VIJAYAWADA: Making it clear that there will be no compromise on the Polavaram issue, Minister for Water Resources P Anil Kumar Yadav on Monday said that the entire cost of the project as per the revised estimates should be borne by the Centre, as per the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act. Speaking to mediapersons here on Monday, he said that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy will soon write a letter to the Centre mentioning all the facts and figures and, if needed, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him of the situation.
He asserted that the State government will not agree to the capping of the project cost based on the memo issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2016 and continue to insist that the Centre bear the Revised Cost Estimates of Polavaram project, which is `48,000 crore. Blaming the previous TDP government for the current predicament, Anil Kumar said that this situation would not have arisen if not for its greed to corner contracts and commissions. “The previous TDP government had shamelessly accepted the Centre’s decision to bear only the irrigation component of Polavaram Project at the 2013-14 price level and didn’t bother about the price escalation involved in such huge projects,” he said.
After bifurcation of the State, the Polavaram was declared a national project with the Centre bearing all the costs involved, including land acquisition and R&R package. “The provisions in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act are clear — the Centre will bear all costs of the project. Unfortunately, the former TDP regime convinced the Centre to let the State execute the project. From 2014 to 2016, there was no progress, despite repeated reminders from then leader of opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Only works worth `265 crore were executed during that period.
It was pretty clear that the former TDP government was in a state of slumber at that time,” he said. The turning point came in September, 2016 when the then Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced a special package in lieu of Special Category Status (SCS) to the State. As part of the special package, only the irrigation component of the project would be borne by the Centre. “At that time, former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had celebrated it as if it was a great achievement and even passed a resolution in the Assembly to that effect. It is all on record. What I am unable to understand is what is the link between SCS and Polavaram project? It is a provision in the AP Reorganisation Act and does not have anything to do with SCS,” the minister pointed out.
The memorandum from the Ministry of Finance on September 30, 2016 and the Cabinet resolutions six months later, state that special assistance for Polavaram will be 100 per cent reimbursement of the expenditure on irrigation component only and the cost escalation beyond the price level of 2014, due to change of scope or price, will not be reimbursed by the Centre. Furthermore, it was decided that funding for land acquisition will be based on 2010-14 estimates.