The adding of nine inches to the height of 70 crest gates of Prakasam Barrage has snowballed into a big row with the political parties trading serious charges against one another.
Telugu Desam Party and Communist Party of India said that the height was increased to benefit a private thermal power station that had links to Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal. They said that the height of the crest gates was increased so that water would flow more easily to the thermal power station.
They even questioned the safety of the barrage which is over 50 years old. The barrage was designed to hold 12 feet of water and the additional nine inches would put additional stress on the structure they alleged.
The Y.S.R. Congress Party alleged that the adding of nine inches to the crest gates was not part of any irrigation package and that it was added later for the benefit of the private thermal power station.
About the increase in the gate height the Irrigation officials say that it was not a benefit to the power stations at all. When the wind is strong in the summer there was wastage to the tune of 6,000 cusecs.
The water spills over the crest gates due to the wave action. The additional nine inches and a spill tray added on top protect the back of the gates from developing moss and ultimately getting rusted.
At the time of floods the gates are operated as soon as the water level crosses 12-foot mark, so the question of the stress being built up at the barrage does not arise at all, the officials say.
The 6,000 cusecs could now be released into the canals for the benefit of the tail end farmers.
The Irrigation officials say that the proposal to add a plate to prevent leakage due to wave action was in the package right from the beginning. But, the execution was delayed leading to the speculation of it being added on later for the benefit of the power plant.