At last, the works on much-awaited Polavaram major irrigation project and its associated hydro-power project on Godavari river in West Godavari district began on Friday, a day after the Andhra Pradesh high court gave the green signal to the YSR Congress party government to commence the works.
The Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL), which bagged the contract for the completion of remaining of the project works by quoting nearly Rs 800 crore lesser than the initial bench mark of Rs 4987 crore, formally commenced the works by performing pooja at the project site in the afternoon.
Though the MEIL has the technical expertise to take up the project works, it has a daunting task before it to complete the works within the deadline of June 2021. If it cannot do it for any reason, the farmers will lose a complete agriculture season causing a loss of over Rs 4,000 crore.
So, whatever savings that the state government is now claiming will be wiped out with these losses. Moreover, the MEIL has bagged the contract on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis and so, it has to complete the project within the projected budget. It cannot ask for cost escalation for any other reason.
Meanwhile, workers who had not been getting their wages for several months due to uncertainty in the project staged protests at the venue and blocked the ‘bhoomi puja” function of MEIL. However, the police intervened and dispersed the agitating workers.
Irrigation minister Anil Kumar Yadav said the previous TDP government had boasted of completing the Polavaram project, but had done nothing between 2014 and 2017 and only completed the spillway in the past two years and kept on telling lies that it had completed the whole project.