Naveen Patnaik Asks PM to Halt Andhra's Polavaram Project; Congress Calls It 'Crocodile Tears'
Naveen Patnaik, who returned to power for a record fifth term in May, shot off a two-page letter to PM Narendra Modi on Monday protesting the Centre's permission granted to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh last week to continue construction of the project.
The attempt was monitored by an official adjudicator from GUINNESS WORLD RECORD® in the presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the Centre to immediately stop construction on the Polavaram project in order to ward off “permanent injury” to Odisha was on Tuesday dubbed as “crocodile tears” by the state’s Opposition Congress.
“May it be the Polavaram project or the Mahanadi issue, Naveen Patnaik failed to do at the right time what should have been done. Why is this government deceiving the people by shedding crocodile tears now? The issue of public hearing is a year or two old. Why did the state government not ensure a public hearing?” asked state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik.
“The Naveen Patnaik government is not serious about safeguarding the interests of Odisha’s people. These letters he is writing to the prime minister are only for getting publicity in the media,” added the opposition leader.
Patnaik, who returned to power for a record fifth term in May, shot off a two-page letter to Modi on Monday protesting the Centre's permission granted to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh last week to continue construction of the project.
The Polavaram project on the Godavari, if it is not stopped forthwith, will cause "permanent injury" to the interests of Odisha, especially "immense adverse impact" on the tribal district of Malkangiri, wrote Patnaik. “If the project is allowed to be completed before the resolution of all the pending issues, it will cause permanent injury to the interests of the state of Odisha and its people,” he said.
“The submergence of tribal villages resulting in mass displacement of primitive tribals, flooding of fertile agricultural land, and submergence of large extent of forest area would be the irreversible consequences,” Patnaik added.
Such negative consequences can be avoided, he said, if an opportunity is given for a final resolution of the dispute pending before the Supreme Court. “The Polavaram project can be reformulated as per the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award without causing large-scale submergence in the states of Odisha, Telengana and Chhattisgarh,” he suggested.
Patnaik has written to the Centre on the issue on five occasions since 2015.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) had issued a 'Stop Work Order' on the project to the Andhra Pradesh government in 2011. But at the request of the then Andhra chief minister, the ministry first placed the order in abeyance for six months in February 2013 and then extended it for another six months in January 2014.
Since then, the order has been kept in abeyance on a yearly basis — from July 2015 to July 2016, from July 2016 to July 2017, from July 2017 to July 2018 and July 2018 to July 2019. The order has now been placed in abeyance for two more years, up to July 2021.
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