Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Monday intensified its protest against the construction of the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Thousands of BJD workers and leaders, including legislators and ministers, attended a massive rally and gathering organised by the party at Motu town in the state’s Malkangiri district, about 600 km from here, and demanded immediate scrapping of the project.
“The project is anti-Odisha. The Andhra Pradesh government is continuing with the project work even though the matter is still pending at the Supreme Court,” senior BJD leader and School and Mass Education Minister Rabi Narayan Nanda said.
He also accused the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, led by the Congress, of pushing the project against the interest of the state.
“The project must be scrapped,” Nanda said.
The Congress party, on the other hand, accused BJD of organising the meeting and rallies to derive political mileage.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister had written to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for a discussion on the matter.
The chief minister, however, did not respond, said senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh.
Singh said his party has been asking Patnaik to convene an all-party meeting to look into the matter but did not find any positive response.
The project, to be built on Godavari river, became controversial after Chhattisgarh and Odisha opposed it, claiming that their bordering areas would get submerged and leave thousands of people displaced.
The Odisha government has been claiming that large number of villages of its Malkangiri district would be hit by the project.
The central environment ministry gave Andhra Pradesh the final clearance for diversion of 3,731.07 hectares of forest land two years ago for the project, despite protests from both neighbouring states.
The central authority said they cleared it on the condition that no submergence of forest land should take place in both the states. Odisha has petitioned the apex court against it.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in July raised the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the reported floating of a tender by the government of Andhra Pradesh for the construction of the project.