BJD MPs walk out over Jaitley’s Polavaram remarks

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) BJD members from Odisha on Thursday staged a noisy protest against the central government’s stance on the Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh just before the Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, 2016.

The Biju Janata Dal members led by floor leader B. Mahtab took strong exception to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s assurance to Andhra Pradesh members on the issue.

At the fag end of his speech while replying to the debate on the finance bill, Jaitley said: “The Centre is committed to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act passed by both houses of parliament.”

Mahtab was quick on his feet to register his protest.

He asked how could the union minister give such an assurance when the matter was in the Supreme Court, an apparent reference to Odisha moving the apex court against the project.

“The issue is sub-judice before the Supreme Court, then how can the government make any assurance?” Mahtab asked.

The Polavaram project is a multi-purpose irrigation project which has been accorded national project status by the central government.

This dam across the Godavari river is under construction in West Godavari district and East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, while its reservoir also touches parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

BJD parliamentarians as well as legislators in Odisha have been demanding that the Polavaram project be put on hold as a national project.

Claiming that the views of Odisha were not considered by the Centre before giving rehabilitation and resettlement clearance, the BJD alleges that like Odisha, even Chhattisgarh, which is also affected, was not consulted.

Jaitley remained firm on his stand but said: “We can look at Odisha’s grievances independently. I can’t go back on the Andhra Act.”

Expressing dissatisfaction over his response, the BJD members staged a walkout.

“We are not at all happy over the manner the remark was made in the Lok Sabha. Maybe the BJP leadership is trying to reach out to their ally in Andhra Pradesh, TDP,” a BJD MP told IANS.



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