Odisha Assembly forms panel to meet PM over Polavaram

Bhubaneswar: Intensifying its opposition to Polavaram project in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Odisha Assembly has set up a committee to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Assembly Speaker S N Patro announced formation of the 16-member committee, before adjourning the winter session of the House sine die on Saturday.

“Representatives of the committee will visit Delhi and meet the prime minister. The Assembly secretariat will seek appointment from his office,” the speaker said.

He said the committee has been formed keeping in view the concerns expressed by members of the House over the project.

Patro will head the committee which will comprise members from all the parties including the BJP and the Congress.

Members in the committee are Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha, Agriculture Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi, Water Resource Minister Raghunandan Das, ST-SC Development Minister Jagannath Saraka and government chief whip Pramila Mallick.

BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi, Congress whip Taraprasad Bahinipati and Laxman Munda of the CPI(M) are also part of the panel.

The state government has been opposing the Polavaram project stating that the multi-purpose dam is being constructed by the Andhra Pradesh government in violation of all the existing norms.

“The statutory Gram Sabhas have not been conducted even though the project will displace tribals in Odisha’s Malkangiri district and submerge reserve forests,” BJD member Debiprasad Mishra said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had earlier written a letter to the prime minister, seeking his intervention to halt the project till all the pending issues are settled in the Supreme Court.

He had said the Polavaram project should not be constructed by “sacrificing” Odisha’s interests.

The chief minister had pointed out that there have been violations in obtaining requisite clearances for the project from the central ministries.

Patnaik had sought reformulation of the Polavaram project as per the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal award without causing large scale submergence in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.