In a major setback for the ambitious Polavaram project which aims to 'drought-proof' the state, the Andhra Pradesh state cabinet on Saturday, raised the estimated project cost to Rs 36,000 crore from Rs 16,000 crore when it was last revised in 2011.
The outcome of the state cabinet meeting which took place in Vijayawada, is expected to be a huge burden, as the state is staring at empty coffers.
According to a Times of India report, the government had put the estimate at Rs 10,271 crore in 2005, when the project was first mooted.
AP water resources minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao told the newspaper that "The estimates have been revised based on the proposal sent by a committee comprising senior officials. The government has decided to expedite the project work."
The Polavaram project plans to inter-link the two main rivers in the state - Krishna and Godavari.
Every year about 3000 TMC of Godavari water flows away into the Bay of Bengal while there is hardly enough water in the Krishna. The state's idea is to divert the surplus Godavari water into the Krishna basin and eventually Rayalseema, which is a comparatively dry district.
The government does this transfer or 'lift' of water with the help of the 'Pattiseema' lift irrigation scheme on the Godavari River, which connects to the Polavaram canals.
Although chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has been claiming that the government will complete the project by 2018, many have argued that it would take much longer.
The Central government had earlier accorded a 'national' status to the project as part of the promise made in the AP State Reorganization Act, and also sanctioned Rs 300 crore for the project.
However, it is unclear if the Centre will agree to bear the additional burden after the cost revision of the project or if the state will have to bear the cost from its own pocket.