The Orissa government today said it will maintain a “wait and watch” policy on the controversial Polavaram project following the Centre seeking an explanation from Andhra Pradesh for undertaking work without holding public hearing in areas to be affected in Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
Orissa government, opposing the multi-purpose project since its conception, had earlier refused to hold a discussion with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K S Rosaiah.
“A senior Andhra Pradesh official called me yesterday and proposed to hold a discussion on Polavaram issue,” Orissa’s Water Resources Development Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra told reporters adding that the State government is yet to take a decision on the fresh proposal.
As the State government had already moved the Supreme Court opposing the Polavaram project, there was no point in holding talks with Andhra Pradesh, another official said adding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in-charge of water resources development department, will decide on Andhra’s request.
Since the matter is sub-judice, the State government should wait for the Apex Court’s judgement, he said.
When the ruling BJD has launched a State-wide stir against Polavaram project, the State government demanded that law of the land be followed in case of Polavaram.
Orissa government is mainly opposed to design of the proposed dam and alleged violation of forest right act (FRA).
Under the present design, about 50 lakh cusec water would flow through the barrage over river Godavari, submerging a large tract of land in Orissa’s Malkangiri district, Mr. Mohapatra said.
To a query on Andhra government’s proposal of building a 30-km-long embankment along rivers Saberi and Saleru in Malkangiri, Mr. Mohapatra said, “Creation of embankment was not in the original plan. These embankments within Orissa territory could affect discharge of water to River Godavari. As a result, a large area could be inundated.”
It was not in accordance with the law to undertake construction work without making an environment assessment impact of the project, he said, adding there were clear guidelines to hold public hearing in affected areas but Andhra Pradesh government had not done so in Malkangiri district.
As the matter was too complicated, Orissa would like to maintain a wait and watch policy before reacting to the MoEF’s letter to Andhra Pradesh government, he said.
In its letter, the ministry has asked Andhra Pradesh government to give details of the construction status of the dam and also explain why a formal show-cause should not be issued (for not following norms).