Row erupts in AP over mega Polavaram project

Ch R S Sarma Visakhapatnam | Updated on January 09, 2018


Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu expresses disenchantment over Centre's attitude

A row has erupted in Andhra Pradesh over the mega Polavaram project being constructed across the Godavari in West Godavari district, with the Chief Minister himself expressing his disenchantment in the State Assembly, albeit obliquely, over the attitude of the Union Government with regard to the project.

It is a national irrigation project, included in the AP Bifurcation Act, 2014, the cost of which should be borne by the Union Government in accordance with the Act. The cost of power component should be borne by the State Government alone, as it is a multi-purpose project.

However, sparks have been flying over the project, off and on, between the State and the Centre, and between the Telugu Desam and the BJP, allies both at the state and central levels.

The other parties - YSR Congress, the principal Opposition party in the State, and Congress and the Communist parties, which have no representation in the Assembly - are accusing both the TDP and the BJP of mishandling the whole issue and indulging in a blame game, ignoring the interests of the State.

Slow pace

In spite of the best efforts of the Chief Minister, the Polavaram project is not progressing as fast as N Chandrababu Naidu would like it to so that water can be given by 2019 to the fields through gravitational flow. By the next general election and Assembly elections in 2019, he wants to show it as his party's and the BJP's singular achievement and reap the electoral reward, but at the present rate it may remain only a dream.

Point of contention

The State Government has decided recently, after elaborate consultations with the Union Minister for Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari, to call for fresh tenders for some of the works in the project, such as spillway, as the main contractor, Transstroy, is unable to execute the works at the desired pace.

However, subsequently, the State Government has received a communication earlier this week from a high-ranking central official that the process be put on hold and further discussions are required.

An exasperated Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had on Thursday offered in the Assembly to hand over the Polavaram project to the Centre, as it is a national project, and he said he would soon apprise Nitin Gadkari and also the Prime Minister of the situation and seek urgent steps to expedite the project.

"We expect total co-operation and timely help from the Centre to complete the project by 2019. It is the lifeline to the State and if works are stopped at the juncture, the project would be delayed further. Already, there is huge cost escalation due to various factors which are beyond the control of the State Government. It brooks no further delay," he said in the Assembly.

According to the Chief Minister, already Rs 12,000 crore has been spent on the project and at least Rs 42,000 crore more would be required to complete it. A large part of the total cost - Rs 32,000 crore - will have to spent on the relief and rehabilitation package for the displaced persons, most of them Girijans.

Published on December 02, 2017

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