Telangana approaches Supreme Court to stop work on Polavaram

Environmental clearance given to the project in 2005 is not applicable today, it contends

By Shagun
Published: Thursday 28 March 2019
The Polavaram Project. Photo: Creative Commons
The Polavaram Project. Photo: Creative Commons The Polavaram Project. Photo: Creative Commons

The Telangana government on March 26, 2019, again raised objections to the Indira Sagar Polavaram Irrigation project and has approached the Supreme Court to put the work on hold.

Expressing concern over submergence of land and displacement of people in the state, the Telangana government has appealed to the court to review the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project located in Andhra Pradesh as the clearance was obtained in 2005.

The government’s stand is that the clearance was given according to designs finalised 14 years ago and that the court should consider the safety of people, livestock, and environment of Telangana according to the present status of the project.

The environmental assessment granted by the central government in 2005 had considered 36 lakh cusecs as maximum flood discharge. However, the current estimates of the maximum flood discharge stand at 50 lakh cusecs, due to changed dam design parameters.

The K C Rao government, which had earlier given consent to the project when the state was being bifurcated from Andhra Pradesh, wants the impact of probable flooding to be assessed before a fresh clearance is granted.

The project on the Godavari river is expected to irrigate 7,21,000 acres (about 3,00,000 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.

The government contends that if the flood discharge is 35 lakh cusecs, the villages to be submerged in Telangana will be around 100. However, with 50 lakh cusecs, the number of such displaced villages could increase to over 250.

While the project had the support of most political parties, the groups fighting for the separate state were opposed to the project even before bifurcation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh. Khammam district, which is likely to be most affected by the project, became a part of Telangana post bifurcation. The district has around 205 villages which are likely to be submerged, resulting in subsequent displacement of people, along with villages in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Earlier, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the project until “pending issues” are resolved. He had said that if it is allowed without the resolution of pending issues, it will cause permanent injury to the people of Odisha and may lead to significant submergence in the state along with Telangana.

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