Hyderabad: After a severe drought, what led to the massive scale of floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh? Blame it on the rain, you could say. Irrigation officials say these are possibly the worst floods in this area in 10,000 years. But what caused this disaster? Could it have been better managed?
Kurnool, Mahbubnagar, Krishna and Guntur are the worst affected districts. Overall, at least 18 lakh people in nearly 400 villages of Andhra Pradesh have been affected by the floods. 180 villages in Kurnool, 89 in Mahbubnagar, 100 in Guntur and 22 in Nalgonda are in bad shape due to the flood waters.
Five hundred fifty five army men, 6 choppers, 1000 swimmers and 254 boats are involved in the relief work.
Unprecedented rains in North Karnataka on Thursday flooded several districts, cutting off areas like Bijapur, Bagalkot and Bellary. Karwar for instance got 50 cm of rain in a single day, locals called it the heaviest downpour in 50 years.
The waters inundated the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers and the Karnataka government released upto 8 lakh cusecs of water from the Almatti and Narayanpur dams, in a single day.
From the last week of September, Andhra Pradesh was experiencing heavy rains, some areas got over 30 cm in a single day. This brought heavy inflows into major projects in Krishna Basin like Jurala, Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar, Prakasam Barrage and Sunkesula.
Early on Friday, reports started coming in of water levels rising dangerously in the border town of Mantralayam in Andhra Pradesh.
By evening, the water level had crossed the danger mark in Srisailam dam... in a single day on Friday, the reservoir had received over 25 lakh cusecs of water in 12 hours, whereas it is designed to get no more than 13.6 lakh cusecs.
On Saturday, the maximum water limit was crossed in Srisailam, Jurala and Sunkesula projects causing inundation in many villages in the backwaters. Kurnool town and several villages in Kurnool, Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts were flooded.
From the Srisailam dam, the waters were flowing into Nagarjunasagar dam... and on Sunday morning, 10.85 lakh cusecs were released to keep the masonry dam safe.
The waters that reached Prakasam Barrage in the coastal Krishna district on Monday have submerged hundreds of villages. Prakasam Barrage has never received such huge amounts of water in the last 100 years.
Critics point out that the Andhra Pradesh government could have better anticipated and prepared for systematic release of waters from the Sukeshu, Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams before matters got really out of hand.
The Andhra Pradesh government however points out that it is the first time in history that the scale of floods has been so massive.
"This is known as PMF or possible maximum flood, which happens once in 10,000 years," said Geetha Reddy, AP Information Minister.
The Met department has said there is likely to be a letup in rains and Karnataka has said they will release minimum waters. So, the waters in the major dams may be safely regulated.