An inter-state row over an irrigation project across river Godavari intensified on Thursday with Maharashatra denying permission to Andhra Pradesh's irrigation minister to visit the project site.
Ponala Lakshmaiah and Maharashtra's minister for water resources Ajit Pawar were to undertake a joint survey of the site on Thursday but the Maharashtra government informed Lakshmaiah at the last minute about the postponement of the visit.
Lakshmaiah sought Maharashtra's permission to visit Babli project site in Dharmabad taluka on Tuesday. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh initially agreed to allow him to visit the site. A few hours later, Pawar wrote another letter to inform the Andhra Pradesh minister that he would also join him.
As Lakshmaiah was about to leave for Maharashtra, he received another letter stating that the visit would be delayed. "This attitude proves that the Maharashtra government is trying to cover up the illegal construction of the project," said Lakshmaiah.
The Andhra Pradesh government alleged that the upper riparian state was building Babli project in violation of inter-state agreement and a Central Water Commission directive.
It argues that the task would affect Sriramsagar project and harm the interests of the state's Telangana region as it depends on Godavari water for irrigation and drinking.
An all-party delegation led by state Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on March 30 seeking the central government's intervention to stop the project.
The main opposition Telugu Desam Party has alleged that the Congress government was not doing enough to stop the project, which has the potential to draw 65 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water out of 90 tmcft at Sriramsagar.
TDP has threatened to launch an agitation if Babli venture was not stopped by April 6.