Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday reiterated the demand that the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh should not be declared a national project and its construction work should be stopped immediately until all the pending issues with Odisha are resolved.

“Since the construction of the project has been challenged in the Supreme Court and technical issues which have bearing on the submergence in Odisha are yet to be sorted out, it is my earnest request not to declare the Polavaram project a national project,” the Chief Minister said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Stating that he was shocked and surprised to know from media reports that the Centre is likely to declare Polavaram project a national project, Naveen said many technical issues on design, reservoir operation schedule, adherence to Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award having a bearing on backwater effect and the extent of submergence in Odisha are yet to be resolved.

A flood of 36 lakh cusecs was considered in GWDT award, considering the flood moderation from the proposed upstream major projects, Naveen said and added that in 1979, the Central Water Commission (CWC) considered the Polavaram as a barrage for flood purpose. Stating that the CWC revised the flood capacity to 50 lakh cusecs, he alleged that while considering the flood design for the project, CWC and Andhra Pradesh violated the norms.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) had given clearance to the project with the stipulation that there should not be any submergence of forest land and displacement of people including scheduled tribes in Odisha. The MoTA had suggested embankments to avoid submergence in Odisha which was objected by the latter on technical grounds.The Chief Minister said if the Andhra Pradesh government plans the embankments following the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) codes, there will be increased submergence with more displacement in tribal areas.

Besides, the State Government has filed a suit in the Supreme Court on October 9, 2007 for issuing direction to the Andhra Pradesh Government not to proceed with the construction of Polavaram project and declare the clearance given by MoEF and MoTA as null and void, Naveen said.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express