MAC: Mines and Communities

Farm vs firm to the fore

Published by MAC on 2006-07-14

Farm vs firm to the fore


14th July 2006

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Krushak Mahasangh has apprehended severe water crisis for farming activities in seven districts if the State Government goes overboard with its industrialisation plan leading to unbridled mining activities.

The State Government has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with 46 companies for establishment of steel and alumina plants. Besides, MoUs with seven more companies, including one with Arcelor-Mittal, are under the consideration of the Government.

Mahasangh president and former MLA Bibhudendra Pratap Das alleged that establishment of so many plants would lead to increased mining activities in Keonjhar, Sundargarh, undivided Koraput, Kalahandi and Dhenkanal districts.

This would mean more water for industry, less for agriculture, he said adding rivers Bramhani, Baitarani, Ib, Vasundhara and Vansadhara would have no water in summer. He alleged that 50 percent water sources have dried up in Keonjhar district due to mining of iron ore during the last 50 years.

Stating that industrialisation would also affect the groundwater reserves, Das said watertable has gone down by 200 metres in more than 50 percent villages near Talcher because of coal mining. If the Government allows mining of bauxite on the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district for Vedanta Alumina plant, most of the springs on the mountain would also dry up, he claimed.

Minister for Steel and Mines Padmanabha Behera had admitted during the last Assembly session that the State Government was contemplating to provide iron ore for 25/30 years to the companies for establishment of steel plants.

Replying to a question from Gajadhar Majhi (Cong), he had said the State Government was yet to take any decision on leasing out of bauxite mines for alumina plants. Against this backdrop, Das said continuous mining of iron ore for 25 to 30 years would spell disaster for the bio-diversity of the State. Besides water crisis, rapid industrialisation would lead to denudation, he said.

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