The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the counsel for the environment ministry to submit a status report on the implementation of its stop work order at the Polavaram project, reported The Orissadiary.
Earlier in August, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had asked for the report by the next date of hearing on 5 September.
However, The Orissadiary reported on Monday that the NGT has asked the Centre to report within two weeks on public hearing and status of the project. The next hearing is on 19 October.
The ministry had issued stop work order in 2011 due to non-compliance of the condition for environment clearance, that is by conducting a public hearing in Chattisgarh and Odisha.
The tribunal had previously also ordered a joint inspection of the Polavaram dam construction site by the Andhra Pradesh government, state pollution control board and Polavaram Project Authority following a complaint about dumping of mud in the West Godavari district.
Polavaram project is a multi-purpose interstate irrigation project on river Godavari which has been accorded national project status by the central government, according to Orissadiary. The Andha Pradesh government claims it to be “lifeline of the state” and it has been declared as a national project under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, according to The Business Standard.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Polavaram project spillway shall be designed for a flood discharge capacity of 36 Lakh cusecs at the pond level of 140 feet and not less than 20 lakh cusecs at pond level of 130 feet.
The project aims for the development of irrigation, hydropower and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The need to undertake such an ambitious project arose after a dam break analysis was conducted by the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) from Polavaram to Rajahmundry and by other scientists from Rajahmundry to the sea, according to India Water Portal.
The report indicated that “when a peak flood of 50 lakh cusecs occurs in the river and the dam breaks, Rajahmundry area would be under 40 feet of water. This would lead to the death of 46.15 lakh people (2001 census) in the Godavari Delta.”
Andhra Pradesh irrigation minister D Umamaheswara Rao said that the Polavaram project is expected to be completed by 2018.
He also assured that all works on the right bank canal of the project will be finished by June 2017, according to a PTI report.
According to Down To Earth, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project says 276 villages will be affected.
It also reported that according to the documents relating to the Polavaram project, 291,000 hectares (ha) of new land will be brought under irrigation—129,000 ha by right canal and 162,000 ha by the left canal. But the Government of India’s official data shows 71 percent of the right canal command areas are already under irrigation since 1999.
The report also cites the findings of the International Water Management Institute based in Sri Lanka. While studying the Krishna-Godavari river link, it found that 95 percent of the areas to be irrigated by the Polavaram dam through the right canal were already irrigated. The remaining five percent was not cultivated.
With inputs from PTI.