The Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has nominated its member to the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) even as the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana find themselves at odds with each other over the displacement of thousands of tribals for the irrigation project.
According to Tribal Affairs Ministry, Manoj Kumar Pingua, a joint secretary with the ministry, has been nominated to be a member of the governing body of PPA. PPA will be an autonomous body under the Union Water Resources Ministry. The dedicated 'special purpose vehicle' will be tasked with obtaining all requisite permits, including environment and forest clearances, and creating investment and rehabilitation norms. "We have acted upon a communication from the Ministry of Water Resources to nominate a member," said a source in the Tribal Affairs Ministry.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the state that was recently carved out of the former's territory, are at loggerheads over the transfer of over 200 villages with a high population of tribals from Telangana to residual Andhra Pradesh.
These villages, which are situated in Bhadhrachalam sub- division in Khammam district of Telangana, would be submerged for executing the project.
The Centre had on May 29 promulgated an ordinance merging some villages and mandals of Telangana into residual Andhra Pradesh in a bid to deal with resettlement and rehabilitation of those who are set to be displaced by the Polavaram project.
While the TRS government in Telangana claims that the livelihood of lakhs of tribals was at stake due to the transfer of villages, the TDP government in Andhra Pradesh has assured that it would take the necessary rehabilitation measures for the tribals.
Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare and Empowerment Minister Ravela Kishore Babu has stressed that it was the responsibility of the Andhra Pradesh government to rehabilitate the tribals.
"We will take up the responsibility. We will make all arrangements for the displaced people... They will be rehabilitated within Andhra Pradesh," Babu said.
He also cited the example of Pulichintala irrigation project, where he claimed that all people were rehabilitated in spacious permanent houses built in good layouts.
The Polavaram Irrigation Project has been declared a national project, which the Centre is to execute, as per the AP Reorganisation Act.