The Supreme Court on Monday turned down Orissa’s plea to stay construction of the controversial Polavaram dam by Andhra Pradesh and directed former Central Water Commission (CWC) member M. Gopalakrishnan to inspect the project along with CWC and submit separate reports to it.

A bench of justices Mukundakam Sharma and A.R. Dave said Mr. Gopalakrishnan would inspect the dam along with present CWC members and submit their reports to the apex court by July 19, the next date of hearing.

The apex court, however, refused to entertain Orissa’s plea for staying the dam’s construction, saying “it will be difficult for us to stay the construction at this stage.”

The bench’s remark came in response to a plea by senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Orissa, who insisted that the work should be stopped pending submission of the expert panel’s report.

When the counsel insisted on the stay, the apex court said it can be demolished later if it was found to be built in violation of norms.

The counsel continued to plead that the construction should be stopped as it would not be possible to demolish the dam at a later stage as expectations would be built among the beneficiaries and there would be protest by farmers leading to chaos.

The bench, while refusing to stay the construction, assured the counsel that it would examine the plea if and when a situation arises.

The apex court also allowed technical experts from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh to be present at the site when the CWC team conducts the inspection.

The bench also said that the reports of Mr. Gopalakrishnan and the CWC would be considered by the court without prejudice to the suits filed by Orissa.

According to Andhra Pradesh government, the project will provide drinking water to three million people, produce 960 MW of power and give 23,500 million cubic feet of water for industrial use.