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Austria agrees to finance two Godavari projects

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JUNE 16. The Austrian team, on a visit to the State for a third time, today agreed in principle to give a financial assistance of 577 million Euros (Rs. 3,000 crores) for completion of the Godavari-based Devadula Lift scheme and the 350-MW Dummagudem hydel project in five years.

The team, led by the Austrian Ambassador, Jutta Stefan-Bastl, and the Trade Commissioner, Sepp Dabringer, gave the final nod after discussions with the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, in his Secretariat chamber and earlier with a group consisting of the Major Irrigation Minister, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, and the department's Principal Secretary, C. V. S. K. Sarma.

Mr. Lakshmaiah told presspersons later that the assistance would come at an interest rate as low as 4.9 per cent. The assistance would be in kind (equipment) as well as cash. The estimated cost of Devadula was Rs. 3,000 crores and that of Dummagudem Rs. 2,200 crores. But, the Minister said they could be completed as envisaged as the State Government would also release funds from its side. The allotment for this year was Rs. 900 crores. Repayment would start only six months after completion of the project. The Minister said the team had agreed to take up three other Godavari-based projects -- Polavaram, Singaredypalli and Yellampalli under Phase II and offered to prepare detailed project report for any one of them indicated by the State Government "free of cost." The estimated cost of Polavaram was Rs. 9,000 crores, Singareddypalli Rs. 3,000 crores, and Yellampalli Rs. 5,000 crores.

The Austrian team also offered four major benefits under transfer of technology -- rubber dams, geo-membrane lining of canals, hydromatrix power generation and micro-irrigation. As per the understanding reached in this regard, pilot projects would be taken up.

The Austrian team also offered to set up a trade centre of their country in Hyderabad for facilitating easy access and contact between the parties involved.

Dr. Jutta and Dr. Dabringer invited the Chief Minister to Austria in July-August for an appreciation of their irrigation and power project systems and to strengthen the ties between the State and Austria. Mr. Lakshmaiah said the Chief Minister had accepted the invitation.

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