The ongoing mega Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh will be completed by December 2021 as per the revised tender floated by the state government, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said in Rajya Sabha.
Responding to queries during Question Hour, the minister, however, said the completion of this project will depend on how fast the state government settle the issue of rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R).
The proposed Polavaram Irrigation project aims to irrigate 2.91 lakh hectares, generate 960 MW of power, and fulfil water needs of industries and 540 villages in Andhra Pradesh.
"...this project is being constructed by the state government. The revised tender floated a couple of weeks ago by the state government. As per the new revised tender agreement, they have given the date of completion of the project as December, 2021. So, I hope, by December, 2021, this project will be completed," Shekhawat said in the Upper House.
Treating it as a national project, the minister said the Centre had agreed to bear the cost of the project based on the 2014 expense estimate. However, a Revised Cost Committee (RCC) was set up to look into the cost escalation issue of the project.
So far, two meetings have been held. In its second meeting held in October 2019, the RCC has sought details from the Andhra Pradesh government, he said.
The information sought has been with regard to types of land identified for acquisition along with their quantities or cost as per the first and second RCC and also details of land acquisition and corresponding project displaced families as on March 31, 2014 and March 31, 2018, he added.
"The state has submitted partial information in this regard. Findings or recommendations of the RCC is dependent upon satisfactory compliances by the state government on its observation," the minister noted.
Responding to a supplementary on who will bear the escalated cost of the proposed project, including land acquisition, the minister said, "The difference is because of cost of the land acquisition and the issue related to R&R. We have sought information. We will take a call after receiving the full information from the state."
On displacement of tribals in Odisha due to large-scale submergence of Polavaram project, the minister said the concerns of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana governments are all pending in the Supreme Court.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said "Polavaram is the lifeline for Andhra Pradesh and everything needs to be done."
The cost of the Polavaram project is pegged at Rs 55,548.87 crore as per the second revised cost estimate done at 2017-18 price level, which has been accepted by the Jal Shakti Ministry.
YS Jaganmohan Reddy-ruled Andhra Pradesh government had cancelled the contracts and gone to reverse tendering for Polavaram headworks and hydropower station. Infrastructure major Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL) bagged the order.