Odisha opposes visit of central experts team on Polavaram

Seeking re-imposition of ban on construction work of Polavaram project on Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha government opposed visit of 3-member central experts` team to discuss project.

Bhubaneswar: Seeking re-imposition of the ban on construction work of Polavaram project on Godavari river in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Odisha government has opposed the visit of a three-member central experts` team to discuss the controversial project.
The experts` team was scheduled to make a trip to the state today. "We had requested the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to defer the team`s visit to Odisha as various clearances, including environment and forest, given to the Polavaram project were under consideration of the Supreme Court," Water Resources secretary Suresh Mohapatra said.

In a letter to MoEF joint secretary Ajay Tyagi on June 19, Mohapatra pointed out that Odisha has also sought re-imposition of the ban on construction work of Polavaram.

The MoEF had in a communication to the state government on May 21 said the stop work order of Polavaram has been kept in abeyance for six months.

In response, Mohapatra sought extension of the ban on the ground that construction activity would adversely affect the interests of Odisha.

The state government has filed several cases in the Supreme Court challenging MoEF`s environmental clearance and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs` (MoTA) rehabilitation and resettlement clearance. "We have sought cancellation of both clearances," Mohapatra said.

On December 19, 2007, the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) had set aside MoEF`s environmental clearance to Polavaram and directed holding of public hearing in the affected areas of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The Andhra Pradesh government challenged the NEAA orders in the High Court, which passed an interim order on December 31, 2007, suspending the NEAA directive until further orders.

The state`s water resource secretary in his letter to
MoEF joint secretary referred to a previous missive from the state Chief Secretary to Secretary, MoEF.

The Chief Secretary had informed the MoEF that it would not be appropriate to take up public hearing on Polavaram through the State Pollution Control Board (as suggested by Andhra Pradesh in 2009) as the matter was sub-judice.

Odisha had been pointing out that the proposed project at Polavaram would submerge over 2,100 hectare spread over 13 tribal villages in Padia block of Maoist-hit Malkangiri district.

The state government also pointed out that different clearances had been issued by various central government departments even as no public hearing was conducted in Odisha.


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