WIO terms decision permitting Posco to draw Mahanadi, Hansua water ‘illegal’, ‘corrupt’

Sambalpur: The Water
Initiatives Odisha (WIO) on Tuesday termed the recent decision of the Odisha
Government permitting Posco to draw water from Mahanadi and Hansua rivers as ‘illegal,’
‘corrupt’ and ‘unfortunate’ and demanded fresh environmental impact assessments
(EIA) and public hearing.
“How can the Odisha
government give permission to Posco taking a deviation from the original
proposal without going for a complete assessment of the water availability,
impacts of the drawal and related construction and other activities,” said WIO
convenor Ranjan Kumar Panda in a press release, adding that this is clear cut
violation of environmental laws and the government must roll back this decision.
Panda said, “There has been stiff and genuine opposition by farmers
and general public against diversion of Mahanadi and Hansua water for Posco at
the cost of drinking water for Cuttack and irrigation water at Hansua and any
diversion of water from Hansua would lead to serious problems for the local
farmers and their farm produces will be affected.”
In September 2010, WIO had objected to this move by the
government saying it was making whimsical decisions by not doing appropriate
study of water availability in Mahanadi and Hansua.  We had said that any change in the original
proposal of Posco would mean having fresh environmental impact assessments and
public hearing.  Even the Meena Gupta
committee that inquired into violations of environmental laws by Posco took
cognizance of all these problems and had rightly said if water is to be drawn
from Hansua Nallah or any other source (other than Jobra Barrage) the
Environmental impact has to be assessed and incorporated into the EIA and an
opportunity to be heard given to the affected parties ought to have been given
to the affected parties, Panda stated.
 WIO has been raising
these issues with the government and asking disclosure of the assessment
studies, if any, based on which these decisions are taken. This is more
important in context of the fact that Posco had earlier rejected the idea of
taking water from local sources terming those to be saline.  In the Chapter 5 of the existing EIA it has
been mentioned that “This make up water requirement will not be met from the
nearby surface streams like Mahanga River or Harua River etc within the study area
as these streams are saline due to tidal effect.  The water source will be Mahanadi River near
Cuttack about 85 km away from the plant site.” 
“Changing the plan to go for local ‘saline’ sources means
changing technology and a fresh study of the impact of these technology on
local environment is also called for,” urged Panda. 
 “If this latest
permission does not mention about the water for production then it is another
violation. We need a comprehensive assessment of all water that is going to be
given to Posco for all its works and needs. 
Most importantly public hearings should be made in Cuttack as well as
among farmers and general people dependent on Hansua where the government must
present the real figures and impacts. 
Then only the government can think of giving any nod Posco”, said
“WIO termed this decision of the government illegal and
corrupt.  Further, taking this decision
in such a dubious and non-transparent manner while the election code of conduct
is in force, the government has proved that it has got scant regards for both
the Constitution and the people. We urge the government to immediately withdraw
this decision and go for fresh EIA of these new proposals,” said Panda.

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