Nellore: Depleting water levels in Somasila project have been ringing alarm bells in Nellore district. The water reserves dropped to dead storage level of 7.5 tmc.ft as against the full storage capacity of 78 tmc.ft. Moreover another 2.5 tmc of water is required to save the standing crops and there is hardly any scope to raise first crop if the same situation prevails.
In addition to farming community under Pennar delta, citizens of Nellore and Kavali towns are also dependent on Somasila for drinking water. The second summer prevailing in the region is also contributing to the dwindling water reserves by way of evaporation. This is the second time the water levels fallen to dead storage point during last two decades. Only a precarious 2 tmc.ft of water was left in the reservoir as against the dead storage limit of 7.5 tmc. As per the calculations of Irrigation officials, Irrigation Advisory Board had given its nod to supply 22 tmc.ft of water to 1.76 lakh acres for second crop this year when the storage level was 27.322. Their plan was to spare 18 tmc from Somasila and 4 tmc from Kanigiri, Sarveypalli and other reservoirs.
However, their calculations went haywire as farmers raised paddy in an additional extent of 30,000 acres, which is unauthorised and started drawing water from Pennar River and other canals using pumpsets. In this backdrop excess 5 tmc. ft was drawn from Somasila and 2.5 tmc of more has to be released to protect the standing crops. “We used to prevent unauthorised drawing of water from water sources with the help of police, revenue and electricity department officials in the past to ensure water for registered ayacut. But the pro-farmer stance of government and the slogan that no single acre should suffer for want of water has tied our hands from taking any action. Only 60 per cent of the water released from Somasila and other reservoir reaching the fields because of long dry spell in ayacut area and evaporation losses,” a senior official of Irrigation said.
He said they have been banking on good rains in Rayalaseema districts located in the upstream of Pennar River as well as in ayacut area in the coming months besides Krishna water from Pothireddypadu head regulator to overcome the situation. Meanwhile Superintendent Engineer of Somasila P. Subba Rao ruled out any threat for dam safety even if water is drawn from dead storage level because the Somasila project is on sandy soil. He said that they have to be careful about maintaining dead storage level if it is clay soil because it may result in cracks to the dam.