One thing that anyone can state without hesitation is the fact that freshwater today is a powerful investment. With freshwater levels depleting at a rate faster than ever, it undoubtedly has become the center of attention among power position holders all around the country. One such power/money scam was put in place by the 420 in AP, also better known as Ex-Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu.
The Indiscriminate Loot by Chandrababu Naidu
When you take a look at the overall expenditure on the water-related projects for a term of 4 & half years under Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership, the numbers nowhere match to the actual requirements. Take, for example, the Neeru-Chettu Programme worth INR 15,149 crore followed by the Polavaram project of INR 9,727 crore and finally all the pending projects that never saw the light of the day worth INR 37,246 crore. This brings the total expenditure to INR 62,132 crores.
Apart from this, the total amount that was siphoned away from the commissions in the water resources department boiled down to INR 32,000 crore. The sand soil excavated under the government and then sold cumulated to INR 24,750 crore, bringing the total money scammed to INR 56,750 crore.
Cross-Checking the Claim and Facts Behind
As per the statement provided by Chandrababu Naidu, with the Polavaram & Uttarandhra being an exception, all the pending projects shall be completed with the help of an additional INR 17,368 crore. He also mentioned about providing water to ayacut of 35.04 lakh acres. The state would transform into fertile land, were one of the claims made by the 420 in AP.
The budget of expenditure incurred by the Department of Water Resources was around Rs. 62,132 crores; out of which Rs 9727 crore was spent on the Polavaram project, Rs 15,139 crore for the Neeru-Chettu –the water and tree scheme, and the remaining Rs. 37,246 was dedicated to some of the pending projects. But, what remained in the hidden is more than half of the sanctioned amount, which is about Rs. 32,000 crore was siphoned off for commissions.
Considering the Neeru-Chettu Programme, the work was awarded to the cadre that was handpicked by the ruling party on the basis of nomination. And the cadre in return looted a sum of Rs 24,750 crore by selling the sand and soil that they had collected after de-silting tanks and digging canals, and several other water bodies. Thus the total loot by the Water Resources Department is calculated to be a staggering amount of Rs. 56,750 crore (24,750 + 32,000).
A surge in Project Completion Budget:
Is anyone willing to spend a significant amount of Rs 10,000 on getting done a work, which can be completed for Rs 100? Will anyone ever borrow for the sake of wasteful spending? And the answer is a No! Not a single person or an organization with their consciousness of sane mind will ever take that step. However, the government led by Chandrababu Naidu did precisely that, with the sole purpose of bagging commissions. So who do you think is exactly the 420 in AP?
Collusion between the contract workers and the Chief Minister has resulted in a massive surge in the budget of the irrigation projects. Under Chandrababu Naidu’s governance, the estimated cost of a water irrigation project was hiked to Rs 58,107.86 crore. Due to which the former Chief Minister borrowed funds from the nationalized banks under the banner of APWRDC (Andhra Pradesh Water Resources Development Corporation) with the pretext of needing funds for the completion of the project. For this, he also amended the APWRDC Act of 1997 by increasing the limit of borrowing.
Excluding the Purushottapatnam and Pattiseema project, rest all the work was commenced under the governance of late Dr. Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy. After being handed over the power, Chandrababu Naidu’s government stated on a white paper that all the pending projects barring the Uttarandhra Sujala Sravanthi and Polavaram in North AP would be completed under a budget of Rs. 17,368 crore. However, in reality, not a single was achieved even after Rs. 62,132 crore was spent, which testifies against Chandrababu’s government and in favor of corruption.
Clause 60 (C): How the TDP government misused it?
TDP Government was handed over the power, it made sure to remove the previous contractors that were working on the irrigation projects. This violated clause 60 (C) of APDSS that allows the removal of the existing contractors working on a project in case of delay in the execution of the project. Once the TDP government was successful in removing the existing contactors, the budget of the project was hiked despite the cost of steel, diesel, cement, and other essential commodities that went down.
The government then assigned the work to its handpicked crony contractors who would return kickbacks as well as commissions. It cannot be mere coincidence that only a few companies were able to net the contracts, and an impressive number of contracts were assigned on the basis of nomination as well in news.
With such a significant amount sanctioned by the central government through the Water Resources Department, heights of success could have been achieved. However, with the ideologies of self-contentment by exploiting the money of the people of Andhra Pradesh, 420 in AP has sent a message of corruption and treachery. So, it is high time that you re-considered your decisions of handing over the power to a wrongful person like Former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.