Background on Polavaram ( Interstate agreement)
Indirasagar Polavaram an interstate project on river Godavari has been conceived as a part of recommendations of Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT). GWDT finalized its award in 1980 .The award identifies individual projects that can be taken up by the co-basin states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh), Orissa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (AP) on the main Godavari river as well as its tributaries. As a part of the award, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa executed an agreement dated 02-04-1980 to enable clearance of Polavaram Project to be undertaken by AP. The agreement provides for construction of the project with a Full Reservoir Level of 150 Feet and with a spillway discharging capacity of 36 Lakh Cusecs at pond level of 140 feet and not less than 20 Lakh Cusecs at a pond level of 130 feet. In order to protect the lands and properties above level of 150 feet, in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, protective embankments with adequate drainage sluices have been provided at the cost of the project. Relevant provisions of the agreement are reproduced below.
“Polavaram project spillway shall be designed for a flood discharge capacity of 36 Lakh cusecs at the pond level of 140 feet and not less than 20 lakh cusecs at pond level of 130 feet.
In order to protect the lands and properties above 150 feet in the territory of Orissa likely to be affected due to construction of Polavaram project, protective embankments with adequate drainage sluices shall be constructed and maintained at the cost of Polavaram project. However, the state of Orissa may exercise an option at the time of construction of Polavaram project for compensation to land and property likely to be affected above 150 feet as agreed in case of state of Madhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh).
For damages or injury to lands beyond 150 feet in the territory of Madhya Pardesh (now Chhattisgarh), in any event, the state of Andhra Pradesh shall pay full compensation for such damage or injury as may be assessed by the District Collector of the said district of the state of Madhya Pradesh (now Chhatisgarh).
The matter of design of the dam and its operation schedule shall be left to Central Water Commission, which they shall decide keeping in view all the agreements between the parties including the agreement of 2nd April 1980 filed today, as far as practicable.”
Project in Brief
Indira Sagar (Polavaram) project is located on river Godavari near Ramayyapet village of Polavaram Mandal of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. The project is multipurpose major terminal reservoir project on river Godavari for development of Irrigation, Hydropower and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh. The project will provide irrigation to 2.91 Lakh Hectares(CCA) and hydropower with installed capacity of 960 MW apart from 23.44 TMC (663.7 MCM) drinking and industrial water supply to Vishakhapatnam township and steel plant and diversion of 80 TMC waters to river Krishna. The ultimate irrigation potential of the project is 4.368 lakh ha and annual power generation will be 2369.43 million units. In addition, 540 villages will also be provided with drinking water facilities in the command area.
The project implements Godavari-Krishna link under Interlinking of rivers project. The project envisages transfer of 80TMC of surplus Godavari water to river Krishna which will be shared between AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra in proportion of 45 TMC by AP and 35 TMC by Karnataka and Maharashtra as per the decision of the GWDT award.
Status of appraisal
The project proposal of Indira Sagar (Polavaram) Project was considered and accepted by the Advisory Committee of MoWR in its meeting held on 20.01.2009 for Rs. 10151.04 crores at SOR 2005-06.
Investment clearance was accorded by Planning Commission vide their letter No. 2(168)/2004-WR dated 25 Feb. 2009.
Subsequently, Project Authorities have submitted Revised Cost Estimate of Polavaram Project on 30.08.2010. This was examined and finalized by CWC for revised cost Rs. 16010.45 crore of SOR 2010-11. Revised Cost Estimate of Polavaram Project for Rs. 16010.45 crore was accepted by the Advisory Committee of MoWR in its 108th meeting held on 04.01.2011. Investment clearance from Planning Commission is awaited. Planning Commission vide their letter no. 25(11)/NP/S/2009-WR dated 20.6.2012 addressed to Director, Prime Minister Office has intimated that Planning Commission has decided to wait for further orders of Supreme Court in the case filed by Government of Orissa against the project before taking any action as the matter is sub-judice.
Alternative Design Proposal
A proposal for taking up a series of barrages on Godavari river prepared by Shri T. Hanumantha Rao, former Engineer-in-Chief, Andhra Pradesh and UN consultant was received in Ministry of Water Resources through Shri P. Govardhan Reddy, Hon`ble Member of Parliament in December 2009. The series of barrages one below the other all along the river has been termed as “Step Ladder Technology” by the author. The proposal was sent to CWC for examination. The same was examined and the main observations of CWC were as under.
i) Barrages are diversion structures for providing limited storage capacity during the time when water is available in the river
ii) A barrage cannot fully meet water requirements during non-monsoon period for Rabi irrigation and other purposes like dependable power generation, diversion of water and supply of drinking water to a city.
iii) The command area under existing lift schemes is getting irrigation in Kharif only. For providing irrigation supplies for Rabi and perennial crops as well, State government of Andhra Pradesh has taken up Polavaram project.
Government of Orissa has filed original Suit No. 4 of 2007 and various Interlocutory Applications (IAs) in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against clearances granted by various Central Agencies including MoWR and against proceeding with the construction of Polavaram project by Andhra Pradesh Government and making defendant no. 1 to Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, defendant no. 2 to Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, defendant No. 3 to Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and defendant No.4 to Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA). No verdict or stay-order against the construction of Polavaram project or against declaring it National Project has been delivered by Hon'ble Supreme Court so far.
Direction of Hon’ble Supreme Court
Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its order dated 11.4.2011 has nominated Mr. M. Gopalakrishnan, Retired Member of Central Water Commission(CWC) who along with Members of CWC make inspection of Polavaram dam and submit a report to the Hon’ble Supreme Court separately to find out whether construction of Polavaram dam is carried out in terms of GWDT Award.
Mr. M. Gopalakrishnan and Members of CWC have visited the Polavaram dam during 23-24thMay, 2011 and separately submitted their report dated 14.6.2011 to the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
In both the reports of Mr. M. Gopalakrishnan and Members of CWC, it was concluded that the planning of Polavaram project and limited construction activities seen so far by the team at the Polavaram dam site are in tune with approved project and GWDT provisions.
Government of Chhattisgarh has filed original Suit No. 3 of 2011 alongwith IA in the Hon’ble Supreme Court against clearances granted by various Central Agencies including MoWR and against proceeding with the construction of Polavaram project by Andhra Pradesh Government and making defendant no. 1 to Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, defendant no. 2(a) to Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, defendant No. 2(b) to Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), defendant No. 2(c) to Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and defendant no. 3 to Central Water Commission.
Inclusion of Polavaram as National Project
State Govt. had submitted the proposal of the project for inclusion as National Project in April, 2009 as per guidelines for National Projects issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India. The project was recommended by the High Powered Steering Committee for inclusion as National Project in August, 2009. The EFC memorandum was discussed in the EFC meeting held on 5.3.2010 and it was decided that state govt. may work out realistic cost & implementation programme of the project. The cost of the project has been updated as Rs.16010.45 crore at 2010-11 price level. The revised cost of the project for Rs 16010.45 crore (Price Level 2010-11) has been accepted by the Advisory committee of MOWR in its 108th Meeting held on 4.1.2011. Investment clearance from the Planning Commission for the revised cost is awaited.
Stop work order by MoEF
Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) while responding to the special mention by Dr. K.V.P. Ramchandra, M.P. in Rajya Sabha on 12th August, 2011 regarding demand to conduct public hearing for Indira Sagar Polavaram Multipurpose Project in Andhra Pradesh commented as under:
“Government of Andhra Pradesh has so far not conducted the requisite public hearings in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Due to non compliance of this environment clearance condition, the MoEF has issued stop work order for the project on 8th February, 2011….Since public hearings in both the states are still pending, the stop work order for the project continues. A final decision in this regard shall be taken after the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court”.
Government of Andhra Pradesh vide its letter no. 14/ISPP/2013 dated 8.4.2013 has intimated that MoEF on the representation of Andhra Pradesh, has decided to keep the stop work order in abeyance for a period of six months during which efforts be made to get the Public Hearings done in the States of Odisha and Chhattisgarh for the protective embankments.