Telangana might say no to Polavaram

The mega irrigation project will irrigate coastal Andhra but submerge vast areas in Telengana

By M Suchitra
Published: Wednesday 31 July 2013

Up to August 2011, Andhra Pradesh had spent Rs 4,144 crore and acquired 26,674 ha for the Polavaram project (Photo by Richard Mahapatra) While requesting the Centre to initiate steps in accordance with the Constitution of India to form a separate state of Telangana, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the policy making body of the Congress, has urged the Centre to declare Indira Sagar Polavaram Irrigation Project a national project.

The Rs 16,010 crore Polavaram project on the Godavari river is expected to irrigate 721,000 acres (about 300,000 hectares) in East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Visakhapatnam districts, all in coastal Andhra Pradesh, whereas vast areas of Telangana are likely to be submerged. Of the 289 villages that would be submerged by the project, 205 are in Khammam district of Telangana, 72 in East and West Godavari districts of coastal Andhra, eight in Chhattisgarh and four in Odisha. The project will displace 177,275 people. Of them, 60,770 people belong to adivasi communities from Khammam. The project will utilise 273.01 thounsand million cubic feet or TMC of water (1 TMC equals 28.3 billion litres) from the Godavari. Under the Polavaram project, there is a river linking scheme in which 80 TMC of water from the Godavari will be diverted to the Krishna and 23.44 TMC to the industries in Visakhapatnam, another coastal Andhra district.

“Telangana farmers will not benefit from this project,” says S Malla Reddy, state president of All India Kisan Sabha. Pro-Telangana activists have been strongly opposing the project. The proposed height of the dam is 150 feet (45m). “If it is reduced to 100 feet (30m), only four villages will submerge,” he points out. But the Andhra Pradesh government was not ready to bend. Instead, it has been trying to get it declared as a national project to secure funds from the Centre.

Analysts say after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, submergence in Khammam will become an inter-state issue and Telengana might oppose the Polavaram project. According to the inter-state agreement signed on April 2, 1989, between the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh) and Odisha and as per the final order of the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal Award of 1980, Odisha and Chhattisgarh can opt either for protective embankments built by Andhra Pradesh with adequate drainage arrangements or compensation from the Andhra Pradesh government for submergence in their territory. Both the states have refused to accept these options. Chhattisgarh and Odisha have already gone to the Supreme Court against the project and the matter is pending in the court.

The project is also held up in legal battles regarding award of tenders. The cost of the project has escalated from Rs 10,151 crore in 2007 to Rs 16,010 crore in 2010. Up to August 2011, Andhra Pradesh had spent Rs 4,144 crore and acquired 26,674 ha.

EIA for Ramapada Sagar (Polavaram) Irrigation Project using the model of RS and GIS

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