Contempt plea filed against officials for pushing Andhra project

September 9th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 9 (IANS) A former Orissa legislator Wednesday filed a petition in the Orissa High Court for contempt proceedings against several officials for allegedly pushing a mega irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh in violation of the court’s order.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Laxaman Munda has sought contempt proceedings against the secretary of the environment and forests ministry, the Central Water Commission chairman, and the principal secretary, the chief secretary and four other officials of Andhra Pradesh, his lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy told IANS here.

The high court on March 22, 2006, had directed authorities to proceed with the construction of the Indira Sagar Polavaram multipurpose irrigation project after complying with all requirements, the lawyer said.

The court had said that the plan should be implemented in such a manner that no land or village within the Orissa territory gets submerged, he said.

However, the central government officials approved the project allegedly without complying with the court’s directive, declared it a national project and now Andhra Pradesh is moving ahead with construction activities, Tripathy said.

Although the project will affect parts of the neighboring states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, there is no specific information about these impacts nor has there been a public hearing in either of the states, Tripathy said.

“There is no information on the people to be affected. According to the latest estimates, the number of villages to go under submergence now is 276 from Andhra Pradesh, 13 from Chhattisgarh and 10 from Orissa and the number of affected families is 27,798 in Andhra Pradesh, 1,372 in Chhattisgarh and 814 in Orissa,” the petitioner alleged.

The Rs.10,150-crore project would be built on the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh.

The Andhra Pradesh government says the 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.

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

Orissa has also filed a suit in the Supreme Court in February, seeking suspension of the construction work of the project.

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