Centre backtracks on Polavaram hearing

Says onus on Odisha, Chhattisgarh governments to hold public consultation
In a turnaround, the Centre pulled back from its undertaking in the Supreme Court to appoint an independent agency to conduct public hearings of people in Odisha and Chhattisgarh affected by the Polavaram Multi-purpose Project. The Centre filed an eight-page affidavit before a Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur explaining that the statement made about appointing the independent agency was made by the government counsel on the basis of an “inadvertent communication” of a junior officer with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The officer had not got proper instructions before communicating with the government lawyer in court on November 29, it said. On that day, the court was furious that the dam project, which affects the lives of thousands of people in the areas of submergence in both States, was going ahead without holding public hearings. However, the affidavit, filed by advocate Wasim Qadiri for the Centre, said both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments were unwilling to hold public hearings despite requests from the Centre dating back to 2013. Both Odisha and Chhattisgarh have been unwilling to hold public hearings. Odisha said it was “difficult” to conduct the public hearing as it would violate the interim orders of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and, moreover, the dispute was sub judice in the Supreme Court. Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, has stated that a public hearing at this point, when a civil suit is filed in the Supreme Court on the dispute, would be contrary to the process of law. “In view of the unwillingness of State governments, it may be difficult to conduct the public hearings by the district administration,” the Centre said. The case has been posted to January.
Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/centre-backtracks-on-polavaram-hearing/article25658848.ece

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