BHUBANESWAR: The Assembly Committee on Polavaram has decided to seek an appointment for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the construction of the dam by Andhra Pradesh without conducting a public hearing on Odisha side where large area in Malkangiri district will be submerged because of the project. The committee headed by Speaker Niranjan Pujari, which met on Thursday, decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard within three days. “The Committee has decided to request for an appointment with the Prime Minister on any date till January 20 to take up the issue,” Minister of State for Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Sanjay Dasburma, a member of the Committee, told mediapersons after the meeting. The Secretary in the Water Resources Department has also been asked to prepare a fresh memorandum, in view of the changed circumstances, to be submitted to the Prime Minister.
According to the latest information with the Water Resources Department, 15 villages and 10 hamlets under Motu tehsil in Malkangiri district will be submerged because of the project. A total of 6817 persons including 5916 tribals will be displaced. Besides, the project will submerge 7656 hectares including 5538 hectares reserve forest on Odisha side. The Centre had relaxed the stop work order on the project by one year with nine conditions. One of the conditions was that the Andhra Pradesh Government will have to ensure public hearing in Odisha and Chhattisgarh on the dam project and inform the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) about the outcome. Union Minister for Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar had written to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in this regard on July 5, 2015.
Senior BJD leader Amar Prasad Satpathy and Congress whip in the Assembly Taraprasad Bahinipati said the Committee will oppose the national project status given to Polavaram by the Centre. The Assembly Committee had sought an appointment from the Prime Minister and also visited the site last year. However, the issue was not taken up for different reasons. However, BJD members in the Assembly raised the issue again after the Centre started releasing funds for the project. Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha on Monday, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said the Centre has released `345 crore for the project till September- end this year.