Polavaram: A dream coming true for AP

  • Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to start concrete works
  • 150 MW power generation
  • 15.2 lakh acres irrigation
  • 80 tmcft of water for Krishna River at Vijayawada
  • 23.44 tmcft of water to Visakhapatnam for industrial purpose

 

Dara Gopi

Dara Gopi

Vijayawada: It’s a dream coming true for the people of Andhra Pradesh as the concrete works have started for the much-awaited Polavaram project on Godavari River. Union Minister for Water Resources, Uma Bharati, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu are formally launching the cement concrete works for the project as the earthen works have been completed by more than 85 per cent in the last two years.

The project, a dream since 1941, takes a new shape now with the Central government taking up the task of completing it as promised in the AP Reorganisation Act 2014. This project, once completed, would provide irrigation water to 15.2 lakh acres, divert 80 tmcft of water to Krishna River through the right main canal and give another 23.44 tmcft of water to Visakhapatnam through the left main canal.

The project was initially conceived in 1941 with the then chief engineer of water resources in the Madras Presidency, Diwan Bahadur Venkatakrishna Iyer, who also helped design it. The project was designed for 836 tmcft of water storage capacity having 208 ft of full reservoir level (FLR) and a 40 megawatt hydroelectric power generation plant. However, these designs were revised by former Union Irrigation Minister Dr KL Rao increasing the power generation capacity to 150 MW. It was in 1980 the then Chief Minister T Anjaiah laid the foundation stone for the project.

Though the preliminary studies for the project were completed under the guidance of Venkatakrishna Iyer between 1942 and 1944 and revised proposals were made in the 1970s, and foundation stone was laid in 1980, the project did not move an inch till 2004, when the united Andhra Pradesh State government headed by late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy renewed the demand. The State government had taken up the matter with the Centre and finally secured approval by the advisory committee to the Central Water Resources Ministry on January 20, 2009. Later, the State secured Planning Commission’s clearance for investment on February 25, 2009 after which the government started the work.

Rajasekhar Reddy’s regime had moved the project work by acquiring lands for the two main canals, the right canal connecting to Krishna River in Vijayawada and the left canal connecting to the Visakhapatnam city. The project was initially conceived to utilize the surplus water of 644 tmcft from Godavari River which was going into the Bay of Bengal. While Godavari River is considered having surplus water, Krishna River basin is recognized as deficit area. The project would provide 80 tmcft of water to Krishna River that could be used for both Krishna delta and drought-prone Rayalaseema region.

work at the Polavaram Project site.

A file photo of machines at work at the Polavaram Project site

After Andhra Pradesh bifurcation in 2014 and the subsequent return of Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister, the project gained momentum as the responsibility was thrust on the Central government to complete it. The right main canal that was completed by 85 per cent during Rajasekhar Reddy’s regime had come in handy for Chandrababu Naidu to launch his pet project of Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme.

The Pattiseema project is aimed at pumping Godavari water and diverting it to Krishna River using the right main canal. Chandrababu Naidu had claimed it a success for bringing the Godavari water to Krishna through this canal and had even organised celebrations at the confluence of Krishna-Godavari at Ibrahimpatnam village on the outskirts of Vijayawada.

In the last two years, the government has been able to begin or partially complete the earthen works at the project site including the formation of diversion diaphragm wall, cofferdam and spillway. The Central government had provided Rs 1981 crores for the project through NABARD, against an estimated cost of Rs 16,010.45 crores that was cleared by the advisory committee of the Ministry of Water Resources in January 2011.

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