Joda: The work on the Kanpur irrigation project being constructed over the Baitarani river in the Joda block of Keonjhar district has reached its last leg, sources said Sunday. However, rumours are floating thick and fast as to how the water from the project will be used. Questions are being asked as to whether the water will be supplied to various industrial houses or will be used for irrigation. Doubts have come up as already various industrial houses are drawing water from the rivers flowing in the district and transporting raw materials through slurry pipelines. Even though the Kanpur project is yet to be completed, sources informed us that two companies are planning to use water from it.
As per a report by the state pollution control board (SPCB), Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and JSW Steel (JSW) are planning to draw water from the project. JSPL is planning to draw 23.00 cusecs of water through a pipe of 26-inch thickness while JSW is planning to get 39.00 cusecs of water through a pipe having a 32-inch thickness. Another company, BRPL is already drawing 4.70 cusecs of water from the Baitarani through a pipe having 13 inch thickness since 2013.
On the other hand, Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel is drawing 11.77 cusecs of water from the river near Basantpur since 2009. It has been said that the Kanpur project will help irrigate 29,578 hectares of farmlands under Champua, Jhumpura, Patana, Keonjhar Sadar, and Joda blocks in the district. The project when completed will also be used to produce 4.3 megawatts of hydroelectricity. It is apprehended that there will be a shortfall of water for farmlands if the industrial firms are allowed use water from the project. Sources also pointed out that in case there is any leakage or rupture in the slurry pipes, it will lead to pollution. The damage of a slurry pipeline on Suna River in 2021 is a case at this point. When contacted, engineer Prasanna Kumar Pani said that he is not aware of the plans for industrial houses using water from the project. He asked this correspondent regarding the source of information. He also denied that approvals have been given to industrial houses to draw water from the Kanpur project.
Notably, the National Green Tribunal in an order on Suna River had observed that laying of slurry pipelines on the riverbed will lead to an increase in pollution. A joint committee was formed in 2022 comprising Keonjhar ADM Jadumani Mahala, scientists GP Singh and Sandip Nandi (both from Kolkata), superintendent engineer Pranab Nayak of Baitarani irrigation division, regional officer Prashant Kar of SPCB to look into the alleged pollution. The committee had recommended that industrial houses while laying the slurry pipelines should inform the Water Resources department if any of the pipes are passing through water bodies. It had warned of action in case of any discrepancies. The committee also said the companies should take preventive steps early on to get advance information if there are leakages and ruptures in the pipelines. That way contamination of river water can be prevented. The committee also said that river water should be used in a proper manner to prevent scarcity