No green nod, yet inter-state river project gets Telangana push

The move to build a barrage and a canal under the Rs 40,000-crore inter-state river Pranhita-Chevella project seems to be running into troubled waters.

At least five years before a pact to set up an inter-state board for the project was inked between Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Maharashtra, political expediency forced AP to complete construction of a large part of the 512-km-long canal on its side.

The project still does not have environmental and wildlife clearances. But its capacity to irrigate over 16 lakh hectares in Telangana, which is fighting for statehood, forced AP to go ahead with the canal work.

In May 2012, the two states signed the pact.

Sources said, "The Congress high command prevailed over Maharashtra to ensure the politically important project progresses smoothly."

But by then AP had already spent Rs 1,600 crore on the canal that will be fed by Pranhita river.

The barrage across the river between Gadchiroli in Maharasthra and Adilabad in AP will divert water to the canal.

Then AP Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy laid the foundation stone in 2007 without taking Maharashtra into confidence.

After a lull of a few years at the proposed barrage site, AP continued work on the canal that is proposed to reach up to Hyderabad.

Kanakesh, an AP executive engineer, said steps to get environmental clearances were being taken. "We have done a survey for the barrage design and place. Results will soon be shared with Maharashtra for consent."

AP has a design for a 152-metre barrage. It will divert Pranhita into the state, from where the water will be lifted across a hill range to be pumped into another river. It will then be held by a dam 200 km downstream.

However, a senior engineer in the Maharashtra irrigation department said such survey had to be done jointly by riparian states.

... contd.

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