Eluru: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu turned his inspection of Polavaram project into a family picnic. On the occasion of the completion of gallery in the spillway section Chandrababu carried out an inspection as if the entire project on which crores had been spent, had been completed.  On Wednesday, Chandrababu Naidu turned the gallery walk into a family picnic, with his wife Bhuvaneswari, son Lokesh, daughter-in-law, Brahmani and grandson Devansh accompanying him. Together, they posed for family pictures as if it was a family outing. It appeared as if the Andhra Pradesh chief minister was more enthusiastic about posing with his family members than inspecting the work at the site. This has led to widespread criticism about Chandrababu’s visit on which public money was wasted for the purpose of idle propaganda. The AP chief minister also inaugurated a pylon on the occasion.

It is learnt that many leaders and people’s representatives of the ruling party are said to have expressed their displeasure at the manner in which they were ignored.  They too criticised Chandrababu Naidu for turning the site inspection of the project into a family outing.

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Some of them are said to have returned without stepping into the gallery. By the time the chief minister returned from his gallery walk, most of the people’s representatives are learnt to have left. Apparently, there was no one to explain details of the project to them, they are reported to have felt.  Flood water would be released from the reservoir through the spillway to lower areas. The gallery was built to ensure security and is 2 m in length with a height of 2.5 m.

While the construction of a gallery is a part of any such project, its completion does not in any way imply that the project itself has been completed. It may be recalled that a committee of technical experts from the Centre had expressed doubts with respect to quality of the project. The Telugu Desam government is now coming in for criticism that the gallery walk by Chandrababu Naidu was staged as a cover-up for objections raised by the central committee to put up a show that everything was proceeding smoothly on the site.  Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has so far visited the site 27 times, but only 58% of the project has been completed.  MLAs themselves wonder how the project would be completed in nine months as is being stated by the AP chief minister. Media representatives, it is learnt, were invited for Chandrababu’s Gallery Walk, not only from the district, but from Vijayawada and Delhi.

The audience was way below expectations in spite of invitations to MLAs and party leaders and as a result, project staff had to be seated in the audience, it is learnt. Not many farmers showed up for the much-touted event.

The government, meanwhile, is spending precious resources ferrying people in buses to visit the project site. Chandrababu Naidu himself is reported to have said that 1.20 lakh visitors had come to the Polavaram site so far.  As a result, the Andhra Pradesh government owes the APSRTC Rs. 1 crore, it is learnt. This is on account of the expenditure towards bringing people to the Polavaram project.

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  Chandrababu has been harping upon Polavaram project as a major feather in his cap. Originally, it was to have been taken up by the Centre, but the Andhra Pradesh chief minister insisted that the Centre hand it over to the state government. In spite of all his efforts to showcase the project as his achievement, it is evident that the TDP government has failed miserably in expediting development work on the project.