Move to hand over irrigated land to industries opposed

Sambalpur: Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a leading civil society organistaion working on issues of water, environment and climate change, has strongly opposed the state government’s move to divert irrigated and to-be-irrigated land for Industrial purposes by acquisition or direct purchase by Industries.

A notification specifying guidelines for such diversion has been issued by the government recently.

Describing the move as ‘draconian’, WIO covenor Ranjan Panda said; “This will open the floodgates of proposals for acquiring irrigated land and spell doom for the already stressed farmers who are fighting the cumulative impact of years of drought. This is not acceptable and the government must revoke this notification immediately.”.

“Irrigated lands are already being handed over by tweaking several provisions to favour industries. Even the CAG reports have rapped the government for this. With this notification, the government has opened a way to legalize such fraudulent acts,” Panda said..

Many irrigation projects have now become targets of industries and land in such areas is deliberately being given away to industries, he said. Now the government, in this notification, justifies the handing over of irrigated lands in the name of investments already made by the industries in irrigated commands. This is a clearly case of conspiracy, and should be stopped immediately, urged Panda.

“Many irrigation projects such as the Rengali dam project have been built with external loan support and by displacing huge chunk of people, destroying a lot of forests and causing other problems to the localities. Now that industries will be allowed to take over the irrigated areas, who will compensate all these sacrifices?” the WIO convenor asked.

Owing to increasing water scarcity, more and more industries are being allowed to set up near dams and reservoirs which were originally created for irrigation. Now, with this notification, it will be easier for such industries to grab irrigated lands for their existing as well as expansion proposals. This will shrink the existing irrigation potential, increase conflicts and make the farmers further vulnerable.

“A government that has not been able to provide the 35% irrigation despite repeated promises for decades, has no right to take away existing irrigated lands from farmers under any plea,” said Panda.