Make all records of stalled Polavaram project public: CIC to Environment Ministry



By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Environment Ministry was recently advised by the Central Information Commission to disclose all the reports related to Rs 16,000-crore stalled Polavaram dam project on its website after explaining to an RTI applicant that tracing all the documents of last ten decades will be very intricate.

The RTI applicant named, Suresh Kumar, an environment scientist, asked the ministry to reveal all the relevant documents relating to the impact assessment of the controversial project in Andhra Pradesh but was later advised that it will be very difficult to locate all the documents.

According to Kumar, the website has breached Section 4 (1)(b) of the RTI Act as it doesn’t have any information about the abandoned project that led him to file an RTI.

A Ministry official in defense, claimed that all the allegations were false, since most of the information was available on the website.  The official however, said that some documents were still awaiting digitization and that they would be posted on the website soon.

“The delay was the result of external pressures such as other projects, court cases before the Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal, and High Court besides Parliament related works”, he said.

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said, “The Commission agreed with the contentions of the appellant that the ‘failure to trace records’ would not exempt the public authority from their duty to provide the information sought.”

“The Commission also directs the PIO to furnish copies of environmental clearance given at the first instance, and also file notings, correspondences along with minutes of meetings when the issue of environmental clearance was revisited for Indira Sagar Polavaram project in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh,” Acharyulu said.

Therefore, the Information Commissioner directed the Ministry to post all the available facts and details of Polavaram project on their official web page.

The project has been regarded as a national project by the central government as it will provide water for both dam and irrigational purposes. The project attained much attention when Odisha and Chhattisgarh argued that the project was flooding their land.