The central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that there was no need to conduct a fresh study on the Polavaram project coming up in Andhra Pradesh, stating that existing studies from 2011 were sufficient. The Centre was filing a response to a petition filed by the Odisha government, seeking a stay on the multipurpose irrigation project on the Godavari river.
Hearing the case, a bench comprising of Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta said that a final hearing would take place on November 15.
The Odisha government claimed that the project would submerge close to 600 habitations in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana, and also submerge about 8,000 acres of forest land and 500 acres of wildlife sanctuary.
The Odisha government had in their petition contended that there was a need to cancel the permissions granted to the project to ensure that there was no damage to Odisha, they said, and further added that according National project status to Polavaram was not correct.
The state also argued that the project’s environment clearance was cancelled by the National Environment Appellate Authority in 2007, but the AP High Court had stayed it as an interim measure. The Ministry of Environment and Forests had also given a direction to stop the construction work of the project on February 8, 2011, but had later kept its own order in abeyance, the petition added.
Just last month, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which said that the completion of the project by the set target date of 2019 ‘appeared improbable’ had triggered off a political row in the state.
Responding to the observations made in the CAG report, state Water Resources Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao assured reporters that the government will finish the project by June next year.
Defending the delay in project execution, the Minister said that the state government had an uphill task of reviving a project that was in limbo for one and half years.