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Cultivated area in Odisha declining: NGO

Bhubaneswar: Increase in allocation of water to industries in Odisha has hit agriculture with the total cultivated area declining, a group working on water-related issues in the state.

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a network of civil society organizations, said that during the last decade, the net irrigation in Kharif increased by about 29 percent only, from about 15,90,000 hectares to about 20,59,000 hectares.

The increase in net irrigation in Rabi during this same period increased by about 45 percent from about 5, 36,000 hectares to about 9,80,000 hectares, said Ranjan Panda,WIO convenor.

This marginal increase does not seem to have benefited farmers of the state at large as the net sown area of the state has decreased by 4,38,000 hectares from 58,45,000 hectares in 2001-02 to 54,07,000 hectares in 2010-11, Panda said, citing latest government figures.

Pointing out to how the increase in allocation of water to industries has deprived irrigation, Panda said the water allocation to industries before a decade was just 286.272 cusecs, which has now increased to 5,102 cusecs.

“This is almost an increase of 17 times over a decade and most importantly, the figures went up sharply in the recent couple of years,” said Pand.

“This is spelling doom for the farmers and a clear-cut indication that the government is not respecting its own water policy which allocates higher priority to irrigation than to industries,” said Panda.

A senior official of the state irrigation department declined to react on the matter.

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