HARBHANGA (BOUDH):With the Manibhadra dam project set to displace lakhs of people and submerge fertile lands, thousands of villagers resolved to oppose it on Gandhi Jayanti. They took the resolution at a meeting organised under the banner of Manibhadra Pratirodh Sangram Samiti at the proposed project site in Barmul village of Harbhagna block of the district.
Speaking at the meeting, Samiti president Abakash Sahu said under the present situation, the dam will have devastating effect. Pointing out that those displaced by Hirakud and Rengali dams continue to be homeless, the speakers said both the Centre and State Governments should stop displacement of people in the name of development.
They were also critical of Finance Minister Pradip Amat and 20 MPs who had given their consent to the project. The villagers pledged not to leave their home and hearth and fight against displacement.
Water balance studies conducted by National Water Development Agency (NWDA) had revealed that Mahanadi and Godavari basins are water surplus basins. But, with water flow in river Mahanadi during non-monsoon under cloud due to construction of barrages upstream by Chhattisgarh Government, doubts are being raised on the issue of surplus water.
The project came under spotlight after a team from Ministry of Water Resources called on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on May 30, 2015. The Central team maintained that the project, a part of Mahanadi-Godavari inter-link, would irrigate 4.43 lakh hectare (ha) of land including 3.52 lakh ha in southern districts of Odisha, generate 445 mw of electricity and control flood.
The project proposes to divert Mahanadi water to Godavari by impounding water at Manibhadra and four more barrages upstream. The link canal will pass through Nayagarh, Khurda, Ganjam and Gajapati districts and join river Godavari at Dolaiswaram.
Manibhadra dam, one of several projects designed to tame the often destructive Mahanadi, has been shelved time and again since 1965 due to freqent oppositions. Since then, the dam had been pushed to the backburner till the recent suggestion of Chief Minister to Water Resources Department to examine the feasibility and submit a report.
Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha, Ranjan Panda said the dam would further make Mahanadi water deficit thereby impacting ecological hotspots such as Satkosia Gorge, Chilika, Bhitarkanika and Gahirmatha.