KENDRAPARA: The Kharasrota river diversion issue showed no signs of resolution as talks between agitators and the administration failed to break the ice in Kendrapara on Friday.
During the three-hour-long meeting at Pattamundai, protestors under the banner of Kharasrota River Banchao Sangram Samiti (KRBSS) raised objection to the government’s plan of diverting water from the river to neighbouring Bhadrak district, by citing problems like increased salinity and its impact on agricultural activities which in turn would affect farmers.
The meeting made no headway as officials, on the other hand, refused to halt the construction work of the project at the riverside village of Bharigada. Besides, no assurance was given to protestors about construction of a barrage on Kharasrota, said former Aul MLA and KRBSS convenor Debendra Sharma.
The former legislator said KRBSS is determined to oppose the project as the government, on the pretext of providing water to the people, is planning to supply water to multinational companies and big business houses for running their plants under this initiative. If companies are allowed to draw water from the river, the ground water level will fall drastically and adversely affect farming in Kendrapara district, Sharma said.
Echoing similar views, KRBSS secretary Bidhan Das pointed out how villages around Bhitarkanika National Park are facing problems from salinity, which will only get worse if the water diversion from Kharasrota is effected. The project will likely lead to shortages of drinking and irrigation water and cause changes in aquatic ecosystems. Saline water will make irrigation difficult, he stated.
Meanwhile, Kendrapara Sub Collector Niranjan Behera said the agitators were assured that water will not be provided to any industry. "We urged them to withdraw the agitation but they did not pay heed," he said.
Kendrapara Collector, tehsildars of Aul and Rajkanika and officials of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation division were present but senior BJD leader and Aul MLA Pratap Deb, Kendrapara MP Anubhav Mohanty and officials of Water Resources department were conspicuous by their absence in the meeting.