BJP targets TDP, seeks probe into Rs 1,300-crore Pattiseema project
The ruling party wondered why the BJP was raising allegations of corruption now, after keeping silent all these years when it was part of the state government.
Hardly a week since the Telugu Desam Party’s exit from the National Democratic Alliance, the BJP has already begun needling its erstwhile ally with demands of a probe into alleged corruption in the construction of the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme linking the Godavari and Krishna rivers.
BJP floor leader in the assembly P Vishnu Kumar Raju and former endowments minister P Manikyala Rao came armed with a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to target the state government on Wednesday. Citing CAG observations that the Pattiseema project outweighed its benefits by causing “colossal wastage” of public money, Raju called for an inquiry by either the CBI or a sitting judge of the high court.
The Rs 1,300-crore Pattiseema lift scheme, a pet project of Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, was completed in a record period of 302 working days in 2016. A part of the prestigious Polavaram project, it takes 80 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of Godavari water from Pattiseema in West Godavari district through the Polavaram right canal to the Krishna river upstream of Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government claims that the diverted Godavari water will irrigate seven lakh acres in the Krishna delta region, and the water saved in the Krishna will irrigate parched lands in Rayalaseema.
Reading out from the CAG report, the BJP floor leader alleged that the TDP government tweaked rules to favour select contractors and wasted Rs 371 crore on the project. “This document says that the TDP government paid contractors an exorbitant rate of Rs 21,350 to excavate every cubic metre of earth,” he added.
Rao said that while the BJP wasn’t against the Pattiseema or Polavaram projects, it harboured doubts regarding the manner in which the project has been executed. He then went on to demand that the chief minister resign and seek a fresh electoral mandate.
The TDP strongly rebutted the allegations posed by the BJP leaders. State transport minister K Atchannaidu wondered why the BJP was raising the issue now, after keeping silent all these years when it was part of the state government.
“The BJP ministers were part of the state cabinet that took decisions on the Pattiseema project. Even Raju hailed the chief minister several times for completing it in record time. They are making baseless allegations and demanding a CBI inquiry just because the TDP has parted ways with the NDA,” Atchannaidu said.
State irrigation minister D Uma Maheshwar Rao alleged that the BJP was trying to target the TDP government in connivance with the YSR Congress and the Jana Sena Party. “It was only recently that Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari visited the (site of the) Pattiseema project and praised the state government for interlinking the Godavari and Krishna rivers. Now, the same BJP is trying to gain political mileage through baseless allegations,” he said.