Jajpur (Orissa): Brahmani river, the life line of a large number of villages on its banks in Jajpur and Kendrapara districts of Orissa, has dried up due to massive siltation at its upper reaches.
The river is the only source of water for over three lakh inhabitants of Bari, Rasulpur, Badachana, Dharmasala and Jajpur blocks in Jajpur district and Aul, Kendrapada,
Pattamundai and Raj Nagar blocks in Kendrapada district.
Units at the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex are using water from Brahmani and Kharasrota rivers illegally, alleged Biswajit Mohanty, a rain water harvesting activist.
He is echoed by Gagan Behari Jena, a local and convenor of `Save Brahmani River Committee`, formed by the people.
`The situation has turned complex as this year the river has turned dry due to truant rains ... The people are not getting sufficient water to irrigate their lands due to
shortage of water,`` he says.
Discharge of pollutants from industrial units has degraded the river to the extent that it has become a large drain. Once a source of fish and fresh water, Brahmani has
become so polluted that its water has acquired a tar-black colour in many places,`` says Loknath Das, another member of the campaign to save the river.
The industries there should take it upon themselves environmental and social responsibilities without waiting for regulation. They should also harvest rainwater, which will save the rivers and reduce water costs for them.
Besides, waste water should be recycled, reused and made to recharge the ground water, says Mohanty.
When contacted, Subrat Das, Executive Engineer of Water Resouces of Jaraka Irrigation division in Jajpur district said the problem arose from the fact that the water of rainfed
Brahmani river enters its branch Kharasrota, which has a lower bed.
Moreover, there is massive siltation and huge sand deposits at its catchments area at Jenapur and Bedipur, which needs to be cleared.
A survey of Brahmani river is being conducted on a priority basis as per the direction of the Water Resources department, he said.