**Bhubaneswar:** While the Central Government has asked Odisha Government to hold public hearing in the Polavaram Project-affected villages of Malkangiri district, Odisha is now against such a move as the case is sub judice in the Supreme Court and without any prior permission of the apex court it is not possible.
Talking to media on Friday, Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra said, “When the Centre has given all clearances, there is no need of any public hearing. As per the guidelines of the Environmental Impact Assessment since 1994, public hearing is mandatory in the scheduled areas before according environmental or Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA) clearance. While the Centre has accorded environmental clearance in 2005 and MOTA clearance in 2007 without having any public hearing in Odisha, the Centre perhaps intend to regularise it now. As the case is pending before the Supreme Court filed by both the neighbouring States of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, without the Court’s permission public hearing is not possible which Odisha Government has already apprised the Centre as well as the Andra Pradesh Government”.
BJD spokesperson Prasant Nanda said, “When the verdict of the case by the Supreme Court is yet to be pronounced on the Polavaram issue, it’s very unfortunate on the part of the Centre to announce that the Centre would bear all expenses for the construction of the Polavaram project. It vindicates our party’s reiteration against the Centre’s neglect towards Odisha”.
On the other hand, senior BJP leader Pratap Sarangi said, “Instead of behaving like a government and taking sincere efforts, ruling BJD is taking improper stand on the prime interests of Odisha, may it be Polavaram or Mahanadi”.