Legitimise irrigation projects in Rayalaseema, urge activists

Region’s water rights should be protected, they say

Farmers, villagers, and members of several rights groups held a day-long ‘hunger strike’ seeking legitimacy for six ongoing and partially operational irrigation projects on the Krishna as all of them are at the risk of being declared ‘illegal projects’ if permissions are not granted within six months of the Krishna River Management Board turning functional on October 14.

Around 200 people attended the agitation, where they promised to intensify their struggle if the water rights of the region were not protected within the next six months.

Rayalaseema Saguneeti Ramrakshana Sadhana Samithi president Bojja Dasaratharami Reddy, who led the hunger strike, questioned why politiicans who were agitating against the decision of the Centre to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, and demanding the completion of the Polavaram irrigation project, were silent on the issue of the Rayalaseema region’s water rights.

“If these projects are not made a permanent allocation from the original quota of the State through internal adjustments, a day will come when drinking water will have to be carried to Rayalaseema districts from other regions of the State,” Mr. Dasaratharami Reddy said.

“At the time of State reorganisation, then Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, in reply to a question raised by M. Venkaiah Naidu on the six projects, had said in Parliament that all ongoing projects were incorporated as legitimate projects and they were to get 160 tmcft saved through the diversion of Godavari water through Dummugudem Nagarjunasagar Tailpond,” Mr. Dasratharami Reddy said.

The project got stalled and now the Telugu Ganga Project, Mutchumarri Lift Irrigation, Galeru Nagari, and Handri Neeva were sanctioned three decades ago based on surplus water and were partially operational during the State division in 2014, but now as per the latest order issued by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, unless the KRMB provides allocations to these projects, their operation may become illegal and people may not get even drinking water, the leaders said.

Others who participated in the agitation include IMA president Vijaybhaskar Reddy, B.C. Welfare Sangham president B. Naganna, and leaders from various people’s organisations.

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