Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, May 3:
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a leading NGO working in the field of water conservation, has come down heavily against the UPA government’s decision yesterday to clear the constitution of constituting the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) to pave the way for the execution of the Polavaram irrigation project.
Questioning the timing of the decision, WIO has said the move was ‘undemocratic’ and ‘illegal’.
“This is certainly a move to woo the voters and influence the election process. We strongly condemn this action of the Union cabinet and urge the Election Commission to take immediate action, under appropriate clauses, against all the cabinet ministers who were part of this decision,” said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of WIO.
The Polavaram project is yet to receive necessary legal and environmental clearances. There are several cases filed by environmental activists and the state governments of Odisha and Chhattisgarh pending against the project. The cabinet of the outgoing UPA government therefore has no right to take such a hasty decision at this juncture, he said.
“It has been reported that the proposed Authority will clear apprehensions about the project and instil confidence in both the successor States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as also other riparian States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and carry out the project in a transparent and equitable manner, according to informed sources. But we have serious doubts about the claim. The central government under UPA has failed miserably in settling the matters amicably and in a transparent manner. In fact, it has violated the laws of the land in pushing through this project”, alleged the WIO convenor.
Quoting Union Minister for Water Resources Harish Rawat’s statement in New Delhi in April 2013 that “There would be secretary-level tripartite meeting soon among the three stakeholders – Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh – to iron out differences and facilitate an amicable solution”, WIO asked; “What happened to that promise? Have the states, objected to this project, already agreed to your proposals?” “Scrap the cabinet decision immediately and wait until the next government is formed for any further developments on this project,” he said.
The Polavaram dam project is going to bring huge ecological and socio-economic destructions and political parties should stop selling false dreams about such unsustainable projects. Large dams are an outdated concept and the country needs alternatives in smaller structures of power generation and irrigation that would decentralize development and ensure that benefits reach large sections of society in a sustainable manner, Panda said.
“We urge politicians of the Congress and BJP and all other parties who are promising to support the Polavaram project, to show political maturity and talk about sustainable alternatives rather than such mega projects that come with a host of lot of devastative impacts”, said Panda.