The Supreme Court of India has asked the Union Government to file its response within a month to the petition filed by the Orissa government in connection with the controversial Polavaram project.
The direction was given by the apex court today when the case came up for hearing. The order was given by a two-member bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justice Mukundakam Sharma and Justice A R Dave.
“The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to file its response within a month to the petition filed by us in connection with the Polavaram project”, said Suresh C Mohapatra, secretary (water resources), Orissa government.
Earlier on September 18, the Supreme Court had postponed the hearing as no representative from the Government of India was present. In its petition, the Orissa government had sought quashing of the environmental clearance to the project. The Orissa government had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on September 4, opposing the Centre's decision to give environmental clearance for the project.
The state had first moved the Supreme Court after the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had given its interim approval for the project in 2008.
In its suit, Orissa had sought a declaration that Andhra Pradesh had no right or entitlement to undertake or proceed with the Polavaram project on the Godavari river. It has also stated that embankments were not permanent solutions to effectively contain submergence during floods.
Moreover, the extent of submergence due to design flood (which had been revised to 50 lakh cusecs from the original 36 lakh cusecs by the CWC itself) and the backwater effect along the Sabari and Sileru limbs (flowing through Orissa territory into the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh) had been finalised by the CWC without estimating the flood contributions from these limbs separately by following any rational procedure or acceptable norm, according to the petition filed by the Orissa government.
As per the estimates of the state government, the project was likely to submerge 2119.38 hectares of land in Naxalite-affected tribal areas of Malkangiri .