KENDRAPARA: Forty-five-year-old activist Srikant Nayak, on hunger strike for over 10 days protesting diversion of water from Kharasrota river, had to be force-fed on Saturday after his condition deteriorated at the district headquarters hospital here.
The activist from Rajkanika had launched the strike on August 10 near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Kendrapara town. He was moved to hospital on August 15 by district administration. However, he refused food and continued his strike at the hospital. “Nayak is being force fed. His health is being monitored by a team of doctors,” said CDMO Dr Anita Patnaik.
Determined to continue the stir, Nayak said he is ready to die for Kharasrota river and Bhitarkanika National Park. “The riverside villagers will become more vulnerable to salinity due to diversion of fresh water from the river for the mega drinking water project in Bhadrak,” he said gathering strength at the hospital.
The villages around Bhitarkanika National Park are already facing salination issues and situation will worsen due to the project, which he said will lead to scarcity of drinking and irrigation water and cause changes in the aquatic ecosystem. “The government should first build a barrage on Kharosrota river to store the water before diverting it from the river,” he demanded.
The activist alleged the State government has not obtained environment clearance and approval of National Wildlife Board for the project. Diversion of water from an already deficient river basin would lead to ingress of seawater upstream and affect agricultural activities. Human-crocodile conflicts will increase as more of the species will stray into the river from the water bodies of Bhitarkanika due to increase in salinity level, he added.
Executive engineer of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Dilip Kumar Dehury said the `754 crore drinking project will not dry the river as we will divert only surplus water for the project through pipelines. “Some vested interest have been opposing the project,” he said.