The increase in the cost of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) is the biggest component in the escalation of cost of the Polavaram project and not the structures, Minister for Water Resources Devnineni Umamheswara Rao has said.
Addressing the media here on Thursday, Mr. Umamaheswara Rao refuted the allegations made by YSR Congress Party MP Y.V. Subba Reddy, who wanted to take a delegation of MPs to New Delhi to raise questions about the cost escalation.
The prime motive of the MP was to foil attempts to complete the project, a lifeline for Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Umamaheswara Rao alleged.
The cost of the project escalated from an estimated Rs. 16,000 crore to Rs. 58,000 crore. The cost of R&R alone worked out to be Rs. 38,000 crore, he said. The government wanted to pay R&R to the displaced people in accordance with the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, he added.
Stating that the YSRCP leaders were “experts in corruption,” Mr. Umamaheswara Rao recalled how the cost of the Gundlakamma project in Prakasam district had escalated when the Congress was in power.
The TDP Government had laid the foundation stone for the project in 2003. The Congress, which had came to power in 2004, approved the project with an estimated cost of Rs. 165 crore. In a matter of five years, the cost had been escalated to Rs. 453 crore and then to Rs. 592 crore. This year, it was further escalated to Rs. 753 crore, he said.
“Everything appears yellow for their jaundiced eyes,” he said.
Mr. Umamaheswara Rao said 80 tmc ft had been pumped from the Godavari to the Krishna delta by the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme till Thursday.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had said 80 tmc ft would be transferred from the Godavari Basin to the Krishna Basin and the same had been fulfilled, the Minister said.
He said every water body and water conservation structure in the State was flowing to the brim. A few villages in the drought-prone district of Anantapur received excess rainfall for the first time in decades, he added.
The Minister said that he believed that the good rains were a result of the ‘Jalasiriki Harati’ taken up by the government.
While there was only 394 tmc ft of water in major reservoirs of the State at the time of the ‘harati’ (September first week), the quantum of water increased to 638 tmc ft as on date.
The amount of water in minor Irrigation tanks was 40 tmc ft at the time of the ‘harati’, it increased to 90 tmc ft as on date.
Similarly, the quantity of “dynamic ground water” increased from 333 tmc ft at the time of ‘harati’ to 618 tmc ft as on date.