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Waterman Rajendra Singh opposes diversion of Kharasrota River water in Odisha

It may be recalled here that the Rs 892 crore Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA) water project had evoked angry protests across Kendrapara district for the past fortnight.

SNS | Bhubaneswar |

Renowned water conservationist Rajendra Singh strongly opposed the Kendrapara administration’s move to divert Kharasrota river water for supplying piped water to the neighbouring Bhadrak district.

Singh, popularly dubbed as the ‘Waterman of India’, visited the riverside areas in Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district and attended a public meeting at Achutapur while expressing solidarity people’s movement spearheaded by the local outfit- Kharasrota Bachao Sangram Samiti.

“Such projects could prove disastrous in future. The people of the neighbouring district need water. But taking water from the river Kharasrota to those areas will not be the proper solution. The natural flow of the rivers should be protected”, Singh said while addressing a public meeting.

He said the government has turned blind to the people’s demand for water, whereas it is facilitating the mega industries to guzzle more and more water and generate pollution.

“Diversion of water from an already deficient river basin would lead to the ingress of seawater upstream and injure the district’s agricultural activities. The riverside villagers will become more vulnerable to salinity intrusion due to the diversion of sweet water from the river for this mega drinking water project, added Singh.

“People in Bhadrak district have all the rights to have safe and clean drinking water. But that should not be at the cost of the larger interest of people living in the neighbouring district. It would have been better on part of the state government to build an in-stream barrage over the Kharasrota river and supply the water to Bhadrak district”, Debendra Sharma, the former Congress MLA of Aul, said while addressing the gathering.

Among others who addressed the meeting are congress leaders Sudrashan Das, Dharanidhar Nayak, former Aul MLA Dolagibinda Nayak, Sabita Baraj and advocate Khirod Rout.

It may be recalled here that the Rs 892 crore Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA) water project had evoked angry protests across Kendrapara district for the past fortnight. As a precautionary measure, prohibitory order has been enforced in Balakati, Bharigada and Barunadiha panchayats under Rajkanika block till October 8.

The project will provide safe drinking water to villages in the Bhadrak district where the groundwater table is heavily salinated. The project requires 105 million litres per day and less than 4 per cent of the water inflow of the river will be diverted for the mega project. The apprehension expressed by people in Rajkanika is unfounded and does not have a logical basis, said Niranjan Nehera, Kendrapara Sub Collector.