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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday targeted the Odisha government alleging that there was no eco-impact survey conducted by the IIT Hyderabad which had been cited by the Kendrapara district administration to get a go-ahead for the Bharigada drinking water project on Kharashrota river in Kendrapara.

The BJP accusation on the Odisha government of having deceived the people of the State is based on an RTI reply that clearly mentions that the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad had never carried out any special survey on the environmental impact of the drinking water project on the Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP).

As per reports, the RTI reply was undersigned by the Deputy Registrar of the IIT, Sayyed Ali Sabbir.

Pratap Mohanty, an RTI activist who applied for the information said, "I have applied through the RTI to know about the members of the IIT delegation who had visited Kendrapara to study the environmental impact on the Bhitarkanika National Park and what was the outcome of their study. My suspicion became true when the RTI reply revealed that there was not even a request made by the Odisha government to the IIT in this regard."

Following the revelations, the Kendrapara administration shrugged its shoulders and tried to put the onus on the Bhadrak administration saying that the Water Resources and Sanitation department of Bhadrak was entrusted with the task of obtaining the environmental clearances. "We had nothing to do with the IIT survey or any other kind of approval from other agencies. It was the responsibility of Bhadrak RWSS division," said, Basanta Kumar Nayak, the Executive Engineer of Kendrapara RWSS division.

"I will be able to comment further only after verifying the facts and the data received," added Nayak.

As per the minutes of meeting held by the monitoring committee constituted for the eco-sensitive zone of protected areas of mangrove forest, which was held on December 15, 2020, "The Executive Engineer, RWSS, Kendrapara appraised the members that the treatment plant for the project is to be constructed in Nuahata Mouza of Chandabali Tahasil and the intake well shall be done in Barunadia Mouza of Rajkanika Tahasil and both the villages come under the Eco Sensitive Zone of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. Environmental and Social Impact Study of the project has been conducted by IIT, Hyderabad. "

Debendra Sharma, the Convenor of Kharasrota Banchao Sangram Samiti said, "This project has been launched as per a well planned conspiracy. I had earlier termed this report as false and fabricated which has been proven now."

Pradeep Purohit, the State President of BJP Kisan Morcha demanded the immediate release of the arrested and detained protestors. “I demand action against the officials who provided false data to the government," he said.

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