Utkal Bharat Party president Kharabela Swain on Saturday urged the State Government to take the people likely to be affected by the Lower Suktel irrigation project into confidence before going for its construction.
“The Lower Suktel project is a victim of nasty politics and the BJD Government has no political will to complete it,” Swain told a media conference here.
At a time when the project is facing public opposition, there is absolutely no initiative from the ruling BJD MLAs of Balangir district to convince the people about the benefits the project.
At the same time the Congress leaders from the district are instigating the people to oppose the project, Swain said after visiting the project site.
Claiming that the irrigation project on completion will change the face of the district, Swain exuded confidence that the project would help arrest migration of lakhs of labourers to the neighbouring Chhattisgarh and the southern states.
Justifying the demands of the affected people, Swain said the Government should revise the land compensation amount from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh per acre and consider full compensation to the partially affected people.
He assailed the Government for not paying due compensation to the people even after more than a decade of laying the foundation stone for the project.
To win back the confidence of these people, the Government needs to rehabilitate them with full compensation before taking up the project, he said He also advised the Government to engage a person who can negotiate with the people with confidence.
Swain said the villagers who are going to be displaced by the project have been agitating against the project while prospective beneficiaries demand its early completion.
The State Government’s attempt to start the construction work from September 27 was again opposed due to lack of transparency from the Government side.
The project sanctioned in 1998 will submerge completely 5,216 hectares in 26 villages and partially in 10 villages.
On the other hand, the project will irrigate nearly 30,000 hectares in Balangir district and 2,684 hectares in Subarnapur district.