NEED TO CHANGE KILLER POLAVARAM DAM INTO A SAFE BARRAGE
Certain controversies have been raised by different people on the legal and environmental aspects of the Polavaram project which is considered as a boom by the AP state Government while it is considered as a curse by many environmentalists, NGO’s and the affected people. Hence there is a need to create awareness about the environmental impacts of the project among the common people and the educated elite so that Government gets a necessary advise to make the project ecologically sound, economically feasible and socially acceptable .
1) Validity of Bachawat Tribunal Award:
The first controversy relates to the validity of Bachawat Tribunal Award while answering issue IV ( c) raised by upper states whether it is lawful for Andhra Pradesh to execute projects likely to submerge the territories of other states without their prior consent, the Tribunal clarified under paragraph 138 thus; “But it can not be said generally that any project of the state of Andhra Pradesh involving submergence of the territory of other states is permissible without the consent of the affected states. While the AP State Government is arguing that it is designing the Polavaram project in conformity with the Bachawat Tribunal award, the upper states of Orissa and Chattisgarh are arguing that the Bachawat tribunal award has become infructuous because the AP State Government has now revised in august-September 2005 on the directions of Central Government the spillway design for a peak flood discharge of about 50 lakh cusecs which is far higher than the peak flood of 36 lakh cusecs as agreed to by all the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh and as accepted by the Union Government and Bachawat Tribunal in April 1980.
2) Appraisal of Major Irrigation Projects by Union Government Organisations:
Major irrigation projects with culturable command area (CCA) of more than 10,000 hectares are examined for various aspects in specialised Directorates in CWC and in the Ministries of Water Resources, Agriculture, Environment & Forests and Tribal Affairs. In case of multipurpose projects, examination in Central Electricity Authority is also done for power component. The existing procedure for scrutiny and examination of irrigation and multipurpose projects by CWC and acceptance by the Planning Commission for inclusion in the State Development Plan has been revised and simplified. Now Preliminary Report, prepared in brief, covering basic planning aspects are examined first and ‘In Principle’ consent of CWC for DPR preparation is communicated on the basis of soundness of proposals. Clearances for Environment, R&R plans and concurrence of State Finance, etc. are to be obtained and submitted along with DPR so that once cleared by the Advisory Committee of MoWR, the investment clearance of the Planning Commission would follow and the project could be started. The revised two stage clearance procedure is applicable from October 2001.
3) Validity of Environmental Impact (EIA) Report 2005 prepared by AP State Govt.,
Another controversy is about the validity of Environmental Impact Assessment report prepared by the AP State Government in August 2005. First of all the Bahcawat Tribunal clearly specified that the design aspects of the Polavaram project including the delineation of the back water curve must be finalized only by the Central Water Commission .Based upon this flood water spread as presented in the Back-water curve report, the state Government has to prepare the detailed report on the extent of lands to be submerged under the project and also the number of people to be evacuated and rehabilitated in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chattisgarh.
Unfortunately without finalization of this back water-curve area on the upstream side of the Polavaram project by the Central Water Commission, it is impossible for the A.P.state Government to prepare rehabilitation and resettlement Schemes. Surprisingly, the AP state Government designed the Polavaram dam for a 500-year peak flood amounting to 36 lakhs cusecs while the Central Water Commission guidelines stipulate the design criteria as 1000-year flood and this 1000-year peak flood norm was applied for the spillway design in the case of Sardar Sarovar Project and this standard should have been applied for Polavaram as it is adjacent to Narmada basin. But only on the advise of Union Government in August,2006, the AP State Government revised the spillway design to handle a 1000 year peak flood of 50 lakh cusecs , although the environmental clearance for the project was obtained from the Central Government in October 2005 itself for a peak discharge of 36 lakh cusecs only. Condition No.6 of the Environmental clearance stipulates that the Environmental clearance must be freshly obtained whenever there are substantial changes made in the design criteria of the project.
In view of the drastic change made by raising the peak flood from 36 lakhs as quoted in EIA report of August 2005 to about 50 lakhs as quoted in News papers of August 2006, a fresh Environmental Impact Assessment has to be made and a fresh Environmental clearance must be obtained to go ahead with the project.
4) Public hearing yet to be held in the submersible areas at Motu and Konta
According to the procedure prescribed for securing Environmental Clearance for the project from Union Government, public hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment reports, Environment Management Plans in the areas of Motu in Orissa and Konta in Chattisgarh must be held to obtain the use of the people likely to be effected by Polavaram project. Although the state Pollution Control Board of Orissa and Chattisgarh have to conduct these public hearings at the request of the AP State Government this work has not been done so far. (http://shivajirao32.googlepages.com/polavaramdamimages-4
According to the conditions under the Bachawat Award the AP State Government agreed to fix permanent bench marks connected to GTS benchmarks in Orissa and Chattisgarh to demarcate the reservoir boundaries in Orissa at RL +150ft and also at the higher levels covering the backwater effect in both cases at intervals of about 1 km all along the periphery of the Polavaram reservoir. The demarcation on the ground clearly determines the lands and villages likely to be submerged and the people likely to be evacuated under rehabilitation and resettlement schemes. The A.P. State Government so far prepared the details of the design of the dam, spillway and other structures including backwater curve based on 500 year return period peak flood of 36 lakhs cusecs under the EIA report of 2005 and these detailed designs including the backwater curve must be revised for the revised flood of 50 lakh cusecs as directed by Central Water Commission in August 2006.
First of all under paragraph-110 of Bachawat Tribunal Award the Central Water Commission is the only agency which has to make a final determination of the backwater curve surcharge levels due to Polavaram dam. Unless Central Water Commission takes a final decision on the magnitude of the peak flood for design of the spill way and for determination of the extended area of the backwater curve into Orissa and Chattisgarh states the correct EIA report, Risk Assessment, Dam Break Analysis and Environmental Management plans can not be prepared on scientific lines. Consequently AP State Government could not perhaps succeed in convincing Orissa and Chattisgarh to hold public hearings on the EIA reports of the project. As per para-138 of the report of Bachawat Tribunal stated that the consent of Orissa and Chattisgarh are necessary for AP State to go ahead with the construction of the project.
5) Inadequate water for Hydro-power generation:
Central Water Commission and Central Electricity Authority have not accepted the proposals of the AP State Government for 960MW Hydel Power plant at Polavaram. On the ground that the river has not maintained for the last one century a high level flow at least for a major part of the year even during the flood years of 1986 and 2006 and such a huge flow of 28 to 30 lakh cusecs will be of no use to a Hydel station of the size proposed. See website:
6) Costs are more than the benefits:
This project proposes to provide irrigation water for 7.24 lakh acres in the coastal districts. Out of the 7.2 lakh acres expected to be irrigated by the project, the lift irrigation schemes of Tatipudi, Pushkaram and Chagalnadu, supply water to about 4.2 lakh acres that fall under Polavaram project ayacut If we also deduct tank irrigation in this area. Polavaram provides irrigation for a net area of about 2.5lakh acres and it does not warrant for incurring enormous expenditure of about Rs.15,000 crores. While the expenditure to irrigate one acre is estimated at an average of Rs. 1 lakh per acre under other projects Polavaram project results in a huge cost of Rs.4 lakhs per acre.
7) Killer Polavaram Dam must be changed into a safe Barrage project:
Moreover in the Environmental Impact Report of 2005 the AP State Government submitted a report on Dam Break Analysis under chapter-VI wherein the Experts of the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee - a Wing of the Union Ministry of Water Resources- clearly warned in their conclusions that the Dam break peak flood will be one and half times the corresponding peak flood for non-failure case with the design flood taken as the inflow flood.
ABOUT 50 LAKHS OF PEOPLE IN GODAVARI DELTA ARE LIKELY TO BE KILLED DUE TO THE COLLAPSE OF POLAVARAM DUE TO A MAXIMUM CREDIBLE ACCIDENT
These experts have also presented the computer simulation data with sensitive analysis which clearly show that at a distance 30km. below the dam the peak floods due to a dam break will attain an elevation of 26 to 35 meters which means that all the major urban and industrial areas of Rajahmundry and Kovvuru will be submerged by these killer floods in case of the Polavaram dam collapse, which has the potential to kill about 50 lakhs people down stream of the Polavaram dam in the districts of East Godavari and West Godavari as shown in the above table
Such dam collapses are frequent and occurred in 20 cases in India. The Chinese Minister for Water Resources recently declared that about 68 dams collapsed every year in their country taking the dam failure rate to 4% . http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-6-11/42574.html During 40 years (1950-1990) 3241 dams collapsed in China of which 123 or 4% were large dams and 3180 or 96% were smaller dams. On average China experienced 81 collapses per year with the worst year 1973 when 554 dams collapsed. (See page 618 of Integrated Assessment of Sustainable Energy Systems in China by Baldur Eliasson and Yam Y.Lee, Kluwer Academic Publishers)
As per Murphys law if some accident is likely to happen it will happen some day or the other. In case of Polavaram, the dam collapse will happen one day or the other because of human or mechanical failure, sabotage, bombing, extremists activities or failure of one or more dams in the upper states due to poor operations and maintenance.
POLAVARAM PROJECT – BACKWATER PROFILE CALCULATIONS
Note: The above values are based upon the information from the Bachawat Tribunal Report and the calculations made by the author on the basis of the Advanced Numerical Methods using the Standard-step Method described by K.Subrahmanya in his standard book on flow in open channels. With revised probable maximum flood of about 50 lakhs cusecs the people to be displaced would be about 4 lakhs in place of the presumed figure of about 2 lakhs. The villages likely to be submerged in Orissa and Chattisgarh will be about 50 as against 17 as estimated.
8) Russian Expert Predicts Water From Polavaram Will Not Join In Krishna River:
During 2007 the Russian expert on Hydrology, Vladimir Smakhtin, a hydrologist with International Water Management Institute prepared a report which shows that there is no surplus water from Polavaram project to flow into Krishna river as anticipated by the AP State Government Godavari catchment gets 70% of the rainfall in 5 out of 12 months in a year between June and September. Hence the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) which estimates water availability on 75% dependability fails to consider drastic changes in the flow within a year which is very high in monsoon-driven rivers. While NWDA considers the methodology of using yearly flows for inter basin water transfer on the plea that their policy is peer reviewed and approved by technical experts. The Russian experts argued that 75% dependability based on monthly flows is amore realistic approach for water management purposes. Moreover Russian expert estimates that an environmental water provision of 8,200 million cubic meters of water flow should be reserved to keep Godavari fit for fisheries and wildlife ecological sustainence. Moreover he warns that even if the project continues along with the present canals the water will be consumed en-route because of various uses for drinking and agriculture by people in many villages and hence the objective of transferring Godavari water into Krishna basin will remain a day dream. The following is the comparative statement of water availability at Polavaram project by the NWDA and IWMI.
SURFACE WATER BALANCE (MCM) AT POLAVARAM DAM SITE, (GODAVARI 307,880Km2)
Note: 1. The difference between the total available supply at 75% dependability and the projected demand for water at the same site is the basis to declare a basin as “Surplus” or “ Deficit” basin.
2. Optimal water resources planning suggests that although annual time step data may be used for preliminary (crude) planning of water supply systems the preferred data time for this age monthly flow time series (e.g.McMohan and Adeloye 2005) The most used flow data types are the daily, monthly and yearly time series. Due to minor variability of daily flows in summer the differences between daily and monthly flows are negligible. In the case of the differences between mean monthly and mean yearly flows in 8 out of 12 months the flows are lower than yearly mean and hence the annual data resolution therefore cannot capture enough variability inflows and can lead to over estimation of available water throughout the year. If more monthly information-rich data is used the dependable yield becomes an order of magnitude less than that estimated by using annual data resolution for 75% dependable yield.
9) Dr.K.L.Rao warns about the failure of Polavaram:
In fact Padmabhushan Dr.K.L.Rao,the eminent irrigation expert and former Union Minister for Irrigation and Power in a press conference report published in The Indian Express on 1-5-1983 warned that since Polavaram Spill-way is highly under-designed the project will fail as can be seen from the paper clipping contained in the following website:
Dr.K.L.Rao visualized rightly that Polavaram project is a doubled-edged sword. Godavari river assumes the role of a devastating wall of flood most often during the monsoon period between June and September and suddenly becomes a water-deficit sluggish flow regime during the remaining 8 month period of the year. In order to avoid large storage of about 200 TMC that menacingly adds to the extreme flood that causes deaths of millions of human and cattle population due to a dam failure for one reason or the other, eminent experts like Dr.A.N.Khosla and N.D.Gulhati suggested for a barrage at Polavaram which will be fed by water from big dams in upper reaches of Godavari and its tributaries.
10) Alternate projects in place of Polavaram dam:
Hence in place of a killer dam the Polavaram project must be converted into a barrage for supplying Godavari water for irrigation in Coastal Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema. In order to obtain the same economic gain as contemplated by the Polavaram project several alternate projects like dams at Suraram in Karimnagar and Eturunagaram in Warangal districts and barrages at Peddaballal, Yellampalli, Edira , Dummagudem and Polavaram must be constructed to generate substantial hydro- power and augment agriculture production in the Telangana , Godavari Delta and Rayalaseema districts. For alternate schemes proposed by other reputed engineering experts see the following websites:
11) Polavaram Project as an Industry:
According to the various definitions given in the standard dictionaries and the interpretation of meaning of an industry given by the 7 judges of the Supreme Court (1978), the Polavaram project comes under the classification of an industry due to the presence of employers and employees who are working for a profit .Irrigation works comes under the “construction industry”. Further a 960MW Hydro-power generating unit makes the projectas an industry