Abeyance of stop work order yet to be extended

VIJAYAWADA: With the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is yet to extend the abeyance of the stop work order issued against the construction of Polavaram Irrigation Project (PIP), the Water Resources Department has flagged the issue with the State government so that it could pursue the matter with the Centre. The abeyance of stop work order, which was given for two years in 2019, had lapsed in July, 2021.

With the abeyance not being extended even after three months of expiry, the Water Resources officials had recently informed the matter to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is said to have directed the officials concerned to work for an early resolution.

It may be recalled that the MoEF had issued the stop work order on construction of the project in 2011 after States such as Odisha raised environmental concerns and the issue of submergence. Subsequently, the PIP was declared a national project in 2014 and the MoEF had started keeping the stop work order in abeyance ever since. The stop work order has been kept in abeyance six times for a year each time considering the immense importance of the project, and the MoEF in July, 2019, decided to keep the order in abeyance for two more years without permission to impound water. The Centre insisted that since the project was of high importance, its construction should go on. However, this time, there has been no further extension of the ban on the order yet.

Since works can’t be continued technically with the stop work order in effect, the State officials have started pursuing the matter with the Centre for keeping the order in abeyance for another year. As the GRMB is set to take over the projects, including PIP, from October 14, the officials said it remains to be seen as to how the resolution would be made.

In a meeting held by the MoJS in September, Odisha once again raised submergence due to backwaters, which was also echoed by Chhattisgarh. In this context, the ministry formed a committee to assess the extent of submergence.