Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jagatsinghpur, 6 May :
Ignoring all protests and objections by various farmer bodies and activist groups, the Odisha government has accorded the South Korean steel major Posco the right to access and draw water from river Mahanadi and Hansua rivers, official sources have confirmed.
Jagatsinghpur district collector Satya Kumar Mallick confirmed that he had received the letter from the Water Resources department giving the company necessary permission to draw water from Mahanadi and Hansua.
The permission was granted on May 3 by the state Water Resources department, the sources said.
The government decision which was taken while the model code of conduct is still in vogue, is bound to trigger suspicion among the public and massive protests by farmer bodies and outfits. Questions have also been raised about the non-transparent manner in which the state government has been dealing with a sensitive matter like sharing of Mahanadi water with a controversial private company.
Sources said proposed Posco steel plant requires 125 cusec water, which the company wanted to draw from river Mahanadi. The Water Resources department had also approved of it in 2006. Following the approval, Posco had worked out a plan to lay a pipeline from Jobra in Cuttack to Dhinkia, near the proposed Posco plant site.
However, solid resistance from farmer bodies and activist groups like the Mahanadi Bachao Samiti, Nab Nirman Krushak Sangthan as well as several NGOs had forced the government to beat a hasty retreat.
The state government had then asked Posco to look for an alternative source of water . The Posco authorities who were initially unwilling, agreed to draw limited quantities of water from Mahanadi for drinking water supply only and use Hansua river water for construction work.
Pro-Posco groups have welcomed the government’s decision to permit Posco to draw water from Hansua river saying it would help local farmers get over water logging problems across a huge patch of agricultural land in Tirtol, Raghunathpur, Balikuda,Erasama blocks.
However, they warned that they will not allow any construction work for the water linkage until their basic demands are addressed.
The views and comments of groups opposed to sharing of Mahanadi water with industries, were not immediately available.