VIJAYAWADA: Water Resources Minister P Anil Kumar attributed the delay in the completion of rehabilitation and resettlement (R and R) colonies for Polavaram project displaced families (PDFs) to the unavailability of workforce as workers are scared of contracting Covid-19. While affirming that the government would complete “100 per cent” rehabilitation of the remaining 17,268 PDFs of phase-1 of the national project this working season, he also noted that the YSRC regime was committed to finishing the project as promised and provide water from Kharif-2022.
The minister inspected the project works on Wednesday and later reviewed the status of works, particularly the R and R. Speaking on the occasion, he said: “Yes, we wanted to complete the rehabilitation of the 17,000+ PDFs by April, but there is a shortage of workforce. Workers are apprehensive to work in the pandemic. Last year, several migrant workers left. This time, they are not coming forward to work. There are thousands of cases in Godavari districts too. We can use Covid-19 as an excuse, but we won’t. Yes, there will be a delay, but we will complete the project and release water from Kharif-2022. We will also complete 100 per cent rehabilitation of the PDFs this season without any compromise. In the review, we have chalked out as to how to achieve it by deploying more workers.” He noted the approach channel’s earthworks, which progressed at a pace of 1.5 lakh cubic metres per day, now fell to 20,000-30,000 cubic metres due to the shortage of workers.
Anil blamed the previous TDP government’s “poor planning” for the delay in the project execution. “Firstly, the TDP government did nothing for three years. Next, because it lacked planning and left cofferdam without completing it, the diaphragm wall has been damaged. R and R also was also neglected and not a single household was rehabilitated. Naidu and his sons didn’t even step out a handful of times in the last 15 months, but want workers and officials to work even during the pandemic. Do the lives of only TDP leaders matter, but not of officials and workers?” he questioned.
Officials working despite being at risk: Anil Kumar
Over 80 employees of water resources department, including five engineers looking after Polavaram Irrigation Project, succumbed to the novel coronavirus in the last one year, said P Anil Kumar on Wednesday. “Only in PIP, three executive engineers and two junior engineers passed away due to Covid-19. Some family members of the executing agency MEIL also died. Yet, everybody... is working. We should appreciate all of them for working despite being at risk...”