Four months after issuing a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government on south India’s biggest dam project, Polavaram, environment minister Jairam Ramesh wants the height of the dam to be reduced. He seeks to end confrontation between Andhra and its two of its neighbouring states — Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
The state government has decided to retain the 150-ft height for the dam of the Polavaram project, which many believe can lead to submergence of villages in naxal-struck Malkangiri in Orissa and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.
The decision taken on recommendation of a nine-member committee by Preetam Singh, former chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC), has irked the two state governments, who alleged they were not consulted before deciding to increase the height by about 60 meters.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh in a letter to Ramesh had complained that increasing the height would lead to submergence of large areas in Dantewada as opposed to the environment clearance condition that only four villages will be affected.
The four-page letter also says that Chhattisgarh was not consulted before the decision and that such suo motu decision can complicate the naxal problem in the state. Orissa has also lodged a similar complaint.
Public hearing is required, in 12 villages in the two states, as per the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) rules.
Although Ramesh told Rajya Sabha on Friday that the dam was accorded clearance in July 2010 with conditions but admitted that as per his understanding the three states had agreed to increase the height.
Ramesh said, “I will soon call a meeting of the three states to sort out the issue…To me, the solution is reducing the height of the project.”