VIJAYAWADA: The State water resources officials have furnished to the Ministry of Jal Shakti all the details pertaining to Polavaram irrigation project right from its inception. In response to the letter written by the Union ministry, which sought the project details at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the wake of the State’s decision to go for reverse tendering based on the expert committee findings, the officials have mainly focused on substantiating the decision to hike the prices in 2015-16 and awarding the contract on nomination basis to Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd (NECL) in January 2018.
The Jal Shakti ministry on August 29 had written to the State seeking an evaluation and proper assessment report as the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision, based on the expert committee findings, differed from what was agreed by the department in January 2018, when NECL was brought on board after deleting works from Transstroy Ltd. To this, the government sent all the documents to New Delhi, which are expected to be submitted on Monday, detailing and defending the decision to hike the price and award it on nomination basis.
“There are two aspects in the reply we sent to the Union ministry. One is regarding the cost escalation of Rs 1,331 crore pointed out by the expert committee, and two, the reason why it was given on nomination basis. Both these things were done as per the codal provisions, and we informed the same in our reply,” a top-ranking official told TNIE.
The official explained that para 176 of the Andhra Pradesh Public Works Department (APPWD) Code permits revision of rates in current agreements provided there is government’s approval. “The decision to hike prices was taken under special circumstances, keeping in view the necessity of completing the project. It was a practical decision which was not only within the ambit of the codal provisions, but was also approved by a competent authority, the State Cabinet,” the official elaborated.
Regarding entrustment of works to NECL from Transstroy on nomination basis, the official said that it was permitted as per the EPC provisions. But, the Water Resources Department did not differ with the expert committee findings with regard to the need to change the nature of work. “Even though Section 60C of the AP Standard Specifications (APSS) allows awarding work on nomination, it has to be done without changing the nature of the contract. But, earlier, works under EPC were terminated and awarded in lump sum. Since it was pointed out, we are correcting the anomaly as per the recommendations made by the committee,” the official added.