Bhubaneswar, Sept. 16: An Assembly committee is believed to be unanimous in its view that the proposed Sindol hydro-power project over the Mahanadi river system in western Orissa should be shelved.
The committee, headed by speaker Pradeep Amat, only has members from the ruling Biju Janata Dal because the Opposition Congress and Bharaitya Janata Party had refused to be part of the committee saying the project was “anti-people” and that the government should scrap it.
The project envisions a 320 MW power project in the Mahanadi river basin in collaboration with the National Hydro Power Corporation. Three power plants are to come up in Sonepur, Baudh and Sambalpur districts. The July 21 decision of the government had met with stiff resistance from people of the three districts. People of western Orissa have observed bandhs and threatened of further agitation over the contentious project.
Though the government had made it clear that it would not go ahead “without eliciting public opinion”, the Assembly, during the Monsoon session, had constituted an all-member House committee comprising mostly members from western Orissa. Amat, health minister Prasanna Acharya and food and civil supplies minister Niranjan Pujari are part of the committee.
Political circles feel that the ruling party has made the volte face on the issue in view of the forthcoming panchayat elections to be held in the first quarter of next year. Besides, the government had never expected the local residents to put up of resistance of this magnitude.
The House committee today met and decided to recommend to the state government not to go ahead with the project “in view of the public outcry”, said MLA Padmanabha Behera. “We have already voiced our concern on the issue before the chief minister. The government has assured to stall the project if the people continue to oppose it,” he added. The speaker was guarded in his remarks about the outcome of the deliberations: “Wait till the next Assembly session. We will place the report in the Assembly following the rules and regulations.”
Acharya said: “We have placed the sentiments of the local people before the House committee. The House committee’s report will reflect the people’s concern.”