VIJAYAWADA: Is the prestigious Godavari-Penna Rivers Interlinking Project taken up by the Chandrababu Naidu government, foolhardy? Irrigation experts question when there is not enough water, how is the project going to sustain? They also ask how will the government mobilise the required funds for the project since it claims from rooftops that the State is in a financial crisis.
On the other hand, the Chief Minister N Chndrababu Naidu’s detractors say the project is a scheme to gobble up valuable land and fatten the pockets of the contractors.
“Godavari water brought from Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme to Krishna river was not sufficient to cater to the needs of Krishna delta. So much so the officials were forced to draw water from Pulichintala and Nagarjuna Sagar project for the Kharif season. However, it too proved to be insufficient. Under such circumstances, from where are the officials proposed to bring water for the first phase of Godavari-Penna link project? From where are the 7,000 cusecs of water to be drawn? Would it be at the cost of Krishna delta?” questioned Y Nagendranath, a top irrigation expert in the State.
He said the design of the existing Polavaram Right Main Canal (PRMC) is in such a way that discharge rate at the point where Godavari water joins Krishna is 11,165 cusecs. “The water drawn from the Godavari river needs to cater to the ayacut under Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation (8,000 cusecs), Krishna delta (12,000 cusecs) and now another 7,000 cusecs for NSP right canal. Whom to give and whom to deny?” According to him, the PMRC capacity has to be improved to at least 25,000 cusecs discharge rate at the merging point of the Krishna river itself to cater for all those three places. “But, would it be possible? It has taken years and several crores for the present PRMC and even then there are some issues that need to be taken care of. Another irrigation expert on the condition of anonymity said there would be objections raised by the upper riparian States. Moreover, one also needs to consider the holding capacity at Prakasam Barrage, which is not more than 3 TMC. If the discharge rate is increased up to 25,000 cusecs, will it hold, he asked. “The increase in capacity of PRMC to 25,000 cusecs is only when we take the first phase and it could increase when the later phase of Godavari-Penna project are taken into consideration,” he said.
MVS Nagireddy, former member of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and farmer wing president of YSRC party, wondered why the TDP government was acting against the interests of the State. “There is an assured water of 130 TMC for the ayacut under Nagarjuna Sagar Right Canal in Guntur and Prakasam district. Instead of fighting for the rights of the ayacut, the government is now bringing water from the Godavari to this ayacut by spending a fortune. But, the question is Godavari water will be brought to NSP right canal ayacut at what cost? ” he questioned.
He explained that as per Bachawat Tribunal Award, out of the 80 TMC of water drawn from Polavaram Project for Krishna river, 45 TMC of share will be for Maharashtra and Karnataka and another 19 TMC will go to Telangana. The same ratio would apply for the water drawn from the Godavari over and above 80 TMC. “In a sense, we are giving a readymade excuse to upper riparian States to justify their illegal encroachment of our assured water,” he said.
Detractors of the TDP government say that Naidu is known to come up with such grand projects before elections. He did the same with Veligonda project, HNSS, and GNSS. He laid the foundation stones for these projects before elections and even today, they are not complete, they say. They advise the TDP government to strive for legalising the share of river water for Rayalaseema region, as the projects in the region are dependent on surplus water.
On the other hand, Irrigation department officials claim that the first phase of Godavari-Penna rivers interlinking project was designed and construction was taken up after taking everything into consideration. “Though the idea was mooted two years ago, we waited till now to study the technicalities including Bachawat award,” Secretary (Irrigation) Shashibushan Kumar said, during foundation stone laying of the project.
A few pertinent questions
When there is not enough water, how is the project supposed to sustain?
How will the government mobilise funds for the mega project (`90 crore estimated cost of project)
First phase cost: `6,020 crore at a time when the government claims the State is in a financial crisis
Naidu detractors say the project will only gobble up lands and fatten pockets of contractors