National project status to Polavaram contravened guidelines: RTI data

Bhubaneswar: As the controversy over Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh rages on, an exclusive report by Odisha Television reveals that the guidelines of the Union Water Resources department were flouted while awarding national project status to the project.

As per information obtained through RTI Act, the central government had totally sidestepped the prescribed guidelines of the Water Resources department and declared the Polavaram project as a national project.

As per the prescribed guidelines, in order to grant a national project status, a project should fulfill the eligibility criteria required for funding under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program (AIBP) including the investment clearance of the Planning Commission. However, no such clearance has been obtained in case of Polavaram project.

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Moreover, as per the guidelines “On receipt of a proposal from the State government for inclusion of a project as National Project, the ministry of water resources may send a team of officers to the project site with a view to make assessment of the present status of the project and to firm up the plans for its completion in a specified time frame.” Furthermore, the guidelines prescribe that a team should also review the losses that could be on account of the project.

However, in case of Polavaram no such visit and review were carried out by any team.

“All the guidelines have been flouted in case of Polavaram and it has been made a national project. In spite of clear guidelines, no team has visited the site and conducted a proper assessment,” said RTI activist Hemant Panda.

Notably, the UPA-led central government had granted national project status to Polavaram project. The current NDA-led central government maintained the status of the project and announced that it will fund 90% of the project cost.

It is being assessed that a lot of areas of Odisha will be submerged due to the project. However, no public hearing has been conducted in these areas and no provisions have been made to compensate and rehabilitate affected people. The Odisha government has moved the Supreme Court against the project.