The environment ministry has sent a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government asking why the clearance given earlier for the R11,000 crore Polavaram dam project should not be withdrawn since key conditions on which it was granted had been violated.
The notice maintains Andhra had started dam construction without holding public hearings in the neighbouring states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh — which will also be affected to a small extent by the dam — as it was required to.
Polavaram on the Godavari river will, if built, be southern India’s biggest dam, providing irrigation to one-fourth of the state and drinking water to 25 lakh people across four districts. But from the start it has been shrouded in controversy for alleged violation of environment norms.
“Public hearing to ascertain views of the people who’ll be affected has been undertaken in two states,” said S. Bhowmik, additional director in the ministry in a letter to Shailendra
Kumar Joshi, Andhra Pradesh’s principal secretary (irrigation projects). The notice sets a deadline of 10 days for an explanation for the lapse. Read: If Polavaram dam is built
The dam has provoked much anger in neighbouring Orissa. It was because no hearings were conducted that the Orissa government contemplated moving the Supreme Court against the environment ministry clearing forest approval for the project in August 2010 and starting an agitation against Congress in tribal areas close to Andhra border.
Citing another violation, the environment ministry accused the state government of failing to get the environment clearance granted in 2005 amended after the Central Water Commission in 2009 put a condition that embankments will have to be build to prevent submergence of land in the neighbouring states.