Orissa demands withdrawal of forest clearance to Pollavaram project

"We have lodged a complaint with Union Environment and Forest Ministry to protest the forest clearance to Pollavaram project," Orissa's water resource development secretary S C Mohapatra said.

"About 2,000 families, mostly tribals living in Maoist-hit Malkangiri district, will be affected if the irrigation project comes up in Andhra Pradesh," he said.

Neither any "Garm Sabha" was held nor Orissa government's opposition to the project was taken into consideration before giving forest clearance to Pollavaram irrigation project, Mohapatra said.

Orissa government also questioned the manner in which forest ministry gave clearance to Pollavaram project when the matter has been sub-judice.In February 2009, Orissa government had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Andhra government's decision to set up an irrigation project at Pollavaram.

Besides submerging a large chunk of forest and agricultural land in Orissa, the project will leave many tribal families homeless, they had argued.Last year, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh had also apprised about the resentment over Pollavaram project.

"Forest clearance to Pollavaram project is a clear violation of law of the land," the water resource development secretary told the union environment and forest ministry in the letter.

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