The revised estimates for Andhra Pradesh's ambitious Polavaram project may be much higher than expected, as the Centre in its latest estimate, has reportedly pegged the project cost at Rs 40,200 crore.
Quoting sources, the Times of India reported that the original cost of the project in 2006 was Rs 10,151 crore, which was later revised to Rs 16,010 crore in 2011.
"It is no big issue. The Centre has promised to extend 100 per cent funding to the project. Revision of estimates is a regular process and we will get the Centre's approval for the latest cost estimates also," water resources minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao told TOI.
The state's Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, had earlier inaugurated the concrete work at the Polavaram dam site on January 7, and promised that it would be completed before the 2019 elections.
This also comes after reports that several cases of rehabilitation were still pending in court.
“Eight cases are pending before the Supreme Court pertaining to illegalities in Polavaram Project for more than a decade. Due to pendency of cases in this court, the respondents (government), ingeniously hiding behind the camouflage of such pendency, have deliberately omitted to perform their responsibilities and obligations resulting in large scale destruction of environment, forest and irreparable loss to about four lakh people,” a recent petition filed by an NGO with the Supreme Court stated.
Though conceptually proposed in 1941, and taken a little further by former Chief Minister T Anjaiah, it was during the term of YS Rajasekhara Reddy that the project began gathering steam.
In 2009, YSR declared that the project would be completed in a span of three years and would irrigate 2.91 lakh hectares.
In its present form, the multi-purpose irrigation project, still has an assessed command area of 2.91 lakh hectares and a power generation potential of 960 MW.
It is also a 'national' project, which ensures that it funded completely by the Centre.
However, that area is going to submerge 276 villages in Andhra Pradesh, four villages in Chhattisgarh and eight villages in Odisha, according to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), made public by the state over a decade ago.
The largescale destruction of green cover is also worrying.
"An area of 3427.52 hectares of forest land only in Andhra Pradesh is projected to be inundated," former Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had earlier told the Lok Sabha.
Many have opposed the dam.
All neighbouring states of Andhra have opposed it in some form or the other, with Odisha being the biggest critic of the project.