Naveen Patnaik raises red flag over Polavaram project, says it violates Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal guidelines
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday demanded immediate stoppage of construction work of Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh
Bhubaneswar: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday demanded immediate stoppage of construction work of Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh till issues pertaining to Odisha are resolved.
"If the project is completed before resolution of all the pending issues then it will lead to a situation which will permanently affect a large number of tribal people in Odisha," said Patnaik in a letter to Union Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Harsh Vardhan.
Patnaik also said that he had sent two letters to the prime minister last year mentioning that the environment ministry had kept the "Stop Work Order" in abeyance from time to time without informing Odisha.
"Construction of the Polavaram project is in violation of the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal (GWDT), and it is being constructed without correctly assessing the back-water extent in Sabari and Sileru limbs in Odisha", the chief minister said in the letter made available to the press.
Stating that Odisha had filed a suit in 2007 against construction of the Polavaram project in the Supreme Court and the matter is sub-judice, Patnaik said that the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted in 2005 was invalid as no public hearing was conducted in Malkangiri district of Odisha, which would be severely affected due to the project in its present formulation.
He further added that the EC granted in favour of the Polavaram project was set aside by the National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) on 19 December, 2007 and it directed for conducting public hearing in affected areas of Odisha and Chhattiagarh.
The orders of NEAA were suspended by Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Odisha and Chhattisgarh had filed a petition before the Supreme Court with a request to transfer the writ petition pending before the Andhra Pradesh High Court to the Supreme Court, Patnaik added.
The Supreme Court has been pleased to accept the transfer petitions, he said. It is pertinent to mention here that the consent of Odisha was never taken into consideration while changing the design parameters of the Polavaram project by Andhra Pradesh government and the Central Water Commission (CWC), he added.
An office memorandum of the Union Environment Ministry dated 23 June, 2015 had stated that the Andhra Pradesh government earlier had assured that they will not impound the reservoir of the project till the issues raised by Chhattisgarh and Odisha were resolved, Patnaik said.
The ministry also asked Andhra Pradesh government not to impound the reservoir without specific permission from the ministry, he said.
"However, it is to state that the reservoir is bound to be impounded as the construction of the dam along the spillway is going in full swing, which will result in submergence in the territory of Odisha," said Patnaik.
It is further learnt that Environment Ministry vide an office memorandum had kept the "Stop Work Order" in abeyance for a period of one more year, he said.
"In this regard, I must mention that Odisha is not being informed on the issue of 'Stop Work Order' being kept in abeyance with reasons thereof from time to time by MoEF, thus allowing construction of the Polavaram head works a distribution system uninterruptedly," the chief minister said.
"In view of the above, it is once again requested that the construction of the Polavaram project should be stopped immediately till the issues pertaining to Odisha are resolved," Patnaik said.
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