MBA opposes water to industries

Bhubaneswar: Strongly opposing supply of water to industrial units from rivers at the cost of irrigation, hundreds of activists on Monday staged a demonstration before state Assembly demanding formation of a "Mahanadi Commission".

The activists of political parties, civil rights outfits and farmers under the banner of Mahanadi Bachao Andolan (MBA)asked speaker Pradip Kumar Amat and MLAs to ensure formation of a high-power technical committee in the name of Mahanadi Commission to regulate water supply to industries.

"It is unjustified to allow industries to suck water from rivers and reservoirs while farmers are facing problems for irrigation. The government has no right to give water meant for farmers to industries," senior BJP leader and MBA convenor Bijay Mohapatra said.

Describing river Mahanadi as the lifeline of Odisha, he said at least 27 industries have been allowed to take water from Mahanadi and 17 other industrial units recently signed MoUs with state government to take water from the same river.

Clarifying that MBA was not anti-industries, Mohapatra suggested industrial houses and the state government to set up barrages and check dams for water conservation which could be used for industrial purposes without affecting farmers and agricultural activities.

According to water resources department sources, Odisha receives about 1900 mm rainfall annually, including 1,500mm water during monsoon from June to September. "About 67 per cent of water is being discharged into the sea due to lack of conservation mechanism," Mohapatra said, adding, there was no harm in conserving the water and allow it to flow into the sea. .

Demanding a clear water policy, MBA in a memorandum said there must be a mechanism to keep a tab on the quantity of water being given to industries and for agricultural pur ose.

Besides Mahanadi, the state government has also allowed industries to draw water from major rivers like Baitarani, Brahmani and Rushikulya. "I apprehend the farmers across the state will soon revolt opposing supply of water to industries," Independent MLA Pratap Sarangi said.

Mahanadi Bachao Andolan also raised objection on the indiscriminate use of ground water by industries in the state.

MBA said the Assembly should take steps to stop supply of water to industries until formation of Mahanadi Commission and framing of a water policy in the state.

Meanwhile, replying a question in the assembly Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informed 11 industrial houses have been allowed to draw water from Hirakud reservoir over Mahanadi in a span of four years.