AP: Villages to be submerged by Polavaram dam trigger controversy

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New Delhi, Feb 16: The proposed Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh may have been granted the status of a national project, but the villages which are likely to be submerged once it is ready has become the bone of contention between Seemandhra and Telangana Congress leaders.

The controversy surrounding the Bhadrachalam sub-division in Khammam district, which consists of villages that will be submerged, has triggered controversy against the backdrop of Union Cabinet's nod to transfer 130 villages to Seemandhra.

This has resulted in a slew of developments at the national capital with Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment P Balram Naik leading a delegation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to draw her attention towards the tribals who will be affected by the project. However, Seemandhra Congress leaders are firm over the transfer of villages.

"It is necessary that these villages are transferred to Seemandhra," Magunta Sreenivasulu, Congress Lok Sabha member representing Ongole constituency, said. He claimed that Cabinet ministers from Seemandhra region even insisted on merging the entire Bhadhrachalam sub-division with their (Seemandhra) region for the purpose.

According to the Water Resources Ministry, works for Polavaram dam project commenced in October 2004 and programmed to be completed by 2018. The controversial Andhra Pradesh (Reorganisation) Bill states that the Union should take under its control the regulation and development of the Polavaram project. The central government shall execute the project in consultation with the governments of AP and Telangana following all environmental, forest and rehabilitation and resettlement norms.

But Telangana Congress leaders question the motives of their Seemandhra counterparts. "In the name of transferring submerging villages, the Seemandhra people are staking claims for the entire Bhadhrachalam sub-division, which has been with Khammam district for over 55 years," AICC member and Andhra Pradesh MLC P Sudhakarr Reddy told PTI.

Claiming that they were not against the Polavaram Irrigation Project, he said adequate relief and rehabilitation measures must be available for the affected tribal people.

PTI

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