Sangram Parishad for check dams

Bhubaneswar/Bolangir: The state government’s afresh talks on Thursday to start construction work for the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project and convince the anti-project voices seemed not to cut much ice with Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad (BASP) sticking to go against the Rs 217 crore project (1996 estimation), touted as the lifeline of Bolangir district.

Members of the BASP, a forum of 30 villages protesting against the project, during their discussion with Water Resources Secretary Suresh Mohapatra, put forth their proposal suggesting the government to consider successive check dams along the river.

“If the government plans for check dams, the benefit will be same as that of the original planned dam and there will be less displaced,” said Raghuram Bhoi, a BASP member.   

The hour-long discussion with BASP representatives at Dunguripali, in the presence of about 1500 members of the forum involving mostly women looked unsatisfactory as the locals raised anti-project slogans at the end of the meeting.

The government official who too visited the likely submerged Koindapalli and Paradhiapali areas, assured the locals of adequate compensation and rehabilitation against their lands. According to sources, Mohapatra has also asked the BASP representatives for a talk with chief secretary in Bhubaneswar.

Notably the December 21 tripartite talk among government, Lower Suktel Action Committee (LSAC) and the BASP members failed to take off as the Sangram Parishad preferred to stay away which reasoned the presence of LSAC.

According to plans drawn in 1996, the dam will be built to connect the Budalagen and Jharepahad hills that straddle Suktel river. The reservoir of the dam which will lead to the submergence of 26 villages, according to official figures, will cover nearly 5216 hactare. It is expected to provide irrigation facilities to the district along with 179 cubic metres of drinking water to Bolangir town.