Hyderabad: Controversies surrounding the multi-purpose major irrigation project Polavaram, proposed on river Godavari, seems to have no end yet.
The project, taken up in 2004 at an overall estimated expenditure of Rs 17,000 crore, is already embroiled in a legal tangle with neighbouring states Odisha and Chhattisgarh, dragging the Andhra Pradesh government to Supreme Court alleging that Polavaram would lead to large-scale submergence in their states.
Within the state, Polavaram has always been a subject of political controversy with pro-Telangana forces, including those in the ruling Congress, strongly opposing it and those in Andhra region welcoming it.
Tenders for the head works like construction of spill way and rock-fill dam and civil works related to the power house have been called and cancelled a number of times in the last three-four years and finally when the fresh bids were opened three days ago, they triggered yet another controversy.
This time, the Polavaram tender process sparked off an internal rift within the state Cabinet as well with two ministers hailing from Hyderabad ? Danam Nagender and M Mukesh Goud ? objecting to the selection of lowest bidder "in violation of norms" and demanding that the government re-consider the whole issue.
They even petitioned the Chief Minister about this and warned that the government would suffer a loss of Rs 800 crore if the project contract was awarded to the lowest bidder.
Major Irrigation Minister P Sudershan Reddy, however, hit back at his colleagues saying they were speaking "without knowing the facts."
"We have not finalised the tenders yet. A high-powered committee headed by state Chief Secretary Minnie Mathew will examine the bids and take a final decision. If anyone has objections, the committee will consider them," Sudershan Reddy said.
The head works are estimated to cost Rs 4,717 crore and accordingly tenders were invited. In March this year, the state government awarded the contract to one SEW-Patel joint venture firm that quoted Rs 4,122 crore, 12.6 per cent less than the estimated value while the second lowest bidder was Soma that quoted Rs 4,147 crore (12.08 per cent less).