Water Rights activist Ranjan Panda faults Odisha Govt for suppplying water from Hirakud Reservoir to Industries

Water Rights activist Ranjan Panda faults Odisha Govt for supplying water from Hirakud Reservoir is toIndustries. The way they have shut down the power plant while continuing to supply water to industries is illegal, alleges Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha.

“Hirakud dam was originally constructed for flood control. Irrigation and power generation were incidental benefits. Providing water to industries at cost of power generation is a clear cut indication of the government’s vested tilt towards the industries”, Panda alleged further.

It is to be noted that, the dam’s power generation capacity has been drastically reduced by deliberate design, more so recently because of the favouritism towards industries. And on 17th June this year, when the dam authorities stopped releasing water for power generation, illegally, they created a history. For the first time in history of the dam, the power plant was completely stopped showing shortage of water as the reason, even though the water had not reached the dead storage limit, alleged Panda.

The dam’s Dead Storage Level of 590 feet is a stage from where irrigation and power generation should be stopped. For industries, however, the dead limit is said to be 595 feet. But, while on 17th June the storage level was about 593.75, the power supply was stopped but industries continued to draw water.

Local newspaper reports confirm that the dam authorities did an act of ‘eye wash’ by stopping water to Hindalco Industries at Hirakud on 17th June. However, the plant activities resumed in a few hours only. It is reported by the newspapers that the dam authorities had to release water to Hindalco succumbing to pressure of the Secretary, Water Resources Department of Govt. of Odisha.

Other industries also continue to draw water even as Hirakud’s water is receding and no canals could be supplied water on the stipulated date of 16th. WIO condemns such illegal and anti-people, anti-farmer act of the Water Resources Department and asks them to immediately stop water supply to industries and ensure water to irrigation canals, said Panda.

Unless the water supply to industries is stopped, irrigation will drastically suffer and conflicts in the command area will grow, warned Panda.

A dry reservoir is not merely due to scanty rainfall but also because of interceptions of Mahanadi’s flow by Chhattisgarh upstream. And despite repeated urge of Water Initiatives Odisha, the governments are not yet talking properly on managing Mahanadi in an integrated basin management approach. “The governments are only talking as knee jerk measure to reduce flood devastations and not for comprehensive and coordinated management of the entire River”, alleged Panda, adding, “such temporary and half-hearted approaches would neither reduce flood vulnerabilities during rainy season nor will solve such water scarcity situations during non-monsoon periods”.

High time the governments went for a holistic management plan of Mahanadi that is people-centric, open and transparent. Further, the governments should now admit that Mahanadi is a ‘water deficit river’ and accordingly stop giving away precious water to industries beyond a limit drawn on basis of proper ecological balance analysis keeping both present and future scenario in mind, said Panda.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *