ROURKELA: As the drinking water scarcity in Rourkela Industrial Township (RIT) of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) and Sundargarh town has assumed alarming proportion, shelving of two water storage projects by the BJD Government has snowballed into a political controversy.
The BJP leadership at Rourkela attacked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for 'hoodwinking' people. They said ahead of 2014 election, Naveen hurriedly laid foundation stone for a low-height barrage-cum-bridge proposal over river Koel at Jhirpani near Rourkela to gain election mileage.
Addressing mediapersons here on Monday, Odisha unit BJP secretary Dhiren Senapati, party's Panposh organisation district president Jagabandhu Behera and former MLA Shankar Oram claimed that no funds were allocated for the project and against the reluctance of authorities of Irrigation division, Naveen had laid the foundation at Jhirpani. Senapati further alleged that no survey was done and shortly after the 2014 election, tender was whimsically floated. When tender value proposal was received at around `350 crore, the BJD Government maintained a stoic silence.
He said proposals for low-height barrage-cum-bridge at Kopsingha of Sundargarh town and Deogaon of adjacent Jharsuguda district over river Ib met with similar fate. "In 2014-15 and 2015-16, no budgetary provision was made for the three projects and in February 2016, the projects were dropped," he said. Stating that Government has recommended inclusion of the three projects under the Pradhan Mantra Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Senapati demanded an apology from Naveen for cheating people. Administrative sources said the barrage-cum-bridge proposal at Jhirpani was aimed at connecting both sides of Koel river, store water for drinking water needs of areas under RIT limits and extend irrigation coverage to around 3,300 hectares in Kuanrmunda, Bisra and Nuagaon blocks.
Executive Engineer of Sundargarh Irrigation Division, AK Biswal informed that about a year back, the proposals at Jhirpani and Kopsingha were dropped with Government deciding to redesign them to set up two 'Pick-Up Weirs' for drinking water and irrigation needs.