AP water resources authorities have been asking the Odisha and Chhattisgarh states to conduct a public hearing as nearly 1,000 hectares located in agency areas would be affected under the influence of Polavaram project once it gets executed due to the impounding of water. DC Image/C. Narayana Rao
Vijayawada: The Centre’s nod to keep in abeyance the ‘Stop Work’ order by two years up to July, 2023 for execution of the Polavaram irrigation project will help Andhra Pradesh complete the project by December that year.
The Centre extended the period upto 2023 on a request from the AP government to the Union ministries of environment and forests and the Jal Shakti. A similar exemption to the ‘Stop Work’ order’ is being given to the state annually since 2011.
AP water resources authorities have been asking the Odisha and Chhattisgarh states to conduct a public hearing as nearly 1,000 hectares located in agency areas would be affected under the influence of Polavaram project once it gets executed due to the impounding of water.
The AP government has given the option to both the states to take up construction of flood banks in vulnerable areas with the funds provided by it, or to give compensation to the project- affected people in both the states. This is estimated to cost nearly Rs 790 crore.
Providing compensation to the project-affected people in both the states is expected to cost AP less compared to the construction of embankments to avoid a submergence of vulnerable areas in both the states.
The AP government has reiterated its appeal to the Central Water Commission and the Polavaram Project Authority to facilitate public hearing by both Odisha and Chattisgarh in their vulnerable tribal areas so that the AP government will either take up construction of the flood banks or provide compensation to the project-affected people.
The onus lies with both the CWC and PPA to persuade both the states to accept AP’s request to settle the issue once and for all by conducting they public hearing.
With the extension of period for two years to keep ‘Stop Work’ order in abeyance, the AP government gets ample time to go ahead with the completion of the Polavaram project without facing any legal hurdles. The state can now say it is going ahead with the construction works despite having the Stop Work order in force, as was the case with the state government faced earlier.
The authorities are waiting for finalisation of the designs of earth-cum-rock-fill dam following damage to a part of diaphragm wall. Once the designs are accepted by the dam design committee and other agencies, the works on dam will start.
Polavaram project chief engineer Sudhakar Babu said, "We have completed 78 per cent of the project works so far. We are taking up the works to complete the project by end of 2023. Works related to rehabilitation and resettlement and land acquisition will be taken up in a phased manner and completed."