Cracks appeared on the road that led to the Polavaram project site in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday, triggering rumours of an earthquake. Videos of the incident from the ground showed passersby standing amid massive cracks in the mud road, even as construction equipment and heavy machinery being used for the project can be seen in the distance.
The incident took place at around 8:30 am and traffic was blocked as a result of the cracks as locals panicked and officials were rushed to the spot to review the situation. According to reports, nearly 25 villages in the Agency areas of East and West Godavari districts also lost power supply as several electric poles were uprooted in the incident.
Taking to Twitter, actor-politician and Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan questioned the Andhra Pradesh government and said, "I hope Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's real-time governance has noticed how a road of one km near Polavaram Project had split as if some earthquake occurred. Please give a clarity to people as to why it happened."
However, officials denied rumours of the earthquake and said that they were reviewing the situation.
"There is no threat to the Polavaram project site, and no tremors have been recorded in the area. Cracks have been found on the road, but they are a result of changes in the atmosphere and decrease in the humidity in the mud," the Real Time Governance Centre - Andhra Pradesh Weather Forecasting and Early Warning Research Centre (RTG - AWARE) said in a press note.
The Polavaram project is a major multi-purpose irrigation project being constructed on the Godavari River, and spread across three states – Andhra, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. A dam is currently under construction in West Godavari and East Godavari districts of Andhra.
The project will lift water from the Godavari River near Tadipudi village in West Godavari District and pump it through the Main Canal into the 20 TMC capacity Jalleru reservoir, and then supply water to West Godavari and Krishna Districts.
A total of 17,800 acres of land – 6,600 acres of forestland and 11,200 acres of revenue land – spread across 127 villages in four constituencies of West Godavari district – Polavaram, Chintalapudi, Gopalavaram and Denduluru – is being acquired for the project.
All neighbouring states of Andhra have opposed it in some form or the other, with Odisha being the biggest critic of the project.