Cuttack, Dec. 19: The Orissa government has drawn up an ambitious plan to restore the Taladanda canal, reshaping the 85-km channel connecting Cuttack and Paradip into something closer to the busy inland waterway it used to be more than a century ago.
Talking to The Telegraph, Prasanta Kumar Nayak, the superintendent engineer of the eastern circle (drainage), today said the project is already in its final planning stages.
The project cost is expected to cross Rs 100 crore. The Asian Development Bank has agreed to grant a long-term loan for the complete restoration, he said.
Nayak added that at present the 130-year-old canal faces a series of problems. The canal is more than a mere landmark, he explained. The project idea is to protect it and restore it to its original look. The canal has been damaged at several stretches.
Taladanda, the states longest canal, starts at Jobra (Cuttack) and links the Mahanadi with the Bay of Bengal at Paradip. Parts of the canal was dug up in 1862, by the East India Company, and served as a waterway. It was taken over by the British government that completed it in 1869.
Over the years, the canal fell prey to pollution. It has been used as a dumping ground and poses health threats for the people living downstream, near Cuttack, where sections are choked by solid waste. Thereby, a major part of the project would involve cleaning the canal from Cuttack to Paradip. The entire bed would have to be dredged to provide a clear draft from the sea. The eroded banks would have to be fortified with side walls.
The project assumes significance in the light of the Orissa governments decision to allow Posco to use the Mahanadi water through Taladanda for its proposed plant near Paradip. Lakhs of farmers in Jagatsinghapur and Kendrapada depend on the water from Taladanda. Besides, it is a source of water for Jagatsinghapur, Raghunathpur, Balikuda, Tirtol and Ersama.
While the canal plays a role in maintaining ground-water table in Jagatsinghpur, Paradip also draws water from it for drinking purposes.