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Centre ditches Odisha on Pollavaram, leaves Naveen in Catch 22 situation

Centre ditches Odisha on Pollavaram, leaves Naveen in catch-22 situation

Samikhsya Bureau

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik stuck to his new road-map of standing strong with anyone at the Centre who care for Odisha. That automatically nullified his earlier ideology of equidistant from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Thus, things went on well with the Biju Janata Dal going overboard to stand with the BJP whether it was election of Lok Sabha speaker or ‘one nation, one election’  or supporting BJP’s Rajya Sabha nominee, the controversial former IAS,Ashwini Vaishnav, Naveen showed magnanimity.  For which the chief minister faced a barrage of criticisms from many quarters which the latter weathered with his usual shield for defence i.e composure.

That is politics and in which anything is possible. But what is expected from the BJP at the centre, to come to the aid of Patnaik as and when the occasion arises.

And that time has come when Patnaik can test the mettle of his bond with the Modi-led government.

The fresh go ahead given to the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government by the Centre to resume the work for the Pollaharam project has come as an apparition at a time when the Naveen-Modi bonhomie was waxing eloquent. Eyebrows have been raised as what is the recourse the Odisha government is left with.

It has become a very dicey situation for the chief minister, who would have least expected such a sudden fissure to occur so abruptly.

And it is not beyond politics. Odisha has been protesting it politically and legally to oppose the project tooth and nail. Parity can’t be one-sided and on that logic the Centre has a reason to reciprocate, which it has not on an issue as important as Pollavaram.

There are many reasons that Odisha has been harping on over the entrenched damages from the said project. About 15 villages in Malkangiri district will submerge and over 13,000 people will be displaced. Odisha government had moved the Apex court of the country citing reasons like how could the Centre give a nod under the guise of a national project without the clearance from the forest and environment ministry at the Centre.

The matter was taken to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by Odisha government  and the NGT had stayed the project for two years. That was subsequently overridden by the Centre and permission was accorded to go ahead with the construction.

Now with the period of the stay over, the Union ministry has once again allowed the AP government to resume work.

Which has driven the Odisha government to a Catch 22 situation where, Patnaik is required to choose between political guts and political prudence to take a position on the issue. But the action of the BJP-led government at the Centre appear ridden off the harmony.