Kendrapara: Decrease in water level in the Mahanadi river from the beginning of this year has sparked fear of a major crisis in summer. Alarm bells over the water crisis in the district have already started ringing, sources said. Due to the declining water level in the Mahanadi, its tributaries and other rivers flowing through Kendrapara district are also drying up. Among the rivers losing water are Luna, Chitrotpala and Birupa. Lack of water has also had an impact on cultivation of rabi and winter crops. People said that if measures are not taken for the revival of the rivers, there will be an acute shortage of drinking and agriculture water in summer. Doubts have also been cast on the feasibility of establishing a riverine port at Akhadashali in the district, sources said.
Speaking on the water crisis, former Zilla Parishad member Ganesh Chandra Samal said that it has happened due to a reduction in water flow on the Mahanadi upstream. He pointed out that Kendrapara district is downstream. So it will face an acute crisis if the water flow reduces in upstream. Samal pointed out that the Mahanadi river flows for a stretch of 10km from Mahanangal to Gadaromit under Mahakalapara block. The Chitrotpala river originates from the Mahanadi at Gualnasi in Cuttack district while the Luna river is a sub-tributary of Chitrotpala. Similarly, the Paika river originates at Tendakura near Jagatpur and Bir upa at Chowdwar. The Kendrapara canal originating from Cuttack supplies water from the Mahanadi to Gobari, Pattamundai, and some more extension canals. Farmers working on 41,681 hectare of land in Kendrapara district are thus completely dependent on water from the Mahanadi and its tributaries, Samal added.
Moreover, Mahanadi is the main source of drinking water for residents of Rajnagar and Mahakalapara blocks and Kendrapara town. Former councilor Hiranya Kumar Panda said that Odisha and Chhattisgarh are locked in a bitter dispute over sharing of Mahanadi water. However, its impact is being felt as the water flow in the Mahanadi is decreasing. Panda said that the dispute should be solved as quickly as possible for the benefit of the people in Odisha. Shaikh Fazrul Haque, president of Patkura Anchalik Vikash Committee said that the Chitrotpala which originates from Mahanadi, flows for a stretch of 36km from Mohammedpur to Kuanrpur in Kendrapara district. The river is the lifeline of farmers living along the coast. River water is used for cultivation as well as for their daily chores. Chitrotpala will soon dry up and become a dead river if the water flow declines in Mahanadi.
In the process, the normal life of the residents will be severely affected, Haque said. Farmer leader Gayadhar Dhal urged for an early solution to Mahanadi water-sharing dispute. He warned that normal life will be disrupted in Kendrapara district if the ruling goes in favor of Chhattisgarh. “The decline in water flow will destroy agriculture, affect the supply of drinking water and many areas will turn into saline land,” he added.