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Civil Society calls for Cumulative Impact Assessment of Sindol Projects on the Mahanadi hydrology and downstream biodiversity

Tentulipali small hamlet of farming families on the bank of River Mahanadi in Bahira block of block Of Boudh district was busy in its farming activities in this monsoon. Villagers are in fear that upcoming Sindol project third Dam will submerge their village and agricultural land. People are concerned about their future. They are asking that where should we go? What we should do when government is trying to displace us? Ramchandra Bhokta from village tells that government is saying about rehabilitating us in other areas. However we know what has happened with the displaced families from Hirkud and Rengali dam and how they have lost all their belongings. There are number of families who are yet to be compensated and rehabilitated. On 31st of Aug nearly 5000 villagers from the region gathered in Baunsuni village demanded that Proposed Sindol project should be stopped. They have signed one petition against this project. Flood water from the Mahanadi River, enters in village most of the time. However, villagers had never thought of leaving the village due to fear of flood. However, now Govt wants to build a dam to inundate the whole village and displace us. Villagers are against the dam and displacement; they are asserting that at no cost would they leave their village. One villager shares his concern about imminent suppression by Govt of their upcoming struggle against dam they are also not sure of what they are going to do if Govt goes ahead with their plan to construct dam in spite of protests? Tentulipali village is going to be submerged due to dam at Godhaneshwar under proposed Sindol Project in Sonepur district of Odisha. This village is having nearly 800 populations with 110 families. Recently Odisha state government has signed MoU with National Hydro-power Corporation (NHPC) to establish three dams on Mahanadi in downstream of Hirakud dam for generation of 320 MW of hydropower. First dam will be at Deongaon near Sindol Village in Sambalpur District, Second will be near to Kapasira Village in Sonepur District and third will be at Godhaneshwar in Sonepur district in downstream of Kapasira village. The major features of these three schemes are furnished below:
Item Distance from Chiplima P.H. in KM Installed Capacity (MW)Power House Deogaon Sindol-1 19 5 x 20 Kapasira Sindol-2 55 5 x 20 Godhaneswar Sindol3. 95 6 x 20

220 KV Switchyard in left 220 KV Switchyard in 220 KV Switchyard in bank with three nos. of left bank with two nos. left bank with two

feeders.

of feeders.

nos. of feeders.

Normal Operating Head (Meter) Annual Energy Generation (GWH) Estimated cost (Rs.in Cr.) (As per 2006 PFR) Cost of generation (i) av. Year. (As per PFR 2006) Barrage of length and Design Discharge

9.5 330 674.85 Rs.2.86 811.5 M Cumecs and 37600

9.5 357 818.28 Rs.2.96 919.5 M and 38600 Cumecs

9.5 403 938.57 Rs.3.06 1017.5M and 45100 Cumecs. Rs.3.06

Cost of generation (i) av. Year. Rs.2.86 Rs.2.96 (As per PFR 2006) Rehabilitation Requirement will be assessed after preparation of DPR.

Source: http://www.ohpcltd.com/index.asp?type=sindhol During construction period of Hirkud dam there was plan for construction of Tikarpara Dam in same region. This was abandoned due to fear of submergence of Sonepur and Boudh towns. After that proposal of Manibhadra dam in the same region on the Mahanadi was dropped due to intense protest in western Odisha. According to the government advertisement related to Sindhol project in 1991, due to these three dams around 118 villages with 37,000 hectare of land would have been submerged in Sambalpur, Sonpur and Boudh districts of western Odisha. Odisha state government later argued that they would reduce the height of dams to reduce submergence area. State Govt is now telling that very few villages will now be displaced due to this project. Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik announced that there would be also two mega-lift irrigation schemes on either side of project to irrigate lands in Sambalpur, Sonepur and Boudh districts. Rajendra Meher from Sonepur town, however feels, that this project will put a nail on the life of the Mahanadi River downstream, as drastic reduction in flow, downstream of these dams, will severely affect the hydrology and biotic life in the river. There is an elephant corridor in this region and continuous movement of elephants in riverbed is a regular phenomenon. This project is going to affect elephant corridor also1. This apart a chunk of forest land will be submerged due to this project. There are whole suspicious feelings among intellectuals and experts that, does these dams are going to generate desired amount of hydropower, because the sites of dams are in plane region where there is absence of that much gravity fall. According to farmer leader Mr. Lingaraj, we have many examples of construction of dams and barrages on rivers with main motive to provide water to the industries. Already Action Ispat and Power Ltd is interested in setting up thermal power plant at Puruna Pani in Boudh district, with capacity of 1320 MW power generation. Kanupur dam on Baitarani river where irrigation canals are yet to be constructed and pipeline construction for industry water is completed.
1

For detail information go through this link, www.wildlifeorissa.in/projectelephant.html

Therefore apart from investigations on actual inundation and displacement and its impact on local livelihoods, there is an urgent need to carry out downstream as well as cumulative impact assessment studies of these dams by independent experts to gauge the impact of the dams on environmental flow on the Mahanadi, impact on aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and implications of flood in the delta, when these dams along with Hirakud start releasing water. Govt of Orissa is also required to come out with a white paper regarding the water and power allocation plan from the projects.