Polavaram row: Centre pulls out of conducting public hearing in Odisha, C’garh

Bhubaneswar: In a fresh twist to the long-standing controversy over construction of Polavaram project, the Union government on Saturday pulled out from carrying out public hearing in Odisha and Chhattisgarh on the project.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Centre to submit terms and conditions for public hearing in Odisha and Chhattisgarh by December 1 and the latter had given its consent to it.

Replying in connection with the matter, the Centre on Saturday filed a petition seeking apologies and informed the apex court that it had mistakenly given its approval for carrying out public hearing by employing special agencies.

“Odisha government didn’t follow up on the Polavaram issue in the past but when people started to get affected by it they decided to approach the apex court,” advocate Manas Mahapatra said.

Slamming the State government on the issue, BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said, “The State government has no proper data on how many Odisha residents will be affected by the project . It has become a habit of this government to put people in the dark and blaming the Centre.”

On the other hand, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, “Till 2014 they were against Polavaram project but now they are supporting it after coming power. What can be expected from those who keep on changing their stance.”

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the three-member division bench of the apex court which is slated to hold its next hearing in connection with the matter on December 3.

Hearing a petition filed by Odisha government and NGO, Readiness for Empowerment through Legitimate Action (RELA), the apex court had on November 29 expressed its shock on how a mega project like Polavaram was undertaken without any public hearing.

The central government officials however, informed that the public hearing in both the states was conducted earlier.

Earlier on November 21, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop construction of the Polavaram Project till all pending issues are resolved.