Special Correspondent

Raghavulu interacts with prospective beneficiaries of the projectComes down heavily on Government for reducing tunnel diameterAlleges raw deal for backward regions of Prakasam, Nalgonda

ONGOLE: State secretary of the CPI(M) B.V. Raghavulu has stressed the need to launch an united struggle to achieve Velugonda project in its entirety to benefit the most backward regions of Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts.

He called upon MLAs from the upland areas to prevail upon the Government to achieve full benefit from the project. Mr. Raghavulu on Monday visited Pamuru, Kanigiri, Podili, Markapur and Dornala and interacted with prospective beneficiaries of the project. He came down heavily on the Government for reducing the tunnel diameter from 11.34 metres to seven metres and denying benefits of Velugonda to a large number of people.

Charge against YSR

Saying that Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was trying to benefit Rayalaseema region at the cost of other equally backward regions like Prakasam, Nalgonda and Mahabubnagar districts, he asked the Government to do justice to the backward areas in all three regions.

Velugonda project envisages to draw 43 tmcft of Krishna water from the foreshore area of Srisailam and carry them through 18-km long tunnel in Nallamala forest to reach Velugonda reservoir at a total cost of Rs. 2,600 crores to irrigate 4.24 lakh acres in the three districts.

But, the Government now plans to dig the tunnel with a diameter of only 7 metres to irrigate 1.4 lakh acres in the first phase at a cost of Rs. 1,500 crores.

Mr. Raghavulu observed that the truncated project would not do justice to the backward areas in Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts. He pooh-poohed the contention of the Government that a tunnel with 11.34-metre diameter would become burdensome.

How did the Government dig 9-metre tunnel as part of Srisailam Left Bank Canal, he asked. He said the Government was adamant to take up Polavaram project even though one lakh acres is being irrigated under Yeleru project, four lakh acres under Pushkaram, one lakh acres under lift irrigation and 50,000 motors.

Also, the Government decided to increase the capacity of Pothireddipadu head regulator from 12,000 to 44,000 cusecs to benefit Rayalaseema region.