Is centre trying to shelve the Polavaram project on the pretext of resolving the interstate disputes. Signals from the government indicate that Centre is not keen on taking up the project on fast track mode. While chief minister Naidu announces day in and day out that the project would be completed by 2018, a year before the next general election, Center, the executing authority of the project, wants the interstate disputes resolved first.
Two days ago, Odisha MPs staged a dharna in the parliament against the Polavaram project. CPI of Odisha state has been organizing the tribal people from Malkangiri against the project. So, the centre doesn’t seem to antagonize the Odisha state by taking up the construction ignoring the opposition from Odisha. Giving Odisha twist to the Polavaram project, union water resources minister Uma Bharati has reportedly asked the state government to address the concerns of the tribal people from the habitations expected to be submerged in the polavaram project in Odisha. She is said to have advised chief minister Naidu, when the latter met her, to resolve the issue through negotiations with his Odisha counterpart. Instead of taking initiative to resolve the interstate disputes itself, the centre is now throwing the ball into the court of states, pushing the project back to square.
In fact, Naidu, personally toured the states of Chhatishgarh and Odisha hiring a special flight, to call on the respective chief ministers, Raman Singh and Naveen Patnaik, to persuade them to agree for the construction of the project. Nothing came out of these one-on-one talks.
Now, Uma Bharathi’s advise to Naidu to continue the discussion with Odisha meant that the centre was not in a mood to complete the project by 2018. If the project is delayed, it would be a serious embarrassment to Naidu because, he demanded national project status to Polavaram with the hope that centre would take care of the interstate disputes and clear the way for the construction of the project as per schedule. It was the argument he put forth when the state government took up the Pattiseema Project with Rs 1500 crore unmindful of criticism of foul play in the awarding contract with bonus money. Any delay in the Polavaram project on the pretext of interstate dispute would defeat the very purpose getting a tag of national project status.
Addressing media in New Delhi, a day after the staging of dharna by Odisha MPs, Umbharati said the matter of submergence of tribal habitations in Odisha was a sensitive issue.
She suggested that the chief ministers of the two state resolve the matter amicably. While appreciating chief minister Naidu for his good job she said,,” Naidu should also need to look into the concerns of tribal people of Odisha, who are facing the threat of evacuation due to the project.”