AMARAVATI: In an effort to put a spanner into the speedy completion of the Polavaram project by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government, former chief minister, and TDP President Nara Chandrababu Naidu has unleashed all the arsenal in his kitty with the help of his own “Yellow Media”.
Unable to digest the brisk pace of ongoing works at the project site the TDP leaders have pumped up their rumour machine on Polavaram to the maximum during the past one week. Their allegation is that the government has resorted to corruption by substantially increasing project estimates only to benefit the contractor.
TDP and its coterie media conveniently forgot that their government when in power has hiked estimates by Rs 1,500 crore on 08-09-2016. While the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government has increased estimates to match the increased number of works, the TDP government hiked project head works estimates from Rs 4,054 to Rs 5,535 crore, a steep hike of Rs 1,481 crore, and issued orders.
The irony is the same yellow media that has been raising objection to the recent increase declared by the YSRCP government made no such noise during Naidu’s tenure.
Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) monitored by the CWC itself
They lack the minimum understanding that to increase project estimates the government has to seek approval from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the construction of the project is undergoing under the keen supervision of Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) monitored by the CWC itself.
Any amends or changes have to be approved by the central authority and the State government has only a supervisory role to play in the construction of the project.
Being a project that deals with massive flood discharges, all the designs of the project are monitored by the watchful eye of CWC. It is a known fact that two consecutive floods in the past two years have damaged parts of the project. The diaphragm wall, upper Cofferdam and several earthen bunds were damaged due to the floods. The situation was further complicated with the then government undertaking mitigation works that are against the principles of engineering.
The Need for Change
Keeping in mind the need to build the reservoir and the spillway so strong that it could withstand hitherto unforeseen quantum of floodwater that could flow through the project, the CWC has been making changes in the designs and the construction of the project. As a result of these dynamic changes in the construction of the project, the workload has multiplied. With reference to works on the approach channel alone, 1.2 crore cubic meters of the earth has to be excavated. This is four times more than what initially was planned. In addition to these envisaged changes, CWC has still to approve three more designs.
The Yellow party which has been shedding crocodile tears alleging that the works were stalled at Polavaram are now astonished at the brisk pace at which the works are unfolding at Polavaram. They have no other go other than spreading canards about the flagship project of the State government.
Cutoff Wall to protect Project
A cut off wall will be built at the end of the Spillway to protect the concrete blocks and soil from the incoming heavy floodwater from the spillway. The Cutoff wall will be 12 meters in depth and 1354 meters in length to be built at a cost of Rs 83.17 crore. Even if heavy floods wash away the concrete blocks and soil, the diaphragm wall will protect them.
Vibro Compaction in Gaps
Vibro-Compaction is a ground improvement technique to solidify cohesion-less granular soil. Engineers have to use the technique to solidify the soil from a depth of 100 feet before embarking on the construction of Earth-cum rock fill dam. While solidifying the soil, the engineers will be filling sand into the gaps. As per the changed designs, concrete will also accompany soil called Stone Columns to fill in the gaps.
Similarly, Engineers will have to undertake a process called Deep Soil Mixing to stop seepage of precious water into the ground. This process includes the elimination of any gaps in the soil by strengthening the earth upon which the Earth-cum rock fill dam will be built. As a result, not even a single drop of water will go waste through seepage into the river bed. This process also strengthens the base of the rock fill dams making it invincible. Tenders for this crucial work worth Rs 211.12 crore has been called for as per the directions of the CWC.
Additional Works in Gap 1 and Gap 3
Even as the Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd. (MEIL), which has bagged the prestigious contract to build Polavaram Head Works, through Andhra Pradesh government’s reverse tendering process, was to build only Earth Dam in Gap -1, the experts as per the directions of the CWC have suggested the construction of 586 meters long Earth-cum-Rock fill dam. The additional works that the MEIL now has to complete include the construction of an underground plastic concrete dam from deep inside the earth. Tenders for this work has been called for Rs 242.87 crore. Construction of the plastic concrete dam, stone columns, deep soil mixing works will ensure that no leakages take place. This will also protect the Hydel power station being built at the proximity of the project.
Similarly, while the earlier agreement stipulated construction of an earthen dam in Gap-3, it was advised to build a 140-meters long concrete dam in place of the earthen dam at spillway level. A tender for Rs 11.64 has been called for its construction.
Protecting the Hills
Tenders for Rs 134.21 crore have been called for strengthening the hills on either side of the Spillway as per the advice of the experts and also the CWC. The aim is to strengthen the hills so that landslides won’t occur during heavy rains. However with the CWC defining that this work is also a part of Head Works, recently after the judicial scrutiny tenders were called for an additional expenditure of Rs 683 crore. The Central authority also suggested certain additional works resulting in the escalation of project estimates. The AP State government initiated the tendering process only after taking due approvals from the CWC.
The State government has recently included works suggested by the CWC in addition to ongoing and approved works. In consonance with that, the State government also called for tenders worth Rs 683 crore after duly acquiring judicial approvals.
In addition, the members of the Dam Designs Review Panel (DDRP) have recently visited the project, reviewed the progress, and expressed full satisfaction. They have also suggested certain new designs to further bolster project security. Project estimates have then increased because of the works suggested and approved by the CWC in addition to the ongoing works as per the old agreements.
Transparent YSRCP government
On the other hand, the YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh is determined to forge ahead and complete the Polavaram project as per the schedule despite the obstacles being created by the Yellow Brigade. Adopting a transparent time-bound and accountable process the government is determined to complete the project fulfilling decade’s long dream of the people of the State.
The YSRCP leaders strongly believe that the people will teach a lesson to the Yellow party and its supporters for the malicious campaign that they have unleashed against the people’s government.