"The dredging of the Jatadharimuhana will affect five villages in the coastal district," cautioned Bibhudhendra Pratap Das, a noted environmentalist of the state. He alleged the dredging of the river basin is being carried out in violation of the dredging plans prepared by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.
Das said the tender specification has been changed to benefit the company. The changes in the dredging site will help the company in saving to the tune of Rs 120 crore as the distance for transportation of the sand will be reduced by about 12 km.
The IOC has entrusted the dredging operations to Dharti Dredging & Infrastructure Ltd, a Hyderabad-based company, which has firmed up a joint venture with Hung Hua Construction Ltd of China. Since the proposed refinery site is a low-lying area, reclamation is required by filling with sand. The Rs 389.37 crore contract was awarded to dredge the Jatadhari Mohan creek at a distance between six and 12 km from the site of the refinery. The particular patch of the river bed was selected for dredging after a study by the NIO.
However, violating the contract, the dredging company has now been asked to carry out the dredging operations at a distance between zero to six km from the site of the refinery. Since the dredging will be on the new mouth of the river, there is a possibility of soil erosion eating away five villages Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Nuagoan, Patna and Mahala of coastal Paradip.
Das said dredging of the river bed near the old mouth earlier had caused disaster in the locality. A large portion of land was eaten away by the sea. He apprehends the mining of the sand near the new mouth will spell fresh disaster for the coastal areas.