Staff Reporter

Proper assessment of requirement favoured

It’s misleading, says farmers’ leader

BHUBANESWAR: Even as the controversy over diversion of water to industries is thickening by the day, the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) on Tuesday said that the volume of water being allocated to industries was very small in proportionate to the water used for irrigation purpose.

Replying to a query on the raging debate here on Tuesday, Vice-Chairman of the CII (Orissa) S. K. Mohapatra said: “Water required for industries constitute a small portion of water available for irrigation. Water used for agricultural purpose is measured in acre-feet while that supplied to industries is measured in gallon. Acre-feet means water used in irrigation is very high. So there is no comparison.” “If one calculates, the water required for industries will not cross five per cent of total water reserve. However, on returns, the industries trigger 85 per cent of income generation,” Mr. Mohapatra, who is also Chief Executive Officer of Dhamra Port Company Ltd (DPCL), said. He said that the whole issue should be looked in a holistic manner. “We are making artificial compartment of water needs. We should go for a proper assessment of water required for agriculture and industries.”

CII’s statement assumed significance when the government was under tremendous pressure following growing discontentment among the farmers over diversion of Hirakud reservoir waters to industries. A few days ago, some 30 farmers were injured when the police resorted to lathi-charge to control a demonstration near Hirakud reservoir in Sambalpur district.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday said he was ready to talk to the agitating farmers. Only surplus water would be diverted for use by industries, Mr. Patnaik said.

Reacting to the argument forwarded by the CII, convener of the Western Orissa Farmers’ Coordination Committee Lingaraj said the contention was fallacious.

“It’s our right”

“As per the MoU signed by government, 478 cusecs of water has been sanctioned from Hirakud reservoir. The water could have irrigated 50,000 acres of agricultural land.” “Industries need water for 12 months while farmers require it for eight months,” Mr. Lingaraj said. He reiterated that farmers had first right over water.