Norm applied to Polavaram should hold good for this project too, says FBV convener
The Forum for Better Visakha has sought immediate intervention of the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest to put the Komarada thermal power project in Vizianagaram district on hold pending a detailed investigation.
While welcoming the healthy precedent the Minister had set, though belatedly, to ask the Andhra Pradesh Government to explain why villagers in Chhattisgarh and Orissa were not given an opportunity to represent themselves at the public hearing conducted for the Polavaram project, FBV convener and former Energy Secretary E.A.S. Sarma noted that natural justice demanded such an opportunity.
“We have a similar case in the Komarada thermal power project in Vizianagaram district. There are Orissa tribal villages within 10 km of the project site. But the State government deprived those tribals of an opportunity to represent their views at the public hearing held for the project. We raised an objection on this ground at the public hearing, but the authorities concerned ignored the same.
“Strangely, we filed a similar objection before the EAC and MoEF repeatedly but to no avail. The MoEF proceeded to grant Environment Clearance (EC) for the project ignoring this objection,” he wrote in a letter to the Minister on Wednesday.
If the norm applied to Polavaram was to be applied to Komarada, the MoEF should serve a similar show cause notice on the AP government on Komarada and order a review of the EC already given. There could not be one standard for one project and another for a different project, he pointed out.
Incidentally, Komarada symbolised the anti-tribal sentiment of the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh, as the project site is located within the command area of Wanakbadigedda Irrigation Project funded out of the Tribal Sub-Plan Budget of the State.
There could not be anything worse than this from the point of view of propriety of public expenditure. “We raised this issue with documentary evidence before the district authorities, the State authorities, the EAC and before you, without avail,” he said, and alleged that the clearances for these projects were the result of outright collusion between the State authorities and the developer.