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Impact on People

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While reports issued by the Government and by POSCO claim that about 400 families will be displaced by the project, according to figures from the 2001 census, the three panchayats (villages) have 3,350 households, which adds up to 22,000 people who will be displaced. This discrepancy is partly due to anomalies in the Government records which recognize only 438 acres out of 4000 acres as being privately owned, whilst in reality, most of the land has been under betel, cashew and other cultivation by adivasi (indigenous) communities for several generations. This is fertile land, and an average family involved in cashew farming earns about Rs. 20,000 ($500) per season. About 50% of the families are also involved in pisciculture (mostly prawns), for which the daily earnings per family can range between Rs. 100-5000 ($2.50-$125). In addition, there are many landless families that depend on ancillary employment like making baskets for packaging Paan leaves grown in the area.

The mining activity (600 million tonnes/annum iron ore over an area of 6204 hectares) in the Khandahdar forests of Sundergarh District is going to destroy the forest based livelihoods of several villages of the Paudi Bhuiyan Primitive Tribal Group. The history of Orissa contains many unfortunate precedents where mines have been set up in Fifth Schedule areas (under the 5th schedule of the Indian Constitution, designated adivasi (indigenous) majority areas are constitutionally protected and alienation of adivasi land is to be prevented in such areas) thus displacing adivasi communities from their forest-based livelihoods. Poor working conditions in the mines have also led to respiratory problems as indicated in the “State of the Environment” report.

The project also requires 286 million liters of water per day [4] which will be extracted from Jobra and Naraj barrages of river Mahanadi, as a result of which the farmers irrigating the lands by the canals of Taldanda, Machhagaon, Birupa of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, and Kendrapada district will suffer a great loss. Water extraction in these quantities will also lay additional stress on an already overloaded water system, imposing a threat on water security for the locals, in addition to concerns about water pollution [5].


Written by janjagriti

October 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

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