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Stop Polavaram project till pending issues resolved, Odisha urges Centre

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Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to allow the construction of the Polavaram irrigation project until all pending issues were resolved.

“If the multi-purpose project is allowed to be completed before the resolution of all pending issues, it will cause permanent injury to the interests of Odisha and its people,” the Chief Minister said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

The Polavaram project dam is being built on the Godavari river in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh to help divert and utilise the river water to Krishna and other rivers.

Patnaik said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was also requested in October to stop the construction on the project till the contentious issues vis-a-vis Odisha were resolved.

He said Odisha residents will face several problems due to the project, including submergence of tribal land, flooding of fertile agricultural land and mass displacement of villagers.

“The Polavaram project can be reformulated as per the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award without causing large-scale submergence in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh, taking into consideration projects operating in the command area of Polavaram, like the Pattiseema project and others,” the Chief Minister added.

He said he was deeply concerned over the manner in which the state’s interests were being sacrificed without addressing its legitimate concerns.

The Polavaram project, declared a national project in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, does not qualify for the status as it does not satisfy the set standards, he added.

Patnaik said the project was taken up by the Andhra Pradesh government unilaterally much before the Central Water Commission (CWC) clearance, based on plans/design in violation of the GWDT award, and hence not agreed to by Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

The project work was on without even holding a public hearing in Odisha, a mandatory requirement for getting environmental clearance, the Odisha Chief Minister added.

The issue of public hearing is pending in the Supreme Court.

(IANS)