VIJAYAWADA: Informing that the delay in giving investment clearance to revised cost estimates (RCE) of Polavaram and release of funds have slowed down the Polavaram project execution, the State government has urged the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) to re-examine the deadline for completion of the project. It is learnt that the matter has been referred to a committee, which will decide on how much more time or extension will be needed beyond the already revised deadline of April, 2022.
The State averred that it is bound by the commitment of supplying water to Kharif 2022 and informed the PPA of the practical issues being faced by it in the project execution. “Delay in issuing investment clearance to the RCE at 2017-18 price level, component-wise restrictions on expenditure as per 2013-14 price level and delayed reimbursement of bills, and disallowing drinking water component have slowed down the project execution. Due to the above, the project construction schedule needs to be re-examined and modification to the schedule is necessitated,” the State Water Resources Department officials told the PPA.
A letter was also written by Water Resources Secretary J Syamala Rao on October 18 seeking revision of the construction schedule of the Polavaram project. Other reasons such as unavailability of workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic and delayed approval of designs and proposals contributed to missing targets, the officials informed the PPA. After the 14th meeting held in Hyderabad on Wednesday, November 11, 2021, a senior official from the Water Resources Department told TNIE that the issue would be referred to a committee of experts, constituted in the 12th meeting in April, 2020, which will decide on the timeline of the project.
“We are, however, committed to releasing irrigation water for Kharif next year,” the officials added. It may be recalled that in the 13th PPA meeting held in November, 2020, the committee revised the deadline to April, 2022. The State government pushed for the clearance of the long-pending RCE of Rs 47,725 crore as approved by the Revised Cost Committee (Rs 55,656 crore as approved by the technical advisory committee), noting that major part of land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement is still pending. Investment clearance is requested as it will help overcome “inconvenience and hardships”, the officials told the PPA.
To this, the PPA is said to have pointed out that certain pending queries are to be cleared by the AP government. The officials informed the authority that they will furnish the details sought by it in about 10 days, following which the PPA said it will forward the investment clearance proposal to the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS).
With regard to component-wise restrictions on expenditure based on 2013-14 price level, the State argued, “Component-wise restrictions are not imposed on any project. The decision of the Ministry of Finance to restrict the expenditure is a violation of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, which mandates that the Centre bears the entire balance cost of irrigation component,” the officials added.
The restrictions and delay in reimbursement, which is taking a minimum of three months, are forcing the already cash-strapped AP to spend money from its limited resources, they noted.The officials also informed that the detailed project report of proposed lift irrigation scheme at Polavaram, which the MoJS clarified that it can’t be taken up sans permits, is in the process of submission.
Government pushes for speedy clearance of RCE
The State government pushed for the clearance of the long-pending RCE of Rs 47,725 crore as approved by the Revised Cost Committee, noting that major part of land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement is still pending
‘Check on expenditure is a violation of APRA’
With regard to component-wise restrictions on expenditure based on 2013-14 price level, the State argued, “The decision of the Ministry of Finance to restrict the expenditure is a violation of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014”.