If you examine the main reason behind the delay in Polavaram project construction, it clearly points out to the fact that the TDP had shown no sincerity or interest in completing the project in the five years of them being in power. In fact, the malicious intentions of the TDP leaders' corruption had come to the fore.
The high-level expert committee appointed by the new YSRCP Government, to probe in to the project details has revealed that Rs. 2,400 Crore worth of illegal payments and irregularities were made during the construction phase of the project under N Chandrababu Naidu's regime. Once the probe details are revealed, will we get to know how and where the money was diverted and who was responsible for this large-scale corruption. Even a common person can understand that the previous government had acted for their own selfish purposes if we look at the pointers mentioned in the expert committee report.
Actually, the Government of India (GoI) should complete the project. So far, the centre has rapidly completed all the national projects in the country. At that point, of time the TDP government was then an ally of the BJP; as a result, Chandrababu Naidu put pressure on the Centre and took over the implementation of the project by the State government. The agreement was done to render the funds to the State government by the Centre. This also reduced the burden of the Central Government. The GoI also stated that the funding would be only of the construction work and not for land acquisition and rehabilitation and relief packages etc.
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Chandrababu then agreed to the GoI’s conditions with an intention to benefit from the project and give the contract to his close associates. If the works were fully implemented by the Central Government, it would naturally have taken the responsibility of land acquisition and rehabilitation. However, the works were taken by the state Government and the TDP could gain through by handing over the projects to sub-contractors of its choice and can benefit directly by making bills of payment to them. This is the reason for the crisis which has arisen today and one could squarely say that this was the result of past TDP government’s malicious intentions.
The YSRCP government led by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy appointed a high-level expert committee to examine the allegations of irregularities and corruption and to find out the delay in execution of the Polavaram project. It may be recollected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had alleged during the general elections campaign that the project has become an ATM for the Telugu Desam government and chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. The Prime Minister also alleged that Chandrababu and his close associates were given importance to acquire the assets in the background of the national project.
In this context the YSRCP government appointed a committee of experts and a report was also submitted which substantiated the allegations made by the Prime Minister. If we look at the contents of the report, one can conclude that the TDP government had used this project as an ATM. Not only was the project moving at snail's pace, they also delayed the benefits to the farmers, hiked the project costs, and paid additional payments to the contractors.
The TDP government also changed the rules and regulations in favour of cabinet resolutions. The main tender works in the project have been directly assigned through the nomination method. Thousands of Crores of rupees were paid through this. The Yellow Media indirectly and directly supported the TDP and ensured that the TDP was shown in the right light. The TDP government managed to transfer Crores of Rupees from a contractor to their benami contractors.
The Central Government is also to blame for this as the Prime Minister, who accused him of using Polavaram as an ATM, ignored the fact that the Central Government led by him was cooperating for the misuse. At the same time, the government has the power to investigate irregularities even now, as the Centre is recognizing the project as a national project. The Government of India has all powers to investigate irregularities in the cases of illegal payments, however, the Central Government has so far made no such attempt.
Also Read: Centre’s Ambiguity On Polavaram
Even though the expert committee report specifically mentioned the irregularities, the Central Government indirectly supporting the Telugu Desam Party. In the meanwhile important leaders of the TDP joined the BJP, especially Rajya Sabha members at a very crucial time. Thus, BJP’s strength increased in the upper house. Chandrababu has wisely advised the MPs to join the BJP, so that will not face any problems from the centre, as they were facing cases from the Enforcement Directorate and CBI. In the same way, the centre does not have any say on Polavaram illegal payments. There is no cooperation from the Centre for the new government’s measures to save people’s money by speeding up the work through reverse tendering and reducing the burden on the government.
In the Polavaram project, the bills must be paid as per the old SSR. But considering the 2015-16 SSR, the government has increased by Rs. 1331 Crore. Similarly, interest in the mobilization advances to be received from the main contractor has not been charged to the extent of Rs. 84.43 Crores so far. In what could be seen as a blatant act by the TDP, the cost of petty expenses, the contractor was paid Rs.142 Crores. Rs 2400 Crores were paid additionally in all the works related to the project. A sub-contractor, who was a close associate of the Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh’s company Triveni, built the works of the project.
Putta Sudhakar Yadav, a close relative of former finance minister Yammala Ramakrishna, also got a tender in one part of the project, as finance minister Yanamala used to clear the company’s bills immediately. Putta Sudhakar Yadav got Rs. 142 Crores worth of works in the left canal fifth package and Rs.179 Crores of works in the sixth package was handed over to TDP leader Bulusu Sudhakara Rao. Chandrababu’s Benami MP, CM Ramesh’s (now n the BJP), Triveni company awarded the highest Rs. 1708 Crore worth of headworks and earthworks.
Polavaram’s right canal’s six and seven packages were handed over to TDP ex-MLA Bollineni Krishnaiah company BSPCHL which was worth Rs. 286 Crores. Rs. 103 Crore worth of works were handed over to Surya Constructions Srinivasa Rao. These are names and figures, which are officially visible on papers. There are rumours about companies unofficially involved in the project works.
The Committee of Experts has found that there are irregularities right from the beginning of the Polavaram Project was initiated. In its report, the Committee stated that the mobilization advance payments were being made randomly and the earthworks was not recorded in M book.
The mystery behind bill payments:The government has also made payments to test the quality of the material required for the project construction. However, as per the norms, a laboratory must be set up to check the quality. But, there was no such laboratory established. However, the company declared that they established the laboratory. Cement and other material bought by the contract firms and the bills were paid by department wise. Even these payments were received later from the contractor; this process is completely against the government’s policy and contractual terms.
Another example of extreme corruption is that the government showed the SE as a kitchen in-charge as appointed by the contractor. This is strange. On that day, Rs. 44,23,981 were paid as advance. Again a huge amount of advance was paid for weekly rations. On September 25, 2017, Rs. 44,23,981 was paid as advance. The advance was paid fo the material. The new contractor was paid exclusively under the revolving fund to buy diesel. From the main contractor, Transstroy had arrears of Rs. 144.22 Crore in the imprest account. No action was taken to recover this amount. The water resources department should take steps to ensure the recovery of this amount. No attempt has been made to recover through the RR act. These are just a few examples of violation and exploitation of the regulations in the Polavaram project made by TDP leaders in the garb of power.