“Fight to the finish on Polavaram,” tweets Naveen

Bhubaneswar: Reiterating his stance on the Polavaram project, Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janta Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik today said his government will go hammer and tongs to protect the interest of tribals affected by the mega multipurpose project. “Odisha will fight for its rights in Polavaram to the finish. BJD rallies at Bhubaneswar & undivided Koraput districts on January 7,” tweeted Naveen.

Earlier, taking strong exception to the move of the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh government to fast track the Polavaram project displacing tribals from some parts of Malkangiri and Rayagada districts, BJD had announced that it would stage a mass agitation and dharna in undivided Koraput district and in front of Raj Bhawan in the Odisha capital on January 7.

The announcement was made by BJD general secretary Debi Prasad Mishra, party spokespersons Sashi Bhusan Behera and Pratap Jena and Nabarangpur district BJD president Ramesh Chandra Majhi at a press briefing at the party headquarters in Bhubaneswar recently.

“The Odisha government has time and again drawn the attention of the Central Water Commission (CWC), Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Planning Commission, concerned Union ministers and the Prime Minister on the arbitrary construction of Polavaram dam on Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh and sought their urgent intervention to stop the construction work. Besides, the chief minister, till date, has written 13 letters to the Centre on this issue urging it to consider the plight of the people of two southern districts of Odisha bordering Andhra Pradesh, who stand to be displaced by the said project. This apart, the State Assembly has passed a resolution against the project while our MPs have also expressed their grave concern in this regard in the Parliament. BJD has also taken up the matter with the President of India and has submitted to him a memorandum to this effect. Despite all this, the Centre has not bothered to consider our case,” Mishra alleged.

He said the original flood water discharge design of the project, which was 36 lakh cusecs as per the directive of the Godavari Water Tribunal, has been arbitrarily changed to 50 lakh cusecs.

Mishra had further said as per the agreement between the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha governments, the co-basin states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana have not been consulted.

“The curve design of the spillway, which is the basic technical parameter, has not been mentioned by the CWC in the detailed project report (DPR). Despite having the detailed hydrological data of Godavari basin as well as the data of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the CWC has cleared the spillway design to release 50 lakh cusecs of floodwater in gross violation of the Tribunal order,” he pointed out.

The BJD leader also said the height of the reservoir level (RL) should be 140 feet while the operation design should be reduced to 130 feet to discharge more than 10 lakh cusecs of floodwater as per the agreement between the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha governments. However, the CWC has ignored these technical parameters.

“The Centre has also ignored the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) code on sedimentation level and live water storage capacity of the reservoir in giving environment clearance by the MoEF and an investment clearance to the tune of Rs 17,000 crore by according the project the status of a national project,” Mishra informed.

He said after the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered a stay on the order of the National Appellate Authority on the environment clearance given by MoEF, both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments had filed a petition in the same court to transfer the case to the Supreme Court. The apex court later accepted the petition in 2013 for hearing.
“When the matter is sub judice in the apex court, how has the Centre given the investment clearance to this project? We demand immediate halt in the construction work until the Supreme Court verdict comes out,” Mishra had said.