.........BERHAMPUR: Callouness of the Odisha Government in completing irrigation projects over river Mahendratanaya in Gajapati district has left the locals irked. While the State Government is delaying construction work, the Andhra Pradesh Government has already started working on a project over the river to provide irrigation to its farmers.
Members of Mahendratanaya Surakhya Manch, who had recently visited the project site in the neighbouring State, have decided to hit the streets if the Odisha Government does not complete the project soon.Both the governments had laid foundation of their respective projects in 2008. While Odisha Government had planned an irrigation project across the river at Kaithapadar village with a storage reservoir to irrigate 7,940 hectares of land in Parlakhemundi, Raigada and Kasinagar blocks of Gajapati district, the Andhra Pradesh Government had decided to set up a project to irrigate an area of 24,600 acres in Palasa and Nandigam mandals and provide drinking water to people under Palasa and Kasibugga municipalities. The Andhra Pradesh Government had laid foundation stone on April 30, 2008 for its project.
Mahendratanaya, a tributary of river Bansadhara, originates at Tuparasingi village in Gajapati district and passes through Andhra Pradesh before meeting the sea.The Andhra project involves construction of an offtake sluice on the left bank of the river at Chapara village under Meliaputti mandal in Srikakulam district. The water will be diverted through the offtake sluice into a channel which will run for 17 kms and flow into the proposed reservoir across a valley between high mounds at Regulapadu village in the same district.
As the proposed Andhra project would draw water from the river, Gajapati farmers protested the neighbouring State’s action. The proposed reservoir would submerge large tracts of agriculture land in Gosani and Rayagada blocks of Gajapati district and also lead to water crisis in areas under Paralakhemundi municipality. Following widespread resentment by Gajapati farmers, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to his Andhra counterpart stating that the project violates the inter-state river water sharing pact signed in 1962 and urged not to go ahead with it till a joint inspection by technical committees from both the States is completed. Following this, the construction did not stop but slowed down.
Subsequently, Odisha Government announced to construct two irrigation projects over the river and laid the foundation stone in 2008. The two projects, a diversion weir across river Mahendratanaya near Dambapur and another near Champapur over Jalanga, a tributary of Mahendratanaya, aimed to provide irrigation facility to Rayagada, Gumma, Gosani and Paralakhemundi.
However, these projects have remained incomplete so far. On the other hand, the Andhra Pradesh Government has stepped up construction of its offtake sluice project.Last week, a group of persons under the aegis of Mahendratanaya Surakhya Manch visited Chapara area in the neighbouring State and found the work on offtake sluice being carried out in full swing. The Manch members have decided to stage a dharna in front of the Gajapati collectorate if no measures are taken for construction of both the projects at Champapur and Dambapur within a week.