Polavaram Dam is a Multipurpose Project planned to be built in West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The explanation presented to every court whenever a case is filed against the project is .
1. 7 Lakhs Acres of Land Irrigation
2. 906 MW Hydro Power Generation
3. Drinking water supply to 524 Villages + Visakhapatnam City
4. 80 TMC Godavari River water transfer to Krishna River. This will quench the thirst of arid regions of South Telangana and North Rayalaseema
But there are some crucial Technical facts being hidden. Few of them are..
1. Polavaram Dam is a Major project with 75 TMC storage and design is an Earth cum Rock Fill Dam. This project is among the Jalayagnam projects of YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Two medium projects started in Jalayagnam namely ‘GundlaVaagu and Palem Vaagu breached even with moderate floods. Earthen Dams have breached quite a few times in Indian and World History.
a. Machu Dam in Gujarat
b. Earthen bund of Vishnuprayag Dam in Uttarakhand (2013)
c. Kadem Dam in Adilabad (Andhra Pradesh)
In case of a Breach of Polavaram Dam, atleast 20 Lakh people downstream will die. -Dam Break Analysis Report, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee
2. Godavari River recorded highest flood of is 36Lakh Cusecs in 1986. This level reached almost 43m (without the dam) near the project site. Imagine how much it would rise with water being impounded to +45m. The water level rise above the FRL (Full Reservoir level) due to Flood is called BWL (Back Water Level). There is no mention of BWL anywhere in the project in calculating the villages being submerged or pristine Forests being inundated due to the water level rise.
(Current water level is close to +25m. Not sure of the correct figure)
3. 50 Villages in Andhra Pradesh + 205 villages in Telangana + 10 Villages in Chattisgarh + 13 villages in Odisha Submergence
4. Before granting Environmental Clearance to the project, Ministry of Environment and Forests asked for Dam Break Analysis. This was done by National Institute of Hydrology. They say with the global climate chnage patterns. There is a possibility of 90 Lakh Cusecs flood occuring. So in 2006 MoEF asked the project proponent to redesign the spillway for 50Lakh Cusecs. Spillway has been redesigned. But the Submergence of Forests and Villages is still being shown only under FRL and not under BWL.
5. While Obtaining Forest Clearance, AP Govt showed 10000 acres of land for Reforestation. Forests along the banks of Godavari river in that region is pristine and are home to some of the rarest species indigenous to this region. The land shown for reforestation is in bits and pieces even to the tune of 30 cents (1/3 of an acre) in some places and not contagious to any forests.
How would ‘forests’ grow in such small tracts of land?
6. 7 Lakhs acres of irrigation is a wrong figure. Almost 6 lakhs acres of land to be irrigated is already sown 2 times. The additional water is for 3rd crop of an year. 4 lakh acres of the land is irrigated by various ground water sources. nearly 2 lakh acres to be irrigated by Thatipudi and Pushkaram lift irrigation projects still to be completed. These canals run parallel to Polavaram left main canal. you can see these canals in Google Earth too.
So Newly irrigated land is about 1 lakh acres only.
7. Drinking water to be provided to Vizag district. Yeleswaram Project Phase-1 and Phase-2 are for the same.
8. The Bachwat Tribunal award orders are if water is added from Godavari basin to Krishna Basin. Then water has to be shared by Karnataka, Maharashtra and AP (also TG). In case of good rains in Krishna basin that would be advantageous to Rayalaseema and Telangana. But In case of a drought year, Both these regions will not get their present share of water. But region in Krishna Delta will have enough as Godavari river is mostly surplus water region.
9. The present Contractor of the dam is Transtroy (a benami of Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, who is doing Jumping japongs from Congress to BJP) only for the same. This company’s earlier subsidiaries were blacklisted for their previous projects. There is a case in Lokayukta by Soma Engineering company that Transtroy have furnished false Financial statements to bag the project tender.
10. Tribal Welfare Clearance to the project was given with the condition that the tribals who will be displaced to be provided with land ‘upto 2.5 acres in project benefited areas with the same privilges’. But till date only cash of 1.5 lakhs INR is being given to only those who have land titles.
The concept of Land titles is very ambiguous in Forest areas. Many tribal farmers do shifting agriculture and depend on forests directly for their and their cattle survival. They do not have titles (either revenue or Forest Rights titles). So, they are not willing to leave the place.
11. ‘The same privileges’ in pt.10. In Tribal areas (5th Schedule Areas) They have special laws protecting them from land alienation. Non-Tribals cannot occupy their lands. Govt will have to notify the newly acquired land in project benefitted areas into 5th schedule areas.
Note: 805 villages which were to be notified since AP state re-organisation 60 yrs ago is not yet complete.
12. There are better alternatives. Dr. T. Hanumantha Rao, Vidya Sagar Rao, Dharma Reddy and many Chief Engineers have opposed the present design which do not serve the purpose. The Alternative suggested by T Hanumantha Rao sir has advantages of irrigating more than 25 lakh acres of dry and unirrigated land. It has advantages of a Navigational channel from the Bay of Bengal to Sriram sagar project (which is located in Maharashtra border). This will boost Economy in both states by providing transport infrastructure to Industries apart from stabilising the seasonal variation of Godavari river.
To Read what Dr. T Hanumantha Rao sir, One of the best cheif engineer of AP, who hails from Rajamundry BTW. Here is his document on the present dangerous design and his alternate design.
There are many more facts will be continued in part-2..