Bhubaneswar: A day after the statement of Union Minister of State Y.S. Chowdary that National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has in principle agreed to fund the entire Polavaram project, the ruling BJD in Odisha has reacted sharply which was reflected in State Assembly during question hour today. The ruckus over Polavaram issue dominated the proceedings of the house through out the day, forcing adjournment of the house once.
Soon after the House assembled, a motion condoling death of Odia BSF jawan Pitabas Majhi in Uri was moved. Later, the BJD legislators started shouting at their respective seats against Centre showing various media reports of Nabard agreed to fund Polavaram dam.
Unable to run question hour, Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House till 3 pm. Even though the house reassembled after 3PM the ruckus over Polavaram failed to die down.
Commenting on Polavaram issue, BJD said Centre has been playing with the sentiments of dalit tribals of Odisha. “The Nabard has agreed to sanction Rs 850 cr for the project and Union minister will review the progress of the dam. This anti-tribal move of the centre is unfortunate. We have been protesting since beginning that life style and occupation of many tribal in Malkangiri will be affected. A vast patch of Odisha’s tribal dominated areas will be submerged if the project is undertaken”, BJD spokesperson Dibyasankar Mishra said.
“NABARD has indicated that it will release Rs 800 crore by October 15 and the agency has said that it will fund the total cost of the project. This is a glaring example of negligence towards Odisha and the outcry in the Assembly was a reflection of the same,” said BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash.
Congress alleged that ruling party has started hiding itself on Mahanadi and Polavaram issues. “They (BJD) have moved court against Polavaram project. Have they got any fruitful result out of it? Even BJD has no information about the losses if Polavaram is undertaken. This party did not show interest to hold an all-party meet neither on Polavaram nor Mahanadi”, Congress MLA Naba Dash said. “However, Congress’ stand is quite clear- ‘first ‘Mati’ (soil), then party”, Dash maintained.
“We moved an adjournment motion on ‘tribal people exploited’. To divert the attention, BJD enacted a drama and stalled the proceedings”, Dash alleged.
“The polavaram issue is not a new issue. What has been the state government doing in the Supreme Court for the past 9 years. Now they want to stop the project simply by shouting inside the assembly. The people of Odisha will realize how far this government is committed to the interest of the people of Odisha,” said Leader of Opposition Narsingh Mishra.
BJP came forward to save its party. “The NDA government is only implementing what its predecessor (UPA) had undertaken. Once a project was declared national project, there is no legal barrier to take it forward. Now, Centre has nothing to do with Polavaram”, BJP MLA Pradip Purohit said.
Echoing views of Naba Dash, the saffron party legislator also alleged that State government, which has moved Supreme Court, has never made a strong argument to stay the construction. It is also lacking proper information about the losses which the State is going to incur”, Purohit pointed out.
“White papers should be brought on the Mahanadi and Polavaram issues and presented in the Assembly in a bid to understand what the State government actually wants,” said BJP’s KV Singhdeo.
In the meantime, the ruling-BJD has also decided to observe hartal in 7 districts of south Odisha on Oct 1 protesting the Polavaram project.
“If the Polavaram project is adversely affecting Odisha then we are bound to protest, protect with all means possible. We are calling for this hartal hoping that our concerns are heard by a government which has been acting deaf,” said Debi Prasad Mishra.