The construction of Amaravati on the flood plains of River Krishna and Kondaveeti Vagu is an “invitation for disaster”, said river conservation activists and coordinator of the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) Himanshu Thakkar.
Addressing the media here on Sunday, he said most of the area earmarked for the development of Amaravati was inundated by Krishna River during the spate in 2009.
The Kondaveeti Vagu, a tributary, very frequently went into spate and flooded the area. It is for this very reason that the land of the capital area is so fertile and the economic power engine of not only the villages but also Vijayawada and Guntur, Mr. Thakkar said.
He said the floods were only going to get more intense and frequent because of climate change. The next big flood in the river might be much more intense than the 2009 one, he said.
There had been no proper Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and social and disaster impact assessments done for Amaravati. A proper options assessment should also have been done for a sustainable development of the capital. There was a change in the trend in the rest of the world where “rivers were being given more room”.
In South Korea, shopping malls and flyovers that were infringing on rivers had been demolished. In India, however, river development still meant real estate development.
Mr. Thakkar decried the large-scale mining of sand from the river banks. He said sand also would prevent the flood banks from breaching.
Finally, Mr Thakkar said beginnings should mostly be beautiful and the beginning of a new capital too should be beautiful.
Impact on economy
He said there was no motive behind his statements on the capital. His visit to Vijayawada was personal, but he travelled along the river along with some environmental conservationists and noticed what was happening.
The health of rivers in India was appalling and that would impact the economic health of the country in due course, he said.
Former Minister Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, social activists and National Green Tribunal petitioner Satya Bolisetti, Amaravati area farmers’ protection movement leaders Anumolu Gandhi and Francis were present at the press conference.