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NO where in the history has there been any such massive irrigation infrastructure program for promoting agriculture anywhere in the world as the JALAYAGNAM of Andhra Pradesh.

The program envisaged by the Chief Minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy as his humble tribute to the farmer, the bread earner to the nation is aimed at providing assured water to bring 100,00,000 (one crore) acres additionally under cultivation in the state with a total investment of Rs.1,00, 454 crore by 2012.

“The roadmap of the project is to bring 36 lakh acres into cultivation by end of 2009 when the first term of Chief Minister Dr Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy ends’, says the state irrigation minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah, the key architect in implementing the massive irrigation infrastructure program in the state since 2004.

The floods of 2006 in the Godavari and its subsidiaries – Sabari and Pranahita and Penna resulted in overflowing of 4746 TMC of water into the sea as drain water (surplus waste) is yet another eye opener to the architects of development in the State.

The Jalayagnam has been the flagship program of the Chief Minister who was convinced that the farmers would perform miracles and wonders if they were provided a level playing field with sufficient water to their fields and also cheap power for their motors.

 In his budget speech of February 16th last the State Finance Minister Sri K.Rosaiah declared that by December, 2007 a new ayacut of 14.25 lakh acres were created in the state as a result of the  JALAYAGNAM .

Sri. Rosaiah told  a spell bound  Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly  that by March 2009, 27 irrigation projects  would be completed  creating an additional irrigation potential to an extent of  16.18 lakh acres besides providing stabilization to 16.66 lakh acres thus   providing  potential of  30.43 lakh acres.

To achieve that objective a sum of Rs. 16,500 crore has been allocated in the  current budget of 2008-09  as against an provision of Rs.13,002 crore  in the previous year recording  an  27 percent  hike in the  allocations.

In response to  the  representations of the  lack of  development activities in the Telangana area the  state government conceived yet another  mega irrigation project for the region   at a cost of Rs.17,875 crore to irrigate 12.20 lakha acres in the Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, Nalgionda and Rangareddy districts.

The project  - Pranahita-Chevella  plans to divert  160 TMC of  Water from the Godavari river to benefit the parched lands of  the Telengana for which  the government  has allocated a handsome amount of Rs.200 crore in the first year itself to  promote speedy works.

In addition to that the AP government has taken up a massive modernization program of Nagarjunasagar project with a massive outlay of Rs.4444 crore with World Bank assistance to bring an additional 4.03  lakh acres  spread over five years.

A sum of Rs.1044 crore has also been provided in the  current budget to take up works on renovation of  3000 minor irrigation tanks spread over 21 districts  to bring another additional  6.25 lakh acres  under  irrigation  under the AP Community Based Tank Management Project  with  World Bank and GOI assistance.

Praising the JALAYAGNAM program the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh put it “the AP Chief Minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy is creating history of sorts by walking in the foot steps of Sir Arthur Cotton, who 150 years ago rewrote the development agenda of the Godavari Delta Region”.

The desire to take up unparallel project came only after the chief minister personally witnessed the dichotomy in the agricultural scene in the state during his 1500 km long padayatra in the State.  Secondly as a farmer himself, he understood the high cost of water (through bore-wells) which depended on the vagaries of nature (rains, underground water resources) and also the provision of power supplies in villages.

It is estimated that only 42 percent of the gross sown area of 139.9 lakh acres received irrigation water at present as against a cultivable land of 408.94 lakh acres.  The total investment on irrigation since the formation of the state is just Rs.1,31,830 million till 2004.  Thus over 50 per cent of the cultivated area is rain fed and 30 percent of the state is facing water stress.

Although Andhra Pradesh had dependable water yield of 2764 TMC of water from all the 40 basins, as of now only 1765 TMC of river water was put to use in agriculture and for meeting the drinking water needs of the people in more than 20 districts of the state.  There were 34 major and minor rivers in the State.  The total ayacut  66.77 lakh acres  comprising of  11 major,  45 medium and  12,351 minor  irrigation works in the state.

Out of the potential surface water resources of 78 bcms in the State, the present utilization is only 50 bcm.  Of the 79,953 irrigation tanks in the state almost 29,187 tanks (36 percent of total) are not in use.  448 of them have been abandoned.

The break up from river sources is 1480 TMC from Godavari, 811 from Krishna, 98 TMC from Penna and the rest from two other minor rivers like Vamsadhara and Nagavali.  Only 700 TMC of Godavari water is utilized as against an allotment of 1480 TMC in the river. Further to that an average of 3000 TMC of water went as waste to the sea in the Godavari river every year.

Andhra Pradesh stands at a high pedestal in the irrigation map of India with its rich water resources.  It has already completed 19 projects in major sector and 85 in medium sector.  The present endeavour – JALAYAGNAM – is to complete several long pending and over delayed projects – 62 of them including 39 in major sector, 23 in the medium sector projects.  Internal resources – budgetary allocations, participation from banks and other financial institutions like NABARD, JBIC and World Bank are main sources of investment for these projects.

Initially the AP Government took up the landmark initiative at an estimated cost of Rs.1,00,000 crores to complete 39 major and 23 minor irrigation works to bring 88.82 lakh acres additionally under cultivation besides stabilizing another 22 lakh acres.

Several other minor lift irrigation, irrigation tank bed projects (Indiramma Cheruvu) and micro irrigation program, thus brings about grand objective of irrigating 100,00,000 acres additionally by 2012 at a cost of Rs.1,00,454crore.

The works are progressing on war-footing to bring 36 lakh acres under assured water cultivation by end of 2009 when the Chief Minister Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy completes his first term in office.

All the projects have been awarded on EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contract route to facilitate speedy completion and penalties by the contractors for any delay.

The State Government has successfully brought 11,09,445 acres additionally into cultivation with an investment of Rs.19,009 crores on irrigation sector by the end of 2006-07.

The outcome of the first phase of the project has already been experienced with the provision of irrigation to 12 lakh acres by completing seven irrigation works in record time.

The past TDP regime played around the farmers hopes and aspirations with populist slogans and programs like Neeru-Meeru under which Rs.10,393 crores were spent over a decade and provided water to only 10,59,971 acres.  Thanks to the pro-urban rule of the TDP, the acreage under irrigation nose dived from 18.89 lakhs hectares of 1994 to 11.37 lakh hectares in 2004.

“The fruits of our committed programs have already borne results.  The State Government has successfully provided irrigation facility by commissioning eight irrigation works as of June 2006” the chief minister said.

The prominent projects that were commissioned – Janjhavati and Peddagadda projects in Vizianagaram district, Suddavagu project in Adilabad District, Surampalem project in East Godavari District, Elimineti Madhav Reddy project in Nalgonda, Telugu Ganga project in Kadapa and finally the Pedderu Project in Visakhapatnam.

More recently the state government took up two more projects – Pranahita-Chevella and Dummugudem-Sagar Tailpond projects at a cost of Rs.26,805 crore to provide a total of 325 TMC of additional water to the Telengana region.The Pranahita-Chevella project entailing Rs.18,000 crore aims to irrigate 12.20 lakh acres in six Telangana districts.  While the Dummugudem-Sagar Tailpond project estimated to cost Rs.8930 crore enables diversion of 165 TMC of Godavari water which was flowing wastefully into sea for better use in rain parched Telangana districts.

With the completion of the JALAYAGNAM the area under assured irrigation in Andhra Pradesh will leap to 2,24,15,769 acres as against the existing 1,24,15,769 acres i.e. 1,00,00,000 acres more.

“The State Government has also set new records by investing Rs.784 crores on micro irrigation schemes as against only Rs.354 crore by the past regime.  Without any high profile publicity the government has set an all India record by bringing 3.60 lakh acres under micro irrigation in the last two years ”  he added.

A comparative study shows that while the TDP spent Rs.10,348.29 crore from 1994-2004 on irrigation, the YSR government had spent Rs.19009.89 crore in the last three years only.

Below is a brief account of the region wise irrigation promotion during the Congress (2004-06) and the TDP regimes (1994-2004).

  1. In the coastal Andhra region Rs.5217 crore were spent to bring 3,15,425 acres under cultivation as against Rs.2325.13 crore spent by TDP to irrigate 3,56,396 acres between 1994-2004.
  1. In the Rayalaseema region the congress government spent Rs.4142 crore to give water to 3,17,540 acres as against the TDP record of spending Rs.3510.93 crore to irrigate 5,22,777 acres.
    • In the Telangana region the YSR government has spent Rs.9648 crore and brought 4,76,480 acres under cultivation as against irrigating only 1,80,798 acres at a cost of Rs.4556.83 crore.

    By the end of completion of the mega project of JALAYAGNAM the total acreage under irrigated cultivation in AP will be as follows:

    COASTAL ANDHRA                            92.18 lakh acres
    RAYALASEEMA                                            33.65 lakh acres
    TELANGANA                                     99.30 lakh acres

    The Congress Government has not ignored the lift irrigation and minor irrigation projects in the face of its promotion of mega irrigation projects.

    While the past TDP Government spent Rs.354 crore and brought 4.67 lakh acres under lift irrigation over past one decade, the Congress government spent Rs.406 crore and brought 97,000 acres under 140 lift irrigation schemes.

    Under minor irrigation the AP Government has envisaged a program to protect 77,931 minor irrigation works (irrigation tanks etc.) covering 42,49,138 acres.  Besides a PM’s package of Rs.2231 crore in drought ridden districts under NREGS, State Government also planned to spend Rs.876 crore in 2007-08 alone on minor irrigation.

    Under a unique scheme to repair and maintain irrigation tanks – Indiramma Cheruvu Program – nearly 11,445 irrigation tanks were taken up under NREGS in the current year.  Of the remaining 11,742 irrigation tanks, repairs and desilting of 10,000 tanks are taken up by the Panchayat Raj and other local body administration.

    Conclusion:  The brisk construction activity of irrigation infrastructure in rural Andhra Pradesh has sent shivers in the political parties over their future in the State.  More particularly the opposition TDP had finally realized the futility of opposing and placing hurdles in the path of JALAYAGNAM.  Even the much contested and delayed construction of Polavaram project is finally seeing the light after the State Government efforts to get majority of the approvals and sanctions for taking up the works.

    The delay in both the Icchampally and the Polavaram projects is not due to opposition parties creating problems but due to the huge nature of the project demanding expertise in rehabilitation, relief and alternative resources.  Both the projects planned on Godavari river provided for submergence of 0.37 million acres (3.7 lakh acres) of which 74,310 acres were in the forest area of Papikonda, displacing two lakh  tribals from about 480 villages.

    To enforce discipline in optimum utility of water and effective management of the command areas, the Congress government amended the Andhra Pradesh Farmers Management of Irrigation Systems Act (APFMIS),1997 which provided of taken over of the management of the irrigation systems by the Water Users Associations.

    The congress government made the concept of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) more user- friendly and equitable by amending the Act to ensure that the Water User Associations should act as SHGs and not as political platforms.