Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sindhol Project Update II by WIO

Why did the CM lie in 2003?

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Water Initiatives Odisha!

Yesterday we had brought to you the First Update on the Sindhol Project. 

Today, translating a piece of news published in today’s issue of Dharitri, we are sending out the Second Update that shows how the govt. has lied to the people about the project.

We have been urging upon the govt. to take people into confidence in planning any projects.  With such acts however the govt. is instigating people to oppose.  This is called ‘conflicts by design’.


Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha

Chronology of events with regard to the Sindhol Project:

Along with Hirakud, there was a proposal to build a dam at Tikarpada on Mahanadi and a barrage at Naraj, to control flood.  However, Tikarpada dam would have submerged the Sonepur and Boudh towns and hence it never saw the light of the day.  The Naraj barrage was constructed.

During the 80s, during chief ministership of Janaki Ballabh Pattnaik, proposals were on air for the Manibhadra dam and not Tikarpada.  However, it was opposed in the entire western Odisha so much so that the govt. had to airdrop leaflets on Balangir, Sonepur , Boudh and nearby areas promising the Manibhadra dam wont come up.

In 1996 the govt. once again started talking about the Sindhol Project under the name of ‘Hirakud Stage III’.  The then central energy minister N. K. Salve visited Chiplima in this context.  However, this was opposed too and in an election speech Janaki Pattnaik promised that the project won’t be constructed if the people don’t want it.

However, the matter once again came up during campaigns for the Rairakhol Assembly bi-elections in 2003. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had categorically said during election campaign that “this project is not under consideration anymore”.

However, later, the state’s energy minister Surjya Narayan Patra, in a press conference, informed that the state has sent a proposal to the center for setting up of this project.  Reacting to this statement, on 12th August 2003, the then BJD MLA of Rairakhol Sanatan Bisi, wrote to Patra seeking clarification.  Replying to this, through his letter dated 23rdAugust, 2003, Patra informed Bisi that “you will be happy to know that the govt. has decided in principle not to go ahead with the Sindhol project”.  Based on this letter the District Information and Public Relations Officer of Sambalpur had given a press statement confirming the above.

The above press statement mentioned that “even though the Sindhol project has been in discucssion at various levels for the last 15 years, no detailed project report has been prepared so far on this.  According to preliminary investigations this project will submerge 28 villages and displace 1850 families.  So, the govt. has decided not to implement this project”.

It’s worth mentioning here that, during the 90s, the govt. advertisements in newspapers had put it that the project would submerge 118 villages including 37000 acre fertile agriculture land, reserved forests and homestead land.”

Translated from front page news published in Dharitri, 22nd July 2011

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