Suspends dialogue with Andhra Pradesh on Polavaram, Vamsadhara II and Janjhavati projects

Andhra Pradesh is upset that Odisha has completely stopped any dialogue on three major projects -- Polavaram, Vamsadhara II and Janjhavati, despite its repeated invitations to the latter to come to the negotiation table. “It is easier to convince Pakistan on issues than Odisha on these projects,” a senior officer here regretted.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has addressed several letters to his Odisha counterpart, Naveen Patnaik, seeking a dialogue with him at Bhubaneswar or Hyderabad to resolve issues. Odisha has maintained a stiff upper lip not only on these missives but also over the entire correspondence held by S. K. Joshi, principal secretary, Irrigation.

The officials here are now veering around the view that only way out left for the Chief Minister is to talk to Mr. Patnaik at Delhi during meetings of Chief Ministers or request Prime Minister for a joint meeting. “Only personal rapport at CMs’ level will be able to break the ice”, an official said. The Government is doubtful about the Odisha’s concerns over the projects because it would be small extents of land which would come under submersion of these projects.

It would be merely 106 acres in case of Rs 933-crore Vamsadhara II on which Rs. 640 crore has been spent so far. Vamsadhara II is proposed to construct a new barrage across the Vamsadahara river at Neredi in Srikakulam district and provide water to 2.30 lakh acres on assured basis for two crops, a task that became impossible through the present barrage at Gotta, 48 km downstream. Water from Neredi would be brought to a 19-tmcft reservoir being excavated at Hiramandalam.

The storage in Neredi, though small, would extend onto the river banks for a stretch, engulfing the land. A rubber dam was placed on the completed dam of Rs 130-crore Janjhavathi project in Vizianagaram district, as any erection of crest-gates on it would result increased or full impounding, resulting in submersion of 1,175 acres in Odisha.

Irrigation is provided only to 5,000 acres from Janjhavathi now instead of 25,000 acres as envisaged. Bachawat Tribunal had given two options to Odisha while permitting AP to construct Polavaram with specified height--accept Polavaram or opt construction of embankments by AP to prevent submersion of 1,238 acres in its territory. Orissa is praying before the Supreme Court, complete stoppage of the project. It did not conduct public hearing on submersion although AP gave funds for the purpose in 2009 itself.