VIJAYAWADA:Will the multipurpose Polavaram Project, considered as the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh, be completed by 2019 — the deadline set by the State government?
While the TDP government exudes confidence of meeting the deadline and it is planning to go before the people during the election with a completed project, the opposition parties claim that it is not possible if the progress of the works so far has any indication.
Terming it a “herculean task”, the opposition parties allege that government is only trying to divert people’s attention by its review meetings and unrealistic claims. As the State is depending on the Centre, which is funding the project, uncertainty prevailing whether the Centre, which promised to release funds as per the estimates in 2014, will agree to the revised estimates, which escalated to over `58,000 crore from `16,000 crore.
With the Land Acquisition Act brought out by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government coming into force in 2013, the State government claims that the Centre will have to pay the amount accordingly as the cost of land acquisition raised from `2,934.42 crore to `33,858.45 crore. Technically, the Centre had promised to bear the cost of irrigation component, which is `16,000 crore. Because of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, the relief and rehabilitation became a major burden to the State government.
The claim of the State government is that works related to the dam have already been completed by 51 per cent and it argues that lack of efficiency on part of the management of Transstroy, the main contracting agency of the project, is delaying the works. To overcome the same, the State government recently slashed `1,000 crore worth works from Transstroy and is preparing the ground for handing over the same to another contractor.
Transstroy blames govt
Though the management of Transstroy okayed the decision of the government, it holds the State government responsible for the delay. “We have got the contract in 2013, but could not take up the works for three years until 2016 as the government delayed the process of handing over the lands,” argues Transstroy.
In fact, the works of the project began picking up momentum post State bifurcation, particularly after the Centre declaring it a national project. According to the officials of Water Resources Department, while the expenditure of the project before declaring Polavaram as the national project was `5,135.87 crore, the expenditure after declaring it as a national project so far is stood at `7,329.56 crore.“No doubt, the works are going at a fast pace as about 4,000 persons are being engaged in the project works besides using most advanced machinery. But, completion of the works by 2019 will definitely be a herculean task as we have only left one-and-half-years,’’ said officials monitoring the works on the site.
The official said he is only talking about the dam and canal works, but not the relief and rehabilitation.
Though the Centre has been responding positively towards the appeal of the State government and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has asserted to complete the project by 2019, uncertainty over the project still continuing as the flow of funds from the Centre is not up to the mark and the State government is not in a position to take up the works by spending huge amount of money.