Farmers Demand Urgent Steps To Save Rushikulya River In Odisha’s Ganjam

Sunil Patnaik

Berhampur: The farmers of Ganjam district have sought immediate intervention by the Odisha government in preventing Rushikulya river from getting completely dried up.

Rushikulya Ryot Mahasabha (RRM), which is spearheading the movement in support of the local farmers, has warned of the dire condition, if the government fails to come up with a master plan to turn Rushikulya into a perennial river.

Simanchal Nahak, secretary of the Mahasabha, said due to lack of proper water-management, 80% wastage of surplus river water into sea during rainy season. Rushikulya is drying up fast for construction of Kansariganda barrage, renovation of about 1,000 minor irrigation projects near the river, grabbing of land by the mafia and delay in river linking proposals.

“In most of the places, people can practically walk from one side of the river to the other and the once-mighty river Rushikulya has turned into trickles,” he said. The only option for an efficient water management is formation of Rushikulya Development Authority (RDA), he added.

Nahak further said Rushikulya, which originates from Rushimala Hills under Daringbadi block of Kandhamal district in the Eastern Ghats range and is 165 km long, flows through Badamadhapur and Potlampur under Chatrapur block in Ganjam , Karapada, Poirasi, Umuridharmasaranpur, Malada, Palibandha and Kainchapur before meeting the Bay of Bengal at Puruna Bandha in Ganjam block. It has six tributaries including Baghua, Dhanei and Badanadi.

The major river provides irrigation for agriculture purposes, drinking water to Berhampur, Chhatrapur and Gopalpur and helps thousands of fishermen earn their livelihood. Rushikulya water was used for drinking purposes for the first time 129 years ago during 1890 in British rule. Around 60,355 hectare of agricultural land in Ganjam are being irrigated by the Rushikulya canal system.

Rushikulya also supplies water to several major industries including Grasim Industries Ltd-Ganjam Chemical Division, Gopalpur Port, Indian Rare Earths, Aska Cooperative Sugar Industries Ltd, Aska Spinning Mills, Manorama Chemical Works Ltd., Orissa Tubes Pvt. Ltd., etc.

About 3,360 small-scale industries in different sector including food, forest & wood, rubber and plastic products and glass and ceramics also depend on Rushikulya.

Sunil Patnaik

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