Summary

What The Committee Says:

* The cost estimates for the land acquisition and the R and R have ‘’hugely increased’’ from 2934.41 crore to 32392.24 crore.

* Proposal to increase the height of the coffer dam from 31 metres to 42 metres without completing the land acquisition and the Relief and Rehabilitation (R and R) works.

* The State Government proposal that it needs Rs 7508.19 crore for land acquisition and Rs 20547.11 crore for the R and R of 99532 displace persons was questioned.

* National Water and Hydro Power Corporation chief Balraj Joshi and his team of experts are currently inspecting Polavaram works on Friday and Saturday.

The Masood Hussain Committee report on Polavaram Project works has exposed the hollowness of the Chandrababu Naidu Government's claims on the prestigious national project. The committee has said that Chandrababu's statement that the project would be partially completed by June 2018 and water would be released to the command area through gravity was not feasible.

The Committee, led by CWC chief engineer Shaikh Masood Hussain, inspected the Polavaram project works at Ramaiahpeta in Polavaram mandal of West Godavari recently. It met the irrigation officials as part of it quarterly review of the project works. A detailed report of the committee has questioned the Chandrababu Naidu government's proposal to increase the height of the coffer dam from 31 metres to 42 metres without completing the land acquisition and the Relief and Rehabilitation (R and R) works. It also pointed out that out of the 452 structures in the Left Main Canal (LMC), as many as 349 are yet to be completed. Similarly, out of the 248 structures in the Right Main Canal (RMC), 101 have not been completed. The committee has also pointed out that the work on the distributaries under the RMC and LMC are incomplete.

Chandrababu’s hollowness exposed
Chandrababu’s hollowness exposed

Distributary Network Details Not Given

Further exposing the TDP government's falsehoods, the committee said: "The construction programme provided by the water resources department, Government of AP, does not include details of distributary network. Timely completion of the distributary network is very much required to reap the irrigation benefits in the command are of the project. Land acquisition for the canal distributary network is yet to commence, survey and investigation work is still going on."

The committee also pointed out that no construction plan for the power house components of the project was made available to the committee. It warned that the cost estimates for the land acquisition and the R and R have ''hugely increased'' from 2934.41 crore to 32392.24 crore. "This huge cost revision in LA and R and R may have major impact on the total cost of the project and the economic viability of the project," the committee pointed out.

Cost escalation baffles officials 
Cost escalation baffles officials 

Surprise At Cost Escalation

It expressed surprise at the LA and R and R cost escalation. The government has to acquire 1,60,589 acres for the project. Of this, 70,482.56 acres were acquired before the Land Acquisition Act 2013 came into force. After the Act came into force, another 6,012.70 acres have been acquired. For this, the government has so far spent Rs 2168.47 crore. The government still needs to acquire another 84,093.74 acres. For this, the State Government had said that it needs Rs 7508.19 crore for land acquisition and Rs 20547.11 crore for the R and R of 99532 displace persons. The committee has questioned this cost escalation.

Further, in a clear indictment of Chandrababu Naidu government, it said that the "required rate of progress for concreting the spillway portion of the dam is extremely high, which is not considered to be achievable considering the limitation of machinery, height of concrete lift with respect to cooling etc."

Experts committee led by Massod Hussain at Polavaram project site (photo from past visit)
Experts committee led by Massod Hussain at Polavaram project site (photo from past visit)

Problems With Chhattisgarh, Odisha

During the review, the CWC members asked the officials about the problems with Chhattisgarh and Odisha over the Project. Replying to the queries of the team, the Engineer-in-Chief M Venkateswara Rao pointed out that the state government was ready to pay full compensation as per the new Land Acquisition Act but the displaced people of these states were not willing to accept the compensation. The team also enquired about the inter-state water dispute due to the project. It also reviewed on the Tribunal award, whether the works were going as per the designs approved by the CWC. The committee has also pointed that the State Government has not obtained permissions for the designs of the structures in the LMC and RMC. It said it must obtain CWC permission.

Centre Moves With Alacrity

Given these observations, it is clear that Chandrababu Naidu government's claims that the project would be completed by June 2018 are hollow and impossible to achieve. Alarmed by the delay in the project works, the Central Government has moved in quickly and questioned the tardy pace. Interestingly the Government had, after the submission of report and the Central intervention, issued a notice to Transtroy, the main contractor of the Polavaram project under Section 60 C. As expected the Transtroy has challenged the decision. This might only cause further delay in the project works. The Centre has sent Pandya Committee on November 7 to finalise the designs. Meanwhile, National Water and Hydro Power Corporation chief Balraj Joshi and his team of experts are currently inspecting Polavaram works on Friday and Saturday.