Bhubaneswar: Describing the river Baitarani as the Ganges of Odisha, BJP today demanded immediate closure of at least 55 mines in its catchment area as per the recommendation of the Justice M B Shah Commission. It also called for a ‘Baitarani Bachao’ agitation unless the demand was met. “The 55 mines along Baitarani, which are allegedly affecting the river, have been identified by the Shah Commission of Enquiry,” BJP leader Sameer Mohanty said, adding the closure of the mines need to be included in the action taken report.
The river Baitarani passes through 48 blocks, spread over five districts of Odisha. It was now in a dangerous state due to the rampant mining in its catchment area, he said in a statement. Demanding immediate implementation of the Shah Commission recommendation, Mohanty said the state government must declare closure of the 55 identified mines. However, the BJP said the state government was adopting delaying tactics for the abject reason of raising funds for the ensuing elections.
The party threatened to launch a statewide agitation after BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s proposed rally here on February 11. “If the State Government will not take necessary action to safeguard the river, the BJP will launch a state-wide agitation,” Mohanty said. Environmentalist, social workers, activists and others will participate in the Baitarani Bacho andolan, he said.