VIJAYAWADA: The State government’s wait for Central funds for Polavaram irrigation project is likely to get longer than expected as the water resources department is yet to receive the Rs 1,850 crore sanctioned almost a month ago.
Even though the Union Ministry of Finance has approved, the State officials, who are pushing for the faster release of funds, stated that the administrative procedures were the reason for the delay.
For the record, Union Finance Ministry’s department of expenditure had sent a memorandum to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, clearing the release of Rs 1,850 crore out of the Rs 3,000 crore sought by the State government, as an interim measure on November 8. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), through Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF), was to lend the approved quantum of funds to the State Water Resources department through the Polavaram Project Authority. However, the process is said to be taking time.
“The Union Ministry of Finance has communicated twice to the officials concerned to release the funds through NABARD. But, NABARD is now asking for a requisition from the Union Ministry of Water Resources for raising the money through markets and lending it to us. This is taking time. However, we are pursuing the matter and expect to get funds shortly,” a senior official from the water resources department explained.
Even though the State sought Rs 3,000 crore as an interim arrangement, the Union Ministry of Finance approved Rs 1,850 crore. The ministry ‘reiterated’ that the audited accounts of expenditure and final cost estimates of the project (as on April 1, 2014) may be provided for further release of funds. The officials plan to pursue the release of the remaining Rs 1,150 crore once the first tranche is credited. It maybe noted that work on the national project resumed after Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd took it over earlier last month. The State government plans to complete the spillway work by June next year. Plans are also afoot to complete the rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected families (PAFs), who would be displaced in the first phase of Polavaram (+41.15 m contour), in the next five months. About 17,000 houses have to be built to rehabilitate PAFs of 118 habitations. To complete the works as planned, timely release of funds by the Centre is crucial, the officials said.