VIJAYAWADA: The much-awaited meeting of the Central Water Commission’s (CWC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for deliberating on the clearance of the Revised Cost Estimates (RCE) of Polavaram irrigation project is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Monday. The TAC’s approval gains significance as the State government will not be able to get the reimbursement for funds it spent on the national project unless the REC gets the green signal.
“The TAC meeting was earlier scheduled on February 8, but it got pushed to Monday due to various reasons. We are expecting the clearance, but we have to wait and see if the committee will give its nod to the RCE,” an officials from the Water Resources department told TNIE.
It maybe recalled that the State government had submitted the RCE in August, 2017, and has been awaiting its approval. As per the RCE, the cost of the Polavaram project, including the hydel power project, is `57,940 crore. The project cost escalated from `16,010 crore in 2010-11 to the said amount. While the State officials have been attributing the drastic escalation in the cost to the increased land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (LARR) costs, the CWC has raised several queries over the last one-and-half years.
On multiple occasions, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Water Resources Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao have submitted representations to the Centre to hold the TAC meeting to expedite the process of approval of the RCE.
The CM had also requested Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari, during the latter’s visit to the project site in July last year, to clear the RCE so that the State could draw the Central funds for the timely completion of the project.
According to the officials, when the TAC clears the RCE, it would be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Finance. “The TAC clearance is the important step. After that, it will be forwarded to the Finance department for final clearance, and from there, it will be sent to the Union Council of Ministers, which are just formalities,” the official explained.
Financial concurrence to the revised costs
The State Water Resources department has accorded financial concurrence to the revised costs of the Polavaram Irrigation Project. According to the government order issued on Sunday, secretary of the department Shashi Bhushan Kumar said that the concurrence was given for `55,548.87 crore for the completion of the project, as against `57,940 crore quoted in the RCE. While the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement cost is projected to be `33,168.24 cr, the civil construction cost is `22,380 cr