Polavaram Row: Odisha to ‘suffer’ amid Centre-Andhra bonhomie

Bhubaneswar: Yet again keeping the ‘stop work order’ in abeyance, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday extended the construction period for the Polavaram Multipurpose Project in Andhra Pradesh by two years. And with the growing amiability between PM Modi and Andhra CM Jagan Reddy, Odisha government has now claimed that the signing of two-year construction order by Centre is ‘politically motivated’. While the State Water Resources Minister mentioned in detail about the loss, BJD MP at the Parliament questioned that how can Polavaram be declared a national project if it crushes the interests of Odisha.

Addressing the Assembly, State Water Resources minister Raghunandan Das said, “Polavaram project will submerge around 15 villages, 10 ‘padas’ in Motu Tehsil of Malkangiri district displacing 6,818 people, including 5,916 tribals. Odisha government will construct barrages on the upper catchment of Polavaram.”

On Wednesday, Javadekar revealed that the project is important for Andhra Pradesh, as it will irrigate nearly 3 lakh hectare of land and provide drinking water to 540 villages covering a population of 25 lakh in Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts. This apart, it will generate hydro power with installed capacity of 960 MW.

Raking up the issue in the Parliament today, BJD’s Nabarangpur MP Ramesh Majhi said that several tribals in Malkangiri district will be affected by the project. Both Centre and Andhra Pradesh are taking up the project arbitrarily and I am not in favour of the move, Majhi said.

Congress MP from Koraput, Saptagiri Ulaka said, “Because Malkangiri is most likely to get affected, a decision should be taken in consent with all the parties. No one should be affected and that will be our stand. We will see that it gets incorporated.”

However, Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari stated that BJP has never compromised when it comes to Odisha’s interest. “If the State government is concerned about the loss Odisha is likely to suffer, it should conduct a detailed assessment of the damage due to Polavaram Project. BJP will never compromise with Odisha’s interest, be it Polavaram or Mahanadi dispute,” Pujari said.