Orissa farmers warn government against diverting dam water

January 13th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Jan 13 (IANS) Farmers’ leaders in Orissa Tuesday warned the state government against allowing use of Hirakud dam water for industrial purposes, neglecting irrigation.More than 10,000 farmers held two massive meetings in Sambalpur district near the Hirakud dam and said they are unhappy with the reported permissions the government has given recently to two big industries to draw water from the dam.

The farmers carrying banners, posters and placards shouted slogans against the government and the companies.

“We have assembled here to warn the government against breach of trust”, Prafulla Samantray, a farmer leader, told IANS over phone, adding they will continue their protests till the state government stops allowing the dam’s water to industries.

“The government two months ago assured us that it will take care of farmers’ interest and will not divert water from the dam for industrial purposes. However, it has now given permission to two big industries”, he said.

Farmers under the banner of Paschim Orissa Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS) have been protesting against the industrial use of Hirakud dam water since past several years.

Hirakud Dam was built across the Mahanadi River, about 15 km from Sambalpur in 1956. At 25.8 km, it is one of the longest dams in the world. The main purpose of the dam was to provide irrigation, generate electricity, provide livelihood to fishermen and manage floods.

The farmers alleged the state government has breached its commitment and is diverting irrigation water to over a dozen industries.

“More than 50,000 farmers are being deprived of the water that they need for their crops,” they said.

More than a dozen people were injured two years ago when police baton charged thousands of farmers attempting to enter a prohibited area of Hirakud dam, while protesting the alleged diversion of irrigation water to industries.

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