VIJAYAWADA: With a major hurdle getting cleared following the Polavaram Project Authority’s (PPA) recommendation to the Centre for approving 2017-18 price level for Polavaram Project costs, the State Water Resources Department is now in the process of getting regular and unconditional reimbursements towards the expenditure made by the State. As the availability of funds is critical for completing the works, especially those related to rehabilitation and resettlement of project displaced activities as per the schedule, the State wants to expedite the flow of funds.
It is learnt that the State officials held discussions with the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti officials in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, pushing for the clearance of the revised cost estimates (RCE) and seeking release of pending reimbursements. As the clearance of the RCE of Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP) is expected to take time, the State government wants to ensure that there is no delay in the release of funds. Even in the meeting with the PPA held on November 2, in which joint secretary and financial advisor to the Ministry of Jal Shakti Jagmohan Gupta was also present, Special chief secretary (water resources) Aditya Nath Das emphasised that for the revised schedule of completion by April 2022 as agreed, timely reimbursement of expenditure incurred towards the cost of the project was imperative.
According to the officials, about Rs 4,000 crore is available, excluding the costs related to water supply component, for the state to tap as per the 2013-14 price level (Rs 20,398 crore) which was also approved alongside 2017-18 price level (Rs 47,725 crore). If the water supply component is included, roughly Rs 7,000 crore is available. The officials said that the 2013-14 PL was recommended for approval for the very purpose of ensuring release of reimbursements.
“Until the 2017-18 PL issue, which is now in the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti’s (MoJS) court, is resolved with the Ministry of Finance, we can tap the funds available as per the 2013-14 PL,” a senior official explained. As of November 1, 2020, the Centre, through the PPA, reimbursed Rs 8,507.26 crore as against the Rs 12,530 crore expenditure made by the State after declaration of the PIP as a national project. The total expenditure made, including that made prior to PIP being declared a national project, stands at Rs 17,655.29 crore of which Rs 4,730 crore was spent until April 1, 2014.
The Centre has agreed to fund 100 per cent cost of irrigation component to be incurred after April 1, 2014. Though national project guidelines state that the cost of water supply component, barring distribution network costs, were included in the project cost, the MoJS will take a call on whether or not to include it in PIP’s funding.