Polavaram project, used for representational purposes only (Image Source: DC Image: Narayana Rao)
VIJAYAWADA : Andhra Pradesh has got a raw deal with no allocation of funds for the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project, health and other sectors in union budget. Polavaram came under sharp focus as the state government is keen on completing the irrigation project by 2021 end to ensure supply of water for cultivation of crops during 2022 Kharif season and also meet drinking water needs of hundreds of villages en route.
Though the revised cost of the project is pegged at Rs 55,546 crore at the 2017–18 price level, union finance ministry’s department of expenditure trimmed it to Rs 47,725. Even this is yet to be approved. This is quite galling as the state government has already incurred an expenditure of Rs 17,124.19 crore on implementation of the project The state had already spent Rs 12,393.48 crore on Polavaram before it was declared a national project on January 23, 2021.
Though Polavaram Project Authority has reimbursed Rs 10,741.46 crore so far to the state government, Rs 1,652.02 crore is yet to be reimbursed.
Earlier, the centre allocated funds to Polavaram project through extra budgetary resource mobilisation by issuing fully serviced government bonds. Accordingly, in 2018–19, Rs 1,400 crore was allocated and in 2019–20, Rs 1,850 crore was allocated. However, in 2020-21, an amount of Rs 2,234.29 has been allotted in the revised estimates of the budget.
State government sources maintain that AP is desperately in need of financial support from the centre, as it inherited a huge revenue deficit at the time of bifurcation of the state.
Though the centre has allotted Rs 35,000 crore in the budget for Covid-19 vaccine and assured to provide additional funds if required, it is not known how much of this will be in term of doses. It is not yet known whether the state government will receive sufficient doses for all people or will have to purchase the same from manufacture`
However, a fishing hub is to be located in Visakhapatnam and two dedicated freight corridors will pass through AP. Though MP V. Vijayasai Reddy has commented that the corridor will be of no use to AP, a senior railway official said that a dedicated corridor will enable fast movement of cargo, without affecting passenger trains. A fishing harbour will get a facelift with the announcement of making creating a fishing hub in Visakhapatnam.
Further, union budget made no mention of metro rail in the steel city. It will cost Rs 12,226 crore to develop it. The Central University of AP, located in Anantapur, has got a raw deal for the fourth consecutive year with allocation of just Rs 65 crore in the present union budget, even as the university requires Rs 900 crore for its development. In the last budget, the university got an allocation of Rs 13 crore.
Rayalaseema-based organisations have expressed displeasure over meagre allocation of funds for the university. Anantapur-based writer Dr. Harinath Reddy has gone on to call for additional allocation of funds to complete construction of the university expeditiously.