Andhra's Pollavaram project bad, Orissa's Patnaik tells PM

Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik has reiterated his strong protest against the controversial Pollavaram dam and irrigation project being constructed by neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Patnaik told journalists in Bhubaneshwar that he had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to have a re-look at the controversial project, saying it would submerge vast areas in Orissa.

He also expressed surprise at the centre's decision to accord 'national status' to the project, which has been strongly opposed by environmentalists. ''The project will submerge a large number of tribal villages in Orissa,'' he said.

Patnaik, who has steadfastly opposed the project in every possible forum, said he had told the prime minister that the ministry of environment and forests did not conduct any public hearing in Orissa before clearing the project. Nor did the union tribal affairs ministry take the Orissa government into confidence.

 During his meeting with Prime Minister Dr Singh, Patnaik also sought a revision of the royalty payable on non-coal minerals, as it was last revised in 2004 and the next revision was already overdue since October 2007.

He drew the prime minister's attention to the recommendations of the 11th and 12th finance commissions that the state should be entitled to compensation in case the revision is not effected when it is due. Patnaik strongly urged that the royalty on non-coal minerals should be changed immediately to at least 20 per cent of the price of those minerals ad valorem.