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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly opposed the Odisha government's move to divert Kharasrota river water for supplying piped water to neighbouring Bhadrak district and alleged that it was a well-hatched conspiracy to protect the interest of industrial houses located in the neighbouring district.

Diverting water from Kharasrota river in Kendrapara district to neighbouring Bhadrak district, is bound to trigger depletion of water intake capacity. The natural flow of the river should be protected for the larger interest of people of Kendrapara who are mostly dependent on agriculture income for livelihood, said veteran CPM leader and the party former state secretary, Janardhan Pati.

Briefing reporters here on Saturday, he said "the way the government is trampling down the resistance movement against the mega drinking water project, it leads one to believe that the project is being implemented to meet the water requirement of industries including the Dhamra port in Bhadrak district".

If the port and other companies are allowed to draw water from the mega project, the water level will fall drastically and will adversely affect farming and ecology of the nearby Bhitarkanika National Park, which is home to the country's second largest mangrove cover, he claimed.

Since no environmental impact assessment had been done properly for the proposed mega drinking water project, it is an act of "impropriety" on the part of the state government to go ahead with the construction of the project, he said.

The Rs 892 crore Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA) water project had evoked angry protests across Kendrapara district since past fortnight after it came to the light that the Kharasrota river water will be diverted to Bhadrak. As a precautionary measure, prohibitory orders have been enforced in Balakati, Bharigada and Barunadiha panchayats under Rajkanika block till October 8.

The project will provide safe drinking water to villages in Bhadrak district where the groundwater table is heavily salinated. The project requires 105 million litres per day and less than 4 per cent of 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 Behera, Kendrapara Sub Collector.

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