A view of the Polavaram project amid Godavari floods at Polavaram in Eluru district. (ARRANGED)
HYDERABAD/VIJAYAWADA: Transport minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar on Tuesday held Andhra Pradesh’s Polavaram project responsible for the flooding of the Godavari river at Bhadrachalam, sparking off a row with the neighbouring Telugu state.
The comments evoked a strong response from AP ministers Botsa Satyanarayana and Ambati Rambabu, and led to a series of exchanges, through press statements, between the ministers of the two states.
Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad, TRS leaders demanded a reduction in the height of the Polavaram project, accusing the AP government of changing the original plan, to increase the height by three metres. They alleged negligence on the part of the AP government for releasing water from the Polavaram project, claiming it resulted in Bhadrachalam being flooded.
The TRS leaders demanded the intervention of the Centre to address the issue as the Polavaram project was conferred the status of a national project. Further, they demanded that the Centre pass a Bill in the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament for the demerger of five villages of AP located in the vicinity of Bhadrachalam, and handover the same to Telangana.
AP ministers condemned the comments made by TRS leaders, with Botsa telling media persons at a press meet in Vijayawada that AP lost revenue as it lost Hyderabad during bifurcation. "Can we ask now to merge Hyderabad in AP? It is not right to say such things now and resolving the present problem should be the first priority," he said.
Botsa said that ministers and CM must speak responsibly and that speeches should not be made to provoke others. He also dismissed the claims that water released from AP’s Polavaram project flooded Bhadrachalam. He told Puvvada Ajay not to make unnecessary comments, about revisiting the bifurcation of villages, claiming that the AP government would take necessary relief measures in the five villages.
Botsa said that the height of the Polavaram project was determined as per the approved design and that no change was made to it. He said that Ajay must take care of flood-hit areas in Khammam, while the AP government will take care of flood-hit mandals in its state.
AP water resources minister Ambati Rambabu said that it was not appropriate to politicise the Polavaram issue whenever floods occur, claiming that even a water height of 45.72 feet at the Polavaram project would not affect Bhadrachalam. Rambabu said that Telangana must get any doubts about the Polavaram project clarified by the Centre.
However, Puvvada Ajay hit back at the AP ministers’ comments on Hyderabad. "It's ridiculous that AP ministers have raised an irrelevant issue of Hyderabad's merger with AP... Our CM has sanctioned Rs 1,000 crore to find a permanent solution to Bhadrachalam flooding. These works cannot be taken up effectively unless the surrounding villages of Bhadrachalam, which were merged with AP, are handed back to Telangana. They should handover at least five villages to Telangana."
Ajay said, "The Bhadrachalam Sri Rama temple is a holy place for devotees of both Telangana and AP. If AP ministers are really sincere about protecting the Bhadrachalam temple from floods, they should take the initiative to convince their CM to hold talks with our CM to resolve this issue amicably."