Industrial units set sight on river water

Chandbali, July 13: Even as the pace of industrialisation picks up in Dhamra area of Bhadrak district since the commissioning of a port here, the possibility of industrial units drawing fresh water of river Mantei has raised concern among locals, a report said.

Experts and local people say, “In view of the possible boom of industrialisation in days ahead, the government should have a clear-cut policy on use of Mantei water. In the absence of any clear policy on it, the river will bear the brunt of pollution and its fresh water will be drawn for industrial use on a large scale.”

According to reports, Dhamra being a coastal pocket and water being saline in many areas, people have no way but depend on water of tube wells.

Experts were of the view that once industrial units start drawing water from Mantei, the water table will plummet, leaving the people high and dry.

Years after the port was set up, industrialisation has slowly and steadily picked up. Siphoning off water from the river has already started in the area.

Various companies have sunk bore wells and are drawing five to 10 lakh litres of water on a daily basis, unofficial sources said.

Dhamra Port Company Ltd (DPCL) has been using Manei water after its treatment. The company has planned a fresh water harvesting project on 50 acre of land at Bansada. However, its work has not been started.  

As development of infrastructure and construction of buildings are in full swing in the area, use of groundwater has gone up by several notches, it was learnt.

Two years ago, it was alleged that some people used to supply groundwater from their bore wells to various industrial units and for construction work.

It has already left its impact on the groundwater, which keeps on plummeting every passing day.

Local said a day will come when they will be struggling for a drop of drinking water.

Scores of riparian villages in 10 panchayats dot along Mantei, which is a part of the historic Coast Canal. The river emerges from Gehonkhali in West Bengal and merges with the Bay of Bengal at Suna Daria under Chandbali block.

One interesting fact about the river is that its water remains fresh for six months, but turns saline from January to June. Water of the crocodile-infested river is also useful for irrigation and prawn farming.

After Dhamra port was made operational, many small and large companies are keen to set up their units in the area. A few days ago, the groundbreaking ceremony of a gas terminal was conducted.

There is a huge possibility of industrial units in steel, cement, thermal power, chemicals, petrochemicals, shipping and boat repair sectors coming up in this area.

Companies have been purchasing land from people. Besides, a survey was conducted for national waterways in Dhamra and around Mantei. This waterway will facilitate transport of raw material like coal, iron ore, chromites, bauxite and other mineral to industrial units. 

To push industrialisation, IDCO has set up a land bank by acquiring 528 acres in Dhamra, Kaithakhola and Karanjamala. More land will be added to the bank, it was learnt. PNN

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