Polavaram project. (Photo:DC)
Vijayawada: Villagers have expressed fear about their safety and health as mud collected from Polavaram irrigation project site is dumped near the new Pydipaka rehabilitation colony, causing dust pollution.
The mud is brought there in recent days to raise the land level at Polavaram in Eluru district. "This is blocking the free flow of water from Kademma canal to the Godavari river during the rainy seasons, resulting in the water getting clogged and flooding the area," villagers said.
Dust particles from the dry mud are spreading all over and dust settles down on household articles and is also causing health worries, like breathing problems, to the people.
The villagers from Pydipaka village had been brought to Polavaram village as part of the resettlement and rehabilitation programme.
Pydipaka's former sarpanch Yesubabu said, "We live just half-a-km from the dump. In the last few days, vehicles carrying the mud are coming in and discharging their loads. Dust particles spread around in the air, affecting our health. Also the area gets inundated as the discharge lines get blocked."
"Moreover, we find a slow upheaval of a part of the road from the dump towards our colony and we are more concerned that this may spread to our colony also affecting the safety of our newly built houses. We want the dumping of mud to be stopped immediately," he said.
The National Green Tribunal had, in 2018, constituted a four-member committee comprising officials from central pollution control board, APPCB, the additional principal chief conservator of forests and district collector to inspect and submit a report on the dumping of muck at Polavaram. Based on its findings, it issued an order against the dumping of muck. However, the dumping of muck has resumed in the last few days.
Resident of new Pydipaka, Dorababu, said, "Huge vehicles carrying the mud collected from the Polavaram project site are coming and dumping the mud in the dump yard. This may lead to an upheaval of a portion of the road, uprooting electrical poles as had happened earlier."
Economist Dr Pentapati Pullarao wrote a letter to the secretary, Union ministry of environment, saying the Polavaram Project Authority was violating the orders of NGT and of the four member panel against the dumping of muck. The project authority has, by dumping toxic material, been causing pollution near the original Polavaram dump, he said.
He said that the Polavaram dump site is located in the middle of the Polavaram panchayat and thousands of people lived there. Though the dump was located at an illegal site, it was located in the eco-sensitive zone of Papikonda National Park, he pointed out.
He requested the ministry to send a team of experts to study how the damage can be reversed and hold a fresh environmental hearing into the continuing environmental damage in the area.
Pulla Rao said, "We want PPA to stop illegal dumping and remove the muck. We want to know whether it has given any fresh permission to dump muck; and if not, what action is it going to initiate to stop such an illegal practice.