The State government's ostensible attempt to get national project status for the Pranahita-Chevella major lift irrigation project instead of the Polavaram project, both on the Godavari, has drawn flak.

The Polavaram project, which prevents 3,000 tmc of water flowing wastefully into the Bay of Bengal, would benefit all the three regions of the State and provide the much-needed water in copious quantity to the most backward region of north costal Andhra, while the Pranahita-Chevella project would benefit only the Telangana region. This was pointed out by a panel of irrigation engineering experts of the Forum for Action Research and Policy Analysis (FARPA).

The panel, consisting of former chief engineers S. Satyanarayana and N.B. Tammiraju, former superintending engineer U. Narayana Raju and member of PM's monitoring committee for JNNURM R.V. Rama Rao explained to reporters why the Polavaram project should be preferred. The panel wanted people of Andhra Pradesh to make all political parties to support Polavaram for the national project status.

If necessary the Retired Irrigation Engineers' Association would implead itself in the case pending in the Supreme Court on the Polavaram project and before doing so it would submit a booklet to the Chief Justice of India giving every detail of the project.

Interaction with the public to stress the importance of Polavaram as a national project would be continued.

Mr. Satyanarayana and other engineers said while the rough estimate of the project cost of Pranahita-Chevella was Rs. 42,000 crores, the recent estimate showed that Polavaram would cost Rs. 16,000 crores, including Rs. 4,000 crores for rehabilitation of displaced persons and Rs. 3,000 crores for the power plant.

Area to be submerged due to Pranahita-Chevella was 6,000 acres, out of which 4,500 acres were in Maharashtra about which AP had not yet discussed with that State government.

Regarding Polavaram, the State government was failing to argue in the case filed by Orissa on submergence of its lands due to Polavaram, in spite of an agreement having been signed in 1981 with that State, MP and Maharashtra.

As much as 3,500 mw of power was needed to run the six lifts to raise the water to a height of 2,000 feet along with canals to a length of 1,000 km and 205-km long tunnels for the Pranahita-Chevella project.

Thus the expenditure on power would not meet the value of crop raised under the project.

Regular flow

The panel also pointed out that to ensure regular flow of water to the Pranahita-Chevella and other projects, the State government had unilaterally reduced the allotment of 740 tmc made to coastal Andhra region, to 476 tmc.

In fact the Polavaram project would benefit Telangana first as the Devaadula lift irrigation project cold take water from the Polavaram reservoir, 80 tmc could be diverted to the Krishna out of which 45 tmc could be used in the upward region.

Orissa and Chhattisgarh could also lift backwaters of Polavaram to the extent necessary.

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