VIJAYAWADA: Holding the increase in height of the Polavaram Project responsible for the floods in Bhadrachalam, Telangana State Transport Minister Puvvadda Ajay Kumar on Tuesday asked the Andhra Pradesh government to hand over five villages of the pilgrimage town to Telangana.
The TRS leader, representing Khammam district, demanded that the five villages that were merged with Andhra Pradesh during bifurcation be returned to Telangana. He said his party MPs will raise the issue in the Parliament and move a bill to merge the five villages near Bhadrachalam with Telangana.
Responding, AP Water Resources Minister Ambati Rambabu, during a press conference in Hyderabad, advised Ajay Kumar “not to create controversies, where they were none.”
Asserting that Polavaram cannot be linked with the floods in Bhadrachalam, Ambati said, “It is irresponsible on the part of Ajay Kumar to say that raising the height of the dam was the reason for floods in Bhadrachalam.”
The minister maintained that the Central Water Commission (CWC) had issued permissions for a Full Reservoir Level of 45.72 metres for the project after thorough inspection. “The national project is being executed by the Centre. The State government is only an implementing authority,” he pointed out.
“After the height of the project was decided and it was learnt that seven mandals would be submerged, we merged them with Andhra Pradesh. We are providing R&R (Resettlement and Rehabilitation) to the displaced persons,” the minister noted.
On raising the height of Polavaram upper cofferdam by one metre recently, Ambati asserted that they had informed the CWC regarding the same and sought for permission, too. Suggesting the Telangana minister approach the Centre, Godavari River Management Board in case of inter-state issues, Ambati Rambabu asked Ajay Kumar to not politicise the issue.
Terming the comments irresponsible, Former minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said they were uttered irresponsibly with an eye on 2023 elections and further advised Ajay Kumar to consult an irrigation expert before making claims. “The flood discharge levels were 28 lakh cusecs at Bhadrachalam, while the outflow capacity of Polavaram Project spillway is 50 lakh cusecs. How can the water flow be obstructed? From day one, every drop received from Bhadrachalam was released into the sea,” Perni Nani asserted.
He demanded an explanation from the Telangana minister on how Bhadrachalam submerged in 1986 and later in 1990 floods, when there was no Polavaram project. Seeking an answer on why Mancherial, Manthani and Eturunagaram were flooded this year, the former I&PR minister said, “Let them demolish the projects that are causing floods at those places.”
Pointing out that Bhadrachalam town originally belonged to Andhra Pradesh, Perni Nani said, “It was the Congress party which forcefully handed it over to Telangana. The Lord Rama temple is being neglected as the State has its focus on developing another temple for brand image. Let them return it to us, we will develop the temple.”
Taking a jab at Ajay Kumar, Education Minister Botcha Satyanarayan said, “We are suffering revenue loss as Hyderabad was merged with Telangana. If I ask for it, would they hand over Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh.”w
Later, the Telangana Minister responded to the AP ministers and clarified, “Please understand the plight of the people of Telangana. There should be no room for misunderstanding. Let us find a permanent solution for Bhadrachalam floods. If AP hands over five villages back to Telangana, the TS government will take up flood safety measures. We cannot take up construction works in AP. He further asked Botcha Satyanarayana to discuss the matter with Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and hand over the five villages to Telangana.