Thursday, July 25, 2024

‘Jagan complicated Polavaram’

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Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday alleged that the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP government had complicated the Polavaram Project and got it entangled in a chaotic situation.
The Chief Minister asserted that he was studying the national project after five years of YSRCP rule to make sense of it and what to do next.
“They (YSRCP govt) had complicated the project and entangled it in difficulties, making it a chaos. We are still studying…I am studying as to what to do now,” said Naidu, addressing a press conference near the project site.
Visiting the project site for the 31st time and the first time in 2024 after taking charge as the CM for the fourth time, he alleged that due to the policies of the YSRCP government, the diaphragm wall suffered breaches at four places during the 2019 and 2020 floods.
Following a review with officials on the current state of the project, Naidu highlighted that the upper and lower cofferdams are not existing while the guide bund and gap – 1 got washed away.
According to the CM, Rs 446 crore was already spent on the diaphragm wall by the TDP government which built it in two seasons and repairs on it would now cost Rs 447 crore while the idea of completely building a new parallel diaphragm wall could cost up to Rs 1,000 crore.
Had the project been continued after YSRCP came to power in 2019 as it was handed over by the TDP government, without disturbing the agency and engineers on work, Naidu claimed the project could have been completed by 2020-end, but noted that now it could take a minimum of four more years.
Naidu alleged that the day YSRCP came to power it changed the agency, wound it up within four days and all the staff working on the project were changed.
According to Naidu, the TDP government had spent Rs 13,623 crore annually on the project between 2014 and 2019 and claimed that the YSRCP government had limited it to Rs 7,100 crore per year.
Though the YSRCP government had inflated the budget, he observed that expenditure was deflated while contractors were paid advances prior to work getting completed.
The CM observed that the Government of India and the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) had written to the YSRCP government not to change the agency as it would be difficult to fix responsibility, but highlighted that those pleas fell on deaf ears.
Underscoring that the cost of the project is rising day by day, including land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) costs, the CM called for action on the people responsible for these losses.
Explaining how tedious it could turn out for him to work with the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, which has already seen four ministers, Naidu said the project should be saved for the future of the state and in national interest.
Once the project is realised fully, Naidu exhorted that Godavari water could also be supplied to drought-prone Rayalaseema region in the future, after meeting the needs of north Andhra region, and the undivided Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts.
He said the project has been designed to store 194 TMC water which can enable the usage of 320 TMC water when floodwaters surge.
According to Naidu, Polavaram Project is capable of discharging 50 lakh cusecs of water through its spillway, and claimed that this capacity is bigger than the Three Gorges Dam in China.
Lambasting the YSRCP chief for the current state of the project, Naidu alleged that the former is ‘not fit to be in politics but came into that realm to become a curse to the state’.
“Why I am using this word is because this is an example. Polavaram case study. The biggest blunder, not blunder, has been turned into a curse for this state,” he added.
Earlier, Naidu landed at the Polavaram Project at noon and was accompanied by Water Resources Minister N Ramanaidu and others.
The chief minister inspected the project works and officials explained to him in detail.
Polavaram Project is on the river Godavari near Ramayyapeta village in Polavaram Mandalam of Eluru district, located about 34 km upstream of Kovvuru-Rajahmundry road-cum-rail bridge.
It emerges from the last ranges of the Eastern Ghats and enters the plains in the Godavari region.
According to the PPA, the multi-purpose irrigation project is intended to irrigate over 4.3 lakh hectares of land and generate 960 MW of hydropower, along with the supply of drinking water to nearly 30 lakh people in 611 villages.
The mega project is also envisaged to divert 80 TMC water to the Krishna river basin.

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