Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 9:
Following repeated requests from the Union Government and Andhra Pradesh Government to carry out public hearings on Polavaram project, Odisha government today categorically ruled out doing so.
Principal Secretary of Forest and Environment Department Suresh Mohapatra today made it clear that public hearings cannot be conducted as the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. Permission of the court will be needed before doing so, said Mohapatra.
He further accused that the Central Water Commission had not taken the state in loop before issuing the technical clearance for the project.
“They received the clearance from Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2007 without having any public hearing. That is probably the reason they are pressing for public hearing so that the process can be regularised. However, we cannot do so without the permission of the Supreme Court,” Mohapatra said.
Interestingly, even though public hearings are mandatory before issuing environmental clearance on scheduled area, Polavaram project got its clearance in 2005 without the hearings.
BJP, on the other hand, criticized the government over the issue.
“Money had already been deposited for public hearings. Odisha Government did not do it intentionally. These are tricks to mislead the people of the state,” said senior BJP leader and former Revenue Minister Biswa Bhusan Harichandan.
Congress also took a similar view of the situation. “The State Government and Naveen Patnaik are doing politics over this,” said Congress Chief Whip in Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati.