Vijayawada

‘Reimbursement of Polavaram bills by Centre pending since March’

The Union Jal Shakti Ministry seems to be sitting on the fence, as it hasn’t taken any decision on reimbursement of bills pertaining to the Polavaram irrigation project since March this year.

According to information, the Union government has to release about ₹2,300 crore to the State government.

Interestingly, the bills submitted by the State government have been approved by the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA), cleared by the Central Water Commission (CWC), and necessary recommendations made subsequently. The file has been pending with the Ministry since March despite the State Water Resources Department actively pursuing the matter.

The State government had submitted 17,200 bills worth ₹7,537 crore during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 to the PPA. Later, 163 bills (up to August 29, 2020, during 2020-21) worth ₹321 crore were submitted to the PPA.

The total dues, which include ₹2,300 crore approved by the PPA, will be more than ₹4,000 crore, according to sources in the Water Resources Department. The remaining bills are in the pipeline, the sources say.

The officials are clueless about when the Centre will release the funds.

“We don’t know. It’s more than eight months since the recommendations have been sent. The Union Jal Shakti Ministry is yet to forward the bills to the Department of Expenditure, Union Ministry of Finance,” says a senior official on condition of anonymity.

“Even if the Central government acts with lightening speed and the Jal Shakti Ministry approves the same, it will take not less than one month for receiving the reimbursement,” he says.

As per the procedure, the file is sent to the Union Finance Ministry once it is cleared by the Jal Shakti Ministry. The Finance Ministry will then direct the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to pay the amount. The NABARD has to raise loans from the market to reimburse the amount to the State government.

Need of the hour

Release of funds is the need of the hour if the State government wants to succeed in completing the project by 2021/ 2022. The government has to meet expenditure towards land acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement. It is estimated that the government requires ₹28,172 crore as per the revised Cost Committee report with 2017-18 price level, officials say.

The Centre, which should construct the project as per the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014, had, on the request of the the TDP government, entrusted the task to the State. The Centre had since then been releasing funds for the work executed, after obtaining clearance from the PPA.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in February and requested him to ensure reimbursement of the pending dues at the earliest.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 6:06:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/reimbursement-of-polavaram-bills-by-centre-pending-since-march/article32617015.ece

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