Union Minister favours joint venture

HYDERABAD, MAY 7. The Union Minister for Power, Mr. Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, on Sunday said the proposed project for utilisation of Godavari waters should be a joint venture between the Centre and the State Government and function along corporate lines.

Speaking at the BJP-sponsored workshop on use of Godavari waters, Mr. Kumarangalam said a massive project of this nature should work in a commercial fashion. He opposed the BJP's idea of forming a River Water Board for Godavari on the ground that it would become bureaucratised.

His view ran contrary to that articulated by the Union Minister for Water Resources, Mr. C. P. Thakur, who reacted positively to the BJP's demand for formation of such a Board under provisions of the River Board Act of 1956. The latter said the Centre would favourably consider any such proposal submitted by the State Government.

However, both Ministers were of the clear view that the sources of funds must be identified before embarking on such a major venture. The BJP national general secretary, Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu, who presided, said the Godavari could not be taken up as a national project since the Centre was in no position to fulfil similar demands voiced by different States.

Mr. Kumaramangalam poured cold water on the ambitious plan prepared by the BJP's State unit saying irrigation should be a byproduct and money raised through sale of energy to make the project commercially viable. The BJP has proposed construction of a 2,000 MW thermal station to lift water from 30 ft to 420 ft above mean sea level through a series of barrages at Yellampalli, Inchampalli, Dummugudem and Polavaram.When the Union Minister, Mr. Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, pointed out this aspect, Mr. Kumaramangalam said power could be generated through pumped storage system at all the four barrages. He felt that the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the State Irrigation department should put together the plan for using Godavari waters.

Expressing concern over the massive deficit of Rs. 37,000 crores in electricity boards in the country, he said APTRANSCO's balance sheet too was not good but hoped it would turn the corner. He said power reforms in the State were progressing at a slow pace.

Earlier, Mr. Thakur said the Centre had returned the project report submitted by the State Government for the Godavari in November seeking additional information. Once it received a comprehensive report from the Government, the Centre would give it favourable consideration.

Prof. S. V. Seshagiri Rao, party vice-president, spoke. The Union Ministers, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, Mr. Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, the BJP State president, Mr. C. Ramachandra Reddy, and Mr. M. Kishan Rao, convenor of the party's Godavari water utilisation cell, spoke.