Hardenining its stand against the controversial Polavaram project in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Orissa government today said it would not allow land within the state’s boundary to be inundated due to the project.
“We will not allow any area of Orissa to be inundated due to Polavaram project. We have been opposing the project in the neighbouring state since the beginning,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters here.
He was reacting to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s reported assurance to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, K Rosaiah on the Centre’s plan to accord national project status to Polavaram.
Ms. Gandhi in a letter to Mr. Rosaiah has assured that her office would follow up the matter. National status to the project would mean that a bulk of the project cost would be borne by the Centre.
Inordinate delay in execution of Polavaram Project has led to steep escalation of project cost from about Rs. 12,000 crore to over Rs. 17,600 crore now.
Ms. Sonia’s assurance to Mr. Rosaiah has come as a blow to Orissa as the Chief Minister during his recent Delhi visit had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to withdraw forest and environmental clearance to Polavaram project as it would submerge vast areas in the State’s Malkangiri district.
“A large number of people within Orissa will be severely affected if Polavaram project is allowed over the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Patnaik claimed, adding that a huge chunk of forest land would also be submerged due to the project in the neighbouring State.
First envisaged by the British in 1941, the Polavaram project aims to construct a dam on the Godavari River and divert large quantities of water through a 174-km link canal to the Krishna River.
While the ruling BJD has been opposing the Polavaram project, Congress MP, Pradeep Majhi has also voiced his objection.
“About 25 villages in my constituency are likely to be inundated by Polavaram project according to the State government’s report.
“Therefore, I am opposed to the project,” Mr. Majhi had told reporters here after Chief Minister lodged a complaint with the Prime Minister on August 23.
Meanwhile, BJD has planned a series of agitations against the UPA government over the project, terming it “anti-Orissa“.