BHUBANESWAR: With major reservoirs of the State facing serious siltation which shrinks the water storage capacity, the Odisha Government is preparing comprehensive management plans to address the critical issue of degradation in their catchment areas.
Although reservoirs are under the management control of Water Resources department, the Government has pooled in resources from various projects under Forest and Environment department to chalk out holistic plans which would not only address siltation but initiate preventive measures to enhance the life span of these man-made wetlands.
A major action that the Forest and Environment department is incorporating in the management strategies is adoption of measures which improve catchment areas of each of these reservoirs. In 2013, it had approved a 10-year catchment area treatment plan (CATP) for Upper Indravati and Upper Kolab reserves at an estimated `596 crore. Upper Indravati’s catchment area spreads over 2.46 lakh hectare (ha) while Upper Kolab has its catchment over 1.4 lakh ha.
According to available information, both Upper Indravati and Upper Kolab reservoirs have reported over two metres of silt deposits since their inception. A few years back, when an assessment of Kuanria dam in Nayagarh district was carried out, it had recorded at least 55 per cent siltation over a period of 12 years which had by then reduced the life span of the dam by 60 per cent.
Since siltation is gradually eating into the lives of the reservoirs and de-silting is an exorbitantly expensive exercise, the department has recommended that a cluster of measures, including catchment enrichment, plantation, improvement of pisciculture and eco-tourism by engaging primary cooperative societies be taken up.
“These cluster measures would not only help soil conservation but also gainfully engage the local population dependent on the catchment areas for their livelihood,” said sources in the department.
Currently, management plans for 17 wetlands of the State are being undertaken by Odisha State Wetland Development Authority (OSWDA). The Wetlands International South Asia is carrying out management plans for Hirakud and Rengali reservoirs. The interim reports would be out by March and submitted to the Government for its approval.
Addressing the World Wetland Day function here on Monday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik lauded the efforts of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and OSWDA and said it is heartening that other States are now emulating the wetland restoration and management models adopted by Odisha.
Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Das Burma, Development Commissioner UN Behera, former Director of Zoological Society of India AK Ghosh and Chief Executive of CDA Ajit Kumar Patnaik also spoke.