Kendrapara/Rajkanika: Even as tension mounted in Aul and Rajkanika blocks in Kendrapara district over the mega drinking water project on river Kharashrota, police arrested 24 people Friday on charge of vandalism at the project site that had taken place Thursday.
Following a face-off between proejct opponents and police at the project site, Rajkanika police registered two cases against protesters who had vandalized the assets of the project developer.
Meanwhile, police arrested Krushnachandra Panda, a member of the Kharasrota Banchao Sangharsh Samiti from a farm house at Santasara under Gondia police limits in Dhenkanal Friday while 23 others were arrested in their area.
SP Sandeep Sampat Madkar said though prohibitory orders had been imposed on the project site, locals protesting the project under the banner of Kharasrota Banchao Sangharsh Samiti marched into the area, assaulted police and destroyed properties worth lakhs of rupees.
Meanwhile, police are trying to identify many other people involved in damaging the infrastructure and equipment at the project site.
While stringent action will be taken against the accused, additional forces have been deployed in the area to ensure project work continues smoothly, it was learnt.
The arrests have triggered tension in the area. On the other hand, KBSS president Duryodhan Mohanty alleged that people were enraged after police action against them and police tried to implicate the agitators in false cases.
“The project work can’t go ahead by browbeating local people. Police had planned to arrest 5,000 people, but 50,000 people were ready to face arrest,” he added.
Notably, over the past few months, numerous public protests have rocked Rajkanika area – from Jal Satyagraha to human chain – against the state government’s mega drinking water project to divert water from Kharasrota river to 91 panchayats in the adjoining Bhadrak district.
The locals under the banner of Kharasrota Banchao Sangharsh Samiti had been preventing officials from doing work on the proposed project since 2019.
Recently, the district administration has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 for two months in three panchayats under Rajkanika block from August 10 to October 8 in a bid to expedite the proposed mega drinking water project.
The residents of Aul and Rajkanika blocks in Kendrapara district intensified their protests against the proposed drinking water project on Kharasrota river at Rajkanika’s Bharigada Thursday.
The villagers had fought a pitched battle with police, leaving many villagers and police personnel injured.