BERHAMPUR: Protesting the delay in construction of irrigation projects over river Mahendratanaya in Gajapati district by the State Government, members of Mahendratanaya Bachao Andolon (MBA) have threatened to organise public meetings at Hinjili and sit on a dharna in front of the Chief Minister’s residence.
Addressing mediapersons here on Friday, coordinator of MBA Srikant Padhy said the dates have not been finalised in this regard yet. The Andhra Pradesh Government, in violation of the agreement with Odisha, laid foundation stone on 30 April, 2008, for a project over Mahendratanaya near Gajapati district, to provide irrigation water to farmers on their land. As the proposed project would draw water from the river, Gajapati farmers protested the neighbouring state’s action.
Following widespread resentment by Gajapati farmers, Odisha Government announced to construct two irrigation projects in its limits over the river. In a haste, Odisha Government also laid foundation stone for the two proposed projects on the same day.
The two projects, a diversion weir across river Mahendratanaya near Dambapur and another near Champapur over Jalanga, a tributary of Mahendratanaya. Both the projects aimed to provide irrigation facility to Rayagada, Gumma, Gosani and Paralakhemundi of Gajapati district estimated at a cost of `37.57 crore.
Padhy alleged that at the time of laying foundation stone, though the State Government had announced to complete the two projects within three years. But, the survey and design for the projects started during 2010. Subsequently, construction of Dambapur started but has not been completed till date due to callous attitude of the Irrigation Department and alleged lack of will of the elected representatives.
Only 30 per cent of the weir near Dambapur has been completed while the work for Champapur is yet to start, said Padhy adding that another project at Cheligada in Gajapati district too remains incomplete.
Meanwhile, due to lack of required irrigation facility crop production in Gajapati has reduced drastically during the last decade. The completion of three projects would have helped in boosting production and improving the economy of farmers.