Orissa tribals seek Freedom from Forced Isolation
Posted by Admin on July 17, 2009
Report by Deba Prasad Dash; Malkangiri: More than twenty one thousand tribal people residing in the cut-off region ,just on the other side of the Chitrakonda Reservoir have sought freedom from the forced isolation.After remaining cut-off from the rest of the world for near about five decades,now the people of 151 revenue villages seems no more to find themselves in an absurd situation.In fact,they are planning for a major revolution against the state machinery under the banner of the newly formed “Cut-off Area Poor Tribals Association”.
The protest made at Chitrakonda by more than 300 tribals from the cut-off region on Wednesday gives a clear indication that a Lalgarh like situation is going to arise there with the tribals supporting the Maoists to get their problems redressed. The tribals led by Jodamba and Panasput Sarpances thronged to the Chitrakonda tehsil office on Wednesday and submitted their 8 point charter of demands to the Tehsildar under .Earlier,we had also drawn the attention of the administration but to no effect, rued both the Sarpanches.
“WE ARE waterlocked and look for freedom from our isolation”, said Bajana Sethi , a villager of Panasput in the cut-off area of Southern Odisha’s Malkangiri district.Sidelinedby fast-track development into what the state officially calls a “cut-off” region — hills submerged by the stilled waters of huge reservoirs; a space created by administrative fiat; a gap in the collective memory of the nation— more than 21,000 tribal inhabitants today find themselves in an absurd situation: while they exist, they don’t know how and where.They do not exist within any administrative calculation.
As there is no mode of communication other than lunch service to the cut-off villages,they have demanded daily motor lunch service to Jantri,Sindhiput,Kundrupadar,Janbai,besides one more lunch for transportation of luggages. The association has further demanded drinking water and health service facility,road communication and supply of electricity to all the cut-off villages.Recently,lack of communication forced two tribal students of Malkangiri Central School to discontinue their study.
Surprisingly, there is neither any Community Health Centre and Primary Health Centre for 151 revenue villages and the poor tribal peoples are suffering like anything.The inhabitants have not yet been served land pattas and education facility is also in shambles in the region.With the resentment among the water locked tribals is brewing fast,a Lalgarh like situation can not be ruled out in near future.
The Government’s performance on rehabilitiitation front can be termed as disastrous. One can hardly find any modern signs of governance in these tiny islands within the reservoir area. Basic necessities are still a far cry and to visit other parts of the district, the inhabitants solely depend on motor boats managed by the Balimela Dam Project Authority. For the people who gave up unflinchingly for development, the project does not even bring them any benefit in terms of a share in the electricity produced. Dams bring prosperity, but for the cut-off area people, the reservoir has only brought broken dreams and inert policy has forced them to remain outside the nation’s collective memory.