Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP New Bulletin 28 August 2017 (Need for Policy on Equitable Sharing of River Flow)

Krishna River Water Sharing Dispute  The Andhra Pradesh government is contemplating a legal battle against the Maharashtra and Karnataka governments for denying the “rightful share” of Krishna river water to the state. 

As per DU Rao, Water Resources Minister, Andhra Pradesh, State Government is consulting legal experts to file either a special leave petition or public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against Maharashtra and Karnataka for withholding water in river Krishna and depriving the lower riparian state of its rightful share. The minister also said that upper riparian states are not releasing water even as a humanitarian gesture to meet drinking water needs.

The minister further stated that due to abundant rains, reservoirs on river Krishna in Maharashtra and Karnataka were filled to the brim. Both these states have a total of 275 tmc ft of water stored in their reservoirs, but they are not letting out even one tmc ft to lower riparian states like Telangana and Andhra and instead taking cover under tribunals, those states are fully utilising the water.

It will really be a good case if they draft it well. The Maharashtra and Karnataka parts of Krishna basin have stored 275 TMC of water and Maharashtra is also diverting water from Krishna basin to high rainfall Konkan area this monsoon, but not releasing any water to downstream Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/220817/ap-mulls-moving-sc-against-maharashtra-karnataka-over-krishna-water.html

Continue reading “DRP New Bulletin 28 August 2017 (Need for Policy on Equitable Sharing of River Flow)”

Andhra Pradesh · Dams · Karnataka · Maharashtra · Telangana


Release water from Koyna & Tata dams to drought hit Karnataka, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

Large parts of South India, including parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are facing unprecedented drought and water scarcity. However, Maharashtra is sending OUT billions of liters of water FROM drought hit Krishna basin to High Rainfall Konkan region to flow to the sea. Continue reading “STOP DIVERSION OF WATER FROM DROUGHT HIT KRISHNA BASIN”

Andhra Pradesh

Open Letter to Govt: Is there any justification for Polavaram dam? Will Govt probe the irregularities in the project?


14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road


Visakhapatnam 530002

Mobile: 919866021646

Email: eassarma@gmail.com



Shri Ashok Lavasa

Secretary (Expenditure)

Ministry of Finance

Govt of india


Shri Shashi Shekhar


Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR)

Govt of India


Shri G S Jha


Central Water Commission (CWC)

Govt of India


Dr Shyam S Agarwal


Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA)

Govt of India

to:        Ashok Lavasa alavasa@nic.in, ashoklavasa@gmail.com, secyexp@nic.in, secy-mowr@nic.in, envisect@nic.in, secy-tribal@nic.in, chairman-cwc@nic.in, mdr@nic.in, mrm@nic.in, mwp@nic.in

cc:        grievance-cwc@nic.in, hshso@nic.in, nmisra@rediffmail.com

Dear S/Shri Lavasa/ Shashi Shekhar/ Jha and Dr Agarwal,

Subject: Financial improprieties and illegalities in the execution of Indirasagar (Polavaram) Project & Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project in AP- Central government agencies conniving with the State public functionaries in committing serious irregularities- Demand an independent investigation

I refer to my previous letters dated 20-12-2015 & 7-10-2016 addressed to you on the subject.

In my correspondence with you, I had pointed out to you the injustice meted out by the Centre and the State to lakhs of adivasis whose lands are getting submerged under the Polavaram project. There have been serious statutory violations in terms of an outright infringement of both PESA and FRA, as well as bypassing of the requirements of the Environment (Protection) Act. In addition, the State has violated its assurance that each adivasi family displaced in Polavaram should be given an equivalent extent of ayacut land as a precondition to the clearance of the project. Continue reading “Open Letter to Govt: Is there any justification for Polavaram dam? Will Govt probe the irregularities in the project?”

DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 5 Sept 2016: Is there hope for India’s Environment from Mr Anil Dave?


Is there hope for India’s Environment from Mr Anil Dave? Most shocking statements from India’s environment Minister. He says let us do Ken Betwa link when the project has NONE of the statutory clearances from his own ministries. The independent committees are yet to appraise the project and yet he is saying: “This Ken-Betwa river link we should do it and have an impact assessment after five years. If it is good, then great, if not they don’t go for other linkages.” Is there any hope for India’s environment? As he says, YE SAB CHALTA HAI!!

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/interview-won-t-put-a-cap-on-new-dams-in-uttarakhand-river-linking-should-go-ahead-anil-dave-2251391 Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 5 Sept 2016: Is there hope for India’s Environment from Mr Anil Dave?”

Dams · Drought · Hydropower

Letter to PM: Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years

Above: Red arrows indicate diversion of water from Tata Dams into surplus basin. Source: Google earth images and SANDRP

Since past three years, SANDRP has been raising the issue of West-ward water transfer during drought years by hydropower dams. Maharashtra annually diverts 3324 Million Cubic Meters of water from its water deficit Bhima and Krishna basins into the water surplus Konkan basin for hydropower generation. This happens though 6 dams on Bhima Basin privately owned by Tata Power and the Koyana Hydropower Project. Although drinking water is the first priority for any society and this is enshrined in the National and State Water Policies, there is no system in place to allocate the waters of these dams to the downstream, when there is dire need. During this drought, which is possibly Independent India’s worst droughts, Tata Dams have released nearly no water to the Bhima Basin and Maharashtra Government on its part has taken no stand on this issue.

After raising this issue several times at many platforms, SANDRP has sent a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. If you agree with the points raised in the letter below, please send similar letter to the authorities.  Continue reading “Letter to PM: Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years”

Andhra Pradesh

Discrepancies in rainfall figures for Andhra Pradesh’s drought hit districts

On October 28, 2015, the government of Andhra Pradesh declared drought[1] in 196 mandals in seven of the thirteen districts of the state. Having seen the serious discrepancies (between IMD and state government) in the rainfall figures of districts in Maharashtra[2] and Madhya Pradesh[3] where the respective state governments declared drought earlier, we decided to check the same for these seven districts of AP too. The IMD figures[4] for the monsoon (June 1 to Sept 30) rainfall for these seven districts are given in terms of Normal Rainfall, Actual Rainfall and how much actual rainfall departure was there from Normal Rainfall. During 2015 monsoon, IMD figures  say that Coastal Andhra Pradesh (nine districts, three of which are declared drought affected now) received 642 mm rainfall, compared to normal rainfall of 581.1 mm, so a surplus of 10%. Rayalseema (comprising of four districts, all drought hit now) received 358.3 mm rainfall, 10% below the normal figure of 398.3 mm. In the previous year, both regions had 23% deficient rainfall, with actual rainfall of 448.7 mm in Coastal AP and 308.6 mm in Rayalseema. Continue reading “Discrepancies in rainfall figures for Andhra Pradesh’s drought hit districts”


Godavari Krishna River Linking: Are we celebrating an illegal, unnecessary & misconceived water transfer project?

The national media seems to be celebrating linking of Godavari and Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh on September 16, 2015 as the first major step towards Inter Linking of Rivers in India. An emotional Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Shri N Chandrababu Naidu called it historic and Pavitra Sangam (Holy Confluence)[1].

What is the reality? Continue reading “Godavari Krishna River Linking: Are we celebrating an illegal, unnecessary & misconceived water transfer project?”


As Krishna Bhima basin farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP & Telangana face drought, crop failure, Water scarcity, Maharashtra DIVERTED 350 MCM water from the basin & stored another 2535 MCM reserved to release, literally to sea!

(Photo above: Koyna Dam)

Large parts of Krishna basin spanning Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are facing massive rainfall deficits, drought like conditions and crop failures. The tail-end reservoirs of Srisailam and Nagarjun Sagar are almost empty. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are already thinking of conserving the available water for drinking water. They are not even thinking of releasing any water for saving the crops in delta farmers. In upstream Maharashtra itself, the Ujani dam has ZERO live storage and perennially dry Marathawada has the highest rainfall deficit. Shockingly, in this very period from July 1 to Aug 6, Maharashtra has diverted more than 350 Million Cubic Meters of water (at most conservative estimates) FROM this very Krishna and Bhima basins to the High Rainfall area of Konkan (it already has had 1467.1 mm rain till Aug 7, 2015) and down to the sea! If this diversion was stopped since July 1, when the signs of severe monsoon deficits in the three states were already there[1], this water would have been available to save crops in lakhs of acres in the river basin, and some of it would have also flowed to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and water may have been available for saving some crops. Even now these Koyna and Tata dams have 2535 MCM water in live storage that is reserved for diversion to Konkan and to sea, but wont be release for the failing crops across the basin. How can we continue such wasteful use of water in a water deficit basin, at the cost of livelihoods of lakhs of farmers? Even now it is necessary to URGENTLY review this situation and consider stopping diversion of water FROM Krishna basin to sea. This may save crops and livelihoods of lakhs of farmers. Continue reading “As Krishna Bhima basin farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP & Telangana face drought, crop failure, Water scarcity, Maharashtra DIVERTED 350 MCM water from the basin & stored another 2535 MCM reserved to release, literally to sea!”


Dam’ned: A Film on Polavaram Dam Give Voice to the Unheard

At a time when the creation of separate Telengana state from Andhra Pradesh is making headlines in the national media, the issue Polavaram dam seems to have been sidelined in media. But Polavaram dam holds huge significance in this situation since construction of this dam is one of the condition laid down by the center in order to create state of Telengana bifurcating the state of Andhra Pradesh. The dam though has no legally tenable clearance, Odisha and Chhattisgarh continue to oppose it and there are cases pending against the project in the Supreme Court. 

Location map of Polavaram with the Submergence area
Location map of Polavaram with the Submergence area

Now a 2013 film by social activist and filmmaker Saraswati Kavula “Dam’ned” documents plight of the people being affected by the Polavaram dam. The film also brings out the critical issues associated with the construction of this mega dam which were rarely covered by any media. The film is available in four parts on youtube, see: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb4JjIYab5w_dFkHwkmkrHQ?feature=g-user-u.

The 71 minutes film is a brilliant documentation of peoples sentiments associated with the river, land and a project which will submerge all of these. Within these 71 minutes the film brings to light the multitude and complexity of issues associated with this mega project. But before getting into that, a brief about this gigantic project has been provided, as given in the film. 

The Polavaram Project Polavaram is one of the most controversial dam projects in India. It is also the largest dam in India in terms of the number of people it would displace. The dam will be located near Polavaram village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, an area bordering Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The dam aims to irrigate 7,21,000 acres of land in four districts of Andhra Pradesh i.e. West Godavari, East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam and Krishna districts. The project proponent claims that this project will also provide drinking water to 540 villages of Vishakhapatnam district along with the city of Vizag and to provide water to industries located in Vishakhapatnam district. The project also aims to transfer 80 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water from Godavari to Krishna river basin.

The cost of mega plan will be majorly born by the ethnic tribal people of Andhra as well Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The dam will submerge 300 villages displacing 2,00,000 people. The submergence area will be so huge that the back waters of the dam go all upto Sabari river in Chattisgarh and Sileru river in Odisha. This submergence area will cover 10,000 acres of biodiversity rich forest and also partially submerge the Papikundulum wildlife sanctuary. The people living in these areas are predominantly ‘adivasis’ belonging to Koya and Konda Reddy tribes. There is a substantial number of no-tribal people, majority of the belonging to Dalits and backward classes. In numbers nearly 200 out of the 300 submerged villages are adivasi villages.   

Why this Film is Important The film is threaded around people’s strong links with the land, forest, biodiversity and river. Throughout the film how people have associated themselves with the natural resources and how breaking this association is inviting havoc for the economic conditions and social relations have been depicted brilliantly.

This is a land where our ancestors have been living for ages and we won’t leave it at any cost” such sentiments have been echoed throughout the history in most cases of displacement caused due to dams or any other project displacing people. This film on Polavaram documents with videos why and how this is such a crucial case against such projects. The film shows how displacing people from one place and giving them compensation either in terms of money or in rare cases some land has done little to improve  the conditions of the people and has in fact impoverished and disempowered the people. This, as the film very clearly shows, has thrown them in to a life of poverty and uncertainty.

The film is packed with interviews of the people affected by the dam either due to submergence or due to other project components like canal construction. The filmmaker also interviewed experts from the field to show how the construction of Polavaram dam violates legal norms, is technically not feasible and takes no lesson from the experiences of construction of similar project in other parts of the country and how better options exist.

The personal interviews done brings to light how the people have little information about the project in Andhra Pradesh and have literally no information in Chhattisgarh and Odisha. In Andhra Pradesh, the government is also building infrastructure such as roads and buildings in areas which have been identified as submergence areas. This rather than helping people is creating confusions. There has been no environment or social impact assessment or public consultations in Chhattisgarh or Odisha, nor any plans for rehabilitation or environmental management. The Polavaram project got environment clearance in Oct 2005 but till 2013, in Andhra Pradesh out of the 276 submergence villages only 30 to 40 villages have been receiving compensation and that too only partly for their land only.

Complexities with Compensation: Monetary The film also brings out what is actually happening with the money given as compensation. The compensation that was given to one affected family, loosing 1.5 acres of land, was Rs. 1,68,000. When asked what did they do with the money, the head of the family said that they distributed the money among the family members where each person got around Rs. 10,000. People from Khammam district narrated the story of how they have been looted in the process of getting the compensation cheques from the government officials and lawyers.  People were also cheated by insurance companies which came to these areas in large numbers posing as banks after people received their cheques.  People also believed that after the project compensation was given the social relations in villages have deteriorated. One of the ladies from an affected family said “Many people died since the money came… drinking heavily and died… People are fighting among themselves since the money came.” clip 3

The Bone of Contention: Land The film shows that even in case of the compensation received in the form of land, why the result is equally distressful.  In a rehabilitation colony in East Godavari district few males are to be found since they have migrated to the cities to find work. People said that there is no farmland for them to work nor there is any work under MGNREGA. In Kuruturu in West Godavari district, the conflict over land between tribal and non-tribal people have intensified since displaced people were given disputed land as part of their rehabilitation plan. Many people who were given such land returned to their original villages due to these conflicts. They now conclude: “we have decided that its better we die in the Godavari, rather then go over there.” Some of the affected people (e.g. in Kunta block in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh) face double displacement. The people of this area were forced to shift to Salwa Judum camps due to the conflict between Maoist and Salwa Judum since 2005. But at a time when they were returning to their villages to resume their lives, they were told that they will again had to leave their villages as they will be submerged by the Polavaram dam.

Canals Completed without any work on the Dam The film also throws light on drawback of the construction plan of the Polavaram dam. The films shows that the construction work of the irrigation canals of the project is almost complete at a time when no progress has been made in the construction of the main dam. This project, as Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP points out in the film, resembles the Rs 75,000 crore Maharastra irrigation scam where canals were constructed to fulfill the interests of the construction lobby without doing any work on the main dam. The massive Andhra Irrigation Scam is only beginning to surface, as pointed out in a recent CAG report[i]

Embankments as Huge as ‘China Walls’ The film shows that the proposal to construct embankments as huge as the ‘China wall’ on Sabari and Sileru rivers of Chhattisgarh and Odisha to prevent submergence of the areas in these states can only be possible on paper. The plan to construct embankment came as response to Orissa High Court order which said that Polavram project cannot submerge the areas of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. However, embankments were not a part of the original construction plan which received clearance from Environment Ministry. Nor has there been any environment or social impact assessment or feasibility study based on ground realities of the embankment proposal. There has also been no public consultations in these affected areas.

Experts say construction of such embankments would be a huge blunder of the Polavaram project. In the film Prof. T. Shivaji Rao of Center of Environment Studies in GITAM Univeristy, Vizag opined that with embankments there will be greater damage for Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Andhra Pradesh has also made a plan to put 16 lifts at different points on the embankments on Sabari and Sileru rivers to lift the water from the tributaries to the main river during flooding season. During rains these lifts are to lift and pump the water over the embankment walls and pour it in the river. This is doomed right from the beginning. The film shows this by bringing a detailed account of the experience of similar sluice gate scheme on the Godavari embankment in Bhadrachalam where it failed miserably. The sluices got closed up leading to waterlogging and inundation of houses.

There is no doubt that this film is a very detailed documentation of the issues related with Polavaram dam. The filmmaker could have added some voices from the government or project authorities to give a complete picture. In the film serious concerns were raised against how the government has handled the whole issue of Polavaram. I would recommend all concerned must watch this film. For a copy, either see the youtube link given above or write to the film maker: skavula09@gmail.com, the price of a copy of the film is Rs 350/- including postage charges of Rs 50/-. Do watch and spread the word!

Parag Jyoti Saikia


CAG blows the lid off Massive irrigation scam in Andhra Pradesh


Summary points:

  • As on March 2012, Rs 80,000 crores spent on the projects under Jalyagnam, which was launched in the year 2004 by the then CM Rajshekhar Reddy, involving 86 projects involving cost of over Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
  • Almost all test checked projects were taken up and contract awarded without obtaining necessary clearances such as investment clearance (24 projects) from Planning Commission, forest clearance (21 projects) and environment clearance (18 projects) from Ministry of Environment and Forests; in principle clearance (16 projects) from CWC and R&R clearance (14 projects) from Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • Out of 74 irrigation projects, 31 were Lift Irrigation Schemes. The power required for these schemes amounted to nearly 54.43 percent of total Installed Capacity of the state and around 30.93 percent of total consumption of the state.
  • Audit scrutiny revealed that state government was yet to approve the draft plan for R&R of over 50 percent of displaced from 546 villages. Out of 281 villages for which the draft R & R plan is yet to be submitted, 206 villages pertain the controversial Polavaram project.
  • CAG noted that while the state government show an extra ordinary commitment in expediting the task of awarding the contract for Spillway (in March 2005) and ECRF dam work (in August 2006) for Polavaram project, it had not even initiated the socio-economic survey of the submergence zone and not yet identified the PAFs.
  • Some of the contractors garnered most of the work packages, largely through cross-formation of Joint Ventures amongst themselves. CAG found several flaws in tendering process such as, awarding contract on single tender basis, keeping qualification criteria fixed for empanelment of contractors at less stringent levels etc.

Jalyagnam, the most ambitious irrigation scheme of Andhra Pradesh has come under severe indictment in a recent performance audit carried out by CAG of India. The report got tabled in Andhra Pradesh assembly on June 21st, the last day of the budget session. The program comprised 86 projects (44 major, 30 medium, 4 flood banks and 8 modernisation works) and was estimated to cost Rs 1.86 lakh crore. While 12 under implementation projects (with an approved cost of Rs 2139 crore) were brought under Jalyagnam with an express aim of expediting their completion, the rest of the projects got sanctioned between 2004-’05 and 2008-’09. The programme aimed at extending irrigation in an ayacut of 97.40 lakh acres and stabilise another 22.53 lakh acres of existing ayacut in parched and drought prone areas of Telangana and Rayalseema. It also promised to provide drinking water to 1/4th of the state’s population and generate 2700 MW of power.

Concrete mixer machine worth Rs 7 Crores Photo:Anil Kumar
Concrete mixer machine worth Rs 7 Crores Photo:Anil Kumar

CAG audits for Andhra Pradesh have been reviewing irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh every year. During the period 2004-2010, it had examined 18 irrigation projects. Almost all of those projects formed a part of Jalyagnam and those audit findings are under discussion by Public Accounts Committee. Those earlier audit reports have raised mainly two concerns: i) the need for building safeguards in the EPC (i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction) mode of contracts with regard to variation in scope, specifications, design etc. and ii) the impact of non-acquisition of land and non-obtaining statutory clearances from CWC, MoEF and MoTA before awarding the contracts.

CAG carried out performance audit of 26 out of 74 major and medium irrigation projects, involving a capital outlay of Rs 1.43 lakh crore, taken up under Jalyagnam during June – December 2011 with a focus on irrigation benefits. As on March 2012, Rs 61,498 crore were spent on these projects. Some of these 26 projects had also come audit scrutiny earlier as individual projects or as part of performance audit of AIBP and Godawari Water Utilisation Authority. Those audit findings haven’t been repeated in the present report.

Audit scrutiny of project related documents around feasibility issues revealed that many projects were taken up without adequate planning on ensuring the availability of water and power (in the case of Lift Irrigation Shcmes), and inadequate delineation of the targeted ayacut in some cases. It was especially so, in respect of projects on river Krishna and Pennar, where the water required for successful implementation of the projects is far above the quantity available in these two river basins. The state government was conscious of this aspect and hence made a claim that it proposed to utilise the surplus/ flood flow in the two river basins. CAG audit observation noted that there was evidence in the records made available to audit that the flood data of these rivers were analysed to assess the average number of days that flood flows are available annually. There was also no uniformity in the number of flood days adopted for the designing of the projects that were supposed to use flood flows of Krishna.

National Park Area W Godavari District Photo: Anil Kumar
National Park Area W Godavari District Photo: Anil Kumar

Where is water for the projects? CAG cites an opinion expressed by an expert committee constituted by the state government in July 1997, to examine the feasibility of implementing Galeru Nagari project. This expert committee had stated at that point almost 15 years ago that the number of flood days in Krishna was only 30 per annum that too with only 40 percent dependability. Examined alongside this observation, some of the projects taken up on river Krishna are not viable and this is corroborated by the fact that CWC has returned the project proposals of Galeru Nagari, Veligonda and Srisailam Left Bank Canal projects to state government, stating that the state government had failed to establish clear and firm availability of water on a long term basis for these projects. CAG audit scrutiny also underlined a Planning Commission stipulation that all projects that have inter-state ramifications should be cleared by CWC, but state government had not obtained for these projects as of September 2012. CAG also noticed that there was no evidence in the records produced for audit to show that the proposals in respect of Gandikota-CBR lift scheme and CBR Lingala canal were sent to the CWC at any stage for approval.

Contracts before statutory clearances Not only was it an issue of an abysmally poor planning of Jalyagnam projects, audit scrutiny revealed that four projects were taken up without even feasibility studies and another 11 projects were taken up without preparation of Detailed Project Reports. CAG’s audit scrutiny also revealed that almost all test checked projects were taken up and contracts awarded without obtaining necessary clearances such as investment clearance (24 projects) from Planning Commission, forest clearance (21 projects) and environment clearance (18 projects) from MoEF, in-principle clearance (16 projects) from CWC and R&R clearance (14 projects) from MoTA. The much touted Jalyagnam had clearly bulldozed its way through the environmental regulation regime. It would be informative to find out if Planning Commission, CWC, MoEF and MoTA ever tried to engage the Andhra Pradesh state government to abide by the laws of the land. If this is not an example of brazen disregard for laws unleashed by development intoxication, where else shall we look?

As per annexure 3.1 in the audit report even as of July 2012 the following projects had not received Forest Clearances even as contracts for works on the same were awarded for quite some time now: Uttar Andhra, Galeru Nagari, Somasila Swarnmukhi Link Canal, Somasila Project, Rajiv Dummugudem, Pranahita Chevella, Dummugudem NS Tail pond, Telugu Ganga, Handri Neeva, Veligonda, Komaram Bheem, Kanthanapally, Devadula and Yellampally.

The same annexure states that following projects had not received Environment Clearance as of July 2012: Venkatnagaram, Uttar Andhra, SomasilaSwarnamukhiLinkCanal, Gandhikota – CBR Lift, CBRLingalaCanal, Pranhita Chevella, Dummuguddem NS Tail pond and Kanthanpally.

55% of AP power for Lift Irrigation Schemes? Out of 74 irrigation projects, 31 are Lift Irrigation Schemes. The power required for these projects, taken up over the river Krishna and Godavari, works out to be nearly 54.43 percent of total installed capacity of the state, and around 30.39 percent of the total consumption of the state! Andhra being a power deficit state, providing the requisite power to operate these schemes would pose a big challenge for the state government and expose the wisdom of mad push for the Jalyagnam.

The Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode of contracting, currently the system followed by many governments for time bound execution of the project and minimising the risks to state, as adopted by state government did not ensure commensurate benefits to the State. Audit scrutiny noticed that several contracts were awarded on a single tender basis, and sufficient time was not given to ensure fair competition. Technical sanctions were obtained after the receipt and opening of bids in several cases. Audit also found cases where finalisations of Iinternational Bench Mark values were delayed and post tender changes to INMs were allowed.

MEIL Company got as many as 28 packages worth Rs 36,916 crore by entering into joint ventures with 23 companies. SEW construction company also garnered 51 packages worth Rs 25,369 crore by entering into JV with 20 different companies. Maytas, which was in the hands of Ramalinga Raju’s son Teja Raju during 2004-10, had successfully grabbed 28 packages worth Rs 23,186 crore by entering into joint venture with 17 companies. CAG also pointed that MEIL, AAG, BHEL and ABB companies were not in the original empanelled list but have teamed up with several empanelled firms to obtain contracts under open category.

No concern for Rehabilitation A program that was taken up and marketed all around in a mission mode to fast track the irrigation projects proceeded at snail pace when it came to ensuring resettlement and rehabilitation of affected people. Audit scrutiny revealed that state government was yet to approve the draft plan for R&R of over 50 percent of displaced from 546 villages. Out of 281 villages for which the draft R & R plan is yet to be submitted, 206 villages pertain the controversial Polavaram project. The Commissioner, R&R stated in a reply dated July 2012 that the government had prioritised 191 villages in different irrigation projects as of March 2012, and all the activities in this regard will have to be completed within the next two to three years. CAG was not quite convinced with this explanation and noted that “the reply confirms that Government is unable to complete even the planning process, despite expiry of the original agreement periods, for a majority of the projects”.

Photo: Tony Stewart
Photo: Tony Stewart

Further, provision of houses for the populated slated to be affected by the projects was abysmally slow, with just about 13 percent progress in constructing houses for these families. In respect of nine projects, namely Pulichintala, Veligonda, Bheema, Nettempadu, Tarakaram Tirth Sagar, Neelwai, Kalwakurthy, Handri Neeva and Devdula; as against 23166 houses contemplated, not a single house was completed as of March 2012! Further, in two projects, namely Polavaram and Yelampally involving five districts, the progress in completion of houses was only marginal.

Photo: Tony Stewart
Photo: Tony Stewart

Polavaram CAG indicted the controversial Polavaram project, which involved submergence of 277 villages, affecting 42,712 Project Affected Families with 131045 persons in 3 districts in Andhra Pradesh, apart from affecting 2335 PAFs with 11766 persons from 4 villages in Chhatisgarh and 1002 PAFs with 6316 persons from 8 villages in Odisha for visible delay in R & R activity. CAG noted that while the state government show an extra ordinary commitment in expediting the task of awarding the contract for Spillway (in March 2005) and ECRF dam work (in August 2006), it had not even initiated the socio economic survey of the submergence zone and had not yet identified the PAFs. Audit scrutiny also found out that the first phase of R & R activity, which was due for completion by June 2008, was not completed even as of March 2012. Even those 9 villages that are situated in close vicinity of the dam have not been shifted as noted by the audit. The state government has resettled only 277 families with 1136 persons so far despite incurring expenditure worth Rs 108 crore on R & R. Thus the progress on R & R front in Polavaram was a mere 5 percent during the last seven years. Isn’t it time for social scientists and researchers who have worked on the issue of displacement and rehabilitation to ask why is it that in projects after projects we witness that rehabilitation work is almost never carried out pari passu with civil construction work, let alone it being completed prior to embarking on the stages of construction!

Papi Hills National Park. Photo: Anil Kumar
Papi Hills National Park. Photo: Anil Kumar

However, when it came to acquire land for the projects the state government appeared to be trying to put up a brave performance! CAG audit revealed that out of 9.19 lakh acres of land required for projects, state government had acquired 5.97 lakh acres (i.e. almost 65 percent).

Common Command Area
Common Command Area

CAG also noted that delays completion of projects, along with changes to the specification and scope of work pursuant to detailed study and investigation and designs, pushed up the costs by Rs 52,116 crores compared to the origination sanction.

This performance audit points at how Jalyagnam that was used by the successive regimes in Andhra Pradesh to build a grandiose image rang hollow on the issue of due diligence in planning, showing due regards to the environmental regulations and dealing with the displaced people sensitively. It drives home the message that citizens must probe into the lofty claims churn out by propaganda machinery of the state. Will citizens start asking some tough questions on what plagues irrigation sector in India?

Bigger than Maharashtra Irrigatoin scam? From the figures available so far, it seems to be larger than the irrigation scam of Maharashtra. Will the media  take this up with equal zeal as they took up the case of Maharashtra irrigation scam and do persistent investigations into specific projects, specific irregularities, specific contracts, specific contractors, specific links of contractors with politicians, specific failure of regulatory agencies?

Himanshu Upadhyaya  (He is a research scholar at Centre for Studies in Science Policies, JNU, New Delhi)