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Is MoEF serious about action against Polavaram? నవంబర్ 6, 2010

Posted by Telangana Utsav in Bhadrachalam, corruption, Culture, Koya, livelihoods, Polavaram, politics.
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Jairam’s ministry after Polavaram project now
The Economic Times, 2 November 2010

NEW DELHI: The environment ministry has sought an explanation from the Andhra Pradesh government for beginning work on the on the Polavaram irrigation project without complete environmental clearance. The ministry has asked Andhra why a public hearing on the project has not been held despite repeated reminders stretching over a year-and-a-half. The notice asks the state government to explain why a formal show-cause should not be issued.

The Polavaram irrigation project was given environmental clearance in October 2005. The project was subsequently referred to the ministry by the Central Water Commission in January, 2009, before it was taken up for consideration by the technical committee of the commission.

At that time, the proposal included construction of bunds and embankments on River Saberi and River Sileru to avoid submergence in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The embankments were not part of the proposal cleared by the appraisal committee of the environment ministry. As a result, the expert appraisal committee took up the amended proposal for consideration in February, 2009.

The expert appraisal committee recommended that the Andhra Pradesh irrigation department undertake a public hearing in Chhattisgarh and Orissa. This was conveyed to the Andhra government in March 2009. However, the state government is yet to hold a public hearing in either state despite repeated reminders. The ministry has said that “construction related to the dam is continuing without getting the environmental clearance amended for additional components like construction of embankments, drainage sluices.”

The notice issued on November 1, gives the state government up to 10 days to explain why a formal show-cause notice should not be issued “as work on the project is continuing without environmental clearance amended for additional components.” In its response, the state government has also been asked to submit a status report on the construction of the dam and related works.

The project was granted forest clearance on July 28. A condition of this clearance was to ensure that no land is submerged in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Following forest clearance, environment minister Jairam Ramesh had written to the Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik assuring him that the technical guidance provided by the Central Water Commission will ensure that no submergence or displacement takes place; neither will there be any changes in drainage pattern.

More importantly that the clearance is conditional on the Polavaram project being implemented strictly on lines of the technical clearance given by the CWC and the provisions/decisions of interstate agreement and Godavari water tribunal (GWT) award of 1980.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Jairams-ministry-after-Polavaram-project-now/articleshow/6856341.cms

Jairam takes informal action against Polavaram
Priscilla Jebaraj, The Hindu, NEW DELHI, November 2, 2010

Facing criticism that it is playing politics with green clearances, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, led by Jairam Ramesh, has initiated informal action against the Rs. 9,000 crore Indira Sagar dam and irrigation project in Polavaram.

On Monday, MoEF sent a letter to the Andhra Pradesh government asking why a public hearing has not been held in the neighbouring States of Orissa and Chhattisgarh where submergence could take place. The project has also failed to obtain an environmental clearance for embankments, drainage sluices, pumps and other components added after the original clearance was granted. These additions are mostly intended to prevent the submergence in the neighbouring States.

Widespread charges

There have been widespread allegations that Mr. Ramesh’s “activist” stance on strictly implementing environmental laws is designed to throttle major projects in non-Congress ruled States.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been especially vocal after the Vedanta and Posco projects ran into green obstacles, even while the Polavaram project got a nod, despite concerns about submergence of forests and tribal land. Not only is Andhra Pradesh ruled by a Congress government, but it is also the State that Mr. Ramesh represents in Parliament.

Letter to A.P.

MoEF has now written to the Andhra Pradesh irrigation Department, asking why no public hearing has been held in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, despite written directions over one-and-a-half years ago in March 2009. It has also been asked why a formal show-cause should not be issued against the project for the lack of a clearance for the additional components.

The State government has been given ten days to submit its reply.

source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/andhra-pradesh/article863706.ece

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