President of Protest Against Polavaram Project (PAPP) committee Pravakar Hantal on Friday alleged that the Indira Sagar Polavaram project violates Forest Rights Act and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 as it does not have the approval of gram sabhas of hundreds of villages that would be submerged in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh if the project comes up.
PAPP, an inter-State committee consisting of various tribal organisations of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha organised a protest meeting at Chintur mandalam in Khamam district of Andhra Pradesh on Friday. Hantal criticised the Central Government for remaining a mute spectator to the progress of the project which will affect tribals of three States.
The project will wipe out many primitive tribal groups besides destroying the habitat of lakhs of tribals and forest resources. “The environment clearance given for Polavaram is not valid as there have been fundamental changes in the design of the project.” The project work was started without prior environment clearance making it mandatory for the Environment Ministry to treat the clearance, if any, as invalid, he said.
“Even though the project is yet to come up, recently about 160 villages to be affected by it, particularly in Motu tehsil of the district, were submerged by incessant rain. The situation can be well imagined once the project comes up,” he said.
Besides affecting more than 600 villages, the project will submerge 436-year-old Sriram temple at Bhadranchal. The dam is likely to cause massive destruction downstream, particularly in Malkangiri district, the PAPP president warned.
Over 5,000 people including students from the three states attended the meeting. Among others, PAPP secretary S Venkat Raman, joint secretary AD Devjanam, Puylli Waraya, vice-presidet Sodi Murali and social activists were present.