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Orissa & Andhra spar over project

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 2: The Rs 10,150 crore multipurpose Polavaram project on river Godavari has strained relations between governments of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

The government of Andhra Pradesh is determined about going ahead with the project unilaterally.

Work is on for the project even though both the Centre and the Andhra governments are reported to have sought a month’s time for filing their replies before the Supreme Court in response to an injunction suit filed last year by the Orissa government, sources said.

Orissa filed an injunction suit in the apex court after the Central Water Commission accorded technical clearance to the project last year.

As many as 1,000 families in 11 villages of Mottu block of Orissa’s Malkangiri district, which falls on the border between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, would be affected by the project, according to sources in the Orissa water resources department. Sources said that once the project is completed, huge tracts land would be submerged. This region is criss-crossed by Sabari and Sileru, the tributaries of Godavari, which is considered the mightiest river of Andhra Pradesh.

The features of the project include a reservoir at Polavaram village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh with a full reservoir level of 150 feet. While the left canal of the project would provide irrigation to 1,74,978 hectares of land, the right canal would irrigate 1,39,740 hectares of land. The project would also generate 960 MW of power.

Orissa has been objecting to the project since it was cleared by the Union ministry of environment and forests in 2005. But the technical clearance by the Central Water Commission in January last year was a much bigger blow, according to sources.

No public hearing has been held till date in the project-affected areas of Orissa, though it is considered mandatory in such cases, sources said. Bolstered by the apparent support of the Centre, they added, Andhra Pradesh appeared to be taking things for granted.

As for Orissa’s concern over the submergence of villages in Malkangiri district, Andhra Pradesh has proposed construction of embankments on Sabari and Sileru rivers in the area to prevent inundation. However, Orissa has objected to this, as embankments do not offer a permanent solution, sources added. The state has demanded that the project be redrawn to ensure that no area on this side of the border was submerged.

“However, the pressure of Supreme Court case has made them slow down a bit. The Centre is yet to allot any funds to Andhra government for the project.” they added.

Project Highlights

1.Project Cost: Rs.10,150 crore

2.Full Reservoir Level:150 feet

3.Left C anal irrigation potential:174978 hectares

4.Right Canal Irrigation potential:139740 hectares

5.Power Generation:960 MW

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