Context: Various organizations are opposing the Polavaram project.
Concerned Ministry: Ministry of Water Resources
Polavaram Project is an under-construction multi-purpose National project on the Godavari River in the West Godavari District and East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh to interlink Godavari (Polavaram) & Krishna (Vijaywada) just before they merge into the sea. The project has been accorded national project status by the Union Government of India and will be the last to be accorded the status.
What is a National Project?
The government of India has approved a scheme of National Projects to be implemented during the XIth Five Year Plan with a view to expediting the completion of identified National Projects for the benefit of the people. The project that has been accorded the status of a National Project will receive 90% of the grant from the central government for drinking and irrigation water components of the project. Establishment and administrative costs, however, will be borne by the state government.
Criteria for a project to be accorded as a national project –
- where planning and early completion of the project are necessary for the interest of the country.
- Inter-State projects which are dragging on due to non-resolution of Inter-State issues relating to sharing of costs, rehabilitation, aspects of power production, etc.
- Intra-State projects with the additional potential of more than 2,00,000 hectares (ha) and with no dispute regarding the sharing of water and where hydrology is established.
- The project seeks to transfer surplus waters from the Godavari basin to the Krishna river basin that is a water deficit. Thus, it seeks to address the challenges of flooding and droughts witnessed in the respective basins. ( Observe the map).
- To Store water at Polavaram dam in West Godavari district.
- To Irrigate nearly 3 lakh hectares of agricultural land.
- To generate 950+ MW hydro-electricity
- To supply water to Visakhapatanam & Vizag steel plant.
Opposition to the Polavaram Project:
- Polavaram project was opposed on the ground that it would amount to the displacement of nearly 300 villages. Of the displaced population, tribals constitute 50%. With inadequate resettlement and rehabilitation measures, this has severe implications on the socio-economic life of the displaced populations.
- Environmental activists argue that the project will submerge forests, wildlife sanctuaries and as a result disturb the ecology.
- Transferring waters from Godavari basin would alter the discharge in the river and this would adversely impact the biodiversity supported by Godavari basin. It may impact inland fishing, which is an important source of livelihood for the people.
- Godavari basin is not a surplus river basin and with the growing demand for water for irrigation, drinking and sanitation, industries, rising pollution of water bodies and climate changes, regions along the Godavari basin may soon be facing water scarcity.
- Chhattisgarh and Odisha states have petitioned the Supreme court against the project on apprehensions that villages in the territory of these states might be submerged by the project. Anti- project organizations in Odisha are alleging that the project would cause flooding in the state.
The Polavaram project has been a dream project for the people of Andhra Pradesh. The project seeks to benefit all the districts of Andhra Pradesh and make the state flood and drought-free. It will have a flood discharge capacity of 36 Lakh cusecs. The concerns raised by the project can be resolved through ensuring the resettlement of those displaced and by undertaking simultaneous measures to protect local ecology and vegetation.