By Prashant Dash
Angul, May 15: Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru had dreamt of a second check point named Manibhadra multipurpose dam in Angul as a panacea to flood. But the project remained uncompleted so far leaving several districts of Odisha to suffer from high flood every year.
In view of the frequent flood situation in Odisha, the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru had planned a secondary dam at the lower catchment of Mahanadi in Angul district.
Nehru studied that the longest soil dam of India built at Hirakud in Sambalpur across Mahanandi is unable to check the wildest form of Mahanadi in case of incessant rain in the upper catchment. Thus, he planned a dam of concrete at Tikarpara, especially in the mid of Satkosia Gorge, which is now famous as Satakosia Gorge sanctuary.
Nehru discussed with the then Chief Minister Nabkrishna Choudhury, about the prospect of the dam. After a feasibility study by hydrology experts, Nehru finalized the dam site under Goindi Behera Sahi.
Meanwhile, the Central Water Resources Department and Natural Calamity Department jointly studied the hydrological effect of the project. They found that the deepest womb of Mahanandi which was almost sealed by high hills from both the sides and of about 21 K.m (Approx.7 kosa) long and 4800 metre deep from the hilltop had a capacity to contain excess flood water.
Accordingly, the dam had to join the high peaked Goindi Mountain range with the Manibhadra Hill standing along Boudh-Kandhamal mountain range. As the dam was to joint the Manibhadra hill it was named as Manibhadra project.
After the statistical and hydrological survey, Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru laid its foundation stone on January 5, 1964 on a ceremonial occasion held at Tikarpara near Goindi Behera Sahi.
Subsequently, the project work went on. A site office and a well planned colony for the technical personnel got developed at Karadasing village under Purunakote forest range in order to complete the project at the earliest because wild swelling Mahanandi was hitting there almost every year in the normal monsoon. But after an appreciable layout the project work stopped for rehabilitation and resettlement related issues.
At the same time, people of Angul, Athmallik, Boudh and Sonepur areas opposed the construction over loss of land and livelihood. Emphasizing these local issues the multipurpose project got delayed and ultimately remained uncompleted.
Now the dam site is a monument to remember Nehru’s vision on flood control in Odisha. The project that meant for “Low Flood or No Flood” in Athgarh, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Jagatsingpur has been sand cast.
Manibhadra Dam was a boon for Odisha. If this dam could have been completed within the early seventies, perhaps Odisha would have not seen the devastating flood of 1973, 1982 and bitter miseries they incurred to the economy, said Ravinarayan Acharya, a senior Congress leader.
On the other hand, Mahanadi causes flood over its banks along Odisha with massive devastation in almost every monsoon. After getting round from the violent flood situation, at least the government should think of the prospect of the project dreamt by Pundit Nehru. Otherwise, the wildering Mahanadi will be a sorrow for Odisha just like Huang He to China, in future.