Orissa court questions officials on Andhra project

October 14th, 2009 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 14 (IANS) The Orissa High court Wednesday issued notices to several key officials of the central government and the Andhra Pradesh and Orissa governments on a controversial mega irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh.
“The petition was filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former Orissa legislator Laxman Munda. The court admitted the petition and issued the notice,” Munda’s lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy told IANS.

The court asked the government officials to file their replies by Nov 9.

The division bench of Chief Justice I.M. Quddusi and Justice B.K. Nayak issued notice to the key officials of the environment and forest ministry, tribal affairs ministry, Central Water Commission, and the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, he said.

Munda has sought direction to restrain the central government from declaring the Indira Sagar Polavaram multipurpose irrigation project as a national project, the lawyer said.

The Rs.10,150 crore project will 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 for 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 may 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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