The Odisha government on Tuesday put forth strong well documented objections to Andhra Pradesh&’s Polavaram project and was supported by the Chhattisgarh government at a hearing conducted by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
The NCST had taken suo motto congnisance on the basis of a media report of the project adversely affecting tribal population in Odisha, Andhra and Chhattisgarh and issued notices to the ministry of water resources and all three state government&’s.
On Tuesday, at Delhi, the hearing took place where Odisha and Chhattisgarh voiced their objections and concerns while Andhra Pradesh is said to have maintained that it was a national project with all proper clearances.
Odisha furnished a well documented memorandum listing out the violations and why it was objecting to the project while Chhattisgarh shared the same concerns.
The Odisha government has reportedly asserted that the project should adhere to the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal award as well as the agreement signed between concerned government&’s in 1978. The project as per its present design violates the Tribunal award as well as the 1978 agreement.
The 150 ft height of the dam given the water storage and the backwaters etc cannot be maintained and it will be above 200 ft, contended the Odisha government.
The project will displace more than 6000 tribals in Odisha&’s Malkangiri district whereas it will displace over 9000 tribals in Chhattisgarh , said representatives of both the states. Gram sabhas were not held, the forest rights act ( forest land has to be acquired) and other laws governing environment were violated, argued Odisha government representatives at the NCST hearing.
The government pointed out that even the central water commission had not taken Odisha and Chhattisgarh in to confidence. Yet environment clearance and forest clearance was accorded to the project.
The NCST heard the concerned states and the ministry of water resources. It will study the documents presented by the states and also seek further information from the ministry since it is a national project, said reliable sources.
It may be noted here that Odisha has been objecting to the Polavaram project since long. It has also moved the apex court. At a political level Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to the central government on several occasions and more recently BJD MP&’s had raised objections to the project in parliament and even met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati had consistently maintained that both Andhra and Odisha government&’s should meet and sort out the problem.