A Telangana official stated this a day after Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar blamed the height of the Polavaram project for recent floods in Telangana, invoking strong reactions from Andhra Pradesh ministers.

Representative image of Polavaram project from 2019Polavaram project/PTI
news Floods Thursday, July 21, 2022 - 10:55

The Telangana government has repeatedly requested the Union government to analyse the problem posed by backwater from the Polavaram project being built by Andhra Pradesh across the Godavari river, a senior official said on Wednesday, July 20. However, the Union government has not responded to this request and other issues, Special Chief Secretary, Water Resources Rajat Kumar, said. The official stated this a day after Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar blamed the height of the Polavaram project for recent floods in the Godavari at Bhadrachalam and other parts of Telangana's Bhadradri Kothagudem district.

Ajay Kumar's demand to lower the height of the Polavaram dam and hand over seven mandals back to Telangana which were merged with Andhra Pradesh in 2014 evoked a strong reaction from Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Rajat Kumar also dismissed criticism from some quarters over the damage caused to the Kaleshwaram project by recent floods. He told reporters that the project was built after taking approvals from 18 departments in the Central Water Commission.

He also stated that the data from the India Meteorological Department and the European Satellite Agency did not help in anticipating the intensity of the rains. The official said due to heavy rains and floods Kaleshwaram project suffered a loss of Rs 20-25 crore. He, however, clarified that as per the agreement, the loss will be compensated by the company which executed the project. He said Kaleshwaram pumphouse repair will be completed in 45 days.

Read: Godavari recedes at Bhadrachalam, Telangana Min blames Polavaram for delayed outflow

Opposition parties in Telangana had slammed the state government over the damage caused to the project and blamed poor design and faulty planning for the inundation of the pumphouse.

Earlier on Tuesday, ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were engaged in a war of words after Telangana Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar blamed the Polavaram multipurpose project in AP for delayed outflow in Godavari river during the recent flooding, especially in the temple town of Bhadrachalam in Telangana. "Earlier, Godavari flood flow used to have equal inflow and outflow. But this time, the outflow was slow. As we mentioned earlier, Telangana will see an uncomfortable situation due to the Polavaram project work," Ajay Kumar said.

He opined that the outflow was slow this time as the Andhra Pradesh government finished fixing the gates of the Polavaram project and also the water levels may have been retained in those seven mandals, which were transferred to the neighbouring state from Telangana in 2014. There is a chance that once the Polavaram project is completed, water levels at Bhadrachalam will permanently remain 45.5 ft, he said. "So, earlier also we demanded that the height of the Polavaram project has to be reduced," he recalled.

Reacting to Ajay Kumar's suggestion that Polavaram was the cause for excess flood in Godavari at upstream Bhadrachalam, Andhra Pradesh Water Resources Minister Ambati Rambabu wondered how the project could be the cause of flooding in the temple town. "The Centre has granted all permissions for Polavaram after all surveys. The Centre merged seven mandals from Telangana with AP because they faced the threat of submergence due to the multipurpose project. If we were to give back five villages, would you give us Bhadrachalam back," Rambabu asked Telangana.

Noting that floods were natural when there were heavy rains, Rambabu said Telangana could find out from the Central Water Commission if indeed Polavaram caused the inundation of villages in that state. "There are no disputes between AP and Telangana now. Please don't try to create new disputes. If there is any problem, Chief Ministers of the two states could sort that out," the AP Minister added.

Ruling YSR Congress spokesman Perni Venkataramaiah ridiculed the Telangana minister's claim and said the neighbouring state was ostensibly seeking to stoke passions as elections in that state were due soon. Responding to the Andhra Pradesh minister's comments, Ajay Kumar in a statement said he favoured transferring five villages near Bhadrachalam to Telangana so that the Telangana government can take up the construction of bunds and others to address the problem of flooding.

With PTI inputs

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