HYDERABAD: Though the AP government claims to complete the project within three years from now, it may take quite long. Though it has been conferred national project status, Polavaram has become a saga of neglect and disappointment for people of Andhra Pradesh for more than 20 years now.
For completion of the “jinxed” Polavaram project, several hurdles have to be crossed. “If we considered the present pace of spending by the governments on irrigation projects and the inter-state issues, completion of Polavaram may take quite long,” a senior official in irrigation sector said.
Polavaram is an inter-state project on river Godavari and conceived as per the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award in 1980.
Polavaram is located on river Godavari near Ramayyapet village of Polavaram Mandal of West Godavari district in AP. It is a multipurpose major terminal reservoir project for development of irrigation, hydropower and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The project is intended to provide irrigation to 2.91 lakh hectares and hydropower with installed capacity of 960 MW apart from 23.44 tmc drinking, besides industrial water supply to Vishakhapatnam township and steel plant. The project will also divert 80 tmc waters to river Krishna.
The ultimate irrigation potential of the project is 4.368 lakh ha and annual power generation will be 2369.43 million units. In addition, 540 villages will also be provided with drinking water facilities in the command area
Naidu Welcomes LS Nod
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday welcomed Lok Sabha’s nod for the Polavaram ordinance. Stating that this would facilitate the speedy construction of Polavarm project, which will cater the irrigation needs of both AP and Telangana, Naidu said, “Everything is going as per the Reorganisation Act. I hope the project will be completed at the earliest”.
BJP Bulldozed its Way
Asserting that the passage of the Polavaram ordinance as unconstitutional, TRS MP B Vinod Kumar said that his party would move the Supreme Court for justice.
After protesting against the amendment to the Act in the Lok Sabha, Vinod Kumar told ENS over phone from Delhi that he was in consultation with constitutional experts and that a petition would be filed in the Supreme Court. “In fact, Speaker Sumitra Majahan herself said that members were free to go for legal recourse if they thought the amendment was against the spirit of the Constitution,” Vinod Kumar said.
Taking strong exception to the way the BJP bulldozed its way in amending the Act, Vinod Kumar said that it was unconstitutional because transfer of seven mandals of Khammam district in Telangana to Andhra Pradesh meant change of boundary of a state. “If the Centre wants to change the boundary of a state, it has to be done under under Article 3 of the Constitution - the President has to send the bill to the both Telangana and AP Assemblies for discussion and then it should be tabled in Parliament. But this has not been done,” Vinod Kumar pointed out.
He was also not happy over the House not taking up his statutory resolution which he moved under Article 123(1)(A) of the Constitution before taking up the bill. But both were taken up together to which he objected.
Merger Highly Objectionable
Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao strongly protested against merger of 211 villages from Telangana with AP. The merger of villages, which makes a large number of tribals as oustees, was highly objectionable, Harish Rao said.
He blamed both BJP and TDP for issuing whip during voting on the Polavaam ordinance in LS. Harish Rao said that they were supporting the bandh call given by TJAC. He said the State government would represent to the Ministry of Water Resources for a separate tribunal for Krishna waters. He said that they would go to Delhi on Monday and submit a petition to the Union Water Resources Minister explaining the injustice being done to Telangana in Krishna waters. After a ten-hour long review on irrigation sector conducted by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao at Secretariat on Friday, Harish Rao told reporters that a delegation would go to Delhi this week. Harish Rao said that the Chief Minister would lay foundation stones for Jurala-Pakala and Palamur lift irrigation schemes soon. Harish Rao said that the State government would urge the Karnataka government to expedite the works on RDS works.
Tribals’ Lives at Stake
Expressing dissatisfaction over passing of the ordinance, TRS MP K Kavitha said no proper discussion was allowed on the bill. “There were several speakers waiting for their turn to speak but BJP had its way,” she said and added that the TRS would take legal recourse.
She said livelihood of tribals was at stake and it should not be viewed as a wrangle between two states. “There was mention of 299 villages in the Act itself which would be submerged. Now seven mandals have been transferred from Telangana to Andhra. They are jeopardising the lives of the people in states like Chhattisgarh and Odisha,” she pointed out.
“Had the Prime Minister called a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the four states of AP, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the issue would have been resolved.
But no one had the time or inclination to initiate the process of dialogue,” she said and felt sorry that with pushing the Bill with brute majority, the Centre had sealed the fate 10 lakh tribals who are going to be affected.
She said the way the Act was amended was also unconstitutional. As transferring mandals from one state to another meant changing the boundaries of the two states, the bill seeking to do this should have been discussed in the Assembly of Telangana.
‘What about the Manner of Split?’
Welcoming the Lok Sabha passing amendments to the AP Reorganisation Bill-2014 giving clearance to the merger of seven mandals in Bhadrachalam division of Khammam district, that are likely to be submerged during construction of dam on the Godavari at Polavaram in West Godavari district, with Andhra Pradesh, finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu has said his government will urge the Centre to plug all the loopholes in the Act and do justice to Andhra Pradesh.
Speaking to reporters at the Secretariat here on Friday, he said there were still a few loopholes in the Act which had to be plugged and the state government would approach the Centre soon on the issue. Justifying the adoption of amendments to the Act in the Lok Sabha, he said that it was done as per the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act.
“If someone feels that the amendment was done in a wrong manner, then what about the way the state was divided? From the beginning we were saying that the state was being divided in a wrongful manner and the residuary state of AP have to suffer if the division took place in this way but no one listened to us.”
The minister said AP suffered injustice even in the allotment of MLCs as it got 50 seats instead of 55. “The state suffered such injustice in almost every sector and now that we are trying to correct it, people are raising a hue and cry.”
KCR raking up row
Taking objection to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, AP Irrigation Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao said he was silent when the AP Reorganisation bill was passed in Parliament because at that time his priority was to become the Chief Minister of the newly-created state. “In his hurry to pursue his ambition, KCR did not raise his voice even though Polavaram was part 0f reorganisation bill,” he said. Now that his ambition has been achieved, he is raking up the issue for political benefit, Umamaheswara Rao said. “KCR is pitting people of one state against the other and is now contemplating to organise bandhs, rasta rokos and other forms of agitation which is unbecoming of a leader of his stature,” he said. “Was KCR not aware of the fact that Polavarm would be taken up. Why did he keep silent then and why is he raising a hue and cry now,” Umamaheswara Rao said, speaking to ENS over phone from Vijayawada.
Change design of project
Telangana Congress Legislature Party leader K Jana Reddy has taken strong exception to the way the bill to amend the AP Reorganisation Act, replacing the ordinance on merger of villages in seven mandals in Khammam district of Telangana with the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh was passed in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
Speaking to mediapersons here, Reddy condemned the bill and demanded that the central government change the design of the project to minimise the losses to Telangana. He said the issue should be discussed with the two governments and only then should take a final decision. He also took exception to the unilateral way in which the government had the bill passed in spite of opposition.
RAJOLIBANDA: On the Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme (RDS), which has become a bone of contention between Andhra and Telangana states, the senior Congress leader said that opposing the increase of the height of the barrage was not in the right spirit as the decision had been taken in the united state. Cautioning the leaders of Andhra not to make an issue over RDS, he said that if they adopted confrontational attitude, the consequences would be severe.
“The Karnataka government should complete the project work with police protection. I will speak with the chief minister of that state in this regard,” he said.
DS: Centre Buckled under Pressure
Taking strong exception to the manner in which the Lok Sabha was made to approve the ‘bill in place of ordinance on Polavaram’ to merge the villages in seven mandals in Khammam district with Andhra Pradesh, senior Congress leader D Srinivas has termed it as most undemocratic and unconstitutional.
He wondered how the bill could be passed without discussion and disregarding the objections of three states on whom the project would have an impact. “How can they take such a vital decision without consulting all parties?” he demanded.