Bhubaneswar, May 6 UNI | 3 months ago

The Water Initiative of Odisha(WIO) has strongly opposed the Odisha government's decision to permit the South Korea steel major POSCO,proposed to set up a mega steel plant near Paradip, to draw water from Mahanadi and Hansua rivers.

Describing the decison of the state government as 'most unfortnute', WIO cpnvenor Ranjan Panda said 'there has been stiff and genuine opposition by farmers and general public against diversion of Mahanadi and Hansua water for POSCO at the cost of drinking water for Cuttack and irrigation water at Hansua',

He cautioned that any diversion of water from Hansua would lead to serious problems for the local farmers and their farm produces will be affected.

In September 2010, the WIO, working for the conservation of water inteh state, had objected to this move stating that the government was making whimsical decisions without any appropriate study of water availability in Mahanadi and Hansua.

He said any change in the original proposal of POSCO would mean having fresh environmental impact assessments and public hearing.

Even the Meena Gupta committee that inquired into violations of environmental laws by POSCO took cognizance of all these problems.

The WIO Convenor said if water is to be drawn from Hansua Nallah or any other source (other than Jobra Barrage), the Environmental impact has to be assessed and incorporated into the EIA and an opportunity to be heard given to the affected parties.

The effect of non-disclosure of this vital information has deprived opportunity for people who are likely to be impacted due to the water drawal, he said.

The WIO convenor further said had earlier rejected the idea of taking water from local sources terming those to be saline adding that changing the plan to go for local 'saline' sources means changing technology and a fresh study of the impact of these technology on local environment must be conducted.

Mr Panda questioned how could the Odisha government give permission to POSCO taking a deviation from the original proposal without going for a complete assessment of the water availability, impacts of the drawal and related construction and other activities.

'This is clear cut violation of environmental laws and the government must roll back this decision', the WIO convenor remarked and demanded a comprehensive assessment of all water likely to be given to POSCO for all its works.

He further said public hearings should be made in Cuttack as well as among farmers and general people dependent on Hansua where the government must present the real figures and impacts.

Dubbing the decison of the state governmnent as illegal and corrupt, Mr Panda urged the Odisha government to immediately withdraw this decision and go for fresh environmental impacts assessments of these new proposals.

(Posted on 07-05-2014)