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Daggubati Purandeswari opens the floodgates on Polavaram dam

Posted November 13th, 2017, 10:58 AM IST

Daggubati Purandeswari opens the floodgates on Polavaram dam

Hyderabad: Former Union minister and BJP leader Daggubati Purandeswari has joined the ongoing tussle between the AP government and the Centre over completion of the Polavaram dam.

The AP government has made fervent appeals to the Centre to release more money and approve the revised estimate for the project, while the Centre insists on getting utilisation certificates for the money that was granted and has suggested modifications in the work on the coffer dam.

Ms Purandeswari wants the Centre to agree to a re-estimate of the project cost. While defending the state government's contention that the central government should approve the latest revised estimate of `58,000 crore against the approved expenditure of Rs 16,000 crore, Ms Purandeswari also indirectly criticised the state government for not taking any action for three years on the contractor Transtroy, and only now making it an issue.

In a letter to Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari and in a subsequent meeting with him three days ago in Delhi, Ms Purandeswari requested the minister to do “whatever it takes” to see that the Polavaram project is completed on time.

In her letter she stated “I would not want to go into the details of how and why an incompetent company like Transtroy bagged the tender of Polavaram. I would not want to question why the present state government, despite being aware of the incompetence and reputation of this company, took three precious years to invoke clause 60 (c) of the MoU, between Transtroy and the state. I would not want to discuss the intent of the state government in repetitively blaming the central government, despite all the support, without itself producing the utilisation certificates for the monies spent and the work progressing at snail's pace. I would only request you, Sir, in all earnestness, to do whatever it takes to ensure the timely completion of this project.'

She also wrote in her letter that there are issues that are casting dark shadows on this project and that need to be addressed immediately.

"The Centre is committed to supporting the construction of the project as per the estimates as on April 1, 2014. Not going into the details as to why and how the state government escalated the prices, without taking Polavaram Project Authority into confidence, which it was mandated to do, I would request you to kindly consider the possibility of re-estimating the cost,' she added.

She said Transtroy had won the tender quoting 14 per cent less in 2013, with which it is absolutely impossible to construct a project of this magnitude. Secondly, there is the issue of land acquisition and rehabilitation.

An estimated 2.7 lakh people will be displaced by this project, and 50 per cent of them are tribals. The cost of land acquisition which is important for both the project and rehabilitation has increased greatly, with the Land Acquisition Bill 2013 in place. 'Polavaram Project cannot be realised if this cannot be reviewed,' Ms Purandeswari wrote.

Sources said when she met Mr Gadkari on the issue three days ago in Delhi, the minister told her he would seriously consider a re-estimate of the project.