Sakshi twist to Polavaram funds release

It was a day to celebrate for AP as the first tranche of Rs 1981 cr was handed over to the State Government by the Center for the Polavaram project. But Jagan’s Sakshi cannot but twist the development to tarnish the Chandrababu Naidu Government. Sakshi’s front page story not only belittles the progress in the project, but makes contradictory statements over the alleged omissions and commissions of the TDP Government.

  • First, the report sports an insinuating title: Telugu Drama in Delhi. ‘This is the story behind the Polavaram cheque’ is the tantalizing blurb. While the story has no explanation what the drama was, there was no story either behind the cheque. That’s how misleading captions can be.
  • The amount is only reimbursement, says the report, as if there is something wrong with that. That’s how central funsakshids work. Unless the state governments provide proof of spending, funds are not released.
  • The total cost of the project as per 2011 rates was Rs 16,010.45 crore, and was approved by the Centre. The report claims that half of this amount was already provided by the Centre, which is factually incorrect. The central assistance till date has been only Rs 562.47 crore.
  • The report writes as if YSR almost finished the project at one place, and then criticises at another that not even 7 percent of the project is not complete. Which is true?
  • An expenditure of Rs 5,135.87 crore had been incurred up to March, 2014, including central assistance of Rs 562.47 crore. Most of it was spent by YSR allegedly without any outcome.
  • The report alleges that the Chandrababu Naidu Government took up the construction of Polavaram project, even though the Centre said it would take it up as a national project, as per the AP Bifurcation Act. The fact of the matter, again, is that if the Center is funding the project, it means it is constructing it. And if the Center wants to directly take up the construction, it can. It is because the Centre wanted the State to execute the project that it is happening. But Sakshi wants you to believe that the State Government is constructing (as if it is against law!) the project, only to misappropriate the funds. If the TDP Government is misusing the funds, the paper can always expose it. But to say that the State Government should not take up a project that is so dear to it is ridiculous even by Sakshi standards.
  • According to Sakshi, the State Government escalated the project cost from around Rs 16,000 crore to around Rs 40,000 cr only to siphon off the money. The 2011 rates will have to be reassessed and revised as the land acquisition and rehabilitation costs have gone through the roof following the new guidelines. The Centre will consider the State’s appeal in this regard. But the point is that the Center will provide 100% cost of the irrigation project which would include revised cost of relief and rehabilitation. The hydropower project will be taken up by the state government, which is a separate component. 
  • Water Resources Minister D Umamaheswara Rao already clarified that of the total revised cost, the share of the dam is less than 10 per cent. The project cost went up due to the burden of relief and rehabilitation work.

There are of course a lot of issues with regard to the completion of the project, but few would question the commitment of the Government to expedite the works of the project. In such a huge project, it is likely there will be issues, and the State Government should be questioned from time to time in this regard.

But to say that the Chief Minister should not be happy about receiving the first tranche, and to project a motivated picture of the issue is not in the interest of the state.