Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik urges PM Narendra Modi to ‘stop work order’ on the Polavaram project

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought the latter’s intervention in the wake of a recent order of the MOEF and CC in which the ‘stop work order’ on the Polavaram project has been kept in abeyance for two years, thereby meaning a go-ahead to the constrictions of the contentious project.

Reiterating his stand that the project would have tremendous adverse socio-environmental impact on lakhs of tribal people in Malkangiri district, Patnaik urged the PM to give immediate direction for a halt in the construction works of the dam till all the pending issues are resolved by the Supreme Court.

“I would like to reiterate that if the construction work on Polavaram Project is not stopped forthwith, it will have immense adverse impact on the people living in the tribal district of Malkangiri in Odisha. The submergence of tribal villages resulting in mass displacement of primitive tribals, flooding of fertile agricultural lands and submergence of large extent of forest area would be of irreversible consequences. All this can be avoided if an opportunity is given for a final resolution of the dispute pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Polavaram Project can be reformulated as per GWDT award without causing large scale submergence in the States of Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. If the project is allowed to be completed before the resolution of all the pending issues, it will cause permanent injury to the interest of the State of Odisha and its people,” said Patnaik.

He reminded the PM that at the request of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the MoEF and CC had kept the “stop work order” in abeyance for a period of six months vide their letter on February 27, 2013. The order was further kept in abeyance for six months by the MoEF and CC in 2014. Thereafter, again the same from July 3, 2015 to July 2, 2016, from July 3, 2016 to July 2, 2017, from July 3, 2017 to July 2, 2018 and from July 3, 2018 to July 2, 2019. And, now, the “stop work order” has been kept in abeyance for a further period of two years by MoEF and CC.

Patnaik said that once the project is completed there shall be impounding of the reservoir and it may not be possible to change the design and operating parameters of the project thereafter. He also mentioned that the public hearing in Odisha has not been carried out till date for the project.

“In the above context, I had addressed a letter to former Minister, MoEF and CC Dr Harsh Vardhan on 02.06.2018, wherein I had requested to stop the construction of Polavaram project. However, an office memorandum was issued on 10th July, 2018 by MoEF and CC vide which the “Stop Work Order” was kept in abeyance for a further period of one year w.e.f. 03.07.2018. Now, the “Stop Work Order” is being kept in abeyance for a further period of two years disregarding the concerns of the State of Odisha,” said Patnaik.