The alleged demolition of a portion of the nearly 150-year-old “Sir Arthur Cotton anicut” by the technical crew of a private firm for the upcoming 24 MW hydro power project across the Godavari at Dummugudem on Wednesday triggered widespread protest from the CPI cadres in Dummugudem on Thursday.

Tension broke out at the upcoming hydro electric project abutting the partially damaged historical structure on Thursday afternoon when a section of the protesters hurled stones and damaged the window panes of a hydraulic excavator that had been used by the personnel of a private firm during Wednesday’s “anicut demolition drive”. The police intervened and dispersed the protesters.

A delegation of CPI leaders, including former MLC Puvvada Nageswara Rao, Kothagudem MLA K Sambasiva Rao, and party district secretary B Hemantha Rao visited the damaged segment of the historical anicut. The party leaders expressed their ire at the officials concerned for their alleged failure to prevent the damage to the branch anicut of historical significance. Taken aback by the sight of damaged segment of the Arthur Cotton anicut, the CPI leaders demanded that the government initiate stern action against the persons responsible for the "demolition operation" and take steps to safeguard the historical structure.

Mr Sambasiva Rao alleged that the demolition had been carried out in blatant violation of the rules governing environment, heritage conservation and other regulations. "The attempt to blast the historical structure by using dynamites is a grave crime, which amounted to not only destruction of heritage but also undermining the interests of local farmers," he charged. The move was aimed at construction of a head regulator in place of the historical anicut to ensure continuous water supply to the upcoming hydro electric project of a private power company, he alleged adding that the move would curtail water supply to the heavy water plant in Manuguru and put the proposed ayacut of two lakh acres under the upcoming Rajiv Sagar (Dummugudem) lift irrigation scheme at stake. It would also jeopardise the proposal to set up a hydro electric project with the aid of Austrian government at Dummugudem, he said.