Andhra Pradesh

Focus is on reducing cost of five major projects: Minister

Action will be taken against people’s representatives and officials involved, says P. Anil Kumar.

Action will be taken against people’s representatives and officials involved, says P. Anil Kumar.  

‘Government will go for reverse tenders to save the taxpayers’ money’

Water Resources Minister P. Anil Kumar said on Wednesday that the government accorded first priority to bring down the cost of the Polavaram, the Veligonda, the Vamsadhara, the Handri-Neeva and the Galeru-Nagari projects through reverse tendering and take up the other projects later.

He stated that the cost of 268 packages had been jacked up during the TDP rule by fraudulently invoking Section 60-C of the EPC agreements.

Replying to the question raised by several MLAs in the Assembly on Wednesday on whether the estimated expenditure of the irrigation projects was raised in 2014-19, the Minister said more than 80% of the works had been sanctioned at rates exceeding 4% and works costing ₹20,000 crore awarded just three months before the elections, the Minister said.

‘Dubious means’

Stating that the costs were escalated by up to 10 times, Mr. Anil Kumar said in one package in the Galeru-Nagari project, the balance works costing approximately ₹5 crore were awarded for ₹137 crore. On the whole, the estimated expenditure of 28 projects was raised through dubious means during the above period, he alleged.

As per the White Paper on the irrigation sector released by the previous dispensation, the projects, excluding Polavaram and Uttarandhra Sujala Sravanthi, required about ₹17,370 crore. But works were awarded for an excess of ₹16,000 crore in blatant violation of the norms, the Minister observed.

Mr. Anil Kumar further said a vast majority of the projects were awarded to five contractors, some of whom were close to the TDP leaders, who included an MP and an MLC. The government, therefore, took up the task of detecting the lapses and calling for reverse tenders (a practice that is in vogue only in the Coal India Limited) to save the taxpayers’ money and taking action against the people’s representatives and officials involved in the irregularities after the Cabinet sub-committee submitted its report, the Minister told the House.

Mr. Anil Kumar attributed the phenomenal rise in costs to delay in acquiring land and implementing the new Land Acquisition Act and R&R policy, obtaining environmental and forest clearances from the Central government, revision of scheduled rates for balance works and terminated works, and entrusting EPC works to new agencies.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 9:56:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/focus-is-on-reducing-cost-of-five-major-projects-minister/article28526882.ece

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