Rayagada: Although it is over a decade since Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for Mahendratanaya irrigation project near Dambapur in Gajapati district, the project is yet to see the light of the day.
The state government has been delaying construction work, while the Andhra Government has completed a project over the river to provide irrigation to its farmers in Palasa area.
Delay in construction of the project has left the locals irked because of the cost escalation involved in it.
Coordinator of Parala Swabhiman Manch, an outfit championing local development, Tirupati Panigrahi, who had recently visited the project site, decided to launch a stir if the state does not complete the project at the earliest.
Notably, both the governments had laid foundations of their respective projects in 2008. While Odisha had planned an irrigation project across the river at Kaithapadar with a storage reservoir to irrigate 7,940 hectares in Parlakhemundi, Raygada and Kasinagar blocks of Gajapati, the Andhra government had decided to set up a project to irrigate 24,600 acres in Palasa and Nandigam mandals and provide drinking water to people of Palasa and Kasibugga.
Mahendratanaya, a tributary of river Bansadhara, originates at Tuparasingi in Gajapati district and passes through Andhra Pradesh before meeting the sea.
The Andhra irrigation project involves construction of an off-take sluice on the left bank of the river at Chapara under Meliaputti mandal in Srikakulam district. The water will be diverted through the off-take sluice into a channel which will run for 17 kilometres and flow into the proposed reservoir across a valley between high mounds at Regulapadu village in the same district.
As the proposed Andhra project would draw water from the river, farmers of Gajapati district objected to the AP’s reservoir plan. The proposed reservoir would submerge large tracts of farmland in Gosani and Rayagada blocks of Gajapati district and also cause water crisis in areas under Paralakhemundi municipality.
Following widespread resentment by Gajapati farmers, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to his Andhra counterpart that the project violated the inter-state river water sharing pact signed in 1962 and urged it not to go ahead with the project till a joint technical committee visits the projects.
However, AP did not stop construction work. Subsequently, the state government announced construction of two irrigation projects over the river and laid the foundation stone in 2008.
A diversion weir across river Mahendratanaya near Dambapur and another near Champapur over Jalanga, a tributary of Mahendratanaya, aimed at providing irrigation to Rayagada, Gumma, Gosani and Paralakhemundi was planned.
However, these projects have remained incomplete till now. The Andhra government has, however, stepped up construction of its off-take sluice project.
Panigrahi said the project has been hanging fire due to lack of political will. Hundreds of farmers of Gosani and Rayagada blocks have been keeping their fingers crossed despite delays in the project which deprived them of irrigational benefits, lamented Panigrahi.