Monday, June 24, 2024

Naidu dumped SCS to milk Polavaram: Ambati

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Minister for Water Resources, Ambati Rambabu, has levelled serious allegations against former chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, accusing him of overlooking the Special Category Status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh in favour of commissions from the Polavaram Project.

In a press conference held at his Vijayawada camp office on Saturday, Minister Rambabu presented a detailed PowerPoint on the project’s history and current status. He stated that as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act – 2014, the responsibility of constructing the Polavaram Project lay with the Central Government. However, Chandrababu Naidu, according to Rambabu, pursued the project not out of genuine interest but to gain commissions from loyal TDP-affiliated contractors.

Furthermore, Rambabu revealed that Chandrababu Naidu had abandoned the pursuit of Special Category Status for the project with the Central government in 2016. While initiating the project in 2016, Naidu surprisingly agreed to the 2013-14 Standard Schedule of Rates (SSR) for the project. Yet, he subsequently awarded the project to Navayuga Constructions based on the higher 2016 SSR rates, raising suspicions of potential financial gains.

The change in SSR rates led to a significant decrease in the estimated project cost from Rs. 29,027 crore to Rs. 20,398 crore in 2016-17. By 2017-18, the project’s estimation cost had risen to Rs. 55,656 crore. Minister Rambabu argued that these instances exemplified Chandrababu’s motives in obtaining the project from the central government – seeking financial benefits.

Minister Rambabu also clarified that the present YSRCP government led by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy remains committed to completing and inaugurating the Polavaram Project, though an exact completion date is not yet determined.

He strongly refuted Chandrababu’s allegations against the state government and accused the former CM of misrepresenting the project’s progress during the TDP regime.

On the matter of the Polavaram Project Diaphragm Wall (D-Wall) collapse, Minister Rambabu blamed the previous government’s negligence for the incident. He criticized the TDP government for not diverting the river flow, failing to complete the Earth Cum Rockfill Dam and upper and lower cofferdams, which contributed to the D-Wall collapse during heavy floods in 2020.

To rectify the situation, Minister Rambabu proposed constructing a new D-Wall alongside the old one, requiring an estimated Rs. 2,202 crore. He also revealed that the state government had sought Rs. 5,000 crore from the central government for land acquisition, and both requests were accepted.

Addressing concerns about the project’s height, Minister Rambabu confirmed that the first phase of the Polavaram Project would reach a height of 41.15 meters, followed by a second phase raising it to 45.72 meters. He dismissed baseless claims suggesting the project’s height was only 41.15 meters. For the necessary Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) works, he asserted that Rs. 30,000 crore, as per current SSR rates, should be the responsibility of the central government.

Lastly, Minister Rambabu expressed disappointment that the previous government failed to detect the washed-out D-Wall until 2022, despite it happening during the 2020 floods. He emphasized the need for effective completion of the Approach Channel and Spill Channel before undertaking such construction projects.

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