Water Initiatives term Odisha’s land diversion notification ‘draconian’

SAMBALPUR: The Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has described the Odisha government’s notification over diversion of irrigated and to-be-irrigated lands for industrial purposes as ‘draconian’.

Ranjan Panda, Convenor of WIO, said this would open the floodgate of proposals for acquiring irrigated lands and doom the already stressed farmers who are fighting years of drought impacts.

This is not acceptable, and the government must revoke this notification immediately, said Panda.

Irrigated lands were already being handed over by tweaking several provisions to favour industries. Even the CAG reports have rapped the government for this. With this notification, the government has opened a way to legalise such fraudulent acts, apprehended Panda.

Informing that many irrigation projects have now become targets of industries and deliberately lands have been given to industries in the command areas already, he said the government, in this notification, justifies the handing over of irrigated lands in the name of investments already made by the industries in irrigated commands.

This is a clear case of conspiracy, and should be stopped immediately, urged Panda.

In cases such as the Rengali dam project, which was solely built for irrigation, while the government has not yet been able to provide the promised irrigation, industries have been allowed to take over the command area. With this notification, most of the command areas of all dam projects will be under threat.

Owing to increasing water scarcity, more and more industries are being allowed to set up near dams and reservoirs which were created for irrigation. Now, with this notification, it will be easier for such industries to grab irrigated lands for their existing as well as expansion proposals, he added.

He said this would shrink the current irrigation potential, increase conflicts and make the farmers further vulnerable.
A government that has not been able to provide the 35% irrigation despite repeated promises for decades, has no right to take away existing irrigated lands from farmers under any plea, said Panda.

The notification talks about compensatory irrigation in lieu of irrigated lands acquired. This is just an absurd idea, and there are no reasons to trust the government which has not been able to regulate industrial houses in many counts, said the social activist.