Polavaram: For years, the Polavaram project has been the cherished dream of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Late chief minister Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, during his tenure gave a shape to this dream and initiated the project.

Under his supervision, Polavaram moved at a rapid pace. Experts say that had Dr YSR been alive, the project would have been completed and would have proved to be the boom that it was meant to be to the farmers of Andhra Pradesh.

However, over the past five years, under Chandrababu Naidu, Polavaram became a symbol of the rampant corruption the TDP regime was associated with. Far from progressing beyond the foundations, for Chandrababu Naidu, Polavaram project as PM Modi put it, was more of an ATM. During one of his political rallies in Rajahmundry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accuased the TDP supremo of indulging in corruption in the Polavaram project. He said that Babu had treated the project as an ATM rather than a major irrigation project for the state. He had also recalled how the Centre had approved the project in its first Cabinet meet itself, according it highest priority and also released Rs 7000 crores to Andhra Pradesh for the same. Modi had remarked: "On the one hand, they are not spending it rightly and on the other, are delaying it." In another really in Guntur, the PM had said: "The 'Chowkidar' (watchman) is giving him sleepless nights because we insist on seeking account for every rupee given to Andhra Pradesh for its development." He also added, "He is using every abusive word from dictionary against me. He is insulting the great culture of Andhra."

The prime minister also said that he wanted to make Andhra a sunrise state but Babu was busy promoting his son for son-rise.

The TDP supremo tried to turn the Polavaram project site into a tourist spot by ferrying people from across the state at the expense of the exchequer. He promised to complete the project in three years and as elections got closer, pushed the deadline to the end of the year in a fresh attempt to deceive voters.

Chandrababu Naidu, who hiked the costs of the project beyond reasonable standards, only peddled falsehoods with regard to completion of the project. It must be pointed out that Polavaram project was meant to be a central government project at the time that the state was bifurcated.

However, Chandrababu insisted on the state government taking up the project and what followed, as YSRCP leaders have pointed out several times, is a saga of corruption without any progress on the project itself. These pictures tell the story for themselves.

An earth-cum-rock filled dam (ECRF) is supposed be constructed here at a length of 2454 meters and a height of 53.32 meters. It is the ECRF which is supposed to hold 194.6 TMC of water. As things stand, only the work on foundation or diaphragm wall has been completed. The quality of the work done so far leaves much to be desired with cracks showing during rains in places.

Upper Coffer Dam

A coffer dam, 2454 meters long is meant to be constructed to divert the Godavari river and facilitate the ECRF. Chandrababu Naidu had announced that water would be released through gravity after building this to 41.5 meters. So far, only 21.51 lakh cubic meters of work has been completed of the 72.56 lakh cubic meters of work related to work of the upper coffer dam. Who knows how long the remaining 51.05 lakh cubic meters of work would take.

The saga of incomplete work on the Polavaram project continues at every step. This only proves that the TDP regime used it brazenly to milk the treasury and deceive the people of the state.

Perhaps, knowing fully well that Chandrababu was incapable of handling the project, people of Andhra Pradesh made sure that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy won with a thumping majority. Dr YSR started it and his son and the current AP chief minister would complete it.

During one of the sessions of the just concluded AP Assembly, one of the TDP leaders demanded that YS Jagan complete the polavaram project. Isn’t that laughable? Imagine having been in the power for five years in the state and not being able to complete even half the work, how could the MLAs demand that the current CM who took charges only days ago complete it? The TDP MLA did not realise that he had bitten off more than he could chew. Little did he expect the ruling party MLA to give him a befitting reply. One of the YSRCP MLAs was quick to tell him that even though the TDP had done nothing on the project in the years that had gone by, he was sure their party supremo and chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy would certainly make sure there was progress. He also said that YS Jagan would complete the Polavaram project that was started by his father and late CM Dr YSR.

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy will be visiting the Polavaram project site first time in his capacity as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in a few minutes from now. He will review the progress of the project and pending works before setting a timeline and deciding on the future course of action.

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