Bhubaneswar: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Rourkela, Dilip Ray has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally intervene and save river Brahmani-the economic lifeline of Odisha.
“There is an urgent need of a water sharing agreement between Jharkhand and Odisha and such an agreement is possible if a meeting is organized between Odisha and Jharkhand governments under the auspices of your office. I would also request you to direct the Jharkhand government to share details of all ongoing and proposed hydel projects with the state government. ……….I also take the liberty to request your personal attention as well as intervention of your good office for amicable solution to the dispute which will bring relief to the people of Brahmani basin,” Ray wrote to the Prime Minister.
The BJP MLA drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the alarming situation the state of Odisha is likely to be exposed due to arbitrary constructions of barrages and dam projects upstream of river Brahmani’s two tributaries Shankh and South Koel by Jharkhand in its territory.
“These projects will spell disaster for the agriculture, industry, and environment of the Brahmani system and turn the river into a dry and dead one,” the BJP MLA cautioned.
Highlighting on the river’s cultural and spiritual importance Ray said: “River Brahmani is deeply connected with the cultural and spiritual life of not only the people of Odisha but also of the whole of India. Vedavyas, where Brahmani originates is said to be the birth place of sage Vyasa, who composed Mahabharata. Incidentally, this place comes under the jurisdiction of my constituency Rourkela. The emotional attachment of people with river Brahmani makes its conservation all the more important along with the socio economic importance it bears for the people living along her banks.”
He said that the two tributaries of Brahmani-Shankh and Koel originate in the state of Jharkhand and flow southwards to converge at Vedvyas near Rourkela to form Brahmani adding Rourkela steel plant constructed Mandira dam over river Shankh to supply water to the steel plant and the people of nearby areas.
However, the water level of Mandira dam is receding due to the construction of a barrage in Gumula district by the Jharkhand government in 2008, he pointed out.
“Now the situation is going to worsen as the Jharkhand government is constructing a mega dam project for generation of 710 MW power on South Koel River and many other irrigation projects. These will substantially reduce water flow in river Brahmani. The Rengali dam project which was built for power generation and the Samal Barrage downstream built to irrigate 4 lakh hectares of land will be severely affected by the shrinking water level in Brahmani,” said Ray expressing his apprehensions.
“The construction presently being undertaken by the Jharkhand government violates the National Water Policy of 2012. The stipulation of taking into cognition the existing projects downstream while building any project upstream has not been adhered to by the Jharkhand government,” he pointed out.
The BJP MLA stated that all the major industries like Rourkela Steel plant, NALCO at Angul, Talcher industrial cluster and Jajpur’s Kalinga Nagar are located in the Brahmani basin, and depend on the river for their water needs.
He said that Brahmani in one way nurtures the agro-industrial economy of the state and makes vital contribution to the country’s economy and life and livelihood of the people of six districts-Sundargarh, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, Kendrapara and Deogarh depends on the water flow of river Brahmani.
Lakhs of people are employed due to the economic activities facilitated by the river, he added.
“Besides, Brahmani waters helps in maintaining and preserving the biodiversity and ecological balance of the Bhitarkanika National Biological Park which also helps to protect the coastal districts from natural calamities. The Talcher-Dhamra-Paradeep Navigation corridor which is in progress to facilitate transportation of industrial goods produced in the industrial units of the Brahmani basin may be adversely impacted by constricted water flow into Brahmani and its branch River Kharasrota as the waterway runs through these two rivers,” Ray explained.