The proposal for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati had battled the threats of flood inundation right from its inception. Today, while the future of Amaravati hangs in confusion and state mired in floods, let us have a look at the story of Kondaveeti Vaagu Lift irrigation project.
Many small streams flow through the Amaravati region. One of the streams is Kondaveeti Vagu, the predicted inundation due to which has put the future of the city in dismay. Other streams Paala Vagu, Ayanna Vagu and Kottela Vagu etc. join the Kondaveeti Vagu at different points. This stream causes damaging floods in its surrounding region during the times of heavy rains. It submerges vast land areas covered in the proposed capital city during annual floods after monsoons, disrupting traffic and affecting the adjoining crops and livestock. Flood inundation map shows that a large portion of the capital city area lies within the catchment of Kondaveeti Vagu and the regions likely to get submerged include Krishnayapalem, Neerukonda, Kuragallu, Nelapadu, Malkauram, Thullur and Dondapadu.
The then government led by Chandrababu Naidu was criticised for omitting it the initial city plans and layouts. In 2016, Social activist Pandalaneni Srimannarayana and ex-civil servant EAS Sharma along with others had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT), accusing the government of environmental violation.
The ensuing legal battle resulted in the government’s initiative to build Kondaveeti Vagu lift irrigation scheme. The scheme is meant to divert flood water to river or canal to avert inundation of thousands of acres of fertile lands due to flash floods. Kondaveeti Vagu Lift irrigation scheme was completed in record time, making the legal route clear for Chandrababu Naidu government to build the dream capital.
Also known as ‘Stream of Sorrow’, Kondaveti Vagu causes submersion of about 13,500 acres during the floods and out of this, 10,600 acres of land is within the core capital region. The scheme so designed to lift 5250 cusecs (0.5 tmc) of water from the stream during floods and pump it into the river and adjoining canal with the help of 16 heavy-duty motors and pumping floodwaters into the Prakasam barrage near the Undavalli regulator, ensures to divert the floodwater into the Krishna Western Main Canal, known as Buckingham Canal. In total, 15,000 cusecs of water would flow in the Kondaveeti Vagu during the time of floods and heavy rains.
In the initial years when the secretariat and administrative complex were shifted to Amaravati, the government received massive backlash for the floods and waterlogging in the capital region. The topic became a tool for the opposition every monsoon. Kondaveeti Vaagu lift irrigation was inaugurated in September 2018, since flood mitigation is eased in the region.
While Jagan Mohan Reddy administration aggressively tries to shift the capital, it is an indisputable fact that his predecessor’s initiative has only facilitated the functioning of the present government for better.