We will reply to green ministry on Polavaram project: Rosaiah

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

HYDERABAD - Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah Tuesday said the state would send an appropriate reply to the union environment and forests ministry which has sought an explanation for starting work on the controversial Polavaram irrigation project.

The ministry questioned the government for beginning the work without holding public hearing in the neighbouring states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

The chief minister, who is visiting New Delhi, held a teleconference with Chief Secretary S.V. Prasad and other top officials to review the situation in view of the clarification sought by the ministry.

The ministry asked the government to reply within 10 days why a public hearing on the project has not been held despite repeated reminders in the last one-and-a-half year.

Andhra Pradesh has also been asked to give details of the construction status of the dam across Godavari river, which was given environmental clearance in 2005.

In a letter written Monday, the ministry asked the state government to explain why a formal showcause notice should not be issued to it.

“Why a showcause notice should not be issued formally under section 5 of the Environment Protection Act as work on the project is continuing without getting the environment clearance amended for additional components like construction of embankments, drainage sluices and pumping arrangements,” it said.

The Rs.12,000 crore Polavaram project was referred to the Central Water Commission (CWC) in January 2009. The commission said embankments will have to be built on Saberi river and Sileru river to prevent villages in the neighbouring states from getting submerged.

Both Orissa and Chhattisgarh have been opposing the project and demanding that the central government should withdraw environmental clearance given to it.

Following the CWC’s report, the expert appraisal committee of the environment ministry asked the state in March last year to get the dam’s environmental clearance amended.

It also recommended that the Andhra Pradesh irrigation department undertake a public hearing in Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

Despite repeated reminders, the Andhra Pradesh government failed to conduct public hearing in tribal villages of the neighbouring states which are threatened by the dam.

The Andhra Pradesh government has been requesting the central government to declare Polavaram a national project.

Polavaram, if built, will be south India’s biggest dam, providing irrigation to 7.19 lakh acres of land in East Godavari, West Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Krishna districts

The dam, to be built to a height of 150 feet, will provide drinking water to 25 lakh people in the four districts. It is also expected to generate 960 MW of electricity.

Filed under: Environment

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