Bhubaneswar, July 12
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and direct the Ministry of Environment & Forest and Climate Change to enforce the ‘Stop Work Order’ over the Polavaram Project.
In a letter to Patnaik said the order effective for the period from July 3, 2018 to February 2, 2019 has been kept in abeyance by the Ministry vide its Office Memorandum dated July 10, 2018. He said, “I would earnestly request you to kindly intervene in the matter and give directions to cancel the order dated 10.07.2018 of MoEF & CC and to stop the construction of the Polavaram Project until all the pending issues are finally settled in the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Patnaik said, the construction of embankments requires diversion of forest land and will adversely impact the tribal villages and the tribal population in the Malkangiri District of the State of Odisha.
“The stipulations given for the Forest Clearance by MoEF & CC and for the R&R clearance by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs cannot be complied by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the construction of the embankments in Odisha as per the National Standards following the guidelines and relevant BIS Codes,” the Chief Minister added.
He said he was writing the letter to draw the Prime Minister’s personal attention on the magnitude of the consequences that the people of Odisha will have to face such as submergence of tribal lands, flooding of fertile agricultural lands and mass displacement of villages, all of which can be avoided if only an opportunity is given for a final resolution of the disputes pending before the Supreme Court.
Patnaik said the Polavaram Project can be reformulated as per GWDT award without causing large scale submergence in the States of Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.
“If the project is allowed to be completed before the resolution of all the pending issues, it will cause permanent injury to the interest of the State of Odisha and its people,” he said. He said he was surprised that the stop work order was kept in abeyance despite his categorical request.
“The MoEF & CC vide Office Memorandum dated 23.6.2015 had decided to keep the Stop Work Order in abeyance for one year based on the letter of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh dated 25.04.2015 subject to several conditions. The Office Memorandum of MoEF & CC dated 23.06.2015 had stated that Government of AP earlier assured not to impound the reservoir of the Project till the issue raised by the State of Chhattisgarh end Odisha are resolved. This Ministry re-iterates this and asks Andhra Pradesh Government not to impound the Reservoir without specific permission from this Ministry,” he wrote.
He said, “The Office memorandum of MoEF & CC dated 23.06.2015 also states that, the Government of AP has assured that it would bring about Changes in design and operational parameters of the project in case so warranted as a result of Public hearings in Chhattisgarh and Odisha till such changes would be carried out in consultation with the CWC and the consent of all die States, as stipulated vide agreement dated 02.04.1980 would be obtained. In case of change in design or/and operating parameters may be required to ensure that area falling in the States of Chhattisgarh and Odisha does not come under submergence due to the impounding of the project reservoir”.
In spite of my above mentioned letter, the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change vide its Office Memorandum dated July 10, 2018 has kept the “Stop Work Order” in abeyance for a further period of one year with effect from 03.07.2018 subject to the same terms and conditions as mentioned in the Office Memorandum dated 23.06,2015.
The Chief Minister said that the Stop Work Order is being kept in abeyance on yearly basis — from 03.07.2015 to 02.07.2016, from 03.07.2016 to 02.07.2017, from 03.07.2017 to 02.07.2018 and the latest being from 03.07.2018 to 02.07.2019- thereby allowing the construction of the Polavaram Project without any change in legal and factual position of the Polavaram Project.
“The construction of Polavaram Project is likely to be completed within the period given by MoEF & CC – from 03.07.2018 to 02.07.2019- which will result in impounding of the Polavaram Reservoir, thereby causing submergence in the Malkangiri District of the State of Odisha,” the Chief Minister apprehended.