Jajpur: Hopes of farmers in this district of getting water from the Rengali multipurpose project are drying up fast with the proposal for construction of the left canal of the project hanging fire, a report said.
This is because the project awaits environmental clearance from Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for 17 years.
The construction of the left canal on Brahmani river was undertaken to provide irrigation to farmers of Sukinda, Danagadi and Korei blocks in Jajpur district. However, the construction failed to move ahead as the project is yet to get green clearance from the Centre. The state water resources department had applied for the second phase environmental clearance from the Union government in 2003.
However, the Centre is yet to give its nod. With time running out, Rajendra Kumar Pattnaik, director (R&R), water resources department, has urged the forest department to convert 875 hectares of forest land and hand over the same for construction of the right and left canals of the project in the second phase.
Pattnaik has written a letter to the special secretary, state forest and environment department in this regard. Sources said, the construction of the Rengali multipurpose project was planned in 1980s to provide water to non-irrigated farmlands in the state.
The left canal of the project of 141-km in length was to pass through Jajpur district. The canal, when completed, will help in irrigating 90,500 hectares of farmlands in this district.
The land acquisition for the project has picked up but the conversion of the forest land and its subsequent handover is moving at a snail’s pace due to lack of environmental clearance.
The state water resources department had sought conversion of 2159 hectares of forest land in 1993 out of which it received environmental clearance for 2107 hectares in the first phase, November 21, 1996.
The state water resources department again applied for the environment clearance on forest land in the second phase in 2003. The MoEF agreed to give environmental clearance on fulfillment of 21 conditions.
The state water resources department observed all the conditions and re-applied for a clearance in 2014 for conversion of 1295 hectares of forest land under Angul, Dhenkanal, Athagarh, Cuttack and Keonjhar forest divisions.
Later, the MoEF directed the state forest and environment department (letter no-20941, dated-November 11, 2016) to file a fresh application for conversion of forest land comprising 434 of forest land which was left out in the first phase. It was then decided to use 434 hectares of jungle land for construction of the left canal which is still stuck in red-tapism.
Notably, Sukinda block having 4760 hectares of farmland, Danagadi block with 2881 hectares and Korei block with 4855 hectares of farmland lack any canal for irrigation.
The farmers use only lift irrigation, bore wells, minor irrigation and dug well which fail to irrigate even 25 per cent of farmlands in these areas.
When contacted, Purna Chandra Chowdhury, assistant chief engineer of Rengali project, said the project work has failed to move ahead due to lack of environment clearance.
Sudarsan Patra, divisional forest officer of Cuttack division, said this is an old case and steps are being taken to expedite the issue.