Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, May 1:
Even as the election process is still underway, the Union cabinet today approved the idea of setting up an autonomous authority to expedite the process of environmental and investment clearances for the controversial Polavaram multi-purpose project in Andhra Pradesh, bordering on Odisha’s Malkangiri district.
The project has been stoutly opposed by neighbouring states of Odisha and Chhatisgarh on a number of grounds including inundation of their areas and displacement of tribal population.
Sources said, the new body will be named the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) and will function under the Union Water Resources Ministry.
The proposed PPA would ensure ‘expeditious execution, regulation and development of the project while simultaneously ensuring implementation of adequate environmental safeguard measures and proper rehabilitation of those displaced’, sources added.
The Polavaram multi-purpose project, which was declared as a national project is designed to cater to a command area of 2.91 lakh hectares and generate an estimated 960 MW of hydro power.
In addition it would also supply 23.44 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of drinking water for Vishahapatnam city and other areas.
The Polavaram project is yet to get forest and environment clearance as also clearance from the Planning Commission for its revised investment cost of Rs 16010 crore.
A number of cases have been filed against the project by the governments of Chhattisgarh and Odisha as well as other petitioners in the Supreme court.
However, the apex court is yet to take a final decision in the matter.