Orissa to move Supreme Court against Polavaram project

August 30th, 2010 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bhubaneswar, Aug 30 (IANS) Orissa Monday said it will move the Supreme Court against the clearance granted by the union environment and forests ministry to the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project on river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh.
“We will file a petition in the Supreme Court in a day or two seeking scrapping of the forest clearance granted to the project as it will submerge several villages in Orissa’s Malkangiri district,” state Water Resources Secretary S.C. Mohapatra told IANS.

The ministry granted approval last month saying that there would be no submergence of Orissa’s area as the Andhra Pradesh government will build a wall along the border with the state to prevent flooding in Orissa.

“They took the decision considering that only ten villages would be submerged. But that is not true. More villages will be affected in our state,” Mohapatra said.

“No assessment on its impact in Orissa was done yet. Similarly no public hearing was also done in the villages which would be affected by the project,” he said.

The 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 over 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 wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh early this month seeking withdrawal of the permission, Mohapatra said

He said he himself wrote 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 villages.

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

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

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