VIJAYAWADA: The efforts to complete the Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP), touted to be the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh, are likely to come to fruition in 2021 with the State government gearing up to complete the land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (LARR), “the biggest and critical” part of any project.
While the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) in its meeting in November revised the date of completion to April, 2022, the government has targeted to complete the works by December, 2021, so as to supply water for Kharif-2022. After seeing major technical and administrative hurdles, including disruption of works due to COVID-19-imposed lockdown and floods, and the Centre raising objection to the revised cost estimates (RCE), the officials are hopeful that the major issues would be resolved soon. While the civil works have already been expedited, LARR is pending.
“The target is to complete the project by December, 2021. We will deploy more officials to complete the LARR. We need about Rs 3,800 crore for LARR activities for +41.15 metre contour and another Rs 1,500 crore to complete head works and other civil works. The PPA has assured that the bills submitted would be cleared immediately for processing the reimbursement,” chief engineer (PIP head works) B Sudhakar Babu told TNIE.
About Rs 4,000 crore has to be reimbursed by the Centre of which Rs 2,234 crore has been given recently. Of the remaining Rs 1,770 crore, the PPA has rejected some bills to the tune of Rs 600-700 crore. “About 1,100 crore is to be released and the authority is in the process of scrutinising about Rs 550 crore worth bills. The PPA assured that it would facilitate fund release as per requirement,” the CE added.
For the record, a total of 20,870 project displaced families (PDFs) need to be rehabilitated to R and R colonies for storing water up to +41.15 m of the dam. So far, 3,110 PDFs have been rehabilitated, and the official target to complete the rehabilitation of the remaining 17,600 PDFs by April, 2021.
Civil works, on the other hand, have been progressing more or less as per the plan. As of the last week of December, works related to the installation of nine hydraulic radial gates of the spillway were completed and all the 48 gates are expected to be erected by May, 2021. The cofferdams are also scheduled to begin in April and conclude by June, depending on the LARR progress, before the flood season. The works related to connectivities and left and right main canals are also on the track. “We will comfortably complete the civil works by December, 2021. The LARR, which is the biggest and critical part of any project, will have to be focussed on. The water will be impounded as per the CWC guidelines,” another senior official observed.
The state water resources department is also hopeful that the issue of RCE, whose approval is essential for release of funds for the national project, would be cleared at the 2017-18 price level of Rs 47,725.74 crore. “Since the Central Water Commission (CWC) has recommended the latest prices, we are positive that the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) will give investment clearance for the same and that the Centre would finalise the RCE,” the official noted.