The district administration on Tuesday clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC for a period of two months in three panchayats to expedite the works of a mega drinking water project in Kendrapara district.
The proposed drinking water project, supposed to be implemented using the water from Kharasrota river, is facing opposition from the locals.
As per the order of the administration, the prohibitory orders imposed in Balakati, Bharigada and Barunadiha panchayats will remain in force for two months (from 4 am today till October 8).
During the enforcement of the Section 144, holding of any kind of meeting is banned. Besides, more than five people are not allowed to gather at a place.
About 15 platoons of police force have also been deployed in the area to maintain law and order.
According to sources, Kharasrota Banchao Sangram Samiti (KBSS) has been opposing the drinking water project for the last two years. As part of their protest, members of the outfit staged a road blockage today. Later, police reportedly arrested more than 35 members of the organisation.
“We repeatedly urged the government to construct instream barrage, but the interests of our areas have been ignored. The peoples’ representatives of our areas have sold off our interest to private companies,” said Debendra Sharma, convenor of Kharasrota Banchao Sangram Samiti
“Even if the government has started the project work forcefully and will install the machines... we will not let water released to Bhadrak district. The police could not guard the project round the clock. As long as the instream barrage is not constructed, we will not release water,” he added.
Bidhan Das, secretary of the outfit said, “We have been protesting for years for protection of Kharasrota river. As the river does not have enough water, we have submitted alternative proposal to the government while urging the government to store water by constructing barrage in the lower catchment area. After fulfilling our requirement, the government can supply the remaining water to whichever area it wants.”
“We are not against supplying of water to Bhadrak. However, the administration with a stubborn attitude has imposed Section 144 in three panchayats and deployed police forces, triggering panic among people,” he added.