Orissa demands withdrawal of clearance to Polavaram project

August 10th, 2010 - 12:25 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bhubaneswar, Aug 9 (IANS) Orissa Monday said it has asked the central environment and forests ministry to withdraw clearance to the Polavaram project on river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh.
“While granting the approval, the ministry has totally ignored the interest of Orissa,” state Water Resources Secretary S.C. Mohapatra told IANS.

Orissa government moved the Supreme Court after the ministry first granted interim approval to the project in 2008. “When the case is still pending in the court, we are surprised how the ministry granted final approval,” he said.

The state government is also unhappy the way the clearance was given without consulting the people in Orissa and Chhattisgarh who would be affected by the project, he said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh seeking withdrawal of the permission, Mohapatra said, adding he had himself written a letter to the environment and forests secretary.

The Andhra Pradesh government says the Rs.10,150-crore project will provide drinking water to 2.85 million people, produce 960 MW of power and give industry 23,500 million cubic feet of water.

The project first envisioned by the British rulers in 1941 has, however, been facing opposition since decades from local residents who fear displacement, as well as from Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh and Orissa fear that after completion of the project, in case of floods, the back water of the Godavari will flow to its tributaries Saberi and Sileru in Orissa and Chhattisgarh and submerge dozens of bordering villages.

Andhra Pradesh said it will put embankments on the river but Orissa officials said that is not the solution.

The central environment and forests ministry gave the final clearance for diversion of 3,731.07 hectares of forest land last month for the project on condition that no submergence of forest land should take place in Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

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