The controversial Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh has hit another roadblock as the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has sought an explanation from the Andhra Pradesh government on why no environment clearance was secured and no public hearings held before construction work was started.
In a letter to the state government on Monday, the centre sought to know why a show-cause notice under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act should not be issued against it for continuing work without getting the clearance to construct embankments, sluices and pumping arrangements.
The letter has come as a shock to the state government, as the centre had assured the state that the project on the Godavari River, close to the borders with Jharkhand and Orissa, would be granted the status of a national project. This would mean the centre would bear 90 per cent of the Rs17,000-crore project cost. But the two neighbouring states have also been objecting to the project.
Stung by the MoEF missive, chief minister K Rosaiah said on Tuesday that his government would send an appropriate reply to the centre. As soon as he learnt of the letter, he directed state environment and forests minister P Ramachandra Reddy to get in touch with union environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
Rosaiah, who was away in Delhi to take part in the AICC session when the letter arrived, told reporters in Hyderabad that he himself had wanted to speak to Ramesh, but could not get an appointment.
The MoEF had sent a letter to the state government in March last year advising it to hold public hearings for works proposed on Saberi and Sileru rivers and seek clearance for the same from it. Two months later, it sent a reminder, but the state government did respond, and moreover began executing works related to the additional components like construction of embankments, drainage sluices and pumping arrangements.