Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 22:
Odisha unit of BJP today alleged that the NDA government conferred national project status to Polavaram based on the package offered to Andhra Pradesh by Congress led UPA government during creation of Telangana.
Speaking to reporters today, BJP Legislative Party leader in Odisha Assembly KV Singh Deo said, “The NDA government at the Centre is carrying out the sovereign agreement agreed by the Congress led UPA Government earlier. However, if there have been any lapses in ensuing qualification of the preconditions, I believe that should be rectified”.
Congress, on the other hand, refuted the allegation and said that the BJP government violated rules and twisted them in favour of Andhra Pradesh while ignoring Odisha.
“The UPA Government had made it very clear that the project will in no way affect the interests of Odisha or its people. The NDA Government twisted all rules to facilitate funds for the project,” said Congress Chief Whip in Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
Biju Janata Dal, in the meanwhile, took pot-shots at both the parties over the issue and said that the tribals are losing out because of politics.
“This project is affecting the lives and livelihood of tribals. Many villages and large chunks of forest land will be submerged if this project takes shape. Both BJP and Congress are forgetting that part. The sitting NDA Government is no better than the earlier UPA Government. Both turned a blind eye towards the interests of our people,” said BJD leader and Odisha Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi.
It may be mentioned here that investment clearance from Planning Commission and eligibility check under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) is mandatory before conferring national project status to any project and allocate funds for it. However, Polavaram project did not have this clearance. Planning Commission, on the other hand, has been dissolved and been replaced by NITI Aayog.
Further, even though it is mandatory for a team of Union Water Resources Department to carry out a filed assessment of the project and to see if it can be completed in a specified time-frame before allocating funds to it under national project scheme, this was also skipped, according to government data obtained by RTI activist Hemant Panda.