Hyderabad: The Telangana Political Joint Action Committee convenor, Prof. M. Kodandaram, has demanded that the State government review its decision to construct the Polavaram multi-purpose project, given the large scale opposition to it from various quarters on account of several reasons.
Speaking at a press conference convened under the aegis of the National Alliance of Peoples Movement here on Monday, Prof. Kodandaram said that the construction of Polavaram project would not be possible as long as there were objections to it from the Centre and neighbouring States of Chattisgarh and Odisha. Besides, lakhs of adivasi people, who would be displaced due to this project have to be rehabilitated. “Going by the Forest Rights Act and other Acts concerning the Scheduled Tribes, rights over forest lands should be given to the Adivasis. In contrast, the government has taken away the forest lands to their detriment”, he noted, and demanding stating that it should enable them to cultivate such land by granting “ek sala patta”.
Prof. Kodandaram said that the government should take into consideration the recommendations of the Girglani Commission and the Koneru Ranga Rao Committee regarding granting rights to the adivasis over the forest lands. He said that it was not proper to link the opposition to this project to the Telangana movement as the people spearheading movements for the adivasis as also for the environmental protection were strongly against it.
Stating that they were not against the due share for the Coastal Andhra region in the Godavari waters, he said that it was improper to think that the Polavaram project was the only option to make best use of the river waters.
The president of the Human Rights Forum, Mr Jeevan Kumar, demanded that the Environmental department thoroughly review the project and decide whether it would be feasible to build it, given the ill-factors associated with it like the submergence of about 250 villages and a large chunk of forest cover, displacement of lakhs of adivasis and the opposition to it from the neighbouring States. He also reminded that the Centre accorded environmental clearance to it after setting some 18 pre-conditions. These conditions were mainly pointing to the environmental aspects and the existence of the adivasis, he said and also noted that the vital question was the relocation of about 36,000 hectares of reserve forest area.
The adivasi leader, Mr Sondhu Veeraiah, said that the late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had assured the tribal people while he was in Bhadrachalam on August 31, 2004 that the displaced people would be provided with land falling under the Dummugudem project. But, in fact, no such land was there now to provide it to the tribals. He also noted that the area to be irrigated by the Polavaram project was not 7.2 lakh acres, but only around three lakh acres, and also said that for this recourse would be taken through many other altenatives, instead of such a massive project.
The State convenor, Mr Ramakrishna Raju, social activists, Dr Rukmini Rao and Mr V Gandhi Rao and noted journalist, Mr Mallepalli Laxmaiah, were also present. (NSS)