Andrapradesh: 8,000 sq-km submerged in a day

Vijaywada, Oct. 6 — The furious river waters sheared for days through farmland and homes, inundating 20 lakh acres every day – Delhi five times over, or 13 cities the size of Mumbai. The Krishna rushed in from the Almatti dam in Karnataka and submerged 8,000 sq-km of land in a day. It now stands at the gates of the British colonial-era Prakasam Barrage in Andhra Pradesh next door, and a breach here could submerge vast swathes in the state’s rice-rich Krishna and Guntur districts.

The Prakasam barrage is a key passageway for the Krishna, which meanders through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on way to the Bay of Bengal. On Tuesday, hundreds jostled here despite restrictions. Nearby, on a hillock, is the Kanaka Durga temple. People here believe that the day the idol is submerged, the entire city of Vijaywada will be washed away. If it does, it would be blamed on tardy cooperation between the two states. Until Saturday night, Andhra Pradesh did not evacuate people from the catchment of the Nagarjunasagar Dam as the Karnataka government assured that no more water would be released from its Srisalam dam. But as floodwaters poured in, gates were opened at Srisalam, worsening the situation.

Flood effect: Krishna river in spate at Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada on Friday. With flood water crossing three-lakh cusecs mark the authorities lifted 35 gates to a height of eight feet and remaining 35 gates to seven feet. – PHOTO: CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR - From THE HINDU

Flood effect: Krishna river in spate at Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada on Friday. With flood water crossing three-lakh cusecs mark the authorities lifted 35 gates to a height of eight feet and remaining 35 gates to seven feet. – PHOTO: CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR - From THE HINDU

“There appeared to be a breakdown of communication between the two neighbouring states,” said a senior official of the National Disaster Management Authoritry (NDMA), speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. But technology might soon make up for government delays. NDMA member NVC Menon said that by 2012, people would be alerted about rising water within minutes of it being tracked by satellites.

Sloth after natural disasters is a annual story in India, a flood prone nation where tackling flooding comes under the states’ domain and New Delhi’s financial assistance since 2007 of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) has shown few results. Then, there is the lack of accountability.

“In the last 60 years, not a single engineer has ever been charged or punished for mismanagement of these dams,” he said.

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Krishna water to come Chennai next week

HYDERABAD/CHENNAI: The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday announced that it would release Krishna water for Chennai from September 15. Water from the Kandaleru reservoir in Nellore district, about 200 km north of Chennai, would be released to the Satyamurti Sagar in Poondi through the Kandaleru-Poondi Canal.

This decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah in Hyderabad. Major Irrigation Minister P. Lakshmaiah said it was taken on the basis of a request from the Tamil Nadu government. His government would meet its commitment in full, but over two or three spells as was done in the previous years.

The Telugu Ganga canal originates from the Srisailam dam and reaches Poondi after covering a distance of 408 km and crossing three major reservoirs, including Kandaleru. The Srisailam reservoir is now nearly full while Kandaleru has a storage of 22 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft).

The announcement has enthused officials of the Tamil Nadu Water Resource Department (WRD) and Chennai Metrowater in view of the declining storage in the reservoirs catering to the city’s needs. On Tuesday, the combined storage was about 2.7 tmcft against the capacity of 11.057 tmcft. On the corresponding day last year, the storage was about 3.9 tmcft. Given the present level of drawal, the storage can last a couple of months.

M. Malleswara Rao and T. Ramakrishnan from THE HINDU