Thursday, February 5, 2015
Essar Plant Puts Bairatani River in big trouble!
Sharing below a letter written Kendujhar Citizen's Forum to the CM of Odisha on problems that are going to be faced by common citizens of Baitarani River Basin in Odisha due to Essar plants' drawing water at Basantpur.
The government have a transparent and democratic dialogue with the basin communities in taking such critical decisions.
Baitarani is already a dying river and won't be able to bear more burden of industrial and mining activities.
We at Water Initiatives Odisha have been demanding that an ecological balance study of the Basin be done with involvement of the people and relevant experts/institutions before committing more water to the extractive industries.
Hope the government listens.
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Kendujhar Citizens’ Forum
Shri Naveen Patnaik
03 Feb 15
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha
Sachivalaya, Bhubaneswar 751001
BENEFICIATION PLANT AND SLURRY PIPE LINE PROJECT OF ESSAR STEEL
PERMITTED TO DRAW WATER FROM BAITARANI AT BASANTPUR:
A VIEW FROM RESIDENT CITIZENS OF KENDUJHAR
Please refer our recent letter dated 26 Jan 15 where in we brought to your notice many aspects of this project at its early stage in 2009, and many suggestions of remedy. Now after 6 years, serious clashes of interest among the stake holders namely the domestic users and the agriculturists with the industrial users at Basantpur on Baitarani River has proved our logic. Water is being drawn by Essar under police protection and their plant is running with a kind of political patronage.
The members of Citizens’ Forum sat down to analyze the terms and conditions of allocation of water and the legal provisions of the agreements in our month end general meeting and consensus developed around the following short comings:-
a. No Beneficiation is being done by the Essar Plant at Dubna to upgrade the low grade Iron ore. This was against the main objective of this facility.
b. ‘A Telling pond’ is yet to be created to handle the solid waste, for which funds have been provided in the project proposal.
c. Yet, before the completion of the plant, OSPCB has given ‘Consent to Operate’ only to transport ore by use of water in pipes.
d. Reasons why only ‘High Grade’ ore have been allowed by this ‘Slurry’ transportation system, remains obscure. This action circumvents the ”Need for the Project” as at Para 1.2 of EIA/EMP report submitted for Environment clearance.
e. For lean and ‘Non monsoon’ seasons, the plant has been directed to store “At Least” two months of their water requirement in ‘Storage Tanks’. Simple arithmetic of 1200m3/hr will need a tank size of 173 Ha to a depth of 1meter. Such tanks are nowhere in the project proposal. This shows that the plant has no intension to store water for ‘Lean’ period
f. The “Lean Flow Period” of Baitarani River has been deliberately kept ‘Undefined’, by the engineers of WR dept such that even in February, 4 months after the rainy season, the plant continues to draw water from a deficient and weak upper Baitarani. There is no dipstick or a flow structure to know the lean flow for every body to see. There is no assessment of Domestic, Ecological, and agricultural needs of the ‘Riparian’ villagers who are now protesting the injustice inflicted on them.
g. The comparison of Upper Baitarani with ‘Sileru’ River is simply “untenable” because the 25-30 feet wide and ankle deep Baitarani can be crossed by foot now, where as a recent boat tragedy in Sileru drowned 3 people. We can only imagine the difference in flow.
h. The location of the ‘Telling Pond’ proposed right on the River bank raises doubts that the solid wastes would be discharged to the river. Consequently, the life of the reservoir of Kanupur major irrigation project, 20 km downstream is likely to be seriously impaired. Incidentally, our Forum has suggested that the telling be returned for filling of many abandoned mines.
i. Our Forum had also suggested extensive water harvesting in the entire Baitarani basin upstream of the water pumping station, to supplement the flow in the River, effectively lessening the “Lean period”. This has not been done and the plant continues to draw from a seriously deficient river.
These and many more points of contention need to be discussed with all stake holders for peaceful technical solutions to the current imbroglio. Besides Our Forum feels that Baitarani RBO will justifiably attempt to allocate this vital and seasonally scarce natural resource in a way that will pass the test of being fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory, transparent, non- capricious, unbiased, without favoritism or nepotism and equitable in public interest; all the principles enshrined within Article-14 of the Constitution.
Our Forum, therefore seeks a compressive dialogue among the Govt, corporates and experts with the other stake holders in order to reach a justifiable solution.
(Kiran Sankar Sahu)
Wing Commander (Retd)
President, for and on behalf of All Members of Citizens’ Forum