Orissa won't allow dam at Polavaram

By Ranjan Panda
Published: Friday 15 September 2006

on august 7, 2006, the Orissa state legislative assembly unanimously resolved to oppose the Andhra Pradesh government's decision to dam the Godavari river at Polavaram.Replying to a discussion on the resolution, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the proposed project on Godavari river will submerge a substantial area of tribal-dominated Malkangiri district in Orissa.He expressed surprise over the environmental clearance granted by the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) saying it was done in a "surprisingly short time", which raised several "doubts".He also said that the government had been opposing it for several genuine reasons. The gram sabha had not been consulted either.

Orissa has blamed the Andhra government for violating all statutory and environmental laws.Bibhu Prasad Tripathy, a lawyer who filed petitions in the Orissa High Court, has got a stay order in his favour.

"No public hearing was done before this clearance was given," he said. Bonei mla Laxman Munda who is also the president of Adivasi Mahasangha, too has challenged the environmental clearance granted by the moef.

According to him,"While granting such clearance, statutory norms and legal procedures were not followed". Based on his petition, the Orissa High Court has granted four weeks time to the moef and has stayed any activity in Orissa's territory.

Patnaik was also surprised as to how the Andhra government had even asked for permission to divert about 102 hectares of forest, and called it a direct contravention of the Forest Conservation Rules, 2003.

He informed the house about the government's move to apprise the Centrally Empowered Committee and the Supreme Court in this regard and said that in response to a petition, the Orissa High Court has asked Andhra Pradesh not to cause any submergence in Orissa.

The chief minister also met the Union minister for environment and forests on July 12 to express his dissatisfaction and discontent over the issue. "It's not just about the 6,000 tribal people in the Malkangiri district who will be displaced, the dam will submerge several villages," he said.

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