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

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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.

 

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This is How Stubble Burning is Avoided in Odisha

The state is one of the largest producers of rice in the country

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Stubble Burning, Odisha, North India
Agriculture in Odisha is the mainstay of the majority of the populace. Pixabay

Unlike north India, crop stubble burning is not prevalent in Odisha even though it has started making inroads unto several parts of the coastal state.

Air pollution due to stubble burning has turned a critical health hazard in north India.

Agriculture in Odisha is the mainstay of the majority of the populace. The state is one of the largest producers of rice in the country. The state government has fixed a target of procuring 60 lakh metric tonnes of paddy during the kharif marketing season (KMS), 2019-20.

However, instead of burning the stubble, the farmers use the paddy straw in various ways such as cattle feed, compost manure, roofing of thatched houses, biomass energy and mushroom cultivation.

Stubble Burning, Odisha, North India
Air pollution due to stubble burning has turned a critical health hazard in north India. Pixabay

“In Odisha, we don’t resort to paddy residue burning unlike in north India where pollution level has increased manifold due to crop stubble burning and other reasons. We cut down the paddy straw and bring it for using cattle fodder and roofing of thatched houses,” said farmer leader Akshay Kumar.

“I have purchased paddy straw of Rs 50,000 for mushroom cultivation. I have been doing mushroom cultivation for several years. Sometimes, I have purchased paddy straw at a higher price as many people have adopted the cultivation since it gives good profit,” said Stephenson Sahu from Patharkhamb village in Dhenkanal district.

Moreover, Odisha is going to have a Second Generation (2G) Ethanol Bio-Refinery, first in the country to produce ethanol using rice straw as feedstock, in Bargarh district, one of the major paddy producing districts in the state.

The bio-refinery to be set up by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) will utilise about two lakh tonnes of rice straw annually as feedstock which will be sourced from nearby locations.

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The agriculture sector provides employment to more than 60 per cent of the population, making it the largest employment sector of the state.

The state has total geographical area of 155.71 lakh hectares of which total cultivated land is about 61.80 lakh hectares, which constitute about 39.69% of the total geographical area of the state. Small and marginal farmers form more than 90% of the farming community, according to a report of the Agriculture Department. (IANS)