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Polavaram project gets clearance

Special Correspondent

Centre grants `forest and environmental clearance'; major hurdle removed

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HYDERABAD: The multi-purpose mega project of Polavaram, now named Indirasagar, has at last secured "forest and environmental clearance" from the Centre.

With this, a major hurdle has been removed for execution of the project work which was stopped recently following a High Court directive citing lack of such clearance. Announcing the Centre's decision at a press conference here on Tuesday, a visibly pleased Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy described it as "a historic achievement", and said work would be resumed on Wednesday itself. The project would be completed in five years.

Interestingly, noted environmentalist Medha Patkar was in the city opposing the project citing the likely environment degradation and displacement of a large number of tribals. Dr. Reddy said he shared the concerns expressed by Ms. Patkar, and promised utmost care to avoid the ill-effects.

The Chief Minister said the British conducted the investigations for Polavaram in 1941 and it took 64 years for it to get clearance. He said the clearance became possible as the State Government had offered the best forest management plan and rehabilitation & resettlement proposals covering 59,756 hectares being lost under the project.

A whopping sum of Rs. 4,500 crores was apportioned for forest management and R & R out of the project's total cost of Rs. 13,500 crores. Rs. 40,000 was set aside for each dwelling to be constructed for the displaced against Rs. 25,000 as in other states.

Another striking aspect of the R & R was that land-to-land compensation would be made in case of tribals and lands would be provided at the nearest spot under the proposed ayacut.

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