Kendrapara: The state government’s bid to draw fresh water from the Kharasrota river at Barundiha under Rajkanika block in this district for a mega drinking water project in Bhadrak district might lead to delisting of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary from the list of the major world wetlands in Ramsar site, a report said.
Notably, the Bhitarkanika mangroves forest was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It’s named after the city of Ramsar in Iran where the convention was signed in 1971.
The matter came to the fore after social activist Sanjay Behura wrote (letter no-0015902/21) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking its intervention and urgent solution to the issue, Saturday. Earlier, Khitish Kumar Singh of Khadianga wrote twice to the Union government demanding a freeze on the project.
Behura said the mega drinking water project is being implemented at Nuahat under Chandbali block in Bhadrak district under the Basudha Yojana at an expenditure of Rs 892 crore. The scheme envisages drawing of water from Kharasrota river at Barunadiha through large pipes and supply of the same to 91 panchayats in Bhadrak district.
The implementation of the project has led to a serious face-off between the residents and the state government.
It has become a do or die battle for the residents as they claim the state government is implementing the project without making a proper assessment of its impact on the biological diversity of Bhitarkanika and local agriculture, he said.
Residents claimed establishment of the project will deprive them of water for farming and stop flow of fresh water into Bhitarkanika sanctuary which will seriously affect its biological diversity.
They claimed that the mangrove forests which acted as a shield against the cyclonic storms have grown with the mixture of saline water of the Bay of Bengal and the fresh water of the Kharasrota river. The mangrove forests are also home to scores of reptiles, and wildlife in the sanctuary.
Behura said according to the Dynamic Water Assessment Survey Report of the Centre, Bhadrak district has a presence of 17021 HAM (Hybrid Annuity Model) while the Kendrapara district has groundwater of 5445 HAM. He said supply of river water from here to Bhadrak district is wrong as the groundwater level in the district is much less compared to Bhadrak district.
The survey report also states that the place where the project is being implemented has high presence of groundwater for which it is wrong to draw water from the Kharasrota and supply it to Bhadrak district.
The report states that the groundwater of Aul, Rajkanika, Rajnagar and Mahakalapara is unfit for consumption as the water is highly saline in nature. These blocks are also deprived of any drinking water project.
He said the project consultancy agency and an IIT survey report on the impact of the project in Kendrapara district have overlooked the bio-diversity of Bhitarkanika and the impact it will have on the local farming, he added.
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