Kakinada: National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has recommended that governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha analyse in depth the impact of Polavaram Irrigation Project on tribal populations of the two states. The NCST further asked AP government to submit a compliance report in this regard.
In addition, the commission wanted secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, and Department of Water Resources to ensure time-bound rehabilitation and resettlement of tribal people displaced in all states affected by Polavaram Project.
Commission member Ananta Nayak, along with V. Ashok Vardhan of Bhubaneswar and Radhakanta Tripathy, senior legal consultant of NCST, visited villages affected by Polavaram project in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh from August 24–28. Thereafter, the commission observed that there have been serious violations of tribal rights in both states. It expressed anguish over delay by AP government in rehabilitating and resettling tribal families.
“The inaction and negligence of AP is not only painful but also violates constitutional provisions meant for safeguarding tribal people,” NCST observed.
The commission pointed out that tribal people of Odisha will be seriously affected by Polavaram Project, mostly in Malkangiri district. It said the Odisha government must ensure that the state’s people are not unreasonably displaced, like in the case of Nilakota village. It wanted the government to ensure holistic and sustainable development of tribal people affected by the project.
When the commission visited Pusuguda, Malakapalli, Lachipeta and Malavaram villages in Motu tehsil area of Malkangiri district, people of these villages complained that grama and palli sabhas had not been held as per law. They demanded proper compensation, complete rehabilitation and resettlement, in addition to recognition of forest rights at the block level of ITDA. It is alleged that the Odisha government is yet to conduct a survey of Polavaram-affected areas in that state.
Meanwhile, officials from Central Water and Power Research Station inspected instrumentation works at the Polavaram Irrigation Project on Tuesday. They included M. Selva Balan, scientist-E; J.K. Singh, scientist-C (Instrumentation), and Khalil Bagawan. They inquired about the number of boxes fixed, those remaining and also progress of works. They were accompanied by AP water resources officials led by chief engineer B. Sudhakar Babu.