SRIKAKULAM: Work on the Vamsadhara Phase II project has been stopped indefinitely following unprecedented violence at the project site Hiramandalam, Srikakulam district, on Sunday. The engineers and supervisors of the construction companies including Soma Company are reluctant to continue the work fearing physical attacks on them and their family members in spite of the police presence at their quarters. Some of them had to run for safety on Sunday after vehicles and furniture in offices were set afire. The company representatives said they had lost property worth almost ₹1 crore.
However, Srikakulam Collector P. Lakshmi Narasimham reportedly told the Project Manager SN Jitendra and others that normality would be restored very soon as the government was keen on listening to the grievances of the displaced persons.
According to sources, the people who would be displaced were demanding higher compensation. It was alleged that the revenue officials did not make proper assessment of the trees, houses and other property to arrive at the compensation. The Government had released ₹471 crore for Relief and Rehabilitation package. As many as 3,965 families were promised new houses. Mr. Lakshmi Narasimham and other officials who reviewed the progress recently had expressed concern over the delay. They asked the chief engineers to monitor the work on the major project on a daily basis while assuring support from the revenue department in the rehabilitation of the displaced. However, the situation is completely different at the ground level.
Recently, the Central Water Commission (CWC) had approved the construction of a side-weir near Battili of Bhimini mandal in the district. The move was seen as a major relief to the Government which had been engaged in a dispute with Odisha for the last 50 years for its legitimate share of the Vamsadhara water. Once the side-weir is in place, more than one lakh acres in the district can be brought under irrigation. This led the government to embark on the work on war footing by sanctioning ₹930 crore. In spite of the availability of funds for both the project and compensation, the work is expected to be delayed further with the relentless agitations and the fear factor.
Meanwhile, the Government has deployed heavy security at the project site to avoid further damage to the property of the private companies and the government. Srikakulam SP J. Brahma Reddy is monitoring the situation. Leader of the Vamsadhara Displaced persons Gangadhara Rao was taken into custody.