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[Telugu Portal] Andhra:Sayanna Gadda overflows: 2500 acres crop loss

An article by AID-India volunteers was recently published by Telugu Portal. This article, which focuses on the irrigation problems in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, is reproduced here: 


While the Andhra Pradesh government is pursuing large development projects, villagers of Srikakulam district are experiencing government apathy in maintaining existing irrigation systems, in particular the canals.

In Santakavita Mandalam villages, where 2500 acres of farm land got flooded this year, concerned farmers like Dharma Rao of Boradapeta village angrily proclaimed that "their kharif crop was entirely lost because the water took more than 3 weeks to drain as the Sayyana Gadda (canal) was not being maintained. Additionally the farmers are having to engage labour to clear the rotten farm-lands." Public hearings were held by AID-India on Dec 1-3 in Boradapeta, Ramarayipuram, Shalayapeta and Malayapeta villages of Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh to find a solution to this recurring problem these villagers are facing every year.

Sayyana Gadda is a 15 Km long open canal that empties into the Nagavalli river. It was last desilted over 25 years ago around the year 1980 and since then has been covered by bushes and silt. Its mud walls have caved in and solidified reducing its cross sectional area to less than 20% in many places. As a result of inaction of Nagavalli River's irrigation department, the farms adjoining Sayyana Gadda are waterlogged for as many as 3 weeks following a days heavy spell of rains. "If it were desilted and maintained properly the waters would clear in 2-3 days, saving valuable rice fields spanning thousands of acres," said Madan Mohan, retired school teacher from Boradapeta.

As compensation the government gave several Ramarayipuram villagers Rs 70 per acre, while some received Rs 700 per acre. However farmers from villages like Boradapeta and Malayapeta in Manthina Panchayat, which was one of the worst affected by overflowing Sayyana Gadda, got nothing from the government. Rather than dwell on the lack of compensation, they seek a way to get the government to fulfill its responsibility by desilting Sayyana Gadda.

Madduvalasa Reservoir Effect:
The Sayyana Gadda affected villages of Santakavita Mandalam, which ironically is a mandal that is in the command area of Madduvalasa Reservoir, were unanimous in blaming the reservoir for worsening the situation. Srikakulam District has the largest number of traditional water tanks in Andhra Pradesh. The Madduvalasa reservoir waters are now fed to some of these tanks, like the one between the Mandarrada and Chintalapeta villages, thereby causing them to overflow much faster. However there was no plan made for drainage of the additional overflow from the tanks by the Madduvalasa project authorities. As a result the overflowing tank waters find their way to Sayyana Gadda through the lower lying farms! A short sub-canal of Sayyana Gadda in Shalyapeta village is so poorly maintained that it is hard to find it in the fields that are waterlogged even today. In places it is completely encroached by farms and is in fact piece-wise continuous!

AID-India Filing RTI Petition:
The Manthina Panchayat Sarpanch Smt. Thirumala Ramani said that there is a proposal for 1.5 crores to desilt Sayyana Gadda. However the status of the proposal is not known. Assuring that work will be completed before Kharif season of 2007, K. Appal Naidu, Asst. Engineer of Irrigation Dept. in charge of Nagavalli River said that "a proposal for Rs 80 lakhs was going back and forth." However the villagers have lost faith that the government will do anything to a canal that it has not maintained for so many years. Two years ago villagers of Boradapeta did shramdaan to clear the shrubs in their part of the canal but to desilt the canal and repair the mud walls is government's work that requires funds. When they approach the mandal office they were told that there are no funds available. AID-India Srikakulam Chapter coordinator M. Suryanaryana said that he would be filing a petition under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out if the government was planning to desilt Sayyanagadda and the details and status of such a proposal if any, as well as to find out details of compensation given for crop loss in different villages.

Talking about the need to unite on the Sayyana Gadda issue, Ravi Kuchimanchi of Association for India's Development said that leadership needs to evolve from the villages themselves: "Did Saynanna Gadda drown farms of villagers favouring a particular political party or of all parties?" he asked. Cutting across party lines villagers like Thavit Naidu, ex-sarpanch of Malayapeta said they would begin discussions in villages to form a "Sayyana Gadda Mumpudi Gramala Sangham" (Sayyana Canal Flood-Affected Villages' Sangham) to take the issue forward.

-- Aravinda, Dhanada, Suryanarayana and Ravi

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