Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop construction of Polavaram irrigation project until all the pending issues are resolved. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister also requested to give directions to the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry to cancel the July order for Polavaram project.
The Ministry has kept the "stop work order" in abeyance from July 3, 2018 for a year citing the assurances given by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that the reservoir of the Polavaram project will not be impounded without the permission of the Ministry.
He also assured that changes in the design parameters will be taken care of based on the results of public hearing. The Ministry has kept the "stop work order" in abeyance from time to time without informing Odisha, said Patnaik.
"In this context, it is not understood how the impounding of reservoir will not take place once the project is completed. Further, it is to mention that it will not be possible to change the design and operating parameters of Polavaram project after the completion of the project," he added.
Patnaik said the Polavaram project can be reformulated as per Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award without causing large-scale submergence in 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," said the Chief Minister.
In July this year, the Odisha government challenged the Central governmentâ€™s decision to give national project status to Polavaram project on river Godavari in the Supreme Court. The apex court then directed the Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments to frame the issues for arguments.
A two-member SC bench comprising of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta passed the order after a petition filed by the Odisha government pointed out 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 mentioned that the project is in violation of the Bachawat Tribunal order. 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.