Nanded (Maharashtra), July 21 (Calcutta Tube) The vexed issue of the Babhali Barrage, currently at the centre of a controversy between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, is scheduled to come up for further hearing before the Supreme Court next month, an official said.
Though the Maharashtra government was permitted by the apex court in April 2007 to go ahead with the construction of the Babhali Barrage, it has been restrained from installing 13 gates on it till further orders.
‘We are strictly honouring the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award of 1975 and following the apex court directives by not impounding the water,’ a Maharashtra government official said.
The Babhali Barrage is being constructed on the Godavari, around 80 km from Nanded, the home district of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Situated within the Maharashtra boundary, the barrage is seven kilometres upstream from the state border at the confluence of the Godavari and Manjra rivers.
With a storage capacity of 2.75 million cubic feet, the barrage will cater to the drinking water requirements of 58 surrounding villages and irrigate 7,995 hectares of agricultural land.
The total cost of the barrage (as per revised estimates) would be around Rs.2.21 billion and the state has already spent Rs.1.6 billion on the project.
Chavan Monday said 80 percent of the work on the barrage is almost complete, including the approach roads on both sides of the project.
Minor works like electrification for operating the barrage gates, constructing a generator room and inspection posts are currently under way.
Andhra Pradesh has claimed that the Babhali Barrage is being constructed within the backwaters of the Pochampad Dam in the Telangana region. It says Maharashtra is violating the GWDT agreement of October 1975, and challenged the matter in the Supreme Court.
It apprehends that the barrage would cut off water supply to the Pochampad Dam, adding to the woes of the farmers and create serious drinking water supply problems in the Telangana region.
Rejecting this strongly, the Maharashtra government has said that the barrage is being built seven kilometres upstream from the state border and within the state’s territory.
‘Moreover, we have prepared the schemes within the limits of the (water) share allotted by GWDT,’ the official added.
Chavan Monday reiterated that the state would not deprive Andhra Pradesh of even a drop of its due water share. ‘The matter is in the final stages of hearing before the Supreme Court and we should await its outcome,’ he said.
Andhra Pradesh’s opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu, along with 74 supporters, Friday entered the Maharashtra border in Nanded district to examine the site of the Babhali Barrage over the Godavari river and ascertain whether Maharashtra was grabbing more than its share of water.
They were later arrested since they flouted prohibitory orders and are currently in judicial custody till July 26. They were moved from Dharmabad to the Aurangabad Central Jail, around 350 km from Nanded.
This created a furore in the state legislature. Anti-TDP slogans were raised and Naidu was asked to ‘go back’, following which it was adjourned for the day Monday.
In the past few days, all political parties have described the TDP agitation as ‘a political stunt’ to gain mileage in the July 27 by-elections in Telangana.