BHUBANESWAR: The NITI Aayog will look into the controversial Polavaram issue afresh following persistent protest from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to the unilateral construction of the dam project by the Andhra Pradesh government.
The NITI Aayog will talk to all the three states, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhatisgarh, before taking a decision in this regard. Sources said that an assurance in this regard was given to a delegation of BJD MPs who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi today.
The Prime Minister is reported to have told the delegation that the Centre will not be a party to the dispute and try to resolve it as early as possible.
The BJD delegation alleged that after the UPA government at the Centre accorded national project status to Polavaram, the NDA government has reimbursed Rs. 345 crore to Andhra Pradesh government. Besides, a provision of `300 crore has been made in supplementary budget in this regard, leader of the BJD parliamentary party in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahatab told this paper.
The BJD MPs raised the issue every day in Parliament during the ongoing session after union minister of state for water resources Sanwar Lal Jat informed members in the Rajya Sabha that the Centre will bear the expenses of the construction of the irrigation project as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The expenses incurred after April 1 last year will be borne by the Centre, he had said and added that so far `345 crore has been released for the project.
The Polavaram project, according to Odisha government, would inundate 7756 hectares of land in 15 revenue villages and 10 hamlets of Motu block in Malkangiri district and as many as 6818 people including 5916 tribals would be displaced.
The delegation of MPs also demanded Rs. 2200 crore drought assistance from the Centre. Besides, the MPs requested the Prime Minister to take steps for increasing the refinance limit of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) by `1300 crore. Mahatab said the MPs sought a long term solution for drought in Western Odisha districts.
The delegation also requested the Prime Minister to take steps for conferring Bharat Ratna on former chief minister of Odisha and freedom fighter Biju Patnaik. A motion in this regard was passed in the winter session of the assembly which concluded on Wednesday.