Polavaram Project: Why do Andhra and Telangana ministers often clash over it?

The latest verbal spat was triggered after comments by Telangana Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar about the dam's height.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jul 20, 2022 | 1:27 PMUpdatedJul 28, 2022 | 12:45 PM

Polavaram dam

Ironically, water always turns into an explosive material when politicians step in.

The ministers of two sibling states — Telangana and Andhra Pradesh — are fighting over the height of the Polavaram Project in the name of management of Godavari floods that frequently wreak havoc in Telangana’s  Bhadrachalam.

Telangana wants it reduced, while AP says, no way.

Adding fuel to fire, Telangana put forth a demand for the transfer of five villages in Bhadrachalam mandal — that were ceded to Andhra Pradesh — back to it so as to facilitate the construction of a flood embankment to prevent the Godavari flood waters from invading the temple town of Bhadrachalam.

At a time when people are struggling to pick the pieces of their lives after the floods had left them helpless and forlorn, the ministers of the two states are flexing their muscles, taunting each other for a showdown.

The latest spat

It all started on Tuesday when Telangana Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar, who represents Khammam in the Assembly, blamed Andhra Pradesh for the submergence of the temple town of Bhadrachalam in his district. He said that the Telangana government is helpless in controlling the flood all because Andhra Pradesh has taken away five villages of Bhadrachalam Mandal along with six other mandals at the time of bifurcation of the state in 2014.

P Ajay Kumar

Telangana Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar. (Facebook)

He said that Telangana needs the five villages for taking up effective flood control measures. He demanded that the Centre should take initiative and introduce a bill in Parliament to this effect. He pointed out that Bhadracalam was inundated by the Godavari floods because the gates of the Polvaram’s coffer dam (the main project is under construction) were opened late.

As Polavaram is only 73 km downstream of Bhadrachalam, the flood waters accumulated and inundated the temple town. Ajay Kumar also said that raising the height of the Polavaram’s coffer dam by one metre to 44 metres recently led to the floods.

Cut to the quick by Ajay Kumar’s demand, YSRCP ministers hit back at him wondering whether he would return Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh if they asked for it. Andhra Pradesh Education Minister Botcha Satyanarayana said it would do a whale of good as his state had taken a severe hit in revenues after Hyderabad went to Telangana.

‘No floods before Polavaram?’

Water Resources Minister Amabti Rambabu punched holes in Ajay Kumar’s argument that raising of the height of Polvaram’s coffer dam had inundated Bhadrachalam, asking him whether the town was not inundated when there was no Polavaram project at all in the past.

He argued that Polavaram was a national project and that the Andhra Pradesh government was only its implementation agency. The Centre, after consideration of all factors, had given clearance for the project and construction was going on in accordance with the approved design.

In fact, Telangana, in 2017, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court taking objection to the height of the Polavaram project and expressed the fear that when the project is in place, about 100 villages would be submerged. It had sought a fresh environment impact assessment since the maximum design flood was changed to 50 lakh cusecs from 30 lakh cusecs.