Bhubaneswar: The Opposition members in the State Assembly on Saturday slammed the Government move to waive Rs 9 crore penalty on Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) for withdrawl of water from Bheden river and Hirakud reservoir.

Sources said the Executive Engineer of Hirakud main dam division had written a letter to Additional Secretary in the Water Resources department on November 18 about the issue of waiving the penalty sought from VAL. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that water penalty has not been charged on VAL because of a telephonic instruction from the Additional Secretary of the Water Resources department.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh said the ruling BJD was showing favours to VAL and waiving outstanding dues when farmers were in distress due to shortage of water for cultivations. The Government is protecting the interests of the big industries by allowing them to draw water from Hirakud reservoir.

“Farmers are ignored as they are not getting water for irrigation and drought situation prevails in entire Western Odisha districts; and the Government policy is leading farmers towards suicide,” said Singh.

He said the main purpose behind the construction of Hirakud reservoir was flood control and providing water to farmers for irrigation but now water from the reservoir is mainly used for meeting the demands of industries. He demanded that the State Government should waive energy bill on the farmers.