BHUBANESWAR: A day after Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti made confusing statements over Polavaram dam project, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Thursday reiterated that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) should give appointment to the Assembly Committee headed by Speaker Niranjan Pujari to have a clear picture on Odisha’s stand.
The Union Minister’s statements have created more confusion over the project rather than solving it, former minister and BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said and added that the Centre has little concern for Odisha. “Why did the Centre declare Polavaram as a national project when cases filed by Odisha Government are pending in Supreme Court?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the Congress has criticised both the BJD and BJP on the issue. The Union Minister said one thing at Sambalpur and changed her version after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said.
After meeting the Chief Minister on Wednesday evening, Bharti said the Centre will stop financial assistance for Polavaram project if Andhra Pradesh Government violates the agreement with its Odisha counterpart signed in 1980 basing on the award of Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT).
She said the Centre will soon convene an official level meeting to discuss pending issues between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha governments on the project. The Centre will not allow deviation from the award of GWDT including raising the height of the dam by Andhra Pradesh Government, she said.
Bharti, however, said the State Government is yet to give its opinion on the recommendations of Gopalkrishnan Committee set up by the Supreme Court. The State Government has not replied to queries including proposed changes in rehabilitation and resettlement policies and on the location of the dam to reduce submergence.
However, at Sambalpur, she told mediapersons that the Centre has little role in resolving the dispute arising out of the multi-purpose irrigation Polavaram project which has been accorded National Project status by the Central Government.
The BJD’s demand for stopping the project work till a judgment of the Supreme Court continues even as Opposition Congress members, who had resigned from the Assembly Committee, are yet to take back resignation. The BJP members had also announced not to cooperate with the Committee alleging politicisation of the issue by the BJD.
A delegation of BJD MPs had also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 17 to request his intervention to stop unilateral construction of the project by Andhra Pradesh Government and withdraw the national project status given to it. The BJD had called for hartal in South Odisha districts on January 8 in support of its demand.