Chandrababu Naidu confronts ally BJP over Polavaram irrigation project
The Andhra Pradesh CM accuses the Centre of putting spanners in the project after the water resources ministry asked the state to withhold a fresh tender called for construction of a project’s channel.india Updated: Dec 01, 2017 12:35 IST
Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government of creating hurdles for 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 state assembly that the Centre was putting spanner in the execution of the irrigation project on river Godavari.
The trigger for Naidu’s angst against the BJP 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 a fresh tenders called for construction of spill way and channel works of the irrigation project, stating that it was a premature step that might lead to contractual litigations 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 Rs 1400 crore.
Naidu also found fault with the BJP-led government for going slow in releasing the special financial package announced for the state by Union finance minister Arun Jaitely in September last year.
Polavaram multi-purpose project, which was declared a national project with 100 per cent central funding under Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation Act, is considered to be the lifeline of the southern state.
The total project cost as per the latest estimates is Rs 54,000 crore, including the cost of rehabilitation and resettlement of 1.8 lakh tribal population in nearly 277 villages, including in neighbouring Odisha and Chattisgarh states.
“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 the BJP MLAs and MLCs at his chambers in the assembly, where he reportedly asked them to prevail upon their party central leadership and convey the feelings of the people of the state.
Speaking to media later, Naidu said his government had to call for fresh tenders only to expedite the project works since the present contractor, the Transstroy Limited, had failed to stick to the deadlines.
He reminded that the fresh tenders were called after 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 in a day or two and try to sort out all the issues including Polavaram, special package, funding for the new capital Amaravati and other commitments made under AP Bifurcation Act.