabled the tanks in Chittoor, Anantapur, Kadapa and Nellore districts to store more water during the recent rains. Due to this, for the first time in six decades, over 10.5 lakh acres in Nellore district could be irrigated, he said. The minister added that 15,000 crore cubic meters of silt removed from these tanks was used by the farmers in their fields.
Devineni said that due to scanty rainfall in upper riparian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Krishna river now has only 66 TMC of water, last year. “The State Government is exploring alternative measures to address the problem of less water flow from the catchment areas.
Since Polavaram Project would require extensive resources and time for completion, the state Government has taken up Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project to link Godavari river with Krishna river and tap the flood flows going waste into the sea. He maintained that Pattiseema Project is part of Polavaram project and claimed 8.92 TMC of water from Godavari River would be diverted to Krishna downstream of Prakasam Barrage. This would help save standing crop in 8.5 lakh acres in the Krishna delta during Kharif season. He also explained about the government’s initiative of constructing 10 lakh farm ponds for recharging groundwater.
Principal Secretary (Irrigation) Sasi Bhushan Kumar explained about different programmes initiated by the government for effective management of water resources in the district. AP Water Infrastructure Improvement Project director V Venkataramaiah said 59 percent surface water and 37.69 percent groundwater is being used for irrigation purposes and stressed the need for better coordination between the two to ensure optimum benefit.
Irrigation department engineer-in-chief M Venkateswara Rao explained the reasons for less supply of irrigation water. Water Resources engineer-in-chief Ravi Kumar said that interlinking of water becomes very important. Groundwater department deputy director A Varaprasad and others also spoke.
In the technical sessions that followed the inaugural session, water conservationist Bharat Kawade’s speech stood out. He explained how he was able to create awareness among the farmers of Waghad project in Maharashtra in the last 25 years. He said under a volumetric method, project committees, water user committees, distributary committees purchased water needed for irrigation from the government and then decide the price of water per acre. Since it is not free, farmers tend to utilise the water more cautiously. Further, if the water is surplus with the farmer, he can sell the same to his neighbouring farmers.