New Delhi: BJD Rajya Sabha member Sasmit Patra in Parliament on Friday demanded a complete halt to the construction of Polavaram project till the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the matter.
Raising the issue in the Upper House through a special mention, Patra said allowing construction activity to continue will result in permanent damage to Odisha, submergence of agriculture land, forest area and destruction of 6000 tribal habitats. The project threatens the livelihood of 6,818 people, including 5,916 tribals in Motu tehsil of Odisha’s Malkangiri district.
He suggested reformulation of the project in accordance with Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal award to avoid large-scale submergence in Motu tehsil.
The project was cleared in 2005 without a public hearing, though a ‘stop work order’ was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest in 2011. Surprisingly, the order has been kept in abeyance from 2014 to 2021 through repeated extensions, Patra said.
He said the project work is continuing despite letters sent by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the Centre in 2015, 2017, 2018 and most recently on July 1, 2019, requesting a stop to the work pending the Apex Court order.
“Stopping of Polavaram construction would ensure that statutory public hearings in Odisha must be done and the interests of Odisha is protected,” he said.