Irrigation projects waiting to see the light of the day

Ravi P. Benjamin
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Leaders of north Andhra region fail to take up the cause

A file photo of a rubber dam built on the Janjhavathi river in Vizianagaram district. It brings 9,000 acres under assured irrigation.— Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam
A file photo of a rubber dam built on the Janjhavathi river in Vizianagaram district. It brings 9,000 acres under assured irrigation.— Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

The intransigent attitude of successive governments of Odisha towards settlement of inter-State disputes, particularly with reference to Vamsadhara stage II and Janjhavathi irrigation projects, much against the spirit of federalism and indifferent attitude of people’s representatives of north Andhra region in jointly working to find solutions for over three decades, landed the people, particularly farmers of the two States, in doldrums.

The Odisha government’s evasive attitude in not honouring inter-State agreements is adversely affecting the economy of north Andhra resulting in wasteful flow of 100 tmc ft of water of Nagavali and Vamsadhara rivers into the sea every year. Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam have cultivable land of 25 lakh acres but only eight lakh acres are under cultivation. The end-result over the years is mass migration of farmers in search of livelihood from this area, particularly from Srikakulam and Vizianagaram rural areas. An estimated five lakh farmers turned construction labourers and migrated to major cities, mostly to Hyderabad.

The two projects could not see the light of the day despite top political leaders belonging to the Congress and Telugu Desam parties representing the region. During the past three decades leaders like K. Yerrannaidu, Kimidi Kala Venkata Rao, Tammineni Seetharam, K. Pratibha Bharati, P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, M.V.V.S. Murthi and several others of Telugu Desam Party represented the region for a long time. Similarly Minister for Roads and Buildings Dharmana Prasada Rao, Minister for Transport and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana and T. Subbarami Reddy of the Congress are representing the region for over a decade. President of Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika S.S. Shiva Sankar and activist of the Vedika and former Superintending Engineer (irrigation) Narayana Raju felt that these leaders could have jointly made efforts to reason with the Odisha government to honour agreements already arrived at. Had the people’s representatives of the region taken up the cause to its logical end, north Andhra would have turned into a fertile and prosperous region.

Even at the State-level, a mind-boggling, 3,000 tmc ft of water is wastefully flowing into the sea and a pittance of 70 tmc ft of water is being used. This reflects on the political leadership and the TDP and the Congress party in power during the past three decades.

The Vamsadhara Stage II project which is under active consideration since 1980s has not seen the light of the day despite a plethora of meetings, discussions and formal agreements between the two States. The project implementation is dragging on and struck roadblocks and currently got stranded at the level of constitution of a tribunal as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Similarly, the Janjhavathi project which was conceived in 1978 as a result of inter-State meeting of the Chief Ministers of the two States got paralysed even after years of laborious exercise between the two governments, due to the Odisha government disregarding its own approval of inter-State agreement and rehabilitation package offered by the Andhra Pradesh government.

Former Chief Engineer (irrigation) S. Satyanarayana told The Hindu that Odisha government was evasive even after agreeing to the compensation and rehabilitation package offered by A.P. to the project evacuees in Odisha. Now it is raising the bogey of tribal rights and other irrelevant issues. He also expressed sadness at the people’s representatives of the region for their disinterest towards the regional issues which has a bearing on the economy of the region and the backwardness of the region in general.



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