Hyderabad: Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari visited the Polavaram project site on Wednesday and said the Centre was fully committed to completing the project in time.
Amidst a stand-off between the Centre and Andhra Pradesh over the issue of funds, Gadkari clarified that politics and development were two separate issues and the reason behind the delay in release of funds was “technical” rather than “political”.
After inspecting the project, the minister said, “Coordination, cooperation and communication between the Centre and the state were not a problem. We are fully transparent, corruption-free, time-bound, result-oriented and quality-conscious. We don’t want to mix development with politics. This is not a political issue. Whatever the politics may be, it’s a different part of the story. Whatever funds are needed for the project, we will give.”
He added, “This project is a matter of prestige for the nation and is important for the country. Our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is committed to complete it. There are issues which are being resolved. The basic strength of the project is the strong political will of the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, state government, Centre and PM Modi.”
Explaining the technical problems in the project, Gadkari said, “There is escalation of cost in the project that needs to be justified and it needs the approval of the finance ministry. The funds can be released only after clearance. I assure you, once the required papers are submitted, we will clear them in eight days and send them to the finance ministry for clearance.”
The Union minister appreciated the remarkable progress of the project and the commitment of the state government towards it. “The contractors have told me that the civil work will be completed by April 2019 but I asked them to ensure it is done by February. I want to visit Polavaram again in the first week of March. This was a political commitment that I had made. It is my track record — what I commit, I complete,” he said.
Requesting the Centre for timely release of funds, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said, “The state is facing financial problems. We have already spent Rs 2,200 crore from state funds on the project. We need some advance money so that we can complete the work in time.”
The Centre had declared Polavaram a national project after recognising its importance. So far, 56 per cent of the work has been completed and the realisation of the project is considered crucial ahead of the 2019 state and general elections.