‘Tailor-made report’: TDP denies tender norms violated in Polavaram project
An expert committee constituted by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh is said to have found large scale irregularities in the tenders approved by the previous Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party government in the construction of Polavaram irrigation project on Godavari river in West Godavari district.
A senior official in the state irrigation department familiar with the development said an eight-member committee headed by retired chief engineer Abdul Basheer submitted a 40-page report to the state government on July 23, pointing out gross violation of tender norms under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts in Polavaram.
YSRC president and chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy constituted the experts committee on June 14 to examine the processes followed by the previous TDP in tendering, launching and executing engineering works in various projects, including Polavaram, with a view to preventing corruption and rectify discrepancies in the projects. The panel was asked to submit the report within 45 days.
According to an official, the committee had found that the previous government had paid ₹3,128 crore to the contractors in violation of the EPC norms, including ₹1,559.65 crore in Polavaram project head works, ₹787.20 crore in hydel power project, ₹492.94 crore in left canal and ₹233.98 crore in the right canal.
The committee recommended that the government recover the additional payments made to the contractors under Revenue Recovery Act and also suggested that the government could go for fresh tendering of the project works, instead of continuing with the old contractors.
When contacted, special chief secretary (irrigation) Adityanath Das confirmed that the experts committee had submitted its report making certain observations. “The committee has found that excess payments were made to the contractors in certain works and suggested going in for fresh tenders for the remaining work to reduce the cost,” he said.
Das, however, said senior engineers of the department would examine the committee report and find out how far the observations were true.
“At the same time, we should also ensure the speedy completion of the remaining work in the project,” he said.
The TDP, however, strongly condemned the findings of the expert committee. “It is a predetermined report, made according to the directions of Jagan Mohan Reddy. The project is being funded totally by the Centre and the state cannot make the excess payments. The cost escalation happened due to time overrun. And the Centre has recently approved the revised cost estimates of the project at ₹55,000 crore. Who is Jagan fooling?” senior TDP leader and former irrigation minister Devineni Umamaheshwar Rao said.