HYDERABAD/BAGALORE: The water level in Andhra Pradesh’s three worst-hit districts of Kurnool, Mahbubnagar and Krishna has receded slightly, and power has been partially restored in Old Kurnool.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah will stay at the Secretariat through tonight to personally monitor the situation. “All district collectors have been given full discretionary powers to take decisions in the interest of public welfare,” the Chief Minister said.
The Andhra Pradesh government is now banking on Karnataka’s word that it will not release more than 4.85 lakh cusecs of water per day.
“We have asked them to impound excess flow from the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers, to the last drop of water. They have agreed,” Rosaiah said.
It’s ironic that the first casualty of Karnataka’s excess waters let off into Andhra Pradesh was the National Highway 7 connecting Hyderabad and Bangalore - critical for rescue operations.
Water levels at the Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar and Prakasam dams first touched the danger mark last evening.
But it was 24 hours after the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers overflowed that choppers and boats carrying defence personnel from the Army and Navy started rescue and relief operations. Air force choppers are now dropping food packets and milk to affected areas.
Mahbubnagar and Krishna districts are also totally submerged, while the famous temple town of Mantralayam has been under 10 feet of water for more than a day. Kurnool town remains totally inaccessible, making it tough for rescue operations.
Rescue personnel have already evacuated 1.5 lakh people in Kurnool district, 1.34 lakh people in Mahaboobnagar district, 15,000 people in Krishna district and 5,000 flood victims in Guntur district.
At least 41 villages in the coastal Krishna district have been evacuated. Bus services from Hyderabad to Rayalaseema have been suspended.
More than 100 people from the temple town of Mantralaya have fled their water-logged homes, got on to a train with just the clothes on their backs and landed up at a government school and railway station in Raichur.
“We came here on Wednesday from Mantralya because of the flooding. We have nothing left, and we don’t know when we are going home,” says Narayanamma, one of the refugees.
The Raichur Railway Station is also the dwelling place for hundreds of others whose homes are intact but whose journey on the Rajdhani and Karnataka Express was halted by the rains.
Locals say it hasn’t rained like this in 50 years. More than 1.2 lakh people across Karnataka are currently living in shelters. The state chief minister Y S Yeddyurappa feels the floods should be declared a national disaster. “We want the Centre to give financial assistance of 10,000 crores,” he says.
It may take months for the affected people of north Karnataka to get their lives back together; they hope the process has started. Andhra Pradesh claims that it has been flooded after Northern Karnataka opened the floodgates of its Almatti and Narayanpur dams. These dams were near their holding capacity after torrential rainfall earlier this week.
When water was released from Karnataka’s dams, it caused the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers to overflow. This water has been flowing into Andhra and is putting 3 major dams (Srisailam Dam, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and Prakasam Barrage) under pressure. Of special concern is the Srisailam dam which is designed to generate power and not hold water.
The Tungabhadra and Krishna flow from Karnataka into Andhra Pradesh, passing through Kurnool and Mahbubnagar districts, which are the worst flood-hit areas in the state.
Goa is facing flood fury. Two buses are trapped in flood waters on the Goa-Karnataka border in a place called Kudal, which is about 100 km from Goa.
According to one of the passengers present in the bus, they left from Goa at around 9 pm last evening but the bus was caught in flood.
Among the trapped 150 passengers, 30 are women and 10 are children. There were two buses and water has reached up to the windows, the passenger added.
“Canacona area is badly affected, especially the south Goa and neighbouring Karnataka border. We have not been able to reach at many places,” Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said. “Six hundred houses and around 1,500 people are affected. I’ve written to the Home Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry.”