Several villages in East and West Godavari have already lost road connectivity.

Image of Dowleswaram barrage near Rajamahendravaram where the first flood warning was received on Saturday in Andhra PradeshFile photo of Dowleswaram Barrage/PTI
Coronavirus Godavari Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 20:25

The water levels in the Godavari river have continued to rise near the Polavaram project areas. The Godavari districts are also experiencing heavy rains, and several villages in the Polavaram project affected areas are partly inundated, with some of them facing the risk of submersion.

The first flood warning signal was raised on Saturday at the Dowleswaram barrage near Rajamahendravaram, as it received an inflow of 10.36 lakh cusecs. The Dowleswaram barrage was reportedly filled to the brim (2.93 tmc ft) by Saturday afternoon.

"We have alerted the authorities concerned to take all precautionary measures along the river course in view of the flood flow. Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have also been positioned at Rajamahendravaram to attend to any eventuality," Andhra Pradesh Disaster Management Commissioner K Kanna Babu said. He asked people not to travel in the river on boats, and to also avoid going into the water for bathing and swimming.

Devipatnam mandal in East Godavari district has remained cut off due to the flood. Downstream in West Godavari district, the river has been flowing over the Kotturu causeway, disrupting road communication to the island villages in Polavaram mandal. The floodwater also entered the spillway channel at the Polavaram project site, hampering construction work.

Last year in August, several villages in the Godavari districts were affected by floods caused in a similar manner, owing to heavy rains in the catchment area of the Godavari basin. Devipatnam mandal in East Godavari district was severely affected, and the YSRCP government had then alleged that the situation had worsened because of the way the TDP government had constructed the cofferdam in the Polavaram irrigation project. 

In anticipation of a similar event this year, authorities have claimed that they have made arrangements in advance to ensure supply of essential commodities, and have evacuated most elderly persons, pregnant women and others who may need urgent medical care. 

Rampachodavaram ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency) Project Officer Praveen Aditya said that the water levels stood at around 45 ft at Bhadrachalam as of Saturday afternoon, and with the trend observed to be rising, an increase of another three feet is expected in the coming seven to eight hours. 

With some of the habitations in Rampachodavaram becoming inundated, so far, two villages, Devipatnam and Thoyyeru, have been evacuated, he said. While nearly 120 people have been shifted to government-run shelters or camps, the remaining people have moved to their relatives’ house or have made alternate arrangements elsewhere, he said. 

While some people have moved to Gokavaram, outside the scheduled area, others have been rehabilitated to Rampachodavaram town, where hostels and camps have been set up. A few more villages like Agraharam and Dandangi — which have not been submerged yet but have been cut off from road linkages — are also being prepared for evacuation soon, he added. 

In Polavaram mandal of West Godavari, where 19 villages have lost road connectivity, Kota Ramachandrapuram ITDA PO RV Suryanarayana said that measures have been taken in advance to ensure supply of essential commodities beforehand. “So far, no evacuation has been made since no water has entered into houses. We are providing essential commodities to the 19 villages which are cut-off from roadways. For medical care, there is one PHC (Primary Health Centre) available for the 19 villages, and doctors and other medical staff have been positioned,” he said. 

Both Godavari districts have been badly affected by the pandemic, with East Godavari being the worst-hit district in the state. Speaking about measures taken in light of COVID-19, Rampachodavaram ITDA PO Praveen Aditya said that the evacuation process was started two months in advance, in June, to promote a “positive fear” of COVID-19 infections and urge people to move out to a place where medical care is more accessible.

“Revenue and police department officials started the evacuation process sector-wise in June. They have been consistently relaying messages that if people continue to stay in their own houses, in the event that they're cut off from the towns, proper medical support cannot be provided. We requested them to take preventive measures and to come to the relief camp at Rampachodavaram,” he said. He also added that the Health Monitoring Cell which was formed in Rampachodavaram town to check up on COVID-19 patients who were under home isolation had earned some confidence among the people, convincing some of them to vacate their homes and move to the town. 

Over the past year, while Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and Water Resources Minister Anil Kumar Yadav have repeatedly talked about expediting the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) works for those affected by the Polavaram project, these are yet to be completed in several villages.  

Venkata Rao, CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) Polavaram Division Secretary said that while the government had claimed that R&R works would be completed in flood-prone areas by August this year, the process is stuck for many families who find their proposed resettlement packages to be unfair. 

(PTI Inputs)

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