R. Jagadeeswara Rao

Latest communication from Orissa on the project was received in 2007

Orissa says tribal rights concerns coming in the way of holding gram sabha on compensation issue

Persuasion from political leadership required, say irrigation officials

VISAKAHAPATNAM: Heard of a project which has the potential to stabilize ayacut in thousands of acres, irrigate thousands of acres additionally, provide water to important industries like the Jindal project and supplement drinking water supply to the fast-growing Visakhapatnam city but was held up because of objections in a respect of rehabilitation of just 130 persons (yes, 130 persons and not 130 families nor villages) in 10 hamlets and submergence of a little of over 1100 acres of land ?

It sounds strange but it is a fact. The project in question is the one across river Jhanjavathi in Vizianagaram district and the objections were raised by Orissa.

A hundred-km-long canal that would connect Jhanjavathi dam with the Thatipudi reservoir and that could be completed in a couple of years is all that is required, according to experts in irrigation department.

The main reason for the project not materialising is lack of persuasion by the powers that be.

Jhanjavathi, a tributary of Nagavali, is an inter-state river, having catchment area of 832 km.

At a meeting between the then Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in 1978, it was agreed to share the available yield, assessed as 8 tmc, on Jhanjavathi in the ratio of 50:50.

Based on this assessment the Jhanjavathi reservoir with a capacity of 4 tmc was constructed.

But as there were objections from the Orissa Government, the Andhra Pradesh Government took a decision to install rubber dam and divert water to the contemplated ayacut without causing any submersion.

But now experts in the irrigation department assess the available water to be 16 tmc.

They also point out that the rubber dam is a temporary arrangement and the reservoir is to be completed to its full height to derive optimum benefits.

The Government of AP had been requesting Orissa Government to arrive at the compensation amount for the rehabilitation package for prompt payment.

The latter had been saying that it had to organize gram sabhas in the village coming under submersion for arriving at the compensation.

The latest communication from Orissa was received in 2007, asserting that in the background of increased awareness about tribals rights, no gram sabha could be conducted.

And that is where things got stuck.

The Government of AP is yet to react to this. Rigorous persuasion by the political leadership, especially from north coastal Andhra, is required to get the full benefits from the project, say experts in irrigation department.

Possibility of extension

According to senior officials of the irrigation department, because of the high potential of the river, Jhanjavathi reservoir scheme can be extended by linking to Thatipudi reservoir, supplementing en route to deficit basin of Champavathi where the Tarakarama Theerdha Sagar project is being executed. There was a proposal to supply water to the proposed Jindal project from Thatipudu reservoir, but it was objected to as it is likely to affect the drinking water supply to Visakhapatnam city.

A link canal from Jhanjavathi to Thatipudi into which water could flow by gravity, would solve this problem also.