Naveen urges PM not to declare Polavaram as national project

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him not to declare Polavaram irrigation project a national project.
 
The CM in his letter requested Singh to halt the project construction work ‘immediately’ until the pending issues regarding clearance of the project were finally settled.
 
Stating that he was “shocked and surprised” over recent media reports that the Govt of India was likely to declare the Rs 16,000-cr multi-purpose irrigation project as a National Project, Patnaik said, “This is in spite of my request not to declare the Polavaram Project as National Project and to stop construction of the project conveyed vide letter dated 18.07.2009.”
 
Naveen drew attention of the PM that before going ahead with the project, many technical issues were to be resolved on the issues of design flood, reservoir operation schedule and adherence to Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award/BIS codes.
 
“In light of 1980 agreement incorporated in the GWDT award, the Design flood is to be used for back water computations. In spite of this, Central Water Commission (CWC)/Govt of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) is using 36 lakh cusecs for back water computations which is according to them is 500 years return flood,” the letter read.
 
“The data used for arriving at the 500 year return flood is not updated and without correct assessment of back water length in Odisha, the area likely to be affected cannot be determined,” he pointed out.
 
Patnaik also expressed concern over Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) clearance with proposals of embankments and forest clearance by Ministry of Environment and Forests. He expressed fear that if the embankments were planned by Andhra Pradesh following BIS codes, there would be increased submergence of the forest land in height and area and displacement/adverse effects on the tribal populations.
 
“The stipulations of forest clearance given by MoEF cannot be complied with,” he stated.
 
The letter further stated that in 2007 the Odisha government had filed a suit in the Supreme Court for issuing directions to GoAP as not to proceed with the construction of Polavaram Project and to declare that the Environment clearance of GoI dated 25.10.2005 and the MoTA clearance dated 24.05.2007 as illegal and null and void.
 
“Govt of Odisha has filed IA-2 and IA-5 in suit no-4 of 2007 against the TAC clearance ad final Forest Clearances by CWC and MOEF, respectively,” it noted.