Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu hits out at Centre over Polavaram delays
N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government of creating hurdles for the Polavaram irrigation project in the state.india Updated: Dec 01, 2017 20:42 IST
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government of creating hurdles for the Polavaram irrigation project in the state.
The charge is likely to further strain the state’s ruling TDP-BJP alliance, forged in 2014, which is already under stress with both the parties often trading charges against each other.
Naidu told the state assembly that the Centre was driving a spanner in the execution of the irrigation project on the Godavari river.
The trigger for Naidu’s angst is purportedly a letter secretary, water resources ministry, Dr Amarjit Singh, recently wrote to chief secretary Dinesh Kumar.
In the letter, dated November 27 (a copy of which is available with the HT), Singh asked the Andhra Pradesh government to withhold fresh tenders called for construction of the spill way and channel works of the project, stating it was a premature step that might lead to contractual litigation and cost overruns.
The tone and tenor of the letter also indicated that there might be irregularities in calling for tenders with a short notice for works costing nearly ?1,400 crore.
Naidu also found fault with the BJP-led government for delays in releasing the special financial package announced for the state by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in September last year.
The Polavaram multi-purpose project, which was declared a national project with 100% central funding under the Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation Act, is considered to be the lifeline of the southern state.
The total cost of the project according to the latest estimates is ?54,000 crore, including the cost of rehabilitation and resettlement of 1.8 lakh tribals in nearly 277 villages, including in neighbouring Odisha and Chattisgarh.
“We forged an alliance with the BJP before the last elections and joined the NDA with a hope that it would help the state which had suffered hugely due to unscientific bifurcation of the combined state,” Naidu said.
“We have been maintaining utmost restraint despite facing several problems because we are part of the NDA. We have agreed for the special package in lieu of special category status only in the best interest of the state. Still, the Centre is creating hurdles in the development of the state,” he alleged.
The chief minister also held a meeting with BJP MLAs and MLCs at his chambers in the assembly, where he reportedly asked them to prevail upon their party’s leadership and convey the feelings of the people of the state.
Speaking to the media later, Naidu said his government had to call for fresh tenders only to expedite the project work since the present contractor had failed to stick to deadlines.
He added that the fresh tenders were only called after a discussion with Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari.
“I will take up the matter with the minister once he returns from London. If the Centre still wants us to stop tenders, we have no option but to salute them and abandon the project. I have no objection if the Centre itself takes up the project and completes it within the 2019 deadline,” Naidu said.
The chief minister said he would seek an appointment with Modi and try to sort out all the issues including Polavaram, the special package, funding for the new capital Amaravati and other commitments made under AP Bifurcation Act.