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A Cruise Up The Godavari River

The cruise up the river started at Rajahmundry. These boats have AC cabins on the lower deck and an open air seating arrangement on the upper. The ethereal scenery of the Papi Hills and the dense jungles that cover it are quite like the scenes one sees in Kashmir.

The Godavari, which runs from the west to the south of India, has a big river basins in Andhra Pradesh. The Coringa mangrove forests in the delta are the second largest mangrove formation in the country acting as a barrier against cyclones, tropical storms and tidal waves protecting villages on the coast. Part of this has been declared a sanctuary,  the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, and is renown for its reptiles.  With a length of 1465 km, it is India's second longest river. It originates near Trimbak in Maharashtra state and flows east across the Deccan Plateau into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

The Papi Kondalu (hills) got its name from the word Papidi meaning 'the partition on the crown of a woman's head. The Papi range splits the river Godavari. There is a story in history that says that a demon, Papi, tried to stop the river but Godaviri with all her might killed the demon by tearing up a path on its head to flow on.

Untouched nature at her best with picture postcard prettiness of a hilly countryside patch-worked with quaint little farms, a landscape dotted with tribal habitations and river banks densely forested with Teak, Arjun and Rose Wood. The waterfalls at Munivaatam is an added attraction.

If the Government finishes the construction of Polavaram Project, the entire Papi Hills and its jungles will be submerged in water. The Polavaram project or the Indira Sagar, is a mega project (Rs 13,500 crore) envisaging the construction of a dam across Godavari river, linking two rivers, Krishna and Godavari, to  develop a vast irrigation system that would cover 15 out of 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh. It would  generate 960 MW of electricity.

Polavaram dam will submerge a total area of 38,186 hectares

  • 22,882 hectares of rain-fed agricultural land, 
  • 12,801 hectares of what is called ‘poramboke’/government or wasteland, and 
  • 3,223 hectares of forest land. 
Officially, over 276 tribal villages in the agency areas of East and West Godavari districts and Khammam district (of which 274 are in the Fifth Schedule area) will be submerged. The project will also submerge villages in Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

The Ecological Impact

Endangered species not found in submergible area. The submergible area includes 107 Hec, of Teak plantation, of 1927 to 1973.  The riverbed is breeding and feeding area for crocodile and other aquatic animals, while the adjacent forests harbour many other wild animals.  The area of proposed submergence abound in rich wild life and threatened species life Tiger, Panther, bison, blackbuck Chousingha - Crocodile Pythons peafowl etc.  The damage to wild life habitat is irretrievable. 
The area also containing good timber and bamboo forest and is a source of raw material for adjacent forest based industries as local and Urban population the project will effect forest 730 hectares of wildlife sanctuary including the riverbed which forms breeding ground for crocodiles pre-impoundment conditions are ideal for breeding crocodile and gharial. The prospects of Crocodile farming can be assessed only after survey of post impoundment conditions. The damage to scenic value of the natural forest will be apparent.
Source: Polavaram Project: Environmental Impact appraisal Report, Irrigation Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad May, 1985.

Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.

© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved

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Zephyr said...

That was a beautiful picture post. The Godavari, glassy at some places and turbulent at others is energesing to behold. I specially loved the one with the boat with its yellow sail.

The mega projects are always a double edged sword and the dilemma is 'to do or not to do.' But given the irretrievable losses and damage to the eco system, one wonders if smaller projects or check dams won't do the same thing as these mega structures.

Shri Ram Ayyangar said...

Beautiful pics. The one with yellow sail boat reminded me of a similar scene in a Hindi movie called 'MILAN' probably shot near Godavari shores.

Pratibha The Talent said...

wow !beautiful.

magiceye said...

that was lovely!!!

Team G Square said...

Sad fate of our natural resources . For small gains we are losing valuable wealth .

Arpana said...

Snaps are really excellent,and perhaps for that reason the project to built dam over it dampened the spirit,in the era of alternative resources for power generation we should not damage already shrunk flora and fauna.

vjmariner said...

Hi ,just saw ur comment on a seafarer blog site .Ur name suggested ur a hebbar iyengar.Cud not help saying Hi since ur son is a TME and I am a veteran seafarer( CHIEF ENGINEER and a Mandayam Iyengar to top it off.If any of this seems interesting u can contact me.

Nalini Hebbar said...

@vjmariner Hi there...My son has just passed his class 4 and is waiting for his COC...he is employed by BSM and has to wait for his chance to sail again...if you have any opening around you do contact

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