SAMBALPUR: Voters of three villages under Kuchinda sub-division boycotted polls on Tuesday protesting the proposed Lamodar Medium Irrigation project over river Kharla near Kadogarh under Kuchinda Assembly segment.There are 1,795 voters in three villages of Bamragarh and Lepeikani under Dimirimunda gram panchayat besides, Karangamal village under Sirid gram panchayat.
According to reports, the proposed project will displace 463 families spread over 15 villages under gram panchayats of Dimrimunda, Sirid and Bhojpur in Jamankira block of the district besides, Dimrikuda in neighbouring Deogarh district. Protest against the 1,158-metre-long and 23 metre-high project is not new for them.
While the Lamodar Medium Irrigation project envisages irrigating 9,975 hectares of land in the kharif season and has the potential to provide drinking water to 50,000 people in the area, it will completely submerge three villages and partially submerge 12 villages. It will also affect 39,948 hectares of forest land and 15 km of road.
Voters said since the affected villages are inhabited by poor people who are dependent on minor forest produces, the project will snatch their livelihood with forest getting submerged.
Four years back, villagers of the 15 villages opposed the project forcing the Odisha State Pollution Control Board to cancel the public hearing. In 2016, members of Lamodar Project Sangharsh Samiti took out a two-day-long bicycle rally to apprise the villagers about displacement due to the project.
Leader of Lamodar Project Sangharsh Samiti, Saroj said any new irrigation proposed by the State Government has a hidden agenda of providing water to industries and this project is no different. He said there are other alternatives to provide irrigation to the land and there is no point in displacing people and snatching livelihood of the poor.