Tribal farmers of five gram panchayats are up in arms against the State Government’s decision to allow Jampali-based OCL Iron & Steel Ltd (OISL) to use water from river Sankh for industrial purpose.
They fear that 17 villages under Gyanpali, Lakraberna and Tarkera panchayats of Kutra block and Salangabahal and Dalki panchayats of Kuanrmunda block would be left with no water for agriculture and cattle populace.
The OISL at Jampali in Rajgangpur block has again come under fire from the local tribal population. The company was recently locked in a tug of war with the villagers in its bid to acquire a patch of land adjacent to the plant.
For its water needs, the OISL has obtained approval of the State Government to set up an intake well at Laxmiposh in Gyanpali panchayat under Kutra block, about 25 km from OSIL plant.
An administrative team led by Sundargarh Sub-Collector AC Patra on Sunday held a meeting at Laxmiposh to take stock of the situation.
The villagers vehemently opposed the Government decision. Attending the meeting, BJP’s State executive committee member Upendra Pradhan suggested to OISL to consider fetching water from two large abandoned mine pits at Katang which are 12 km from the plant. As the intake well is proposed about five km upstream of Mandira dam of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), the latter may also suffer, Pradhan added.
Laxmiposh villager Prafulla Minz said the Sankah is not a perennial river and except during monsoon, the river remains dry in rest period of the year.
He said Laxmiposh alone has three Lift Irrigation (LI) points which would be rendered defunct. LI points of other villages close to the river would face similar fate and he also apprehended that there would not be adequate water for domestic animals.
Another villager Bhanu Kujur said all of them depend on agriculture and drying of the river would snatch away their livelihood.