BJD seeks Prez intervention in Polavaram project

Bhubaneswar: Intensifying the stir against Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling BJD today sought President’s intervention and demanded immediate withdrawal of clerances accorded for construction of the controversial dam.

BJD leaders staged a dharna in front of Raj Bhavan here opposing Polavaram project and a party delegation led by Tribal Development Minister Lal Bihari Himirika submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee through Odisha Governor S C Jamir.

We demand immediate stop to construction of Polavaram project. We have also demanded reduction of dam height. The party has also sought the President’s intervention to prortect the interest of tribal people of south Odisha,” Himirika told reporters after submitting the memorandum.

The memorandum also said the central government agencies violated norms of Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal judgment while according several clearances for Polavaram project. It questioned how the Ministry of Tribal Affairs give clearance to Polavaram project without holding ‘gram sabha’ in Odisha where thousands of adivasis would suffer.

Ministry of environment and forest has also accorded environment clearance in a “fradulent” manner, it said.

The party alleged that due to the construction of Polavaram project at least 6,818 tribal families would be displaced, while the memorandum said 25 villages under Motu Tehasil in Malkangiri would be submerged.

Terming the erstwhile UPA government and the present one of NDA at the Centre as “anti-Odisha”, BJD demanded justice for the tribal people.

“Odisha government is not opposing Polavaram project per se. We are opposing it since its height has been raised to 150 metres. No public hearing or gram sabha has been conducted in this regard. The National Green Tribunal has served notice to the central government on this account,” Samir Dash, BJD spokesperson at the dharna, said.

Meanwhile, the ruling party planned protest meetings in front of collector offices in the seven southern districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal on September 20.

The party will also observe peaceful strike in these districts on October 1, Dash said adding BJD president Naveen Patnaik has appointed observers and co-observers for each of these districts for smooth conduct of the programme.