Posts filed under ‘Hirakud’

Mahanadi issue, western Odisha and Chatisgarh

A large number of poor people from Nuapada, Kalahandi, Balangir, Sonepur and Bargarh districts are working as rickshaw puller and daily laborer in Raipur and other cities of Chatisgad. These people prefer to work in Raipur, and not in Bhubaneswar because of ease of language understanding.

The current Odisha government should try to resolve the Mahanadi issue by dialogue through proper channel. Unnecessary blocking of trains, and violent protests against Chatisgad will create problem for poor Koshali people living in Raipur and other cities.

CM Naveen Patnaik must resolve this matter with utmost care!


August 14, 2016 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Farmers insecure over dams on the Mahanadi

Following report is from The Statesman:

Farmers across Western Odisha feel insecure over the war of words between the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP regarding construction of dams and barrages upstream of river Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh government.

The Hirakud command area spreads across 935 square kilometer and water from the reservoir irrigates both during the kharif and rabi season. If the water is retained in Chhattisgarh, a large stretch of this area will starve of irrigation during the non-monsoon seasons.

“Instead of adopting a confrontationist attitude, the Odisha government should talk to the BJP and the Chhattisgarh government. They should work together and find a solution beneficial to farmers of both the states,” said G Suryanarayn, a leading farmer of Gourtikra village in Bargarh district coming under the Hirakud command area.
“Political statements by BJD or BJP will not solve the problem, it is farmers of the state who will be at the losing end”, he remarked.

Similarly, Ramsagar Sahu, another leading farmer under the Sasan canal system sees the political gamesmanship of the BJD as disastrous for farmers.

Instead of threatening agitations, the CM ought to have talked to his Chhattisgarh counterpart and arranged for a meeting between officers of both the states.

“Had Biju Patnaik been alive he would have picked up the telephone and spoken to the Chhattisgarh CM rather than allow his party workers make meaningless noises,” he remarked.

Bijay Behera, a businessman cum environmentalist said the BJP leaders in Odisha are a worried lot as they understand the political fallout if Chhattisgarh goes ahead with the projects. Even industrial circles are worried as they fear that once there is less inflow of water to Hirakud, industrial water used will be the first casualty since the policy for using water is drinking, irrigation , power generation and then industrial use.

It may be recalled that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the construction of barrage and dams by the Chhattisgarh government and questioning the silence of the Central Water Commission. The ruling BJD has adopted a resolution objecting to such ‘ arbitrary’ decisions taken by the Chhattisgarh government and said it will voice its protest at every given forum. The Opposition Congress and BJP have, on their part demanded an all party meeting to discuss the issue.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Narasingha Mishra has also written to the PM and the CM. He suggested that he was willing to convene all party meeting, if the CM , for some inexplicable reason is reluctant to do so.

July 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm 1 comment

Hirakud dam to have more spillways

Following is a report from the
Taking note of the massive siltation and other related issues in Hirakud dam in Odisha’s Sambalpur district where cracks have appeared due to lack of proper maintenance, the dam authorities have planned to construct more spillways of the dam for release of more floodwaters to ensure its longevity.

“The decision for construction of more spillways of the dam has been taken after the recent visit of a high-powered team of the Central Water Commission (CWC). While the budget estimate for the survey work of the spillways has almost finalized, the construction work of the spillways would begin from the current fiscal”, said Yashowant Parida, executive engineer of the dam.

The tender process for construction of additional spillways of the dam would begin in a few months, he added.
It may be mentioned that the cracks and holes near the spillways of the main dam were noticed during an underwater survey of the dam in 2002-03. The dam authorities had later carried out repair of some of these cracks.

While the dam earlier had the provision of gross discharge of 15 lakh cusecs of water from the spillways in 1957, considering the present situation and future of the dam, provisions for release of 24 lakh cusecs of water has been planned, sources said.

Following is another report from the Sambad:

October 19, 2014 at 1:09 am Leave a comment

A proposal for Lower Suktel project

Following OPED is from the Samaja:


April 19, 2013 at 3:22 am Leave a comment

Increase in the number of migratory birds in Hirakud

Following is a report from the Sambad:

January 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

What has Hirakud achieved in 55 years?

Following report is from the Sambad:

January 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

A rare video of Hirakud dam construction by Roberto Rossellini

December 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

How Odisha govt. betrayed the people of western Odisha: An article by Uttam Kumar Pradhan

Following report is from the Sambad:


September 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm 1 comment

Man-made flood in Odisha

The current flood situation in Odisha is a man-made one. It seems there are a lot of mismanagement’s. There were continuous warnings by the Indian metrological departments (IMD) regarding heavy rain both in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and other parts of India. Looks like the authorities in charge of Hirakud dam are not listening or neglecting the IMD warnings. How can they wait till the water level in the reservoir is 630 ft? Looks like the authorities are simply watching while the reservoir is swelling. Another important point, lot of silt, mud, and rocks are coming from the mining areas to the Hirakud dam, which is reducing the water holding capacity of the dam. In this situation, if something (damage) happens to Hirakud dam, then Sambalpur and other cities will be completely washed out. Has the Odisha govt. reviewed life-expectancy of Hirakud dam and taken up some related action? I feel that Hirakud dam is too old and a complete review of this dam is required.

I am really surprised by this incident. How can they do this time and again? Is there any coordination between the Hirakud dam authorities with the Chhattisgarh govt./authorities? Do they know or trying to know how much water will enter Hirakud dam etc etc.

I must say the Hirakud dam authorities are not getting the facts and figure right. They are just waiting and watching till the situation worsens.

Best regards,


September 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Silent Witness: An essay by Dr. Arjun Purohit

Following item was posted in the Face book page of “BENI”:

I have known for years that there are all kinds of interesting features in the reservoir of Hirakud Dam, among these are some of the submerged temples often creating problems for the boaters but some of them are visible over the water. So when Dr.Tarini Panda, my old student by proxy, suggested to me to have a look at them when I visited Sambalpur couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance. So he took me behind his scooter to the Jamadar Pali Ghat from where we took a boat which took us across the reservoir to the other side, which is known as Lakhan Pur Block. It was a motor boat capable of taking about 40 people but had no roof or no proper seats. I managed to find a place to sit near a little girl of about five years old on the flat bar, one of many along the width of the boat. Tarini had to stand for the whole trip which took about an hour. About fifteen motor cycles and scooters as well about thirty of us boarded the boat. Apparently there was some kind of Adivashi festival going on Gunja Parbat, a rather tall hill with a majestic triangular top which you could see across the water. The crowd was in a festive mood with lots of chatter and laughers in anticipation of lot of merry making in the festivals.

Some twenty minutes after we started, the anticipated temple came to our sight. Suddenly, the chatter and laughter ceased, and the eyes of the whole crowd except the eyes of the five year old on my side were turned on the temple , which I would estimate to be about twenty five feet over the water. The mood was reverent and some folded their hands in Juhar. I simply could not control my tears to the curious amazement of the five year old who kept on staring at me. I must confess that I am given to tears rather easily. I cry at the movies and when I watch mythologies like Ramayan and Mahabharat. When Sita gets abducted I cry. When Duhsasana tries to disrobe Draupadi in front of all the Pandava and Kaurava elders, I cry. But this sight of half submerged temple was something really special and kicked up all kinds of memories which have been lying dormant for years like sediments at the bottom of the lake.

This was the temple of Rampella after all! This is where my cousin Nagara Nani went as a bride. This was where my Badkhama (wife of the elder brother of my father) came from. I knew of a host of my relatives from this large prosperous village. Rampella was one of the 294 villages which went under the water of Hirakud Dam. These were very prosperous villages and were known to be the Bhata Handi(rice bowl) of the district because of the fertility of the land. The old royalties of Sambalpur came from the area. Surendra Sai fought with the British around the area. Though our family never lived in the Budi Anchal(submerged land), we had lands in a village called Basantpur which went under, for which we never got compensated.

The submerged temple began to flood my mind with all kinds of associated memories. First time I was aware of Hirakud Dam was when I was a seventh grader in Borasambar Padampur, where my father was working as a minor civil servant. I saw Harekrushna Mahatab first time ever and probably for the last time, except in photographs. He along with Ranjit Singh Bariha, cousin of the then Jamindar of Padampur and a fresh returnee from England, giving lectures to people of the town on the steps of the local temple regarding good stuff about the future Hirakud Dam. I also saw lot of folks protesting against the dam. When I came back home, I found my house swarming with people from Sambalpur and my mother hastily cooking dinner for all these folks. Couple of months later when I came to my Mamughar in Sambalpur, found the whole town in turmoil. Thousands of people were shouting all kinds of slogans and were marching on the main road. There were large meetings near the Mahanadi bank, and police were everywhere. Later on that evening I learnt that Dr. Janardan Pujari and his wife were arrested and taken to jail. Dr. Janardan Pujari was a revered person of Sambalpur, and was literally worshipped as a saintly figure because of his social service and medical expertise. Next day there was another march; this time ladies including my grandmother joined in. It was an awesome thing to see the ladies in the march because these ladies would not even venture outside unescorted and their heads were always covered with Odhana. And guess what. My grandmother was taken to the jail for a while! For a young boy of my age, this was incomprehensible. I remember of teasing my grandmother for months afterwards about her becoming a kaidi. “What did they feed you in jail, Badkhama?” I would ask. All I knew was that something really big was happening, and I never knew the full import of the event.

Later when I came to Sambalpur to study in G.M.College, slowly I began to understand the enormity of the issues. We saw huge earthmovers which we never saw before these were manned by Sardarjis, many of them were fresh refugees from Pakistan. We also went on our bikes to see how huge machines were hauling cement to a great height to build the dam. During the summer vacation of 1952, four of us including Rajendra Supakar, who currently lives in Chicago, went on a bike tour to have a look at some of the villages to go under water. Among the villages, we saw Samplahara of Rajendra, where we were treated with PaNA after being thoroughly and lovingly reprimanded by Rajendra’s folks for biking all that distance under hot sun risking heat stroke. I also remembered meeting Ayodhya Khosla, the main architect of the Dam and Issac Santra, the local hero, who established a leper colony in Hatibari, who came to our Jharuapara one evening in 1951 looking for Sradhakar Supakar, Rajendra’s father and the M.L.A. from Sambalpur. I did not know the importance of Mr. Khosla but I knew of Dr. Santra but had never seen him before. They asked me to take them to Sradhakar Babu’s house who lived in our gulley but we did not find him home. Both of them then tried to impress me on the importance of Hirakud Dam for the next one hour!

So the memories kept flooding in. The little girl beside me looked at me with her big eyes and asked,” Why are you crying? Are you alright?” I wiped my tears and smiled and patted lovingly on her head and gave her a chewing gum. She looked at her mother for permission to accept, and after getting the nod; she took it and smiled back. The boat kept going, and back came all the chatters as the temple receded from our view. After a few more minutes, we saw another temple. It must have been a small one because we could see only the very top, the Chuda. This time, the sight of the temple did not evoke as much emotional response as before. I really do not know what kind of temples were they. Were they Vaishnavite or Saivaite ? As you can see from the picture, the Chuda of the temple has lost its crown. Saivites have Trishul and Vaishnavites have Chakras as crown. My hunch is that the Rampella one is Saivite judging from experience in other Koshalite villages. Almost always they have a Saivite temple especially near a bathing ghat but we do have Vaishnavite temples as well but not very often, and they are of recent vintage when they occur.

As we approached the other shore, I found lot of thick vegetation through which a path for the boat has been cut out to reach the shore. Tarini explained that this was because of the silt accumulating in the reservoir. Apparently 27% of capacity of the reservoir has been used up by the silt. When we reached the other shore, Tarini took out his scooter and we toured some of the villages including his own Kumharbandh. It was so close to the reservoir that I suggested that ground water would be available only a few feet in well and would be great for agriculture. Tarini told me that there is coal only five feet down, not water. Apparently sponge iron companies are already buying up land for future expansion of their enterprises. On our return trip we went to another spot to catch a boat to go back to Sambalpur via Rengali. While waiting for the boat, I asked Tarini whether Bikram Khol was not very far from that spot since we were in Lakhanpur block as is Bikram Khol, which I visited few years back. He confirmed that indeed it was close but behind the Dugree( hills are called Dungree in Koshali) on our left. In order to go there we had to go to Jharsuguda and then we would have to take the road on the other side of the Dungree to take us to Bikram Khol. That meant going back to Sambalpur by late evening. So we decided not to take the trip to Bikram Khol. Incidentally, Bikram Khol is very interesting site which has large flat stone wall on top of a small hill and has inscriptions in Brahmi and Mahenjodaro scripts. Apparently, it is about 4000 years old, and the writings are yet to be deciphered.

Tarini also told me about another interesting site within the reservoir which our boat did not go by. It was Cattle Island. Apparently, because the confiscated villages were ordered to be vacated at gun point the villagers could not take some of their cattle with them these animals found shelter in an island in the reservoir, and have become wild after a few generations. When the locals try to capture them they become very aggressive, and hence are left alone.

Finally the boat to take us to Rengali came. This time boat trip was much shorter. As we scooted towards Sambalpur on Jharsuguda-Sambalpur road, which is part of very busy National Hjghway, I noticed the chains of sponge iron factories. One could not but notice the thick haze of smoke coming out of the chimneys of these plants which are made worse by the fly ash coming out of coal fire power plants of Jharsuguda. Apparently, Pollution Control Board has already declared the whole corridor as an ecological disaster. Sitting behind Tarini’s scooter as he drove towards Sambalpur which took us about half an hour, I was still thinking about Rampella Temple. I wondered what this half submerged temple, which still stands as a silent witness, is a symbol of what? Is it a symbol of sacrifice of well settled vibrant community for the protection of coastal area of Orissa from floods? Or of utter callous and contemptuous treatment of the Orissa government towards the oustee families, 7000 of them yet to be compensated even after more than half a century? Or of beginning of industrial age for the region? Or of loss of innocence and simplicity of a bi-gone era ? To me it is all of the above.

Photo courtesy: Shri Tarini Panda

August 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm 3 comments

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