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AP, Karnataka join hands in Rajolibanda Scheme

By Our Special Correspondent

Hyderabad June 28. The Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka Governments, which are battling out on the Paragodu issue, are making a joint effort to undertake repairs to Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme, an inter-State anicut on the Thungabhadra river in Raichur district of Karnataka, to ensure increased inflows to Andhra Pradesh.

By a consensus, Karnataka police have been deployed at the anicut and other vulnerable points in the head-reaches to thwart possible sabotage by farmers of Kurnool district who recently tried to open/break sluice gates to get water for their crops in Cuddapah and Kurnool districts at the expense of the farmers of Mahabubnagar district. Mahabubnagar ryots, on the other hand, want the gates closed for building up sufficient reservoir level for feeding the RDS canal stretching over 42.6 km in Karnataka and 100.4 km in Andhra Pradesh.

According to sources in the Andhra Pradesh Government, the Collectors of Raichur and Mahabubnagar districts are in regular contact to avert the threat to the sluices. Establishing "excellent coorindation'', they grounded the works identified at the recent joint meeting at Bangalore and for which the AP Government has given Rs 70 lakhs as its share. The works include repairs to the anicut and the structures en route which will arrest seepage, and silt-removal wherever sighted.

The RDS has been a source of sorrow to the Mahabubnagar farmers because it is hardly giving them 8-10- tmcft against their entitlement of 15.9 tmcft. There was a standing dispute earlier that Karnataka was drawing nearly 7-8 tmcft against its quota of 1.2 tmcft, and that its farmers resorted to illegal tapping by installing pumpsets en route. The resultant "poor deliveries'' at the border forced Andhra Pradesh to cut the Mahabubnagar ayacut by 30,000 acres and link the same to the Jurala project. It is alleged that the ayacut in Karnataka, however, has gone up. The K. C. Canal, which gets water from the Sunkesula Barrage connected to the RDS, has an ayacut of 2.26 lakh acres with an allocation of 39.9 tmcft under the award. The canal which has been "modernised'' with lining and leakage-arresting works with assistance from Japan Bank for International Cooperation for avoiding losses, still suffers for want of inflows. The farmers of the project "always thirst for water'' and at several points of time in the past, they had gone to the RDS and caused law and order problems, trying to break the sluice-gates. Both Governments have resolved to discipline the K. C Canal farmers and improve RDS efficiency for realising the intended benefit. The plan drawn up by them includes removal of all unauthorised tapping gadgets. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, meanwhile, added a new dimension to the issue by demanding an all-party meeting, saying the Rayalaseema farmers were doing injustice to their Telangana counterparts -- a clash within Andhra Pradesh.

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