Vijayawada: Water resources authorities have urged the state government to facilitate uninterrupted and quick transport of machinery and material to help complete execution of Polavaram irrigation project by the year-end.
As several states are imposing either partial/full lockdown/curfew to contain the spread of Coronavirus, the water resources authorities have expressed concern over transport of machinery and material such as steel, cement, diesel and others to the project site at Polavaram in West Godavari. High-end machinery like hydraulic cylinders meant for operation of crest gates at spillway from Germany are being transported by sea either to Mumbai or to Chennai seaport and from there to the project site by road. Similarly, the authorities also procure materials, mainly cement, steel, diesel and others, from several places. Any stoppage of vehicles transporting machinery and material en route by the law-enforcing authorities as part of lockdown may hamper the progress of execution of works of the project.
Moreover, the authorities are planning to close 300 meters gap called Reach-3 located in upstream cofferdam from May 10 onwards to complete it by the end of the month to facilitate diversion of water to take up execution of earth-cum-rock-fill dam. However, as the Godavari flood season begins usually from July, they intend to complete such works in an expeditious manner.
In addition to it, the authorities also face the biggest challenge to retain the existing workforce to continue earthen, centring and secondary concrete works at various components of the project viz., approach channel, spill channel and spillway and others. Around 2,500 workers hailing from parts of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Odisha are engaged at the project site. Though the authorities are arranging health camps and taking care of health issues including Covid-19 at the project site itself, it has to be seen whether they will continue to work or intend to go back to their native places.
Earlier, during the first wave of the pandemic, some of the workers literally walked long distances from Polavaram to parts of Odisha, when public transport was stopped. The authorities also want special passes to be given to the workers and the employees from other states, so that they reach project sites to take up works.
Polavaram project chief engineer B. Sudhakar Babu said, “We appeal to the state government to help uninterrupted transport of machinery, material and workforce to the Polavaram project site in the wake of curbs being imposed on transport, so that we can go ahead with project works without any delay and make efforts to complete it as per schedule.”