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Polavaram Project


The Polavaram Project is a multi-purpose irrigation project. It has been accorded national project status by the central government. The project aims to build a dam across Godavari river in West Godavari and East Godavari districts. The reservoir of the dam would spread in parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha States also.

The project is part of the national river-linking project, which aims to overcome the deficit of water in the country, by transferring surplus water to peninsular rivers. The Godavari river basin is considered to be surplus and Krishna river basin is considered to be deficit one. 644 tmcft of underutilised water from Godavari river has flowed into Bay of Bengal as of 2008.

The project is expected to irrigate 2.91 lakh hectares, generate 960 mw of power and supply of 23.4 tmc of drinking water to Visakhapatnam city and also to Vizag Steel Plant. The project will also facilitate transfer of 80 tmcft annually to Krishna river basin.

The foundation stone of the project was laid by the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh T Anjaiah in 1980. The project did not take off till YS Rajasekhara Reddy-led government came into power in 2004. The Government then sanctioned Rs 13.2 billion for the project

As of 2004, the proposed project would hold 75.2 tmcft of water. Irrigation of additional 232,000 acre in Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts will be possible.

The cost of the project is originally estimated at Rs 10,151 crore but it rose to Rs 16,010 crore in 2014.

Controversies

The project would displace 276 villages and 44,574 families in those villages in three districts of Andhra Pradesh. Tribals constitute 50% of such a displaced population.

Human Rights Activists point out that the project would harm the interests of Telangana and Rayalaseema regions.

Environmental activist Medha Patkar said that not only the project would displace families, it would also submerge several archaeological sites, coal deposits, a wildlife sanctuary and several hectares of farm land

Polavaram Project Authority

The Union Cabinet has cleared the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) on May 1, 2014 for the execution of Polavaram irrigation project. Centre bears the funding for the PPA and its governing body. The PPA is in accordance with section 90 of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

All the assets and liabilities of the Polavaram project will be transferred to the authority. A separate PPA fund will also be created to which funds released by the centre for the project would be credited.

Centre will fund and execute the project. It will also obtain all the necessary clearances including environmental, forests and rehabilitation. The PPA will also fight the pending cases against the project including those filed by Chhattisgarh and Odisha governments.

Constitution

The PPA would be an autonomous body and will be headed by a Chief Executive Officer of the rank of Additional Secretary to Government of India. The CEO will be appointed by Centre. The principal secretaries / secretaries of irrigation of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states would be members of PPA. Two posts of Chief Engineer in Central Water Engineering service would be created.

Timeline

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said remarks of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi backing Polavaram irrigation project go against the interests of Odisha. The Odisha government is mulling filing a writ petition in Supreme Court over the Polavaram project. May 4, 2014

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