VIJAYAWADA: A day after Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat held the Andhra Pradesh government responsible for the breach of Annamayya project on Cheyyeru leading to widespread devastation and loss of life, State Water Resources Minister P Anil Kumar Yadav said the Union Minister ignored the facts and got carried away by TDP agents, who are now in the BJP.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, Shekhawat said the AP government had failed to assess the situation correctly and take required measures to ensure the safety of the project. “When the project started getting heavy inflows, officials tried to lift all the five gates but one of them did not open leading to the disaster,’’ he said. Internationally, experts are taking this as a ‘case study’ on dam safety. This is not just a matter of concern for the State but also the entire nation, he said.
Condemning the remarks of Shekhawat, Anil Kumar alleged that the Jal Shakti Minister ignored the facts. Recalling the Uttarakhand glacier burst, he said it was a similar incident as floods, where 150 people died. “Can we blame the Centre or the Uttarakhand government for a natural disaster?’’ he questioned, accusing the TDP Rajya Sabha members, who joined the BJP, of misleading the Union minister.
He explained that the Annamayya project received exceptional floods and the abnormal inflows were beyond the capacity of its gates. Even if the fifth gate was opened its outflow capacity was only 40,000 cusecs. He slammed the Opposition for trying to politicise the Annamayya project breach by misleading the public. “In fact, the previous government ignored the proposal of constructing a new spillway of the project and it failed to even repair the damaged gate,’’ Anil Kumar alleged.
He asserted that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy continuously monitored the flood situation and took all the possible measures to minimise the impact, yet the Opposition was slinging mud at the government by picturising it as a man-made disaster. “There was no prior warning of floods. The flood of a such massive scale has never occurred since 1882,’’ he said, adding that the Chief Minister had already sanctioned funds for the construction of a flood bank in Nellore during Nivar cyclone. The flood bank tenders are set to be opened on Dec 6, he said.
Elaborating on the tragic flood, he said the incident was caused due to unprecedented heavy rains in a short span of time, which led to flooding of villages downstream following a breach to the Annamayya project bund. The inflows into the project crossed 3.2 lakh cusecs by Nov 19 against its discharge capacity of only 2.17 lakh cusecs. The total capacity of the project is only 2.2 TMC. Anil Kumar also slammed Opposition Leader N Chandrababu Naidu for politicising floods, asserting that it was a natural calamity and not a man-made disaster.