Hyderabad: Demanding compensation for the thousands of families affected in the River Godavari floods in August, and rehabilitation for the Polavaram project affected families, Communist party of India (Marxist), [CPI(M)] and its affiliated organisations held protest demonstrations across several mandals in West and East Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, September 2.
Reportedly, the Godavari witnessed nearly 22 lakh cusecs per day flood flow in the third week of August. Left party leaders who have recently visited the flood affected regions told NewsClick that the floods have resulted in the evacuation of about 17,000 families from 100 villages in Godavari districts.
“The gross negligence of the state government in failing to provide adequate rescue and rehabilitation arrangements in the flood prone area has pushed thousands of families in agency areas to shift to hill tops to take shelter,” said J Babjee, state secretary of Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU), a trade union of agricultural workers, marginal farmers and fisher people in the state.
“Hundreds of houses have been submerged in the floods, road connectivity to numerous mandals has been damaged, power supply has been affected, agriculture crops have been damaged, and even the government’s ration supply has not reached many villages, leaving many families in dire situation. But the government has announced just Rs 2,000 per family as compensation, which reveals their negligence,” said Babjee.
CPI(M) state secretary P Madhu visited the affected villages on Wednesday and gave a protest call, demanding compensation and rehabilitation across revenue offices in the two districts on September 5.
“Most families have run out of rice, fuel and groceries, etc., supplied by the authorities,” said A Ravi of West Godavari district, who participated in the protest.
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Polavaram project affected families who have been awaiting rehabilitation have also been severely affected in the recent floods. “Evidently, the governments are interested in completing the project but not in ensuring proper rehabilitation to the affected families,” said P Madhu.
Polavaram Affected People
The Polavaram project affected families have been demanding fair compensation as per the provisions under Land Acquisition Act, 2013 for years.
The project was granted national status (full cost to be borne by the Union government) by the UPA II government through the AP Reorganization Act, 2014. After the YSRCP led government under Chief Minister Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy came to power, the authorities called for new tenders for project work under reverse tendering process, and subsequently Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) grabbed the project.
In February, 2019, the Technical Advisory Committee of the Union Jal Shakti Ministry gave clearance for Rs 55,548 crore revised cost estimates of the project.
As per the government records, so far, only 3.7% of the rehabilitation works have been completed.
In March, Union Jal Shakti ministry stated in the parliament that out of 1,05,601 Project Displaced Families of Polavaram project, Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) works in respect of only 3922 families has been completed.
Observers argue that 50% of the affected people are Adivasis belonging to Koya and Kondareddy communities. And nearly 30% of the remaining belong to Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes.
“The resettlement colonies being constructed for project affected families are lacking basic amenities and facilities which are to be provided as per the land acquisition Act,” said Babjee. He added that hundreds of Adivasis who were having community land rights titles under Forest Rights Act were not compensated.