Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday opposed the Andhra Pradesh government’s process for tender for construction of Polavaram project and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention on the issue.
“I understood from media reports that the Andhra Pradesh government has called for tenders for the construction of Polavaram project and these are in the final stage of processing. If the media reports are true, this is extremely unfortunate,” Patnaik said in a letter to Singh on Tuesday.
The tenders for the project were opened on Friday by the Andhra Pradesh government.
Claiming that the formulation of the project is in complete violation of the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal award, Patnaik said the Odisha government had move the Supreme Court in 2007 against construction of the project, urging it to declare the environmental clearance and rehabilitation and resettlement clearance as null and void.
“The project will result in large scale submergence in Malkangiri, a tribal district affected by left wing extremism. The proposal of the Andhra Pradesh government to have embankments is not a sound proposition and cannot be treated as a measure to contain the submergence within the river banks during flood,” Patnaik said.
He added that the construction of the project, for which no public hearing had been conducted in Malkangiri so far, would adversely affect the forestland and habitations of tribal people due to submergence likely to be caused by the project. Apart of Odisha, neighbouring Chhatisgarh has also moved court against the project.
First envisaged by the British in 1941, the Polavaram project – supposed to be south India’s biggest dam project – aims to construct a dam on the Godavari river and divert large quantities of water through a 174-km link canal to the Krishna river.
Inordinate delay in execution of the project has led to steep escalation of project cost from about Rs. 12,000 crore to over Rs. 18,000 crore now.
More than 300 villages will be submerged (277 within Andhra Pradesh) and 1.7 lakh to 2 lakh people will be displaced due to the project. The reservoir would swallow a total of 3.731 hectares of lush forest land. On the other hand, an Odisha government estimate claims, the project is likely to submerge 2119.38 hectare of land in Naxal affected tribal areas of Malkangiri, about 700 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.