Sambalpur, Dec 2 (UNI) Congress Working Commitee (CWC) member Ajaya Maken today said his party would not stand as a ''mute spectator to allow water to the industries at the cost of farmers by the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa.'' Addressing a massive farmers rally here, Mr Maken said the inflow of water to the Hirakud reservoir as well as the storage capacity of the dam had reduced at an alarming rate over the years.
Under such circumstances, ''assured water'' of 0.6 million acre feet to industries would go against the interest of the farmers of the concerned area, he added.
He said the inflow of water to the Hirakud dam was 39.3 Million Acre Feet (MAF) when it was commissioned in 1957. However, now it had reached 24 MAF, he alleged.
The CWC member said during the regime of the Naveen Patnaik government, there had been no increase in the irrigated area in the state. On the other hand, the government had diverted water to industries at the cost of agriculture, he alleged.
Congratulating the farmers for their large turnout at the rally, the Union Minister said it was the ''beginning of the downfall of the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa.'' He came down heavily on the Chief Minister for his alleged inability to utilise the Central funds and fulfil the minimum needs of the people.
On the police action on farmers of Western Orissa, Mr Maken said his party would ''just not behave as a mute spectator to the incident.'' ''Even when the people of Orissa are dying due to lack of food and children are suffering from malnutrition, the Orissa government is unable to distribute 13.61 lakh tons of rice provided by the Centre,'' he remarked.
The Congress, he said, would support the demands of the people of western and southern Orissa to have permanent benches of the High Court in their area.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Jayadev Jena, Leader of Opposition J B Pattnaik, former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal, Union Minister Chandra Sekhar Sahoo and former Union Minister K C Lenka were among others who addressed the farmers rally organised by the PCC.