The ferocious Godavari has left the lives of over two million people impeded in six districts of Andhra Pradesh as the flood flow crossed the 25.60 lakh cusecs mark on the night of Saturday, July 16, the highest discharge at Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage in Dowaleswaram after August 2006. On August 7, 2006, the flood discharge in Godavari was 28,50,664 cusecs, the largest after the one recorded on August 16, 1986 (35.06 lakh cusecs). As many as 628 villages, particularly the island villages called lankas, under 62 mandals in various districts were hit by the massive deluge. But a halt in the downpour, particularly in the upper catchment areas of Godavari in Maharashtra and Telangana, has raised hope over the flood receding from Sunday onwards.
Flood flow remained rather steady at 25.93 lakh cusecs in river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh on the morning of Sunday, July 17. The gush seemed to have slowed down going by the discharge at Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage, which increased by just over 33,000 cusecs in the last 11 hours, according to the AP Water Resources Information and Management System data. But the level may rise in the next few hours when the discharge from upstream Bhadrachalam in neighbouring Telangana reaches the Cotton Barrage via Polavaram. State Disaster Management Authority Managing Director BR Ambedkar said the deluge showed signs of decreasing as the flow at Cotton Barrage remained steady. He said about 515 villages in five districts were currently facing the flood fury.
However, people along the Godavari course need to be cautious till the water recedes. We are closely monitoring the situation from the State Emergency Operation Centre here, Ambedkar said in a release. That the flood level at upstream Bhadrachalam in neighbouring Telangana fell by two feet on Saturday came as good news but the discharge at the Cotton Barrage could swell to 28 lakh cusecs before falling down over the next 30-36 hours, officials said on Saturday.
The authorities have so far evacuated 76,775 persons from the affected villages and lodged 71,200 of them in 177 relief camps, according to the State Disaster Management Authority Managing Director BR Ambedkar. Ambedkar, who has been constantly monitoring the situation, said 243 medical camps were organised in the affected villages to prevent the spread of diseases. About 55,000 food packets were also distributed to the displaced people.
Two helicopters of the Indian Navy have been kept ready in Rajamahendravaram to carry out rescue and relief operations whenever required. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy spoke to Collectors of the affected districts and directed them to be on high alert at least for the next 24 hours. Ten teams each of NDRF and SDRF have been engaged in rescue and relief operations. The Chief Minister asked the district Collectors to ensure the distribution of 25 kg rice, one kg each of toor dal, potatoes, onions and edible oil to the flood-hit families. Those sheltered in relief centres should be given Rs 1,000 per head, with a cap of Rs 2,000 per family as aid, he said.
According to preliminary estimates, agricultural crops in 3,173.58 hectares and horticultural crops in 5,928.73 ha have suffered damage because of the deluge. Roads to a length of 1,101.32 km have also been damaged, according to the SDMA. The state government sanctioned additional assistance of Rs 3 crore each to Alluri Sitarama Raju, Eluru and Konaseema districts where the gravity of the flood was high, requiring relief operations on a large scale. The government previously sanctioned Rs 2 crore each to these districts, and also East and West Godavari, for flood relief operations.
Watch: This week on Let Me Explain, Anna Isaac looks at how govts are using multiple FIRs to keep journalists and critics in jail