Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh minister for irrigation P. Anil Kumar scoffed at media reports and claims of TDP leaders that the state government has not been able to get adequate funds from the Centre for the Polavaram project. He alleged that it was the previous government that had neglected the project and used it for personal gains.
Speaking to the media here on 26 October, the minister laid bare the negligent attitude of the previous TDP government in procuring funds from the Centre for the Polavaram project and claimed that the state government would take the responsibility for the construction of the project. The TDP government spent only Rs. 265 crore on the project from 2014 to 2016 through Central funds, Mr. Kumar claimed. In this connection, the minister set the record straight and said that in 2014 the then Manmohan Singh government at the Centre had announced the Polavaram project as a national project and said the Centre would take complete responsibility for its construction and even bear the rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people. Moreover, as per the Reorganisation Act, before the bifurcation of the state, it was announced that the Centre would bear the entire expenditure of the project.
But the TDP had turned the tables which can be seen from the statement of the Niti Ayog vice-chairman and the state government had requested the Centre to leave the construction of the project to the state government though the finance department had agreed to bear only the irrigation expenses of the project. When in 2016 Central minister Arun Jaitley had announced a special package for the bifurcated state instead of special status, the TDP MP had gone on record in Parliament to support the special status and the TDP leaders had hailed it as their victory.
Moreover, in March 2017 when TDP leader Sujana Chowdary and Ashok Gajapati Raju were ministers in the Central Cabinet it was announced that cost escalation of the Polavaram project would not be borne by the Centre. “Does it not go to prove that the TDP government had agreed to bear the cost of the project?” the minister asked, pointing out that the TDP ministers in the Central Cabinet had kept quiet.
On 30 September 2019, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that 53 per cent of the project had been completed and the remaining work would be completed by 2019. Moreover, Mr. Naidu had said that Rs. 7,800 crores of the Central funds had been used for the project. Mr. Kumar asked if Rs. 8,000 crores was spent to complete 53 per cent of the project, what would be the total cost of the project? If Rs 55,000 crore was the total cost of the project, would it cost Rs. 8,000 crores to complete 53% of the project? he asked, adding that Mr. Naidu had spoken lies and it was left to the YSRCP government to tackle the Polavaram issue. He said the TDP government had never bothered about the rehabilitation and resettlement of the people affected by the project and the TDP had turned the project into a curse for the state.
The minister asked why the TDP had refused when the Centre had agreed to bear the whole expenses of the project if not to gain from it? He said the TDP had let down one lakh affected people and now the present government was forced to bear the cost of the rehabilitation and resettlement. The YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government will fight to get Rs. 55,000 crore to complete the project as recommended by the Technical Advisory Committee, Mr. Kumar said.