Bhubaneswar, Jan 14:
Vehemently opposing the move of the state government to lease out Khandadhar hill to the South Korean steel major Posco for mining, the Odisha Krushak Mahasangh (OKM) on Monday said this would lead to an eco-disaster in this rich biodiversity zone.
Taking a dig at the ‘double standard’ of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the OKM president and former MLA Bibhudendra Pratap Das, in a release, said while Patnaik had admitted in the State Assembly in 2010 that the decreased flow of water from Padhanpata waterfall in Deogarh was due to depletion of forest cover, he has had no qualms recommending the Khandadhar mines area, a source of many hill streams, for Posco.
Due to massive deforestation about 80 per cent of the streams in the Khandadhar region has vanished resulting in 50% decrease in the water-flow to the waterfalls at Padhanpata in Deogarh, Khandadhar in Sundargarh and Sanaghagara and Badaghagara in Keonjhar district, Das said, adding , this would reach alarming proportions if extraction of minerals is allowed in the Khandadhar hills.
He also said that rapid dwindling of the forest cover has forced wild animals to stray into human habitations in search of water and food, thus aggravating the man-animal conflict in the region.
Referring to a letter of the Keonjhar DFO to the Tata, OMC and the RB Das Mines’ authorities recently, Das said that the former had apprised these companies of the alarming decrease in the water level of Kandranila and Suna rivers due to rampant iron-ore excavations and destruction of forests in Joda area.