The Rs 16,010-crore Polavaram dam project on the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh — already a source of anguish in Orissa and Chhattisgarh — has attracted opposition from the most unexpected quarters: leaders of the ruling Congress in Telangana.
The project that may displace 1.8 lakh people in the state, as a vast swath of land will be submerged in those states, has already been served a show-cause notice from the Union environment ministry as well.
The dam, being built for five years with more than Rs3,000 crore already expended, will submerge 276 villages in Andhra Pradesh alone. Of them, 205 villages are in Telangana.
Over 1.3 lakh people in the region, mostly the Koyas and the Konda Reddy tribesmen, will be uprooted by the project. What’s more, the project will help irrigate 7.2 lakh acres in coastal Andhra region, while Telangana will get water for only 1.33 lakh acres.
IT minister Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, who is from the Telangana region, said, "The Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala dams were built displacing Telangana tribesmen. Now, the tribesmen are set to be displaced again due to the Polavaram project."
As the dam is expected to benefit the coastal region more than Telangana, it has added fuel to the traditional rivalry between the two regions and created a sharp divide even between the Congress leaders of the regions.
For the past 24 hours, Telangana is witnessing a wave of protests, demanding a review of the dam project. This time, however, the lead is not being by the Telangana Rastra Samiti.
The central government, in view of the protests in Telangana, may not take an early call on the project. And the environment ministry's show-cause notice has brought work on the project to a standstill.