Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, on Friday took note of the Andhra Pradesh government's decision to terminate the contract of the Navayuga Engineering Company Limited, for the Polavaram irrigation project and said that the move would do more harm than good.
The state's Water Resources Department had issued the notice for terminating agreements under which the firm was awarded various works relating to the project being built across the Godavari river. The move came following report of an expert committee set up in June by the YSRCP government to probe alleged irregularities in awarding contracts by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Friday, Gajendra Singh said, "As far as the completion of Polavaram is concerned, the responsibility of implementation of the irrigation project lies with the state government, and I am extremely saddened to announce that the state has cancelled the tender."
"This will act as an impediment and will result in delay in completing the project and cost escalation," he added.
Earlier in the day, speaking on the floor of the House, YSRCP MP Vijayasai Reddy had said that "gross irregularities and misappropriations had taken place in implementation of the project and during Relief & Rehabilitation (R&R) for families displaced by the project, between 2014 and 2019 under the erstwhile (TDP) government."
"Polavaram was declared a national project and the Centre is obligated to reimburse the amount spent by the state government. We had asked the state for an audited account of around Rs 5000 crore for the right bank and left bank canal as part of the project. The audit account for around Rs 3,000 crore is done, and the remaining is pending. Then we can discuss reimbursement," the Union Minister had added, in his response.
The state government is now expected to call for â€˜reverse tendersâ€™, where more bidders will be called to participate in a fresh bidding process.
Polavaram, which is estimated to cost Rs 58,000 crore, was declared a national project in 2016.
It is designed to bring an area of over seven lakh acres in coastal Andhra under irrigation besides producing 960 MW power, utilising 273,000 million cubic feet or TMC of water currently going waste into the sea.
While the TDP has condemned the move, dubbing it 'political vendetta', activists feel that while there might have been malpractice in the project, cancelling the contract, even if temporarily, is only likely to cause further damage to the project.