Calling Jagan a 'curse', Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu releases white paper on stalled Polavaram project

Soon after resuming charge, Naidu last week visited the project site, located about 35 km above Rajahmundry, for a ground inspection.

Releasing the white paper in Amravati on Friday, Naidu said, “Polavaram is an example to show that Andhra Pradesh has suffered more than the 2014 bifurcation due to Jagan's five-year rule from 2019 to 2024. “

According to the document, which was meant to publicize the status of the project, about 72 percent of the civil works had been completed by May 2019, the end of Naidu's last five-year tenure as chief minister of divided Andhra Pradesh.

The growth from May 2019 to May 2024 is only 3.84%. Virtually no work was done on both the Right Main and Left Main Canals during this period. The works related to the distribution network under the main canal have not yet started and even the DPR has not been finalised. Even under land acquisition (LA) and rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R), the progress during this period is a meager 3.89 per cent,” the white paper said.

CM and TDP chief Naidu presenting white paper on status of Polavaram project  By special arrangement
CM and TDP chief Naidu presenting white paper on status of Polavaram project By special arrangement

While Rs 16,493 crore was spent on the project as of May 2019, “budgetary assistance from the AP government to Polavaram has declined drastically during 2019-24”, the TDP government said. The expenditure in the last five years was Rs 4,167.53 crore.

According to the white paper, there has also been no concrete action on other issues like resolution of disputes with Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana and approval of the second revised cost estimate (at 2017-18 price level).

The white paper identified how three factors — lack of timely action to close gaps in upstream cofferdams, failure to facilitate resettlement and rehabilitation for affected villages, as well as upstream Completing inshore work before blocking water towards cofferdam – result of very poor progress in the work related to the spillway and the channel leading to both right and left head regulators etc.

This resulted in severe damage to the diaphragm wall of the main dam, the cut-off wall of the downstream cofferdam and the partially completed downstream cofferdam, the white paper said. In addition, the laps also resulted in deep spots in the foundation area across the entire base width of the main dam.

The steps to be taken to remove these obstacles have also not been finalised. “Consequently, it is not possible to start any work related to important dams now,” Naidu said while presenting the white paper.

Also read: Jagan's Rs 450-crore 'palace': Touted as resort, then CM's residence, Rishi Konda project under storm

Reverse tendering and new contractors

Rightly ignoring the advice of the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) and the Central Government, delaying the mobilization of required men and machinery by the new agency, and not realizing the importance of closing both, a critical phase. A sudden change in contracting. Gaps in the upstream cofferdam resulted in severe damage to the diaphragm wall, the white paper said.

Soon after coming to power, the Jagan Reddy-led government halted all construction activities at Polavaram in June 2019. The main dam contractor Nayoga Engineering Company Limited (NECL) and Bekam Infra Projects Private Limited (BEKM) were served notices for premature closure, and their contracts were awarded by the then Andhra Govt. was terminated based on the recommendations of an expert committee.

Example: Soham Sen |  Print
Example: Soham Sen | Print

Chief Minister Naidu asserted that Jagan switched firms despite advising the CEO of PPA and the Special Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Jal Shakti to the Special Chief Secretary of the Water Resources Department of Andhra Pradesh. They should abandon the idea of ​​pre-closing and re-submitting work. project or at least put it on hold until the central government takes a look at the matter.

“There is neither sufficient land nor need to preemptively close the existing contracts and redeliver the works. Such a move would result in unforeseeable consequences and throw the project into uncertainty.” The CEO of the PPPA wrote that the project is not only likely to be delayed, but will also have negative socio-economic impacts and in addition to delaying the realization of benefits from the project. There will also be a possible increase in the cost of the project.

In August, 2019, the Yuvjana Sirika Rithu Congress Party (YSRCP) government invited bids for the remaining works of the Polavaram Main Dam along with the hydropower station, under reverse tendering. In November the same year, Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) was awarded the project for Rs 1,548 crore – a 12.6 per cent reduction from the previous contract rate. Jagan had claimed a saving of Rs 628.47 crore from this decision.

MEIL, a Hyderabad firm, was also involved in Telangana's controversial Kaleswaram lift irrigation project on the same river.

However, the TDP paper states that two new contracts worth Rs 2,268.68 crore (for scour treatment and other works) were later awarded to the same agency, “based on the latest/current schedule of rates, instead of taking less than one to two percent. Extending these works as extras/extras under the original contract.”

According to the white paper, this proves that Jagan's claim of saving Rs 628 crore by terminating earlier contracts and awarding them to the new agency through reverse tendering was not correct. “In effect, this resulted in additional financial burden on the state exchequer due to the awarding of additional items under two new contracts to the same agency at a higher tender percentage than the original contract,” it read.

Also read: As Naidu's return stirs in Amravati, villagers are celebrating and infra-firm reckoning.

'Lack of timely action'

The TDP government claimed that between May 2019 and November 2021, the YSRCP government failed to take necessary action to fill the two gaps left in the upstream cofferdam.

“Had adequate timely action been taken to close both the gaps, the disaster of river bank deepening both upstream and downstream of the D-Wall and the partially completed cofferdam downstream of the D-Wall including its cut “The off-wall is not damaged and the project will be completed by then,” the white paper said.

Due to this faulting, the original topography/terrain of the river bed was disturbed by deep erosion across the entire base width of the main earth-cum-rockfill (ECRF) dams at Gap-I and Gap-II. Sand-filling of the scour resulted in different foundation soils under the width of the main ECRF dams (Gap–I and Gap–II) which, accordingly, required extensive stabilization/remedial measures, which Because of this, both time and cost increase.

IIT Hyderabad Report from November 2021 He said the major reasons for delay in project completion were inadequate construction and contract management, contractor changes, lack of strategic planning and coordination, frequent design changes/deviations, legal issues and established monitoring procedures. Includes non-compliance with instructions/recommendations. enforcement agency.

“The sharp decline in expenditure growth in 2019-20 is due to the change in executing agency and delays in work progress associated with the re-tendering process. Similarly, the decline in subsequent years is due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said. Read on.

Naidu said on Friday that during his previous tenure as chief minister (2014-2019), Polavaram cost Rs 11,762 crore, of which only Rs 6,764 crore was paid by the Government of India. .

Polavaram Multipurpose Irrigation Project under construction  By special arrangement
Polavaram Multipurpose Irrigation Project under construction By special arrangement

4,998 crore pending release after Jagan took over. He claimed that during the YSRCP tenure (2019-2024), the state spent only Rs 4,996 crore, though the GoI had refunded Rs 8,382 crore to the state government.

“Thus, instead of spending on Polavaram, Rs 3,385.58 crore was diverted (for other purposes), killing the project of funds. This has badly affected the progress of works, LA (Land Acquisition) and R&R (Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation), as bills amounting to Rs 2,697 crore are pending till 31 May 2024. has virtually stopped operations due to non-payment of its pending bills,” the white paper said.

According to the document, from July 2020 to June 2024, work on the diaphragm wall and Earth Cum Rock Fill (ECRF) dam was completely stopped.

Two gaps in the upstream cofferdam were plugged during the non-flood season from November 2020 to June 2021. However, no work area could be provided to fix the diaphragm wall or start any activity on the ECRF dam as a downstream cofferdam. Was not in place, he claimed.

The downstream cofferdam was completed in February 2023. Subsequently, during the flood season from June 2023 to November 2023, it was observed that there was excessive discharge from both the upstream cofferdam and the downstream cofferdam.

Therefore, work areas could not be provided for improvement of D wall and work on ECRF dam. So far, the excess seepage was not arrested.

Due to rapid flow during the 2020 flood season, the existing river bed in the upstream part of the ECRF dam (Gap I) alignment was washed away. This resulted in the foundation of the ECRF dam (Gap I) resting on two different substrata (the original river bed strata and other fill strata). Therefore, additional treatment measures are needed to solve the problem. This task has not yet been taken up as the design and treatment measures have not been finalised.

Effects of project delays

The white paper claims that if the executing agency had not been changed and if the project had been planned properly, Polavaram would have been completed in time to release water in Kharif 2020.

“Due to ineffective planning and unnecessary change of contractors, the project was rescheduled for completion by June 2021. Later, the completion schedule was extended to June 2022, and then again to June 2023. was granted, throwing the project into deep uncertainty,” said Naidu. , talking about the “unfulfilled” promises of the YSRCP government.

The white paper added that the first three units of the Polavaram hydroelectric project were scheduled to be completed by November 2021. The remaining six units were to be commissioned within six months thereafter.

Non-commissioning of these units resulted in non-availability of affordable power to the state, and resulted in a loss of over Rs 3,000 crore till May 2024. “This loss will continue to increase as the completion of the project is further delayed,” the white paper added.

The estimated cost of completion of remaining work of Polavaram Phase I is Rs 12,157 crore.

(edited by Mant Chugh)

Also read: Chandrababu Naidu is important both at the Center and in the state. Now he has his own double engine.

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