Kendrapara: The controversy surrounding the diversion of the Kharasrota river water from Kendrapara to Bhadrak has reached the national level.
Earlier, it was claimed by the administration that Prof Dr Sashidhar of IIT-Hyderabad had conducted a survey about the environmental impact of the mega drinking water project on the Bhitarkanika National Park.
However, Prof Dr Sashidhar has denied reports that there was a special environmental impact study of the project on the Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP).
In an email, Dr Sashidhar said that he had not done any special survey on environmental impact of the drinking water on the BNP. This was revealed by Ananta Nayak, president of Sambhabana, an institution working under the Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee.
“The district administration has given a wrong report about the drinking water project. This will form the basis on which the mega drinking water project at Barunidiha will be halted.
The committee will move the court against the district administration over its wrong report,” Nayak said. Rakesh Nayak of Rajkanika claimed to have telephonic talks with Dr Sashidhar recently and asked him questions about the controversial drinking water project.
He had also communication with the IIT professor through an email. “The report I have prepared is all about the project’s impacts on air, water and sound.
These were secondary data. However, no special study on the environmental impact on the BNP was made by me,” it was stated.
Dr Sashidhar said he has not even visited the project site. It may be noted here that the wetland area of Bhitarkanika is spread over 672 square/km. 45 villages in Bhadrak and 147 villages in Kendrapara have been identified as eco sensitive zone by the Central government in 2015.
Hence, no construction work is allowed in eco sensitive zone. The district administration had held meetings with members of the Eco Sensitive Zone Monitoring Committee December 3 and December 15, 2020.
The administration had claimed that the IIT-Hyderabad professor had granted a go-ahead to the proejct in his report. However, a member of the committee had decried discrepancy in the IIT-Hyderabad report presented by the district administration.
He had launched an agitation, alleging that the district administration was misleading people by presenting a faulty report. The members of the committee alleged that it was a well-hatched conspiracy to protect the interests of industrial houses located in the neighbouring district.
Project opponents argued that diverting water from the Kharasrota river in Kendrapara district to neighbouring Bhadrak district is bound to cause depletion of water intake capacity.
The natural flow of the river should be protected for the larger interest of people of Kendrapara who are mostly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
Locals alleged that the project is being implemented to meet the water requirement of industries including the Dhamra port in Bhadrak district.
If the port and other companies are allowed to draw water from the mega project, the water level will fall drastically and adversely affect farming activities and the ecology of the national park, which is home to the country’s secondlargest mangrove forest cover.
The intake well of the Rs 892 crore project under Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA) is executed at Barunadiha panchayat under Rajkanika block till October 8.
The project will provide safe drinking water to 92 villages in Bhadrak district where the groundwater table is heavily salinated. The project will require 105 million litre per day.