The SC bench, led by Justice Madan B Lokur, also said the project will only move forward after the public hearings are held
The Supreme Court, hearing a petition on the status of Polavaram multi-purpose project, ordered the Centre on November 29 to hold a public hearing in the project affected area in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The Centre replied saying it was ready to appoint an independent agency to conduct the same.
The SC bench, led by Justice Madan B. Lokur, also said that the project will only move forward after the public hearings are held. The court was hearing a petition filed by the non-profit Readiness for Empowerment through Legitimate Action (RELA) and the Odisha government.
Read here Down To Earth's analysis on why the Polavaram is a pointless project
“On Odisha and RELA’s petition, the apex court questioned and also took the issue of lack of public hearings seriously and directed Centre to submit an affidavit by Saturday. The Centre, however, informed the court that both Odisha and Chhattisgarh are not cooperating,” RELA advocate, Shravan Kumar told the media. "The government of Odisha is also anticipating an impact due to change in the design of the Polavaram project. The apex court is likely to come up with a direction on the matter in the next hearing scheduled to be held on Monday,” added Kumar.
The Centre has to file the details about the public meeting on Saturday and the court will pass an order on Monday.
“The conducting of public hearing will be beneficial as the people in the tribal areas that are getting submerged will get to raise their concerns and they will be heard,” said Kondari Ramesh Babu of RELA. He also said that there are more than 20,000 claims under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in the project affected states. “The government has not cleared these claims as then it’ll have to pay compensation for the land,” Babu says.
The Polavaram project was accorded national status in 2014 in the Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation Act and its design was changed. The petitioner had told the court that since the dam design has been changed and new components were added, it’d require a new environmental clearance.
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