Friday, January 04, 2008

hirakud dam is built across river mahanadi at about 15 Kms. upstream of Sambalpur town in State of Orissa and is one of the first post independence major river project and is probably the longest dam in the world.

without going into the dam need, we will take a post partum look on how the dam is serving the people. oh yeah forget the people. let us see how farmers are trying to get their fair share of water from the mega dam which is being siphoned by polluting mining industries even hundreds of kms away.

downtoearth has profiled this story. 2 para's summarise the struggle of farmers over the industries that treat water as their birth right.

An uneasy calm prevails in Talab village, near the dam. The village is where a major canal network, the Sason canal, originates. It irrigates 24,280 hectares (ha), benefiting 60,000 households solely dependent on agriculture. From the same location water-guzzling industries are lifting water from the reservoir. Jogesh Bhoi, the 32-year-old president of the local pani panchayat formed to manage the canal, is restless. “For the past five years there has been a war going on here for getting enough water in the canal. The war has reached a decisive phase. We are not sure what consequences it would have but we are firm on getting water,” he says. So 10 days after the massive protest, the villagers along with others erected a 16-foot-long wall right above an underground pipe laid by Vedanta Aluminium to take water from the reservoir for its smelter located far away.

On December 2, Hindalco, an aluminium company, started laying pipes for its second water lift-off plant from the reservoir. A massive protest from farmers followed and the work had to be stopped. “The company doesn’t have permission for the second pipeline,” says Pradhan, adding, “This shows how defiant the companies are and how confident they are of government approval; they could spend money without even knowing whether water will be granted.” On December 5, farmers near the Sason canal protested again on hearing that Bhushan Steel was preparing for a second pipeline to the reservoir. The situation is tense.

only in india, industries get super priority over anything else including the feasibility of whether water can be given to the industry considering the workload of water stored. only in india can the 'poor businessmen' who run these 'poor industries' can talk development right on the back of genuinely poor and beleaguered farmers.
(an aerial view of the hirakud dam. damn the farmers, dangle the carrot to the industries. damn sustainable and inclusive development, dance with polluting industries to get 10% gdp number)


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