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Polavaram project triggers new row between TS, AP

Adds to acrimony among the people of two Telugu states

Polavaram project triggers new row between TS, AP

Hyderabad: The Polavaram project being constructed by Andhra Pradesh across Godavari river has triggered a new row between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. A Telangana minister kicked up the controversy by blaming the project's height for recent floods in Bhadradri Kothagudem district on the banks of Godavari.

Polavaram project is being executed by the Centre as a national project at Rs 55,000 crore. Telangana's Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar blamed Polavaram for floods in temple town of Bhadrachalam and several villages along the course of the river in Bhadradri Kothagudem district. He said Telangana had been demanding the neighbouring State to reduce the height of Polavaram to avoid floods at Bhadrachalam and nearby villages due to backwaters.

Following heavy rain in the catchment areas and massive inflows from upstream resulted in the flood level at Bhadrachalam last week crossing 71 feet, the highest in more than three decades. The demand by Telangana came a few days after Andhra Pradesh raised the height of the upper coffer dam of Polavaram by one metre.

The implementing agency, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd (MEIL), took up the work to increase the height on July 15 and completed it in 48 hours. The Andhra Pradesh government had already decided to increase the height of Polavaram coffer dam from 40.5 meters to 43.5 meters.

The minister urged the Centre to constitute a committee comprising experts of the Central Water Commission (CWC) to study the backwaters effects of the Polavaram project to Bhadrachalam to avert catastrophic consequences of a potential massive deluge in the future.

The minister also demanded that the Centre return seven mandals (blocks) to Telangana which were merged with Andhra Pradesh in 2014. He also demanded that at least five villages near Bhadrachalam be re-merged with Telangana and a Bill in this regard be passed in the ongoing Parliament session.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had lodged a strong protest with the Centre after it issued an ordinance to merge seven mandals of Telangana with Andhra Pradesh. This was apparently done to avoid any inter-state disputes as several villages in these mandals are likely to be submerged by Polavaram project. The Telangana government termed the move unilateral and has been demanding the Centre to revoke it.

Telangana minister drew flak from the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government in Andhra Pradesh. Education Minister Botsa Satyanaayan took a dig at Ajay Kumar with the remark that they have no objection if he demands unification of the two Telugu states to once again create united Andhra Pradesh.

A couple of days after this, the Telangana government complained to the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti over what it calls illegal schemes constructed under Polavaram irrigation project. A senior official of Telangana government wrote to the secretary of the Union Ministry, raising objection to unapproved irrigation schemes.

Telangana termed this as a matter of great concern not only for it but also for other upper riparian states as Andhra Pradesh can draw and utilise more waters than it was allocated. It urged the Centre to ensure that the capacity and drawals from the two canals under Polavaram project are limited to designated discharges and ensure drawal as per the approved demand table.

Mohammed Shafeeq
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