Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lotus farming in irrigation project sparks row in B’ngir

 Bhubaneswar Lotus farming in irrigation project sparks row in B’ngir
SUNDAY, 13 MAY 2012 23:24
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A second time bhumi puja of the spillway work of Lower Suktel Irrigation Project which was scheduled to be held on May 11 at Magurbeda was put off in view of stiff resistance from the displaced people. The authorities’ move to undertake lotus farming in the project reservoir was also opposed by the locals.
The move galvanized the Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangrami Parishad, a forum of the displaced people, which has been opposing the project since the beginning and demanding adequate compensation to the affected people.
The Lower Suktel Irrigation Project was approved in 1996-97 at Rs 217crore, which was later increased to Rs 1, 047 crore. Once completed, the project would provide irrigation benefit to 29, 416 hectares of land in Balangir district and 2, 681 hectares in Sonepur district, besides providing 17.89 cubic meter drinking water to Balangir town. It would submerge 4, 602 hectares of land of 29 villages and displace 14, 380 people, according to official sources.
Chief Executive Engineer of Lowrer Suktel Project RC Padhee at a Press conference on Thursday last said the project’s reservoir would have a green belt of 60 km in length and 500 meter in width on its side. People could take up floriculture, including a lotus garden inside the reservoir. This would be made an attractive tourist spot with boating facility, he informed.
However, the concept of lotus cultivation sparked tension among the locals. In the last eight years, no activity has been taken up. The landoustees have not been given compensation. When not a single programme has been undertaken to win the confidence of the affected people, the very idea of the lotus farming has not gone down well with them, the parishad members said.
Let the administration talk with the displaced people first and win their confidence by giving them adequate compensation. Unless this is done, it would invite opposition from them, pointed out Samjwadi Party district unit president Arun Mishra.

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