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Will Odisha’s Mega Water Conservation Project See Light Of The Day?

Bhubaneswar: Amidst the ongoing water dispute with neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Odisha government has decided to construct in-stream storage structures (ISS) on major river basins, including Mahanadi, Rushikulya, Brahmani and Baitarani. After preparing a blue print for 40 such ISS, the Water Resources Department has now sought suggestions from eight departments for executing the mega project at an estimated cost of Rs 11,713 crore.

Sources said the move of Odisha government aims at creating facilities to meet future water requirement particularly during non-monsoon period and creating additional irrigational facilities.

“It will be taken up as a pilot project for six years for ground water recharge and meeting water requirements during summer. We will study its efficacy,” said Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das.

However, many have raised questions over implementation of the project as the Water Resources Department had earlier (last year) announced plans for construction of seven barrages in the Mahanadi but the proposed project has so far remained in pen and paper only.

“We are planning a master plan for construction of barrages,” former Water Resources Department Minister, Niranjan Pujari had said on May 12, 2018.

According to experts, nearly 52 % water in the Hirakud downstream flows to the sea and goes wasted. Though Odisha had announced for 22 projects on Mahanadi and its tributaries one and half years back, the plans are yet to materialise.

“Odisha government’s plans to construct in-stream storage structures in six years doesn’t seem so easy as it usually takes lot of time in survey, investigation and construction. No doubt the project assumes significance and we hope that work starts within a year,” said former chief engineer (Water Resources),Ramesh Chandra Tripathy.

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