Activists of Rashtriya Oriya Yuvak Pratishthan (ROYP) and Mahendratanaya Bachao Andolan started a 27-hour hunger strike in front of the office of Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division in the city from Tuesday against alleged delay of irrigation projects in Ganjam and Gajapati districts.
Convener of ROYP Srikant Padhi, who is leading the agitation, alleged that authorities and officials of the Irrigation Department in the State were intentionally delaying irrigation projects to escalate the cost for alleged nefarious gains. It may be noted that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who represents Ganjam district holds the irrigation portfolio in the State .
One of the delayed projects cited by the organisations was the Ghatakeswar project which is also aimed at alleviating perennial drinking water crisis in Berhampur. Its foundation stone was initially laid by then Chief Minister J.B.Patnaik in 1986. But through a notification in July 2009, the State government had again initiated the project. But till now work of the project has not started.
In December 2005, foundation stone was laid for the Chheligada project which is to benefit both Ganjam and Gajapati districts as well as the Berhampur city's water needs. “As per the data provided under RTI Act in 2009, the project was to be completed by March 2010. But the data got through RTI Act in May 2011 states that only 23 per work of the project is complete and the project may get completed by 2013”, Mr. Padhi said.
Similar was the allegation related to project on Mahendratanaya river by the State government. Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone of the project on April 30, 2008 at Dambaguda in Gajapati district. This project was a retaliatory move of the State government to a project of Andhra government on the downstream of Mahendratanaya at Regulapadu in Srikakulam district on April 4. But it has also not taken off, these activists alleged.