PM to intervene in Babhli barrage dispute, say Andhra parties

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured an all-party delegation from Andhra Pradesh of intervening to try and resolve the problems concerning the Babhli barrage issue, a suggestion not welcomed by the Telugu Desam Party.

Updated: Jul 27, 2010, 00:55 AM IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured an all-party delegation from Andhra Pradesh of intervening to try and resolve the problems concerning the Babhli barrage issue, a suggestion not welcomed by the Telugu Desam Party.

The delegation led by Chief Minister K Rosaiah and joined by TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and PRP`s Chiranjeevi also urged Singh to call a meeting of Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to solve the impending issue.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Rosaiah hoped the Prime Minister would consider their demand and call a meeting of Chief Ministers of both the states to amicably resolve the issue.

"We are very much satisfied with the meeting. The Prime Minister assured us that he will discuss the issue with officials and then take it up at the political level. He assured us that he will intervene and try to solve the problems," he said.

The delegation met Singh at his 7, RCR residence and asked him to direct the Maharashtra Government to dismantle the gates installed at Babhli barrage, which Andhra calls "illegal construction".

Describing the meeting as satisfying, Chiranjeevi said the Prime Minister was receptive to the suggestion of convening a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra on the issue.

However, Naidu said he was not satisfied with the meeting as the Prime Minister did not "give any commitment on the issue."

"Neither the Chief Minister nor the Congress party nor the Prime Minister are serious about the (Babhli) issue. We will decide the party`s future course of action tomorrow," he said.

Andhra accuses the Maharashtra government of carrying out illegal construction and installing gates at the Babhli barrage against a Supreme Court order, but Maharashtra disputes it.

"Babhli is an illegal and unauthorised terminal barrage of the series of 13 other unsanctioned barrages on Godavari, upstream of Sri Ram Sagar project of Andhra Pradesh," the leaders said in a memorandum submitted to Singh.

"While Babhli stands out as the most blatant violation, there are also several unauthorised and unaccounted for water retaining structures in the upper reaches of both Godavari and Krishna in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka affecting our lower riparian interests adversely," they said in the memorandum.

The leaders said in the memorandum: "A strong controlling authority with necessary Constitutional backup and strong implementing teeth perhaps is the only way to prevent the `prophecy` of water wars and needs to be in place urgently."

They also urged him to personally intervene and take all possible measures to protect the interests of the lowest riparian state -- Andhra Pradesh.

Noting that Maharashtra has constructed Jayakwadi Project across Godavari at about 262 km from the source or 502 km upstream of Pochampad Project, the leaders said Pochampad Dam (SRSP) is constructed across Godavari.

They said Singh should ask the Maharashtra Government that the construction of Babhli project, which falls within the water prism of Sri Rama Sagar and is being built without any permission from the Central Water Commission, may be stopped forthwith.

They said Singh should also ask the state government to stop other 13 projects, which are obstructing the flow of water and have been constructed without obtaining the permission of the Central Water Commission and consent of lower riparian states.

-PTI