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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With older projects such as the Lower Suktel in Bolangir and Lower Indra in Nuapada remaining unfinished, fate of the seven new projects on the Mahanadi river basin have raised apprehensions.

While cost of these projects have crossed Rs 72,000 crore, land acquisition and rehabilitation of displaced have become thaws in completion of the projects.

The work on the Lower Suktel project began in 1999, but could not be completed. Meanwhile the project cost has increased from Rs 217.30 crore to Rs 2,448 crore. Officials at the State government said issues over land acquisition and protest by locals led to the delay of the project.

Similarly, work of the Lower Indra Project, for which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid foundation in 2000, is yet to get over. Meanwhile, the project cost has increased from Rs 211.70 lakh to Rs 1,753.64 crore. Here too, issues over land acquisition and rehabilitation of displaced are causing the project delay, sources said.

Gopalji Panigrahi, convener of the Kriyanusthana Committee, Bolangir said, "From the tardy pace of Suktel Project, it seems the local politicians and the Bolangir district administration are not giving much importance to it."
Expressing similar views, Nilakantha Pradhan, president of the Lower Indra Jana Sachetana Manch said, "Around 1,500 people of 30 villages are not moving out of the project area as compensation amount has not been distributed yet. People are living in fear as their houses will be submerged once the project gets over."

In the State Assembly, Water Resources Minister Niranjan Pujari stated eight mega irrigation projects are yet to be completed and the project cost has risen from Rs 4,865 crore to Rs 18,724 crore. Besides work on nine medium and 168 small irrigation projects are yet to get over.

On the other hand, senior BJD leader Damodar Rout raised doubts over the execution of the seven new projects on the Mahanadi basin as part of a master plan.

Rout told mediapersons, "When did the department survey for the projects and calculate budget expenses and other details? All these cannot be done in one day."

Opposition leader Narasingha Mishra stated the recently announced seven projects are not new, but old ones.
Mishra stated, "The State government is only telling new lies to let people forget old lies. By changing name of projects, the State government is claiming that they are launching new projects."

BJP's Sajjan Sharma also raised his doubts and said, "People of Odisha are suffering from the State government's incapability and ever increasing project costs."

In his reaction BJD spokesperson Debi Prasad Mishra said, "Study of the projects is on and feasibility and impact are being assessed."
Meanwhile, BJD general secretary Sanjay Das Burma said second phase of its campaign for Mahanadi will begin from May 16. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will launch the programne from Sukhasoda in Jahrsuguda at 9 am and another one at Chikhali of Bargarh at 10 am.

Road side meetings and cultural activities will be held in 15 districts along Mahanadi during the party programme, Das Burma stated. Besides, lighting of lamps at all religious places situated on Mahanadi basin will be carried out.

Meanwhile, an all-party meeting was held by the Mahanadi Banchao Andolan today. In a draft proposal passed in the meeting it has been agreed upon to create forest on both sides of Mahanadi. They also decided to put pressure at various levels for stoppage of all works on Mahanadi and its tributaries till the final verdict by the tribunal is announced.

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