Odisha govt’s ‘controversial’ plan to acquire irrigated land for industries

February 26, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 09:24 am IST - BHUBANESWAR:

Clearing hurdles for acquiring irrigated land for industrial purposes, Odisha government has come out with a concept of ‘compensatory irrigation’ asking industries to create irrigation area twice the loss of such land.

“It is realised that sometimes it may not be possible for an industry to avoid irrigation command area completely. Sometimes, in order to get a continuous patch for setting up of industries, some irrigated command areas may be required for use by some industries,” says Odisha government bringing out a ‘controversial’ guideline.

“In case a portion of irrigated command area under unavoidable circumstances is required to be diverted for the purpose of industrialisation, the industry concerned will have to make up for the loss by way of creating compensatory irrigation,” says the guideline.

“Irrigated area or area to be irrigated for which canal system have already been designed should not be ordinarily used for industrial purpose, unless an industry has already made some investment in that location or it is not possible for the industry to avoid irrigation command area completely on the ground of contiguity. If such land is acquired or directly procured for establishment of an industry, the project proponent will have to bear the cost of compensatory irrigation by creating new irrigation for twice the ayacut lost,” says the State government.

“The compensatory irrigation will be created preferably in the same project area where the ayacut is lost by way of extension of a canal system if possible or through pumped irrigation system. In case the above is not possible, the industry concerned will bear the cost of creating the required ayacut (twice the lost ayacut) through Lift Irrigation by Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation, preferably in the same block or the district,” it adds.

Stating that for calculating the cost of compensatory irrigation the latest cost standards for creation of ayacut would be taken into account, the guideline says, “as creation of the compensatory irrigation would take normally a period of 3 years and in order to mitigate the cost of escalation, the project proponent would be charged additional 25 per cent on the latest normative cost as calculated by the concerned irrigation authorities.”

“The guideline will open the floodgate for proposals of acquiring irrigated land. At a time when impact of drought is getting worse due to absence of assured irrigation, the diversion of irrigated land would spell doom for farmers,” said Ranjan Panda, convenor of Water Initiative of Odisha, which fight for water rights.

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