Santosh Patnaik

State responds positively to VSP's SOS

Orders will be issued for release of two MGD water immediately

VSP fears its expansion work will be derailed if water position does not improve

VISAKHAPATNAM: The State Government has decided in principle to divert water from Thandava reservoir to Yeleru Canal to bail out Visakhapatnam Steel Plant from an imminent crisis.

Minister for Irrigation Ponnala Lakshmaiah is understood to have told Visakhapatnam Steel Plant Chairman-cum-Managing Director P.K. Bishnoi in Hyderabad on Friday following an SoS from VSP. He said orders would be issued for release of two MGD immediately to start with after studying the relevant GOs.

VSP is facing water scarcity as the Visakhapatnam Industrial Water Supply Company (VIWSCO) could not supply the promised quantum of Godavari waters following deficient rainfall last year.

VSP fears that its expansion work, which is going on in full swing to increase its capacity from three to 6.3 million tonne per annum at a cost of Rs.12,000 crore, will be derailed if the water position does not improve.

The requirement of VSP, which it gets from VIWSCO through Yeleru canal, will go up from 28 MGD to 40 MGD per month once expansion is completed.

Against its monthly requirement, there was almost 50 per cent cut on supply by VIWSCO, which is managed by Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation and AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation after the exit of L&T.

VSP sources told The Hindu on Saturday that Kanithi Balancing Reservoir (KBR), where the plant's water is stored, got only 13, 21 and 16 MGD respectively in January, February and March. Water stock at KBR has fallen precariously from desired level of 90 days to 50 days. This has forced the officials of VSP to keep their fingers crossed.

VSP management, which insists on supply of 30 MGD per month, wants immediate canal maintenance to improve realisation, which has remained very poor due to various reasons. It also wants running of fourth pump at Godavari Pumping Station and diversion of water from Thandava to Yeleru canal to ensure receipt of 15 to 20 MGD by KBR deferring canal lining/repair work to next year.

VSP is paying 50 per cent of monthly water charges to VIWSCO at the rate of nearly Rs.3 crore per month notwithstanding the fact that VIWSCO has to pay it Rs.240 crore towards principal, Rs.43 crore towards interest and Rs.22 crore towards penal interest as in September, 2008.

“In view of the crisis situation, we want that the State Government should ensure uninterrupted supply of water to VSP to meet its present requirement as well as for expansion work,” says D. Adinarayana, general secretary of the Visakha Steel Workers' Union.