Sambalpur, Nov 6(UNI) Thousands of farmers from western Orissa today barged into the prohibited area of Hirakud Dam to lodge their protest against what they alleged was an ''indiscriminate allocation of water'' to industries by the state government.
Despite all precautionary measures by the local authority, the farmers entered the prohibited area of the Hirakud Dam and staged demonstration in support of their demand.
The agitated farmers gathered at Ravan-Poda ground at Burla to hold meeting against the water policy of the state government and criticised Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for allowing the industries to draw water from Hirakud Dam ignoring the farmers.
''People of western Orissa are the real owners of the Hirakud Dam and its water and hence, the government and the Chief Minister in particular must consult them first before taking any decision on its use,'' said Lingaraj, a fire brand leader of the farmers from Bargarh. As part of the civil disobedience movement thousands of farmers marched towards the dam's prohibited area, breaking the barricade at four stages.
However, police resorted to lathi charge when the farmers proceeded towards the sluice gates of the dam in which at least 15 people sustained minor injuries.
But a timely interference by District Collector L N Nayak and Superintendent of Police P Sanjay Kumar pacified the matter. The SP tendered an unconditional apology for the police action on the farmers.
The farmers have apprehended that irrigation in whole of the Hirakud command area would be affected and the area would soon turn into a desert if the government allocated major chunk of Hirakud water to industries.
Leaders of various political parties including the office bearers of BJP, a ruling partner of the state government, were present in good number to extend their support to the cause of the farmers.