Kendrapara/Rajkanika: A mega drinking water project with water from Kharasrota river in Kendrapara district to Bhadrak district has triggered a controversy with locals opposing it.
Fifteen platoons of police have been deployed in Rajkanika area to prevent the situation from going out of hand. The police have seized a vehicle of the Kharasrota Banchao Sangram Samiti (KBSS), an outfit opposing the project.
Locals opposing the project have got together to prevent the setting up of the drinking water venture. They have conducted a meeting and vowed to oppose any move to divert water from the river.
“We will not let the river dry up. The project has been started without assessing its impact on the biodiversity of Bhitarkanika and the agriculture sector. So we will oppose it tooth and nail,” people against the project said.
They said they will launch an agitation if the government decides to continue with the project. Notably, the mega drinking water is being executed at a cost of Rs 892 crore under Basudha Yojana.
The project if completed will provide drinking water to 91 panchayats in Bhadrak district. Locals feel that if the project starts, it will dry up the river and gradually destroy agriculture and also drastically affect environment.
Residents of many riverside villages in Aul and Rajkanika blocks will suffer if the project is implemented, they added.
Activists of the outfit – Duryodhan Mohanty, Bidhan Das and Raju Pani observed that as Kendrapara is identified as the only water-starved district in Odisha, the Central government launched a water conservation campaign from 2019.
They said that the water of Kharasrota has sustained the Bhitarkanika National Park. In summer, the river bed remains dry at many places while water flow in the river has dipped over years, they added.
Former MLA Debendra Sharma and BJP leader Dolagobinda Nayak have strongly opposed the project.
Social activists Sanjay Behura and Khitish Kumar Singh said that various surveys made by the state and the central governments go against such a project.
The PMO, NGT and even courts have been informed in this regard, they added.
The project also needs environment clearance and approval of the National Wildlife Board while diversion of water from an already deficient river would lead to ingress of seawater in upstream areas and adversely affect agricultural activities, people opposing the project said.
Srikant Nayak, member of Bhitarkanika Eco-sensitive Zone Committee stated that the project site and water lifting point come under an eco-sensitive zone.
Legally, the project is not feasible, he pointed out. Nayak also said that the matter will be taken to the court as a resolution to this effect has been passed in the meeting.