The Supreme Court issued notices to the Central government and Andhra Pradesh over environmental clearances pertaining to the Polavaram project.
The Odisha government had raised objections to the project in the apex court by way of a petition and had challenged the environment clearance accorded to the project.
A bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Dipak Gupta directed the Union Government and Andhra Pradesh to file their response within three weeks.
It may be noted here that Odisha government and a NGO based in Hyderabad had earlier filed a suit in the apex court on several aspects of the Polavaram project and the suit is pending.
It may be noted that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had, last month, written to the central government to ask the Andhra Pradesh government to stop work pending resolution of objections raised by Odisha.
The chief minister Naveen Patnaik had pointed out that ‘stop work orders’ on the contentious Polavaram project issued earlier have been strangely kept in abeyance repeatedly without Odisha being informed about it only to allow the work.
The project work is going on a war footing basis despite repeated objections and letters to the PM and the central government, regretted the Odisha Chief Minister.
Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has kept the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance from time to time, he said.
The construction of Polavaram Project is in violation of the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal (GWDT) Award, and it is being constructed without correctly assessing the backwater extent in the Sabari and Sileru limbs in the territory of Odisha.
The Environmental Clearance (EC) granted in the year 2005 is invalid as no Public Hearing was conducted in the Malkangiri district of Odisha which will be severely affected due to construction of Polavaram Project in its present formulation stated the chief minister in his letter to the centre.
The MoEF in 2015 had decided to keep the Stop Work Order in abeyance for one year based on Andhra Pradesh’s letter assuring not to impound the reservoir of the Project till the issues raised by the States of Chhattisgarh and Odisha are resolved.
Odisha has been arguing that the project will result in submergence of several villages and forests of Malkangiri district.
Andhra Pradesh had also said it will redesign the project, but it has never consulted Odisha while changing the design parameters of Polavaram Project.
It may be noted that the Polavaram project has been accorded national project status by the central government.