Mrunal Manmay Dash

Amid the massive furore over the proposed Khrasrota Mega Drinking Water Project at Bharigada under Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district, a team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Tuesday visited the project site and held discussions with members of ‘Save Kharasrota Sangram Samiti’ which is spearheading the people’s movement.

The visit by the BJP team assumes significance as the protests by the Sangram Samiti reached its third day on Tuesday over demands of immediate stoppage of the project work and withdrawal of prohibitory Section-144 enforced around the site.

State General Secretary of BJP, Prithviraj Harichandan who, along with other members, faced resistance from the police officials while visiting the site, said, “I feel this project is unnecessary. Bhadrak district has multiple sources of drinking water. In spite of this, taking water from far off Kharasrota river in Kendrapara district which is struggling with depleted groundwater level is baffling us.”

Harichandan added, “The officials here told us that they will extract only surface water from the river. However, as we can see the water level is low in the river basin even during monsoons. I am sure water will ultimately have to be sourced from the ground, leaving the locals of Kendrapara thirsty. In fact, the natural habitat of Bhitarkanika National Park will also get affected,” feared Harichandan.

He said the way the State government arrested the protestors and went ahead with the project without consultation with local intellectuals and leaders is worrisome. “A public hearing should be organised as soon as possible and the project work should be stopped immediately,” demanded Harichandan.

Extending their support to the protest Harichandan said that the BJP stands with the protestors who have been taken to jail for opposing the project.

Notably, the district administration of Kendrapara on Saturday began executing the drinking water project on Kharasrota river amid heavy security. Twenty-two additional platoons of police force have been moved to the area along with 100 officers to assist the local police in maintaining law and order in the face of unprecedented protest by villagers.

After two days of violent protests which saw arrest of a large number of locals, the local administration wrestled back the situation under control.