Rejecting neighbouring Andhra Pradesh’s request to conduct a public hearing on the Polavaram project, the Odisha government on Saturday said it cannot go for such an exercise because the matter was sub-judice.

"The Odisha government cannot conduct public hearing at this stage without the direction of the apex court as it will violate the law," Forest and Environment Secretary S C Mohapatra told reporters here.

Stating that both the Andhra Pradesh government and the Centre were now putting pressure on the Odisha government to conduct a public hearing, Mohapatra said, "Such a public hearing should have been conducted before the Centre accorded environmental clearance to the Polavaram project in 2005. This apart, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA) has also given its permission to the project in 2007 without a public hearing even as the people of the Scheduled Areas will be affected by the Polavaram project."

Mohapatra pointed out that the public hearing should have been done before the Centre accorded clearance to the Polavaram project.

Since the Centre has declared Polavaram as a national project and decided to fund the entire cost of the project, they have been putting pressure to set right legal formalities, said a state government official, adding the Centre gave clearances to the project despite Odisha’s objections at different stages.