Reiterating his opposition to grant of national project status to the contentious Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him to stop construction of the dam which will submerge large tracts of land in Odisha.
“I am really shocked and surprised to know from media reports that the Government of India is likely to declare the Polavaram project as a national project. This is in spite of my request not to declare the Polavaram project as a national project and to stop construction of the project conveyed vide letter dated July 18, 2009 addressed to your good office,” Patnaik wrote to the prime minister.
Patnaik said, many technical issues are to be resolved on the issue of design flood, reservoir operation schedule, adherence to GWDT (Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal) award/BIS codes in the formulation of the Polavaram project which have bearing on backwater effect and the extent of submergence in Odisha.
“Without resolving these issues amicably, the areas likely to be affected in Odisha cannot be determined,” he said in the letter.
A design flood of 3.6 million cusecs was considered in the GWDT award, considering the flood moderation from proposed upstream major projects.
In 1979, the Central Water Commission (CWC) considered Polavaram as barrage for design flood purpose.
“CWC revised the design flood to five million cusecs considering Polavaram as a major project. However, while estimating the design flood for the project, CWC/Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) violated the norms/BIS codes,” he wrote. “Only a flood of about 6,796 cusecs is considered in Sabari for back water estimation in Odisha, which is unacceptably small, whereas floods of double this magnitude have been observed and consideration of the appropriate flood would have increased the back water effect,” the letter added.
Without correct assessment of back water length in Odisha, the area likely to be affected cannot be determined, Patnaik wrote to Singh.
Patnaik pointed out that the CWC has failed to ensure the 1980 agreement incorporated in the GWDT award that gave a method of reservoir operation of the Polavaram during floods to minimise the submergence in Odisha and Chattisgarh.
The state government has also filed a suit to not to declare the Polavaram project as national project, he said.