HYDERABAD: Terming his day-long trip to Chhattisgarh as a "goodwill mission", Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed hope tonight that the neighbouring state would pave the way for construction of the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari.
"Polavaram is a very important project and the Andhra Pradesh government has already spent Rs 6,000 crore on it. Hence we requested the Chhattisgarh government to co-operate (with AP) in constructing it. We have allayed their apprehensions about submergence of villages on their side and assured that the best rehabilitation and resettlement package will be given," Chandrababu told reporters after returning to Hyderabad late tonight.
He recalled that the then states of (undivided) Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, along with Orissa, had signed two agreements in 1978 and 1980 about the Polavaram project on Godavari river by constructing a protective embankment along areas facing likely to be submerged.
"I have explained to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh about the agreements and also that Polavaram has now been declared a national project. In fact, the Central Water Commission, Planning Commission, forest and environmental clearances were given to Polavaram based on the 1978 and 1980 agreements between the three states. The national project status was also conferred, based on the same agreements," Naidu said.
"Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said a case is pending in the Supreme Court against Polavaram, but since it's a very crucial project and all clearances have been granted, I requested his government not to object and to co-operate in completing the project. I also told him that a liberal rehabilitation package will be offered," the AP Chief Minister said. "We took the initiative and went ahead (to find a solution to contentious issues). Hope it gives good results in future," Naidu said.
Besides going around Chhattisgarh's capital city Naya Raipur to see its development, the AP Chief Minister said that he discussed two to three main issues and also studied good practices being followed in Chhattisgarh.
"We have studied the land pooling system and also the land acquisition process adopted for building Naya Raipur. We also studied new laws that they have enacted. We also studied the public distribution system, value added tax (VAT), labour welfare and other programmes being implemented in Chhattisgarh," the AP Chief Minister said.
He said that a task force is being constituted with Chief Secretaries of both the states and secretaries of various departments to improve road as well as rail network between Raipur in Chhattisgarh and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
The task force would also look into increasing the frequency of flights between the two cities, Chandrababu said.