Hundreds of acres of fertile land lying in the Penna riverbed in Kovur and Buchireddypalem areas is now facing the threat of submersion as the water storage is expected to rise once the new Nellore barrage is completed in a few months.
For decades, these riverbed lands are being used for cultivation of vegetables and crops like groundnut and maize.Though these are government lands, private farmers have been tilling them and many of them have also sold their stakes in these farms to big landlords illegally.These lands are mostly located in the villages of Pothireddypalem, Mudivarthi, Veuguru, Inamadugu and so on. They are popularly known in villages as ‘porlukattalu’, which means that these are formed during the time of floods in the river.
“As they are located almost within the riverbed, the soil is fertile and the farmers get good yields. Because of this, there has been high demand for these lands,” said Ch. Koti Reddy, a leader of the Nellore District Farmers’ Association.It is learnt that though these lands are under illegal occupation for all practical purposes, the farmers are expecting compensation once the lands get submerged.
The officials are estimating the storage of a considerable quantity of water once the Nellore barrage is completed.In the past two decades, the storages here have gradually declined due to silting up of the riverbed and lack of considerable inflows from upstream.A sizeable quantity of vegetables coming to the city market is from these riverbed lands.Considering the importance of these crops, the local leaders and authorities have been providing electricity connections and irrigation facility as required from time to time.