Odisha govt asks plan panel to put Andhra dam on hold

Strongly opposing the construction of Polavaram dam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Odisha government on Saturday asked the Planning Commission not to grant revised investment clearance to the controversial multi-purpose project.

“As the matter is sub judice in the apex court, it will be prudent to wait till the judgement is given as the project parameter and estimates may change,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Stating that the Odisha government has filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the Union ministry of environment and forest’s environmental clearance, Patnaik pointed out that the state administration also opposed to the R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) clearance accorded by the tribal affairs ministry.

Null and void

“The state government has prayed before the apex court to declare both the clearance null and void,” said Patnaik.

He said no public hearing was conducted in the affected Malkangiri district of Odisha.
“Instead, public hearing was conducted in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh,” he said, adding that the environmental clearance granted by the MoEF in favour of Polavaram project was set aside by the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA).

The NEAA also directed to conduct a public hearing in the affected areas of Odisha and Chhattishgarh, Patnaik wrote.

However, the orders of NEAA were challenged by the Andhra Pradesh government in the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The AP High Court had issued an interim order on December 31, 2007 suspending the orders of the NEAA until further notice.

The state pollution control board and the forest and environment department of Odisha have filed a detailed counter before the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

Odisha had also filed a transfer petition before the Supreme Court to transfer the writ petition pending in the Andhra Pradesh High Court to the apex court.

The Supreme Court has accepted the transfer petition of Odisha and Chhattishgarh, Patnaik wrote.

The state government has been all along claiming that a large portion of Malkangiri district will be submerged if the Polavaram project was allowed in the neighbouring state.

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