New Delhi: Notwithstanding Odisha's strong protest, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday assured the Andhra Pradesh government that the Centre is committed to completing work on the ambitious Polavaram project by next year.
Gadkari gave this assurance over phone to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is currently on a visit to South Korea, they said.
He gave a similar assurance to a delegation of Andhra Pradesh Congress leaders, who met him at Transport Bhawan here.
"The minister (Gadkari) and the chief minister spoke over phone. Gadkari assured him that the project will be completed by 2018.The Centre is committed to do its bit," a source said, adding Gadkari stressed that support of all stakeholders is required to complete the project, often described as the "lifeline" of Andhra Pradesh.
"The responsibilities of acquiring land for the project and environmental clearances will be with the state government," the source said.
Gadkari's assurance comes nearly a week after Chandrababu Naidu had said that he would "hand over the project", in the wake of the Centre recently writing to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary for stalling forthwith the tenders called by the state government to select new contractor for works on the project's spillway and spill channel.
"If they (Centre) want, we will stop the process. If they continue with this type of stand, I will greet them with folded hands and hand over the project," Naidu had told reporters on November 30.
"We are observing restraint only because we (the BJP and his TDP) are allies. I am unable to understand why these many problems are being created (for Polavaram)," Chandrababu Naidu had said.