The Centre and Andhra Pradesh (AP) government are all set for a showdown over the re-tendering of ongoing works worth Rs.3,200 crore under the Polavaram national irrigation project. Senior officials from the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) said that the work has been currently stopped due to the AP government’s decision, and added that the Centre is unlikely to provide funding until it takes a clear view of the current situation.
The Andhra Pradesh government on 29 July issued a pre-closure termination notice for works over ₹3,000 crore, given to Navayuga Engineering Company limited, which was supposed to complete part of the ongoing Polavaram irrigation project in the state. The decision was based on the recommendation of an expert committee. The construction giant was asked to consent to the termination or exit the project and settle accounts in 15 days.
The move did not go down with the Centre, which has since sought details of the expert committee’s recommendations. “Till those details are given, the funding for the Polavaram project will not be released. Moreover, the Centre had also asked for some other audit reports about the project a year ago, which is also awaited. While it is the AP government which undertakes the works, the PPA monitors, provides assistance and clears bills. We are waiting or the Centre to take a view," said a senior PPA official, who did not want to be quoted.
After the AP government asked Navayuga to exit the project, it issued a notice for fresh tenders in spite of a report given by the PPA, which stated that the project will be delayed and result in an approximate additional expense of Rs.300 crore per month.
“The work had already slowed down since April, and now, because of this, the project will get delayed for more time. Preparatory works had to be undertaken, which will now have to be done again once a new company is given contracts. All of this will cause delays," informed the same PPA official.
The Polavaram national irrigation project, which will interlink several rivers in Andhra Pradesh, is estimated to irrigate 75.38 lakh acres in the state. It will also help supply 7.32 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of drinking water to Visakhapatnam city and another 16.12 TMC of water for industrial purposes. The project is on the Godavari river near Ramayampet village of Polavaram mandal in West Godavari district.
The project also aims to help the Rayalaseema region (comprising Anantapur, Chittoor, Kadapah and Kurnool districts out of the total 13 districts in the state) get more water. Earlier in January, Naidu had said that about 60% of the project was completed. It was expected to be completed by April 2021, but given the recent developments over retendering of works, PPA officials said it will be delayed by some more months.
The AP Water Resources Department had earlier stated that retendering will not increase costs nor will it delay the project. When contacted, officials from the department did not wish to comment on the current developments.