JAGATSINGHPUR: Dredging work in river Budha in Jagatsinghpur district has been hit for the last 15 days due to protests by a group of people of Kujang block.
Drainage division of the Water Resources department had decided to dredge the bed of the river, which has either dried up or has heavy silt deposition at some places thereby blocking free movement of water. Earlier this year, the State Government had decided to renovate dead rivers for providing water to non-irrigated lands and ensure free movement of flood water during monsoon.
Budha, a distributary of river Mahanadi, flows through Sailo, Garei, Talapada and other panchayats of Kujang block of Jagatsinghpur district. The river, once considered lifeline of Kujang, has narrowed down due to deposition of silt and encroached by some influential persons of the block.
Farmers said during monsoon, rain water from agricultural lands located near the river is not drained out properly due to encroachments. Due to non-release of water, paddy and vegetable crops are destroyed in three panchayats of the block.
Realising the problem, the State Government had sanctioned `1.44 crore for renovation and dredging of 8.5 km of the river. After the dredging work began in Sailo panchayat, a group of people of Chottibar, Totashai and Sailo villages stopped the work citing irregularities. They alleged that workers deployed by the drainage division for the job are digging up private lands located close to the river on the pretext of dredging.
Assistant Engineer (drainage division) Biplab Kumar Sahu said the agitation by a group of people has affected dredging and desiltation works. “This seems to be the handiwork of some people with vested interest who have encroached upon the river land. If the river is dredged properly, it will provide irrigation facilities to 500 hectares of land,” he added.