Noida, July 29: Covering a distance of over 1,600 kms on bicycle to highlight the plight of farmers due to the Mahanadi water dispute, two students from Cuttack, Odisha on Sunday reached Noida on July 28, after cycling for 28 days.
Twenty-one-year-old Krishnakant Sarangi, a BTech student from Gandhi Institute for Technology, Bhubaneswar and 19-year-old Subrajit Barik, a BSc student from Kalinga Bharati Residential College, Cuttack have been travelling to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to request him to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chattisgarh.
The two students were received at Yamuna Expressway zero point by local residents on Sunday. They will proceed to Delhi on Monday to meet the PM. The students said due to the Mahanadi water dispute, where Odisha had objections over number of barrages built by Chattisgarh, the inflow of water in Odisha’s Hirakud reservoir has been affected.
“We want that the prime minister must personally resolve the dispute and dissolve the Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal as states never reach a consensus. We request setting up a river board instead of the tribunal. Millions of farmers in over 15 districts of Odisha have been affected and it’s a matter of their survival,” said Sarangi. He added that while development is required for the country, farmers must have first right over the waters of any river, against industrial interests.
Barik said they received support of locals from districts they passed through. They embarked upon their journey upon receiving permission from their college principal, they added.
“When we apprised our principal about the reason for our journey, he granted us leave as we are doing it for the state and the farmers,” said Barik.
Dharmendra Sharma, a resident of Noida’s Sector34, along with 14 other residents, went on a bicycle to receive the duo.
“We coordinated through a friend and it is commendable what these young men are doing, despite limited resources. Their old bicycles are rusting but their mission is crystal clear. They also fell sick in Mathura and had to be hospitalised, yet they kept going on for the sake of the farmers,” said Sharma, general secretary of Sector-34, residents’ welfare association.