The Centre has assured the Odisha government that it will convene a meeting of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh officials to resolve the pending issues between the two states over the controversial Polavaram project.

The assurance was given by Union water resources minister Harish Rawat to chief minister Naveen Patnaik who met him in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Union ministry will convene a meeting of the secretaries of the two states under the chairmanship of secretary, water resources, at the earliest to resolve the issues, Rawat said.

Patnaik referred to various news reports on the finalisaton of tenders for Polavaram works by Andhra Pradesh government.

Work is continuing despite the fact that the matter is subjudice and the ministry of environment and forests issued ‘stop work’ order for the project, he said.

Naveen demanded that the Centre should not allow execution of the project untill the conflicting issues are resolved through mutual consultation. A number of critical issues related to the project, including reservoir operation schedule, placement of embankments, submersion of forest land, displacement of tribal population and incorrect back water computation are pending to be resolved, he said.

Naveen also informed Rawat that a substantial amount of Central assistance for 2012-13 under different programmes, including the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Command Area Development and Water Management Programme and Repair, Renovation and Restoration Scheme has not been released.

These proposals are pending despite recommendation by the regional office of the Central Water Commission (CWC). He requested that the 440 projects under repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies scheme sanctioned in April 2010 be approved.

The chief minister said a number of reasons, including law and order problems in Maoist-affected areas and delay in forest and environment clearances have adversely affected the execution of 11 major and medium irrigation projects. He requested that the time limit for completion of these projects be extended.

The Union minister said his ministry is pursuing with the ministry of finance to release funds for Kanupur and Anandapur barrage projects. Rawat also assured Patnaik that he will recommend release of funds for Upper Indravati, Telengiri and Subarnarekha projects.

For Ret project, the Union ministry has sought investment clearance from the Planning Commission, he said.

Referring to the delay in completion of projects in Maoist-affected areas, Rawat said the Union finance ministry has recently issued restrictive guidelines for extension of projects under the AIBP.

He said the state should submit a detailed proposal seeking extension of time for 11 ongoing major and medium projects, specifying the reasons for delay, to enable the Union ministry to recommend extension in relaxation of the recent guidelines.

Courtesy: The Indian Express