Staff Reporter

District Collector has decided to hold talks with leaders tomorrow

BERHAMPUR: Peasants from villages of Kasinagar block of Gajapati district demonstrated in front of the office of the Gajapati district Collector in Parlakhemundi on Wednesday to protest against construction of ‘zero dam' on a perennial stream in their area.

The tribal organisation, Lok Sangram Manch (LSM), also took part in the agitation to express solidarity with the agitators. Around 1,000 peasants from the area under the banner of ‘Krushak Ekata Manch' took part in the agitation. They handed over a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister of Orissa to the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Gajapati district, Jagannath Panda.

The leaders of the agitation also held a telephonic talk with District Collector Prakash Dash. The Collector decided to hold talks with the leaders of the demonstrators regarding the issue on Friday. He directed the irrigation authorities to stop work on the project for the time being.

This ‘zero dam', which is a type of check-dam of a proposed minor irrigation project, is being built up on Nila Nala, a perennial stream. The cost of the project is around Rs. 3.06 crores. But it is alleged that the dam is being built up upstream and it will affect the irrigation facilities like lift irrigation points and animal grazing grounds of ten villages of Gajapati district of Orissa and four villages of Srikakulam district of adjoining Andhra Pradesh. These villagers say they will not get any irrigation benefit from the project being taken up upstream, but their perennial water source will be affected.

Areas to be affected

The villages of Kasinagar block that are to be affected are Kidigam, Karadam, Kaithapadar, Nilapur, Appalanaidupeta, Palamanguda, Kamalguda, Buchiguda, Bailaguda, Sukanpeta etc. Villages like Kadamu, Botalabhadra, Jagannathpur, Balda of Koturu Mandal of Srikakulam district are also to be affected.

Last month the ‘Krushak Ekta Manch' launched a relay hunger strike at Kidigam village of Kashinagar block. When the authorities did not heed to their demands they preferred to demonstrate at the district headquarters. But the officials of the Irrigation Department feel the fear of these villagers is unfounded as only the surplus water of the perennial stream is going to be tapped.