Bhubaneswar: In a major relief for the State Government, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has provided final forest clearance to the Chheligada Irrigation Project.
The Ministry has accorded Stage-II approval to diversion of 139.319 hectares of forest land for establishment of the mega irrigation project on Monday.
Suneet Bhardwaj, Assistant Inspector General of Forests has informed about the decision of the Centre to Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena in a letter.
“On the basis of the compliance report furnished by the Government of Odisha….final/Stage–II approval of the Central Government is hereby granted under Section-2 (ii) of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in favour of Department of Water Resources Government of Odisha for non-forestry use of 139.319 (originally proposed area 159.895 ha) of forest land for construction of Chheligada Medium Irrigation project in R Udayagiri Block of Gajapati district of Odisha,” Shri Bhardwaj said. However, the Ministry has laid down certain conditions.
Thanks to the overdrive of ACS Forest & Environment Satyabrata Sahu, PCCF & HoFF Debidutta Biswal and PCCF (Nodal) Susanta Nanda the clearance file moved fast.
A senior Officer of the State Government said that this proposal was initiated way back in 1999 and after 24 long years it received the ‘Green Signal’ of Government of India.
Recently Chief Minister’s Office(CMO) was reviewing the much delayed project and urged the State Forest Authorities to speed up the clearance proposal.
And PCCF (Nodal) Shri Nanda took all out efforts to speed up clearance proposalat State Level and facilitate the clearance at the Government of India level, officials admit.
The Centre in October 2002 had granted ‘in-principle’ approval for diversion of 159.895 ha of forest land for the project. Later, in 2017, the approval was revoked and the State Government changed the proposal from 159.895 to 139.319 hectares. Then the Stage-I clearance was given to the WR Department in September 2022.
Now, with the Stage-II clearance, the State can go ahead with the mega projects to provide irrigation facilities to Gajapati and Ganjam districts.
The dam project is being constructed on river Badajore, a tributary of Vansadhara, near Chheligada village in R Udayagiri Block of Gajapati district.
The total planned ayacut area of the irrigation project is 6260 hectares(ha) of which 500 hectares coming under Gajapati district (R Udayagiri Block– 262 ha & Mohana Block– 238 ha) and 5760 hectares in Ganjam district (Sanakhemundi Block– 2000 ha, Digapahandi Block– 3760 ha)
This will also provide drinking water to Brahampur city. Along with this, 36 MW of electricity can be produced through a mini hydel project in three places like Shiali Loti, Kankata and Dekili in Gajapati district, sources said.
The original estimated cost of the irrigation project was Rs 52.96 crore (1999 price level). Now, it has been revised to Rs 936.63 crore (2022). A 1,280-metre-long tunnel has been dug for this project through which Ganjam district will receive water.
Seven rehabilitation and resettlement colonies are being built for the affected people of 15 villages. Three resettlement colonies have been completed and people have started living here. The remaining 4 are under construction. This project will be completed by 2025-26.