| Naveen Patnaik and (below) Niranjan Patnaik
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 17: The Odisha government today found “unexpected support” from its political foe Congress on the issue of opposing Andhra Pradesh government’s move to set up the controversial Polavaram project.
The state executive committee of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) today joined hands with the government in opposing the Andhra Pradesh government’s efforts to start the project. In a resolution passed today, the Congress said as a case was pending in the Supreme Court, it would not be wise on the part of Andhra Pradesh to go ahead with floating tenders for the project.
The Congress has also made it clear that its leaders had met the party’s central leaders on the issue and protested against Andhra Pradesh’s move. “The Odisha government should call an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. For the greater interest of the state, we have decided to extend our support to the government on this issue,” said PCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
On July 24, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop Andhra Pradesh from floating tenders for the multi-purpose project over the Godavari river as a case was pending in the Supreme Court. In that letter to the Prime Minister, Naveen had also said that he had already written to the government of India to withdraw the technical and final forest clearances to the project.
The chief minister said that the project would adversely affect forestland and tribal habitations in Malkangiri district where no public hearing on the issue had been conducted so far.
Andhra Pradesh officials say that only eight villages are likely to be submerged in Odisha by the Indira Sagar Polavaram Project while Odisha can lift about five TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water from the pondage of the dam.
The Congress also expressed serious concern over the artificial shortage of fertilisers and said that though the Centre had supplied enough fertilisers to the state, it had failed to reach the doorsteps of the farmers because of the state’s faulty distribution policy.
The Congress also demanded that the state government should bring a new law on Odisha Lokayaukta in the coming Assembly session.