Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday said the Polavaram project will be completed by next December. He conducted an aerial survey of the project site and held a review meeting on construction and rehabilitation works after taking stock of the work progress.
The Chief Minister inspected the spillway gallery with state Irrigation Department officials and representatives of the project contractor explained the progress. Deputy Chief Minister A K K Srinivas, Water Resources Minister P Anil Kumar, Special Chief Secretary Adityanath Das, Polavaram Project Authority member-secretary D Ranga Reddy and other senior officials also reportedly attended.
Reddy said water for irrigation from Polavaram would be released from the Kharif agricultural season in (June) 2022. He also said there would be no change in the height of the dam.
The state government is locked up in a tussle with the Centre over the overall project cost, including the rehabilitation and resettlement (R and R) component for project displaced families (PDFs). Over 10,000 families have to be rehabilitated in the first phase for the Polavaram project to be accomplished as planned.
The state government has also been repeatedly knocking on the Centres doors for reimbursement of Rs 1,778.88 crore already spent on the project works.
The Chief Minister said the rehabilitation and resettlement will be taken up on priority basis with an estimated cost of Rs 3,330 crore. Over 120 tmc ft of water would be impounded in Polavaram, at a height of 41.5 m in the first phase, once the dam was built, he said and instructed the officials to be prepared accordingly. For this to happen, 9,882 PDFs have to be shifted from the submergence area and rehabilitated in new colonies.
“Complete all the works on a war-footing before a possible flood in river Godavari in June next. The spillway and spill channel works should be completed by May end and gaps in the cofferdam have to be filled up. Only then will the dam works progress fast," Jagan told the officials.
The Chief Minister also wanted works on the 960 MW hydroelectric plant, part of Polavaram, to be taken up simultaneously so that the whole project goes ahead as planned. “We should finish all major works by December 2021 and complete any leftover minor works before June 2022 so that we can supply water for irrigation from Kharif 2022," he added.
“We could not store full capacity in Chitravati, Gandikota and Kandaleru projects due to negligence in LA, R&R works," he warned. According to the protocols of the Central Water Commission for ensuring dam stability and security, only 33 percent of the water must be stored in the first year and 50 percent in second year and in the third year, 100 percent of storage will be permitted, the Chief Minister said. The State Government will complete the R&R of the project to the height of 41.5 meter, where 120 TMC of water can be stored and full capacity of storage will be achieved at 45.72 meter in a phased manner, he added.
The Chief Minister instructed officials to prepare an action plan on alternative measures to be taken to avoid shortage of drinking and irrigation water to delta during the closure of cofferdam gaps. He also asked the officials to take the suggestions of public representatives into consideration while preparing the action plan.
Authorities said a committee comprising of officials from irrigation department, PPA and CWC is being set up to solve the issues concerning the construction of the dam.
The state government has repeatedly asked the central government for reimbursement of Rs 1,778.88 crore already spent on the project works. Irrigation officials have said the power purchase agreement should focus on advance payment rather than reimbursement as Polavaram project is a national project.