M. Malleswara Rao

HYDERABAD: Construction of Polavaram project is back to square one in spite of all the Central clearances, following the government’s indecision to issue fresh tenders and opposition by Telangana protagonists.

Also the expert committee appointed by the government has rejected the proposal of T. Hanumantha Rao, former chief engineer (irrigation), to construct barrages at four points across the Godavari, in place of Polavaram, to avoid submergence of 273 villages, but ensure the same benefits.

The committee comprising B. Rosaiah, T.S. Prakash Rao, Y. Lavakusa Reddy and R. Satyanarayana -- all advisers to government on irrigation -- submitted its report, stating that the construction cost of the four barrages would be Rs. 19,000 crore, as against the whole project (Rs. 10,151 crore) but the benefits remain.

If Polavaram were to be scrapped, work would have to be re-started for getting clearances for each barrage, implying years of delay.

The State would be deprived of a 960 mw hydel power station, planned as part of the project.

The committee assessed that the barrages would inundate 345 villages.

53-metre dam

The mega project aims to construct a 53-metre dam to utilise 170 tmcft of the Godavari water annually to irrigate 7.2 lakh acres in the upland areas of north Coastal Andhra and divert 80 tmcft to the Krishna delta and another 23 tmcft to Visakhapatnam, to solve its drinking water shortage.

The YSR government had pre-closed the tenders after contractors completed works worth Rs. 124 crore of the earthen-cum-rockfill dam and spillway, contending they delayed the works.

It had decided to club the two components with the powerhouse (estimated cost Rs. 3,500 crore) and give all the three to a single agency for execution through fresh tenders at an estimated Rs. 7,000 crore. Earlier, the contractors were selected as they offered to execute the earthen-cum-rockfill dam and spillway for Rs. 1,517 crore – Rs. 110 crore less than the estimated cost.

Telangana interests

Will Polavaram affect Telangana interests? On its completion, coastal Andhra will use 573 tmcft of the Godavari waters. Utilisation in Telangana will reach 685 tmcft once Devadula, Dummamgudem, Kanthanapalli, Yellampalli, Sriramsagar Flood-flow and Pranahita-Chevella are completed.