Jagan Reddy’s SOS to PM Modi after finance ministry throws a spanner in Polavaram project
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in approving the revised cost of Polavaram major irrigation project as per 2017-18 estimates, instead of 2013-14 estimates as projected by the Union finance ministry.
Jagan requested Modi to prevail upon the Union ministries of finance and Jal Sakthi to accord investment clearances to the revised project cost as per 2017-18 estimates.
The department of expenditure of the Union ministry of finance, in its letter dated October 12, capped the cost of Polavaram project at Rs 20,398,61 crore at 2013-14 price level, as against the project cost of Rs 47,725.74 crore approved by the 2nd Revised Cost Estimate (RCE) of the Union ministry of water resources.
“This is totally unrealistic to complete the Polavaram project, which was declared a national project under AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, according to which the Central government shall bear the entire cost of the project,” Jagan said in his letter to the Prime Minister.
He said an amount of Rs 17,656.82 crore of public money had already been spent on the project. At this juncture, any unrealistic cost estimate would result in project remaining incomplete, he reminded.
The chief minister pointed out that all the central government agencies including Polavaram Project Authority (PPA), Central Water Commission (CWC), Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Revised Cost Committee (RCC) had approved the increase in project cost.
He said the major reason for increase in the project cost was due to land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement cost, on account of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, enacted by the Centre.
“When the cost of land acquisition and R&R alone for rehabilitating project displaced families itself is Rs 28,191 crore, how is it possible to complete the entire project at a capped cost of Rs 20,398 crore?” Jagan asked.
He reminded that the Union cabinet in March 2014 had clearly stated that the Centre would bear the entire cost of the project and obtain all requisite clearances including environmental, forests, and rehabilitation and resettlement and any increase in the project cost would also be borne by the Centre.
Stating that it was nothing but natural that the cost of the project was bound to escalate due to cost-overruns and time overruns due to inflation, GST regime and other unforeseen factors, Jagan said any further delay would only increase the land acquisition and R&R costs further due to increase in basic price of land solatium and other factors.
“The state government is only an executing agency on behalf of the Centre and the overall responsibility of completion of the project lies with the Centre as envisaged in AP Reorganisation Act, 2014,” he pointed out.