Giving a fillip to the Polavaram multi-purpose project, the Andhra Pradesh government, after a long gap, has released Rs 1,962 crore largely for main dam related works and rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced families.
The amount has been released even as the state was awaiting disbursal of over Rs 3,000 crore by the Centre which has agreed to bear the entire cost of over Rs 55,500 crore for the project, a top official of the water resources department said.
Declared as a national project under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, Polavaram is a multipurpose major terminal reservoir project on river Godavari for development of irrigation, hydro power and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts in the state.
Of the total sum released on Thursday, over Rs 1,252 crore would be utilised on the Polavaram main dam and related works, the official said.
Another Rs 600 crore would be spent on rehabilitation and resettlement (R and R) of the project displaced families, while Rs 110 crore would be spent on the Polavaram Right and Left main canals and distributaries.
According to officials, this is the first time that such a large quantum of money has been released for the project in one go.
The last allocation was made more than a year ago, that too for pending bills clearance.
The state has so far spent Rs 11,800 crore on Polavaram.
Of this, the Centre has reimbursed Rs 8,577 crore.
Initially the project cost was pegged at over Rs 54,000 crore but later it has been enhanced to Rs 55,549 crore including Rs 33,010 crore for rehabilitation and resettlement.
As the project executioner, the state government, spends money from its budget and the Centre later reimburses it.
The Union government still has to reimburse over Rs 3,000 crore, already spent by the state on the project, the Water Resource Department official said.
'Our focus mainly is now on R and R and we will be stepping up those works. Simultaneously, the other works of the project will also gain pace,' the official said.
The ongoing lockdown has affected the Polavaram works due to non-availability of steel and cement.
The supplies have started again after the lockdown restrictions were eased.
Though the original plan was to complete the project spillway works by June, the impact of lockdown could delay it further, the official said.
Chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who reviewed the Polavaram works on Wednesday, asked the officials to try to complete the spillway works by June.
As the heavy flood in river Godavari left many villages in the region inundated for several days last year, the chief minister wanted the water resources department to step up the R and R works and relocate the project-affected families to prevent its recurrence.