PMO apprised of possible delisting of Bhitarkanika from Ramsar site


Kendrapara, Jan 16: The state government’s bid to draw fresh water from the Kharasrota river at Barundiha under Rajkanika block in this district fora mega drinking water project in Bhadrak district might lead to delisting of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary from thelist of the major world wet-lands in Ramsar site, a report said.

 Notably, the Bhitarkanika man-groves forest was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an in-ternational treaty for the conser-vation and sustainable use of wet-lands. It’s named after the city of Ramsar in Iran where the conven-tion was signed in 1971.

 The matter came to the fore after social activist Sanjay Behura wrote (letter no-0015902/21) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking its intervention and urgent solution to the issue, Saturday. Earlier, IthitishKumar Singhof Khadianga wrote twice to the Union govern-ment demanding a freeze on the project.

 Behura said the mega drinking water project is being implemented at Nuahat under Chandbali block in Bhadrak district under the Basuclha Yojana at an expenditure of Rs 892 crore. The scheme en-visages drawing of water from Kharasrota river at Barunadiha through large pipes and supply of the same to 91 panchayats in 

Bhadrak district. The implementation of the proj-ect has led to a serious face-off be-tween the residents and the state gov-ernment. It has become a do or die battle for the residents as they claim the state government is im-plementing the project without making a proper assessment of its impact on the biological diversity of Bhitarkanika and local agri-culture,

 he said. Residents claimed establishment of the project will deprive them of water for farming and stop flow of freshwater into Bhitarkanika sanc-tuary which will seriously affect its biological diversity.

 They claimed that the mangrove forests which acted as a shield against the cyclonic storms have grown with the mixture of saline water of the Bay of Bengal and the freshwater of the Kharasrota river The mangrove forests are also home to scores of reptiles and wildlife in the sanctuary. Behura said according to the Dynamic Water Assessment Survey Report of the Centre, 

Bhadrak district has a presence of 17021 HAM (Hybrid Annuity Model) while the Kendrapara dis-trict has groundwater of 5445 HAM. He said supply of river water from here to Bhadrak district is wrong as the groundwater level in the district is much less com-pared to Bhadrak district. 

The survey report also states that the place where the project is being implemented has high pres-ence of groundwater for which it is wrong to draw water from the Kharasrota and supply it to Bhadrak district. The report states that the ground-water of Aul, Rajkanika, Rajnagar and Mahakalapara is unfit for con-sumption as the water is highly saline in nature. These blocks are also deprived of any drinking water project. He said the project consultancy agency and an IIT survey report on the impact of the project in Kendrapara district has overlooked the bio-diversity of Bhitarkanika_ and the impact it will have on the local farming, he added. 

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