Polavaram: Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari today said technical issues were the sole reason for delay in release of funds and other approvals for the Polavaram multipurpose project and asserted that politics had nothing to do with it.

In an apparent snub to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who has been attacking the Centre and the BJP over various issues in recent months, he said Polavaram is 'our project' and that the Centre was totally committed to completing it on time. The Union Minister visited the project site and inspected the ongoing works this evening.

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Addressing reporters on the occasion, Gadkari said escalation in project cost and the extent of land to be acquired needed to be justified. "Land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement (of displaced families) is a very crucial component of the project. Compared to the first detailed project report,the acreage of land to be acquired has more than doubled, resulting in a steep rise in cost. We have to justify that. We have to logically convince the Union Finance Ministry on the reasons for that," Gadkari added.

He asked state Water Resources Department officials to come to New Delhi, meet officials of the Central Water Commission and his ministry and submit all documents required. "Once the required papers are submitted, we will clear them in eight days and send them to the Finance Ministry for clearance," he assured the Chief Minister.

He would also ask the Finance Minister to convene a joint meeting to sort out the issue. "Coordination, cooperation and communication" between the Centre and the state had not been a problem. We are fully transparent, corruption-free, time-bound, result-oriented and quality-conscious. We dont want to mix development with politics. This is our country and our project. Whatever the politics may be, its a different part of the story, Gadkari stressed.

He said progress on the project was 'good' compared to his last visit (in November). "The contractors have told me that the civil works will be completed by April 2019 but I asked them to ensure they are done by February. I want to visit Polavaram again in the first week of March," the Union Minister said.

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On the Chief Ministers request for a monetary advance, the Union Minister said his intention is to help, but approval from the Finance Ministry was required. Money was not a problem as a lot of funds were available with NABARD under the 'Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana,' he said.

The Chief Minister said the state was in financial problems and already Rs 2,200 crore had been spent on the project. "You have to reimburse that money. If possible, give me some advance, pending approval of the revised DPR, so that we can complete the works in time," he said. (PTI)