Polavaram as national project being delayed in view of possible repercussions in Telangana region
While the process at the Centre to accord national status to Polavaram is reaching its final stages, there is no forward movement in respect of Pranahita-Chevella, a project aimed at benefiting the Telangana region.
The reasons for withholding a formal announcement declaring Polavaram a national project are not far to seek - the political repercussions in the Telangana region. Without simultaneously extending the same benefit to Pranahita-Chevella, it could stir up a hornet's nest as it would be viewed as a favour shown to one region.
“This is the main reason for the delay considering that the Union Finance Ministry's Expenditure & Finance Committee has made a favourable recommendation,” an official told this correspondent.
On the other hand, it will take a few years before the State can get the statutory clearances to Pranahita-Chevella.
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) is still being considered by the Central Water Commission while the Centre has given an in-principle clearance.
There is another view among engineers and officials that if only the State had proposed Devadula project, also in Telangana, things in New Delhi might have moved faster.
Devadula, a project estimated to cost Rs. 9,000 crore for tapping 50 tmcft of Godavari waters, is relatively better placed since all clearances for it have been secured. Two-thirds of the project has almost been completed with 25 per cent funds coming from the Centre's Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.
If a project is given a national status, 90 per cent of its cost is met by the Centre. However, there is also the argument that the State will get more funds if Pranahita-Chevella is accorded national project status considering its huge cost of Rs. 38,600 crore. Thus, the delay may be well worth it because the project will yield much better returns.
It will tap 160 tmcft of Pranahita-Godavari waters to irrigate 16.5 lakh acres in Medak, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Warangal and Ranga Reddy districts and solve the drinking water problem in Hyderabad permanently.
Ultimately, it is a question of choice before the State government -- faster action by the Centre or higher benefits to the Telangana region.