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Indravati Dam: The death of the rivers!
While on the Baphlimali hilltop I looked down at the Indravati reservoir. Watching it transports any human mind to a different world altogether. Viewers, in the process, are compelled to forget theirs earthly worries. 'Without any frustration Nature remains ever new and its satisfaction forever endless.'

We lament mentioning that all this beauty of Nature is ephemeral as the bauxite mining has commenced. Thus, the beauty of Baphlimali that is heart-touching as of now will soon be a heart-rending sight. This bauxite mining will, slowly but surely, poison Baphlimali to its inevitable end.

Rajani told me the same thing on the foothills of Baphlimali, “Sir, please see our Indravati river how she is witnessing her slow poisonous death from the Baphlimali hilltop. If the government will not take action to protect Indravati and its reservoir then in the very near future this will turn into a virtual death-trap for local civilization. Baphlimali bauxite mining is not the real progress for us and Nature, it is a capitalistic demonic development which will bring certain death to Indravati and poison its waters.”

I reached her hamlet, namely, Maligaon. She added further, “When a private mining company came to our area to start mining on Baphlimali we were given a plethora of promises for the improvement of health, sanitation, education, drinking water, employment assurance etc. etc. This company spur yarns of corporate social responsibility and periphery development (CSR&PD), but after mining permission was obtained he chose to conveniently forget all his false promises.

He constructed a make-believe road and propagated it on a conspicuous signpost. After mining you can see to believe how our streams have dried up and are polluted. Due to paucity of water now humans and animals are using the same water for drinking and bathing. Locals especially children are suffering from serious skin diseases. Please apprise the powers-that-be, through reports, as to how the mining has exploited our livelihood and has fooled us on the CSR&PD fronts. Also do raise your voice for the protection of Indravati, kindly go and see the predicament of Indravati to believe.”

Rajani stayed back in her hamlet and I returned to witness the scape of Indravati. I reached Mukhiguda and saw Indravati’s electricity production centre. Thereafter I came to see Indravati’s dam and reservoir at Kahtiguda. In the brightness of the electricity at Mukhiguda I could see a dark history of the people whose lives were now busted. And in the river bank and reservoir of Indravati at Khatiguda I could see human’s wailing cry for water. On the Dam I felt, Indravati’s dark development and local’s black dreams.

There was acute drought in Kalahandi district in 1868, 1899, 1919-20, 1025-26, 1929-30 (earlier reports are not available). Maharaja of Kalahandi, his highness Pratap Keshari Deo seeing the condition of Kalahandi district people, surveyed the entire area for water source and finally decided that, if a portion of Indravati river basin water is transferred to Kalahandi district then the problem of Kalahandi people can be solved.

In 1944 the topographic survey was done and in 1946 Er. Bhubaneswar Behera submitted a project report. After independence; Maharaja of Kalahandi persuaded, the then state Irrigation Minister Maharaja Saliendra Narayan Bhanja Deo (a renowned man having vast experience in irrigation works) for construction of the project to solve the drought problem of Kalahandi district. The Minister felt that this project would solve the problems of Kalahandi district. A detailed project was prepared by Govt of Odisha in 1964.

At that time the un-divided Koraput district people apprehended that the undivided Koraput district people shall be deprived of Indravati river water, if the Indravati river water is diverted to Kalahandi district. The local politicians raised their doubts before state and central govt. from time to time. The chronological events and assurances had given by both Central and State Govt at different stages, to the Koraput district.

In 1964, Central Irrigation Minister Dr. K.L. Srimali assured in parliament that 1.72lakhs acres of Kalahandi district and 1.3 lakhs acres of Koraput district shall be irrigated after construction of the Indravati proj ect. 1968, Due to interstate river dispute in 1968; the Krishna-Godavari, Tribunal (Bachawat Commission) was formed and and all construction of projects on Krishna-Godavari river basins were stopped till Tribunal award (including Upper Kolab and Upper Indravati Project).

1975, after a bi-party discussion (as per advise by Krishna Godavari tribunal) between Chief Minister of Odisha late Nandini Satapathi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister late. P.C. Sethi; and also after discussion with the then central irrigation Minister late Jagajiban Ram; an agreement was signed on 9.12.1975, between Odisha and Madhya Pradesh Govt. As per the 3rd para of the agreement.

The annual availability of Indravati river basin up to Madhya Pradesh border is 204 Thousand Million Cubic feet (TMC) ie. 5777 Million Cubic meters. Out of this 204 TMC. 91 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic feet) ie. 2577 million cubic meter of water shall be used in upper Indravati darn and this water shall be diverted to Mahanadi basin for Irrigation in Kalahandi district. Out of Balance 113 TMC ie. 3200 million cubic meter,68 TMC ie. 1926 million cubic meter of water shall be utilized for Irrigation, drinking water etc in the area between dam and Odisha -Madhya Pradesh border. Balance 45 TMC ie. 1274 million cubic meter of water shall be released to Madhya Pradesh (now Chhatisgarh) at Orissa border.

That is as per the agreement; out of the total water available in Indravati river basin on Odisha portion; 91 TMC shall be used by the dam and the balance water shall be utilized between Odisha and Madhya Pradesh on 58:45 basis.

On 10th April 1978, during foundation laying ceremony the Chief minister of Orissa Mr.Nilamani Routray (in presence of the then Prime Minister of India Mr. Morarji Desai and steel and Mines Minister Mr. Biju Patnaik) informed that by construction of the dam, 3.00 lakhs acre area of Kalahandi district shall be irrigated in Khariff and 2.4 lakhs acre in Rabi. 11th April 1978, the next day i.e. in April 1978, a public meeting was held in the OSAP ground, Koraput. The Prime Minister of India in presence of steel and Mines Minster and Chief Minister of Orissa declared that 5 Irrigation Projects (Telengiri, Bhaskal, Turi and Bangri, Lower Indravati) will be executed to meet the Irrigation needs of undivided Koraput district.

In 1978 the then Central Irrigation Minister Mr. V.C. Shukla declared in the parliament that number of irrigation projects will be done on down stream of dam; to make the area again greenery. 1994 the then Member of Parliament Mr. Khagapati Pradhani in 1994 suggested for construction of 5 check dams on river Indravati to solve down stream water problem to some extent.

In 1995 the then MLA of Nabarangpur Mr. Habibulah Khan raised this problem in Assembly, and Rehabilitation advisory committee. And also filed a public litigation case in the Odisha High Court. 1994 the then irrigation minister of Odisha Mr. Bijay Mahapatra declared in the Assembly that downstream people of Indravati river will not get any water.

He assured for construction of some medium I minor irrigation projects. 1994, Govt setup a committee headed by Mr. Harza, to study the Environmental impact on downstream people, after construction of the dam. In 1997, the then Irrigation Minister Mr. Prahalad Mallick also gave assurance in Assembly, that some medium and minor irrigation projects on down Stream of Indravati River will be constructed.


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