Fluoride Action Network

Tribunal Award Turns Veligonda Dry

Source: The New Indian Express | December 9th, 2013 | By M Ilyas
Location: India

The future of the proposed ayacut [area served] under Pula Subbaiah Veligonda project looks bleak in the wake of the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal’s verdict on Krishna river water distribution.

Veligonda project is aimed to supply irrigation water to 4.38 lakh [400,380] acres of farmlands and drinking water to 15 [1,500,00] lakh population of Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa districts. The western areas like Kanigiri, Hanumantunipadu, CS Puram, PC Palli, Markapuram, Kondepi, Podili, Giddalur, Cumbham, Racharla and others were severely affected by fluorine water. Veligonda is proposed on the availability of 43 TMC surplus water from the Krishna.

Veligonda project is proposed to quench the thirst of people in 23 mandals of Prakasam district severely troubling from fluorine hazard. According to the district medical and health department survey, as many as 120 people died due to fluoride contaminated water in the district this year and thousands of people are facing health difficulties due to consumption of the water. The hopes of these people about getting the Krishna water shattered with the verdict.

The former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu had laid foundation stone for Veligonda project on March 5, 1996 but never tried to start the works by allotting funds. Later, YS Rajasekhara Reddy had included Veligonda project in Jalayagnam and laid foundation stone on October 27, 2004 by sanctioning funds.

Veligonda project’s budget is `5400 crores [1 crore is equal to 10 million] and it was aimed to complete by 2012 but the paucity of funds delayed the construction works. This is the first project in our country which would get water to reservoir through two long under ground tunnels of each 18 km. These two tunnels would get water from Srisailam project and will supply the water through canal from Kottur village to Veligonda reservoir. The digging works of the first tunnel reached 9 km and the second tunnel 8 km of length.

The state government had paid `429.9 crores [1 crore is equal to 10 million] to the forest department to get clearances to dig the tunnels beneath the dense Nallamala forest which is also a tiger safari zone. Veligonda is expected to be completed by 2016. The specialty of this project is three big hills namely Sunkesula, Kakarla and Gottipadiya are used as reservoir of the project by filling the gaps between the hills.