Bolangir: Construction work of the ambitious Lower Suktel Irrigation Project in Bolangir has remained stalled over last two years.
Locals united under the Bolangir Action Committee (BAC) have warned of an agitation over the stalemate if the work is not started within a month.
Meanwhile, a six-member delegation led by MLA Narasigh Mishra has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through Collector Arindam Dakua.
MLA Narasingh Mishra, president of the BAC Gopalaji Mishra, president of the Nagarika Committee Bikramananda Bohidar, president of the district Bar Association Pramod Kumar Tripathy, lawyer Bhawani Shankar Satpathy and Ratan Kumar Moharana held discussions with the Collector over the status of the project and the bottlenecks hampering the work.
During the discussions, the delegation demanded that the administration should appoint a regular land acquisition officer and other staff.
The delegation members also made it clear that the work of an important irrigation project like Lower Suktel should not be stopped while there is a need to pay compensations to the displaced and project affected people.
“For a long time, RPDAC meeting has not been held. As a result, problems of the displaced are not taken up for discussion. The displaced people should get what they deserve and the RPDAC meeting should be called immediately,” said MLA Narasingh Mishra.
Mishra also said that he would hold talks with the Speaker, the minister of the water resources department and the secretary so as to ensure work within a month.
The members of the delegation warned that people of Bolangir would definitely protest if the project work is not started within a month.
The BAC is spearheading the movement in support of the dam project. Members of the BAC had visited Paradhiapali and conducted a meeting with the villagers who were up in arms against the project.
The construction work of the project was stopped due to stiff opposition from villagers around seven months back.
Paradhiapali village is the epicentre of the agitation against the project. Its residents are seeking a one-time compensation as per the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013. They also demanded that their family members who have now achieved 18 years of age be included for compensation.
Worried over stoppage of project work, the BAC had earlier urged the district administration to end the impasse with the agitating villagers.
BAC leader Gopalji Panigrahi urged the villagers of Paradhiapali to cooperate with the administration in carrying out the project work.
The members also discussed the problems arising out of the project, compensation and rehabilitation issues with the villagers.
It may be noted here that the government has already spent over Rs1,000 crore for the project. At the meeting, the villagers raised their concerns over the proposed dam and pressed for their old demands.
Once commissioned, the project will irrigate 29,146 hectares in Balangir district and 2,684 hectares in Sonepur, covering 189 villages.
Due to frequent conflicts between pro and anti-dam activists, the work on the project has been disrupted several times in the last 12 years.