Odisha’s BJD to hit streets over Polavaram issue

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 11:

Intensifying its protest over the Polavaram project, Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today announced to step up its opposition to the multi-purpose irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh, after the Centre declared it as a national project and announced to bear all expenses towards it.

BJD press meet on Polavaram project.
BJD press meet on Polavaram project.

The BJD today announced its action plan on the controversial issue where it revealed that it would stage a demonstration in front of Raj Bhawan on September 14 to register its protest. The party is slated to submit a memorandum to Governor SC Jamir addressing President Pranab Mukherjee in this regard.

Besides, the members of the regional party would stage demonstrations in front of the Collector’s office on September 20 in seven districts to be affected by the project.

The party threatened to organise hartal in the state on October 1 if Centre doesn’t intervene into the matter by September 20.

On October 1, the party would hold peaceful hartal across the seven Southern Odisha districts— Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Ganjam, Kandhamal and Gajapati.

“Despite the matter being sub judice in the Supreme Court, the Centre has approved the constitution of Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) which is unfortunate. Several villages inhabited mostly by tribals in Malkangiri and Rayagada will be affected. The Biju Janata Dal announces its protest to the anti-Odisha announcement made by the NDA ruled government at the Centre,” BJD spokesperson Suryanarayan Patro said in a press conference held here today.

“Biju Janata Dal would stage a dharna and protest rally in front of Raj Bhawan on September 14 against the Union government’s unilateral decision. It will intensify its protest if Centre doesn’t address the concerns,” president of the Biju Yuva Janata Dal (BYJD) Sanjay Das Burma said.

The multi-purpose irrigation project over river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh is opposed by the Odisha government as it fears that around 15 revenue villages in Malkangiri district will be inundated by the construction of the dam. Around 6818 families will be displaced and an estimated over 2000 hectares of land will be inundated by the project.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik yesterday presided over a meeting of senior BJD leaders at the Naveen Nivas here to chalk out party’s strategy on the issue.

Earlier on Friday, the state government rejected Union and Andhra Pradesh governments’ request to hold public hearings in the to-be affected villages in the state citing that the matter is sub judice in the apex court.

Notably, the matter is also pending in the National Green Tribunal. Besides, environmental impact assessment guidelines say public hearing is mandatory before granting clearance to any project. But, Polavaram project got environmental nod in 2005 without any public hearing.

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