Centre to fund land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement for Polavaram project: Officials
The funds required for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (LARR) for the Polavaram Irrigation Project will be borne by the Centre, the State water resources officials have clarified.
VIJAYAWADA: The funds required for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (LARR) for the Polavaram Irrigation Project will be borne by the Centre, the State water resources officials have clarified. There is no ambiguity as to who will bear the expenses as national projects are funded by the Central government, they added.
The State officials cleared the air in the wake of a few politicians, such as TDP MP Rammohan Naidu and former MP Undavalli Arun Kumar, seeking a clear statement from the Centre on the issue. “There is no basis for anybody to wonder or worry about the LARR expenditure. It was the Centre’s commitment as a part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, to execute the irrigation component of the project. The irrigation component does not just mean a reservoir or other civil works. LARR is also a part of the irrigation component,” a senior official from the water resources department, who is a part of the discussions with the Centre, explained.
Noting that the Union Jal Shakti and Finance ministries were clearing all bills pertaining to LARR, the official added that States would be required to take care of LARR only for projects being funded under other central schemes such as the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP). There are 16 national projects across the country.
“All bills pertaining to LARR since April, 2014, when the project became a national one, have been cleared so far. In fact, we didn’t apply for national status, it was accorded to the project during the bifurcation by the Centre. Unlike other national projects, where the Central grant is 90 per cent, we were promised a 100 per cent grant to compensate the bifurcation. So, there is no ambiguity as to who will bear the LARR costs. The State is just facilitating the project’s execution,” the official observed.
For the record, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, in February last, gave clearance for Rs 55,548 crore revised cost estimates of the project.
Rs 5,016.02 crore spent on land acquisition by AP government so far
The approved cost estimates included LARR works worth Rs 32, 509.26 crore. Since the inception of the project, the State government has so far spent Rs 5,016.02 crore towards land acquisition, payment of compensation to project displaced families, construction of R&R colonies and others. This accounts for just 15 per cent of the total LARR work to be done.
Sources told TNIE that the Union ministry, while scrutinising the revised cost estimates of the project, wanted to cut down the costs significantly on one of the other pretexts. “We, however, made a strong case and explained to them that the cost escalation was mainly because of the LARR Act, 2013, formulated by the Centre. We had to explain to them their own Act. Since they will have to bear the approved costs (as per the actual expenses), they are checking every aspect,” another official said, recalling the discussions held on the revised cost estimates over the last few months.