Centre is reportedly not happy with the way the Andhra Pradesh is handling the construction of Polavaram Project. And, it may turn into a flash point between BJP and TDP, as the issue has the potential rock the alliance between the two parties.
Hyderabad: Is it that the Polavaram is turning into a flash point between BJP and TDP? Is it Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is growing impatient over BJP led NDA government at the Centre?
These are a few questions being raised within the party circles over Naidu’s assertions made during a meeting with his party MP’s on Tuesday. Polavarm has become a contentious issue between the ruling party and BJP in the State for quite some time. And, the State BJP president Kambampati Haribabu and the BJP MLAs and leaders indeed has gone on a ‘Project Bata’, a visit to various pending and ongoing irrigation project sites in the State. It was since these visits that the BJP had stepped up its ante against the ruling TDP in the State, alleging that it is not focusing on construction of Polavaram project.
Differences between the two alliance partners have cropped up when the TDP chief had showcased the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project, as first of its kind in the country, and tried to take credit for the first one to initiate river linking by diverting Godavari waters to Krishna Delta. But, taking a dig at this, the BJP leaders, in particular that party’s MLC Somu Veerraju and others had openly said that though they were not against Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project as such, at the same time vowed to fight for early completion of the Polavaram project.
The stand taken by both the TDP and BJP leaders in the State is what has been puzzling the people and the leaders alike. According to sources, there is more than eyes meet in the whole issue. The Polavaram Project was to cost Rs 16,000 crore according to the earlier estimates. This figure has been confirmed even at the time of bifurcation and before the UPA government announced to take it up as a National Project, at the time of bifurcation of the State.
A year after the bifurcation of the State, the Centre has constituted Polavaram Project Authority (PPP) to take up the works of the project. Subsequently, it had appointed a 1983 batch IAS officer Dinesh Kumar working as the commissioner under the Union Ministry of Textiles, as the first Chief Executive Officer of the PPP.
Initially, the authority has asked the State government to submit the accounts of expenditure incurred on the project works. During this time too, while the TDP had raised the issue and alleged that the Centre was not taking steps in immediately taking up Polavaram works. But, the BJP leaders in the State had retaliated point figure at the State government for not handing over the files of the project to the Authority.
Once this was over, then the Authority on its own had insisted that the irrigation officials executing the project works should report to it, as it is the executing authority of the project. But, the state government had flatly refused to this saying that the officials of the state government would not report to it. The tussle on this between the Authority and the state government was taken to Delhi. And, it was the state government which had insisted that it would execute the project and the Centre should provide funds. Following this, the Centre had given its nod making it clear that it would reimburse the funds that the state government would spend on the construction of the project.
Earlier to this, the Authority had pointed out that the project contractor had collected mobilisation advances from the government. But, so far the contractor had only completed earth work. It further said that the contractor of the project seems not showing interest in taking up the essential and important dam works of the project. A similar feeling has also been expressed by the Union Water Resources ministry, expressing doubts over the capability of the existing contractor (allegedly close to the ruling TDP) in taking up the works and completing the project expected to be completed within three years.
Following this, the contracting entity of the project had went into a huddle and roped in a German firm having expertise in the ‘Cut off Walling’ to take up the dam works. When everything seems falling inline and the construction of project head works are expected to be taken up, the state government had hiked the outlay of the estimated expenditure of the project from Rs 16,000 crore to Rs 36,000 crore. In addition to this, allegations are made against the state government that it included expenditure incurred on some works which were not part of the Polavaram project and submitted accounts to the Authority for reimbursement.
It was all these twists and turns which is making the Centre to take a re-look on whatever expenditure and estimates that the state government has been submitting and demanding in regard to the Polavaram project. And, in the political arena, leaders in the state belonging to both the parties are mincing no words in taking on each other over any issue relating to the Polavaram project.
There was also displeasure expressed in several quarters point a figure at the state government for taking the construction of the project on its shoulders at a time when it was facing severe financial crunch. And, sources in the government as well as the BJP says that the question of giving entire estimated cost to the state government in one go by the Centre is unlikely.