War of words over Polavaram project in State assembly

Bhubaneswar: Odisha assembly on Friday witnessed exchange of words between ruling BJD and opposition Congress MLAs over the controversial Polavaram project, 'Bhoomi Puja' for which was performed in Andhra Pradesh during first week of this month.
The issue was raised by government deputy whip Sanjay Dasburma who accused the Congress led UPA government at the Centre of allowing construction of the multi-purpose Polavaram project at the cost of Odisha.
"The Centre has been supporting Polavaram prorject in Andra Pradesh ignoring the interest of Odisha," Dasburma said blaming Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
He said Ramesh during his stint as Environment and Forest minister had accorded forest clearance to the Polavaram project even as a large chunk of area in Malkangiri would be submerged due to the proposed dam.
While Ramesh had claimed that he was fighting for the interest of tribals at Kalahandi and Nuapada districts, his permission to the Polavaram project would leave hundreds of tribals homeless in Malkangiri district, Dasburma said.
His view was supported by former Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai, Amar Satpathy and Prafulla Samal who demanded a resolution against Polavaram project in Odisha assembly. The state government has filed at least seven cases in the Supreme Court opposing Andhra Pradesh's Polavaram project, they said.
Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan said that Congress was opposed to submergence of land in Odisha and his party would fight for the state's interest. "About 2100 acres of land in Malkangiri will be submerged if Polavaram project is implemented," he said.
Harichandan also criticised Odisha government's way of protesting the project. "The government has failed to protest properly. The BJD government has agreed to setting up of the three-member technical committee for the project. Why the state government agreed to such committee," he asked.
He also held the state government responsible for not holding public hearing in areas likely to be affected. "Had there been public hearing, state government's protest would have been proper. But no hearing was held even after receiving money from Andhra Pradesh government," he said.
Senior Congress member Dambaru Ullaka also opposed the Polavaram prject in Andhra Pradesh. "Instead of politicising the issue, we should think about how to protect interest of tribals," he said.