Polavaram row: Supreme Court for public hearings in Odisha, Chhattisgarh

New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court today expressed its shock on how a mega project like Polavaram was undertaken without any public hearings. The court made the observation during a hearing on the petition filed by Odisha government and NGO, Readiness for Empowerment through Legitimate Action (RELA), over Centre’s move to accord national project status to Polavaram.

RELA advocate, Shravan Kumar in an interview to OTV informed that Odisha government too has moved the Supreme Court demanding stoppage of the Polavaram project.

“On Odisha and RELA’s petition, the apex court questioned and also took the issue of lack of public hearings seriously and directed Centre to submit an affidavit by Saturday. The Centre, however, informed the court that both Odisha and Chhattisgarh are not cooperating,” said Kumar.

Kumar further informed that Telangana government also apprised the court that two of its districts including Bhadranchalam would be adversely affected due to modification in the design of Polavaram project.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to Centre several times regarding immediate stoppage of work and to conduct public hearings which has also been the stand of RELA.

“The government of Odisha is also anticipating an impact due to change in the design of the Polavaram project. The apex court is likely to come up with a direction on the matter in the next hearing scheduled to be held on Monday,” Kumar added.

Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati stated that Odisha government was in deep slumber as already 90 per cent of the work on Polavaram project has been completed.

“As Supreme Court has now directed to conduct gram sabhas, Odisha government needs to have commitment for conducting the same,” said Bahinipati.

BJP MLA Pradip Purohit also criticised the Odisha government for not doing much in protecting the interests of the people of the State.

“Somewhere, seriousness of Odisha government was missing. Had the BJD-led ruling government acted in advance, the affected people in Odisha would have got justice as the matter is pending before the court since long,” said Purohit.

BJD leader Kalikesh Singh Deo stated that they welcome the Supreme Court’s order on public hearing.

“We will certainly go for public hearing. We hope that Odisha and its tribals will get justice from the Supreme Court. We will always demand to scrap the unilateral move of Andhra Pradesh to increase the height of Polavaram project,” said Singh Deo.