VIJAYAWADA: The severe financial crunch being faced by the State exchequer has hampered Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) of the oustees of the Polavaram Irrigation Project. Since it is mandatory on the part of the government to complete the R&R procedure before it attempts to divert water into canals by gravity by July, officials are in the process of chalking out a strategy to accomplish the pending work in the next 50 days.
According to officials, there are close to 19,000 families, who would be displaced by the first phase of the project (41.15 metre contour). As per the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, the government has to provide compensation to project displaced families (PDFs). The data shows that the government has so far fulfilled its R&R commitment to about 4,000 PDFs.
“We have worked out the details of the compensation payable to each family. Work on R&R colonies have reached an advanced stage of completion. On an average, we have to pay `17-18 lakh to each affected family. This is the right time to transfer money to the families as we plan to provide water by July. But, there is no adequate flow of funds,” a senior official told TNIE.
KVP blames Naidu for Polavaram ‘burden’
Vijayawada: In a letter written to CM Naidu on Saturday, Congress MP KVP Ramachandra Rao accused him of deceiving the people of the State with regard to Polavaram funds. The terms and conditions laid down by the Centre pertaining to the revised cost estimates of the project were not explained to people of the State properly by Naidu, the MP said. He demanded that Naidu openly apologise to the people of the State for the Polavaram cost escalation and file a counter to the PIL in the High Court of AP requesting it to direct the Centre to bear the entire cost of Polavaram sans any conditions.
The official explained that each PDF, on an average, is entitled to a financial compensation of around `7 lakh and another `10-11 lakh is spent on providing a house with all basic facilities.
As the department has only a month’s time left to keep its promise of providing water, officials are in the process of holding discussions with the finance department to get the pending dues cleared.
Bills worth close to `300 crore, of which `60 crore pertains to LARR, are pending with the State government, which is first spending the money and then getting reimbursement from the Centre. The reimbursement dues amount to close `4,800 crore, the official revealed.
“In the last two days, a few bills pertaining to head works and Rehabilitation & Resettlement have been cleared.
Since the finance department is in a tight spot, it has prioritised the payments such as salaries, pensions and others.
Once these are done in the next couple of days, the department has agreed to release more funds for R&R purposes. We expect that to happen in a couple of days,” another official added. When asked if the fund crunch would come in the way of government living up to its promise of providing water to irrigation by this monsoon, the officials replied in the negative.
“We have chalked out a strategy and are working towards it. No doubt, we have a long way to go to fulfil our R&R commitment, but we are confident of completing it,” the official said.