At a time the Odisha government rejected Andhra Pradesh’s request to conduct a public hearing on the Polavaram project, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said the Supreme Court has not debarred the central government from sanctioning funds for the project.
"The court did not say the Centre not to allocate the money. However, we would respect the order of the court on the project," said Naidu, who was here to attend a programme of a private news channel.
The central government has declared the Polavaram irrigation project as a national project and decided to bear all expenses for it.
The Odisha government had filed a case in the Supreme Court against the project, which is likely to submerge some parts of the state’s Malkangiri district. The matter is also pending in the National Green Tribunal.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the ruling Biju Janata Dal was held at the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to chalk out the strategy to protest the Polavaram project.
BJD spokesperson Ravi Narayan Nanda said the party would continue its fight against the project and release its action plan on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the state government rejected Andhra Pradesh’s request to conduct a public hearing on the Polavaram project.
"The Odisha government cannot conduct a public hearing at this stage without the direction of the Supreme Court as it will violate the law," Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra told reporters here.
He said the Centre has given statutory clearance to the project without a public hearing and ignored the state government’s objections.
"They received the approval from Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2007 without having any public hearing. That is probably the reason they are pressing for a public hearing so that the process can be regularised. However, we cannot do so without the permission of the Supreme Court," he said.
Environmental impact assessment guidelines say public hearing is mandatory before granting clearance to any project. But, Polavarm project got environmental clearance in 2005 without any public hearing.