VIJAYAWADA: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that her department was in touch with the Union Water Resources Ministry to get the pending dues of Polavaram Irrigation Project released “at the earliest”. About Rs 3,805.62 crore spent by the Andhra Pradesh government, is yet to be reimbursed by the Centre.
When YSRC MP V Vijayasai Reddy raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Sitharaman, noting that the Polavaram project was important as it is in the interest of national infrastructure, said, “The discussion with the AP finance minister has been going on (regarding the release of pending funds) and I am also in touch with the Union Water Resources ministry so that we can get it cleared at the earliest. (The delay is) because of the CAG audit, which Andhra Pradesh government has apparently given. We will follow it up.”
It may be recalled that the Centre has asked for an expenditure audit report of the funds spent on PIP prior to March 31, 2014 (before being declared a national project). Earlier, Vijayasai pointed out that it was getting “extremely difficult” for the AP government to spend money for the PIP’s execution because of the economic crisis due to COVID-19.
“Since it is a national project, all the funds have to be released by the Centre. (However,) to quicken the process, the AP government, without even waiting for the Centre to release the money, has been spending the amount. The outstanding amount to be released is Rs 3,805.62 crore. As asked by the Centre, the CAG has audited the expenditure and confirmed that the said amount was pending. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, explaining the details of AP’s economic crisis after bifurcation, particularly during COVID-19. Finding it difficult to further spend on Polavaram project, he requested immediate release of the funds,” he told the House.
Stating that the AP government has targeted to complete the project by December 2021, Vijayasai added that Jagan, in his letter, has also suggested a “hassle-free plan” for the release of funds to avoid possible delay.
“In the light of the above, I request the Union Water Resources Ministry to release the funds so that it can be completed by the targeted date,” Vijayasai Reddy said.