Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has yet again sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop construction work of the Polavaram Project in Andhra Pradesh.
Despite failing to get a positive response from the central government after writing similar letters since last four years, the Chief Minister today wrote again to the Prime Minister and that too after the centre had recently cleared the way for continuance of the work for another two years.
Undeterred by the futility of his repeated pleas, the Chief Minister today said he had written repeatedly since 2015 as the project is bound to submerge several areas of Malkangiri district.
The construction work of Polavaram Project is reportedly progressing at a fast pace. Surprisingly the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) has kept the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance from time to time over the years without taking the views of the State of Odisha into consideration.
The Environmental Clearance was given to the Project on 25.10.2005, without conducting the public hearing in the affected areas of Malkangiri district of Odisha. Due to change in the scope of the project, MoEF & CC vide their letter dated 08.02.2011 had directed the Government of Andhra Pradesh not to start construction work of Polavaram Project until further appraisal of the project is made by the MoEF & CC. At the request of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, MoEF & CC had kept the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance for a period of six months in 2013.
The “Stop Work Order” was further kept in abeyance for six months by MoEF & CC in 2014 and thereafter repeatedly did so till 2 July 2019, noted the CM. Now, it is learnt that the “Stop Work Order” has been kept in abeyance for a further period of two years by MoEF & CC, with similar conditions as stipulated in the above mentioned orders i.e. the reservoir of the Polavaram Project will not be impounded without the permission of MoEF & CC and the changes in the design parameters of the Project will be taken care of based on the result of the public hearing.
The CM noted that once the Project is completed there shall be impounding of the reservoir and it may not be possible to change the design and operating parameters. Public hearing in Odisha has not been carried out till date, he said.
The fact that the centre was repeatedly ignoring Odisha’s contention is further exposed by the fact that in June 2018 the CM had written to the MoEF & CC, to stop construction of the project but on 10 July 2018, the ministry kept in abeyance its own stop work order for one year and now again extended the same benefit for another two years. If the construction work on Polavaram Project is not stopped forthwith, it will have immense adverse impact on the people living in the tribal district of Malkangiri in Odisha, said the CM.
The submergence of tribal villages resulting in mass displacement of primitive tribals, flooding of fertile agricultural lands and submergence of large extent of forest area would be irreversible consequences, he observed.
He suggested that Polavaram Project be reformulated as per GWDT award without causing large scale submergence in the states of Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.