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The state government said that it would clarify all observations made in the CAG report and added that there was no failure in enforcing contract conditions.

Completion of Polavaram project improbable by 2019 says CAG Andhra govt hits back
news CAG Report Friday, September 21, 2018 - 10:02

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which said that the completion of Andhra Pradesh’s Polavaram project by the set target date of 2019 ‘appeared improbable’ has triggered off a political row in the state, with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSRCP trading barbs over the report.

The CAG report tabled in the state’s Legislative Assembly on Wednesday had pointed out that the completion of the project on time by the Water Resource Department ‘appears improbable’ due to the inability of officials to enforce contact conditions, improper planning and delay in finalising designs. The CAG report also pointed at the slow rate of land acquisition for the project and mentions that only 4% of the families had been rehabilitated so far. 

The performance audit conducted by the CAG  between May and August 2017 also pointed out that many other works have not begun and the Centre has not released funds as the state had failed to show proper accounts. The reimbursement of Rs 1,407.64 crore by the Centre to the state is thus stuck due to the non-submission of expenditure details with respect to land acquisition and relief and rehabilitation, reported The New Indian Express.

The TDP had earlier released a white paper on irrigation that had said that there were 40 incomplete irrigation projects that would be completed at an estimate of Rs 17,400 crore.

Responding to the observations made in the CAG report, state Water Resources Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao on Thursday assured reporters that the government will finish the project by June next year. The minister, addressing the media, said that the government would give clarifications to all the observations made in the CAG report and that there was no failure in enforcing contract conditions.

“We will release water by completing the first phase of the project by June or July next year. We did not go out of the way to give any concessions, mobilisation advances, performance securities, excise duty and others. All the recoveries that were done too were not because of paying in excess. It was a part of the agreement and we have done it as per the agreement,” Devineni was quoted as saying.

Defending the delay in project execution, the Minister said that the state government had an uphill task of reviving a project that was in limbo for one and half years.

Speaking about the revised cost estimates of the project, the minister said that a team of officials from New Delhi will be visiting the state to expedite approvals from the Centre. “We will also request for the immediate release of Rs 2,918.3 crore as reimbursement,” he added. 

The YSRCP has latched on the CAG report and said that its stand has been ‘vindicated’.

Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad on Thursday, YSRCP MLA and Chairman for the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Bogganna Rajendranath Reddy, claimed that the CAG found that Rs 1,853.08 crore were granted as concessions to contractors.

The project was taken over only to benefit contracts and get kickbacks and this view was endorsed by Computer Auditor General (CAG), the YSRCP claimed.

Reddy pointed out that the latest estimate of Rs 58,000 crore for completing irrigation projects provided by the Devineni Umamaheswara Rao was much higher when compared to previous estimates. He alleged that the Polavaram project was adding the burden of the state that is dire need of infrastructure works, reported The Hindu.

Responding to the allegations, Devineni cited CAG reports between 2009 and 2013 that had made observations on fund mismanagements in 'Jala Yagnam', a water management program implemented by late Chief Minister Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

“I warn the Opposition leaders not to spread lies to mislead the public,” Devineni said

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