AP gets notice over failure to prevent floods

State govt ignored 26-hour warning from Central Water Commission

 
Acting on a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer, a division bench of the High Court issued the notice directing the state government to file its response in two weeks on action taken, if any, against officials who allegedly failed to act on the CWC warning.

The floods in the state which lasted for six days from October 1 were the worst in river Krishna and its tributaries in the last 100 years. More than 500 villages and towns like Kurnool, Nandyal, Mantralayam, Alampur, Repalle and parts of Vijayawada city have been affected by the floods while 65 persons were killed. More than five lakh people in five districts were rendered homeless while public infrastructure like roads and highways were destroyed. Standing crops in five districts were damaged beyond recovery. The PIL filed by lawyer Chandrasekhar Reddy urged the court to direct the government to compensate in total the losses suffered by the people due to floods. The PIL claimed that the state officials did not take the precaution of releasing downstream water from the Srisailam dam across Krishna river despite the CWC’s warning of impending floods as many as 26 hours ahead. The PIL also sought the suspension of the superintendent engineer of the Srisailam dam.

Central Water Commission chairman Arun Kumar Bajaj had told media that the state was warned about floods 26 hours in advance and that the authorities should have released water from the Srisailam dam which would have prevented floods. However, the state government has claimed that it had not received any warning from the CWC.

The PIL also questioned the government order (number 171) raising the full reservoir level at the Srisailam dam from 834 to 854 feet. The petitioner argued that the government order was issued on September 28, 2004, without taking the opinion of the experts. While the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has also demanded that the state government take action against the guilty officials the Telangana Rashtra Samiti has termed the floods as man-made disaster and squarely blamed the state government for ignoring the warning only to store water to ‘illegally’ divert it to another project planned by the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy as part of his Jalayagnam irrigation projects.

Dealing with another PIL, the High Court on Monday asked the central and the state governments to inform it in 10 days about the measures taken so far to provide relief and rehabilitation to the people in the flood-affected areas.

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