Ramakanta Biswas

BJP National Vice-President and former MP of Kendrapara, Baijayant Panda on Tuesday termed the controversial Kharasrota mega drinking water project at Bharigada of Rajkanika as ‘anti-people’.

“The way the project is being executed is wrong and anti-people. Firstly, there is a requirement of holding public hearings for such big projects. But the government has violated the norms. The State government has started the project without even consulting with the local population through public hearings. It is a major crime,” Panda said after holding discussion with the functionaries of Kharasrota Sangram Samiti.

“The apprehensions of the local residents need to be addressed. The local leaders held repeated discussions with the administration and suggested that the quantity of water in the river should be measured during April-May months when the water level is very low. Presently during the peak of monsoon, the water level is so low. Just imagine, what would the scenario during summer,” Panda said. 

The former MP met the families of protestors who have been arrested and jailed for raising voice against the drinking water project. He termed their arrest ‘illegal’.

“Arresting those protesting against the project is illegal. Those lodged in jail should be released immediately and a public heading should be held,” Panda maintained.

Speaking after the meeting, Debendra Sharma, convener of the Kharasrota Sangram Samiti said, “Baijayant Panda has assured us that he and his party are supporting the agitation against the drinking water project and it will continue in future. We are united and will fight for the cause.”

It is worth mentioning here that the mega drinking water project at Bharigada is facing stiff opposition from the locals. On August 12, as many as 24 local villagers were arrested for opposing the project.

Notwithstanding the fierce protest by locals, the district administration started execution of the drinking water project amid tight security with the deployment of over 22 platoons of police force.