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Scam in Rs 1000 cr Mega drinking water supply project, IIT Hyderabad’s ESIA report on Bhitarkanika National Park is FAKE : Odisha Congress

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satya nayak addressing press conference
addressing press conference

TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar 21/08/2021; The row over the controversial Bhadrak Mega Drinking Water Supply Project is getting more dismaying and humiliating for both the Kendrapara district and state administration. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on 21 August has levelled serious allegations of manipulation and forgery against the state government in giving approval to the project. The party has alleged that the state government has lied and showed a bogus Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report to justify that there is no adverse effect on Bhitarakanika National Park, alleged Satya Prakash Nayak, PCC media convenor. The Kendrapara district administration has been maintaining that the ESIA report on Bhadrak Mega Drinking Water Supply Project is being prepared by IIT Hyderabad and the study results show, there is nothing to worry about the ecology and bio-diversity of Bhitarkanika wildlife Sanctuary.

What are Congress’ allegations?

The Congress on 21 August brought grave charges against the state administration saying that the claimed ESIA report of the IIT Hyderabad is FAKE. Explaining the forgery committed by the administration, he said the alleged report has not done any study on the probable impact of the project on Bhitarkanika. There is no mention of Bitarkanika and its ecology in that ESIA report. The said report has dealt with issues concerning civil work, construction, waste treatment, water flow, noise pollution etc. Adding to the allegations Satya Nayak asked, how did the Odisha government deliberately ignore the Bhitarakanika Eco-Sensitive Zone committee approval before starting the mega pipe water supply project? Since both place, the water intake point Barunadia on Kharasrota river, Kendrapara district and the water treatment plant at Nuahat, Nhadrak district fall under the eco-sensitive zone of Bhitarkanika national park, it is mandatory for the district and state administrations to get the approval prior to the beginning  of the project. And for that, there has to be a detailed Environment Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) study by an accredited agency/institution to assess the adverse impact of the project (if any) on the ecology and environment of  BHitarakanika National Park. Sadly in this case meeting of eco-sensitive zone committee was convened when 40 percent of the project work is almost complete, said Nayak. That’s not all, the district administration did not maintain the procedures while convening the ESZ meeting. Why all the 10 members of the committee were not invited to the meeting? Why didn’t the ESIA report by IIT Hyderabad was not placed in the first meeting convened on 03 December 2020? asked congress.

Key questions of Congress

  • Which department and officer took the decision to entrust the ESIA report preparation work to IIT, Hyderabad?
  • Why was the Civil Engineering department chosen for the ESIA study on subjects concerning environment and wildlife?
  • Why didn’t the ESIA study work not given to a well reputed and nationally accredited institution of environment science, since Bhitarakanika and its ecology is a highly sensitive and complex environmental matter?
  • What was the Terms Of Reference (TOR) for the ESIA study contract ?
  • How much money paid to IIT, Hyd for the ESIA report?
  • How did government approve of the findings of the project report without Bhitarkanika issue being studied and reported?
  • When was the assignment given to IIT Hyd and when did they submit the report to the government?
  • Why did the Forest and Environment Department and Mangrove Forest Division of Bhitarkanika are silent on the issue?
  • Why Bikram Arukh the state Forest minister, is silent on the issue.

The chief minister’s office has heavily pressurised the district administration to carry forward the project, alleged Satya Nayak. Both top government officials and the executing contract agency Megha Engineering Infra pvt ltd are hand in gloves, alleged Nayak.  Interestingly, the district administration went up to the extent of bypassing a Government of India statute to favour the agency and push forward the project. On 16 June 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change brought a Gazette notification and declared the Bhitarkanika marine sanctuary and National park as Eco-Sensitive Zone. It clearly specified the Dos and Donts inside the Eco-Sensitive zone area that bars any kind of activity inside the Eco-sensitive Zone without the prior approval of the committee. Despite the law being clearly mentioned, the district administration defied not only the rules and regulations but the resistance of the local people, alleged Congress.

The police-agitators clash took violent turn with the police resorting to lathi charge. Police registered cases against more than 800 people. The district administration should immediately drop cases against the locals, demanded congress.

They should stop immediately the project work till the ESIA done properly. Start Criminal proceedings against the district collector and superintendent of police, demanded congress.

In Odisha 31,712 vaccinated get infected with Covid-19

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vaccine1

More than 2 crore doses administered. Malkangiri is the least vaccinated district.

TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar, 18/08/2021:  The Odisha State Health department has achieved the milestone in administering 2 crore of doses. As per the date available on Cowin portal a total of 2cr 71,492 doses have ben administered till 17 August last. However the alarming fact is the increasing number of vaccinated people getting infected with Covid 19 virus. A total of 31,412 people in the state have been infected with the virus after being vaccinated. A total of 16,728 people were infected after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Similarly, 13,074 people get infected after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. That’s what the health department data says.

So far, a total of 2,71,492 doses of vaccine given in the state. Of these, 1 crore 53 lakh87 thousand 572  were given  the first dose, while the second dose was given to 46 lakh 34 thousand 572 people.

Among the 30 districts, Khordha district has administered the highest with 25,36,876 doses followed by Ganjam  20,86,227 , Cuttack ( 12,39,750 ), Balsore (9,75,349 ), Sundergarh ( 8,82,011), Puri (8,55,188), Mayurbhanj (8,41,166), Keonjhar (7,14,099), Jajpur (7,08,570), Sambalpur (6,64,522), Bhadrak (6,86,406) and Koraput 6,78,428 doses.

Malkangiri with only 2,22,209 doses is the least vaccinated district followed by Boudh (1,68,229) and Deogarh 1,45,033.

All school buildings in Odisha to have one color

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TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar 18/08/2021 ;  All school buildings under the Department of Schools and Mass Education will have the same color. The decision was taken in the review meeting of department chaired by the principal secretary cum commissioner Satyabrata Sahu. In addition, the maintenance and housekeeping works given to the women self help groups (SHGs.  15,000 Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have been assigned the responsibility of maintenance and cooking of the mid-day meals and gardening in the schools.  Since land is available for all model schools, the DIOs will take steps to work there on a wartime basis. The school principals have been instructed to ensure that all students of model schools pass from next year. Since the Class XI and XII (Plus 2) classes are under the Department of Mass Education, the DIOs will supervise the higher secondary schools and Plus2 colleges ·

  • The DIOs will oversee the Plus 2 colleges·
  • 15,000 women SHGs are in charge of school maintenance·
  • 63,000 teachers to be promoted by September·
  • Benefit of welfare schemes implemented by state government be intimated to students through mobile messages·
  • ‘Bande Utkal Janani’ has been included in the ninth and tenth grade.
  • The Smart Class / E-Library / Laboratory will be widely implemented through the transformation program at 1123 High Schools

The Additional District Education Officer (Planning) will act as the nodal officer for this purpose. The DIOs will collect their mobile numbers to bring the benefits of the public welfare scheme implemented by the state government to the students. Various social messages will be posted on the main board of the school in the designated hoardings. The Odisha Secondary Education Eligibility Examination (OSEET) will be conducted by the Council for Secondary Education on January 1. DIOs have been instructed to manage it.

Student unit tests will be conducted on a regular basis. Therefore, the Council for Secondary Education has been instructed to complete the training of the principals through all the District Resource Groups. The DIOs will pick up the rice for lunch and work to improve the Performance Skills Grading Index (PGI) performance. In addition, Secretary Shri Sahu has directed that the money given for infrastructure and building development be spent on time.By September, 43,000 primary school teachers will be promoted. Regular meetings will be held with the BIOs to comply with other directives. ‘Bande Utkal Janani’ has been included in the ninth and tenth grade literature books since this year. The Smart Class / E-Library / Laboratory will be widely implemented through the transformation program at 1123 High School. For this, e-content will be developed separately at each district level. The ‘My School’ program covers 32,447 schools. It has also been decided to include more and more primary schools in the plan in the coming days.

 

Odisha’s iron ore transportation loss gets bigger; State govt slaps Rs 716 crore demand notice to JSW, Rs 6028 crore to Sirajuddin mines for non-fulfilment of target .

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Iron ore mine in Odisha

TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar, 17/08/2021 : Shortfall of mining revenue due to non-fulfilment of Iron ore transportation target has become a major headache for Odisha government. Most of the major mining lessees have defaulted in meeting the iron ore transportation target causing the revenue deficit to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore. Recently the state mining department has issued demand notice of Rs 716 crore to JSW for non-compliance with the iron ore transport target. Besides JSW, notice amounting thousands of crores of rupees have been issued to multiple mining companies, including Mittal, Sirajuddani and Nerveram.

A total of 19 iron ore and manganese mines were auctioned last year in Kendujhar and Sundargarh districts. It involved multiple leaseholders who managed to take over the mines. Leaseholders offered premium of 93 percent to 160 percent of the base price to get the mines. Now the leaseholders have not been able to transport iron ores from their mines as per the target mutually agreed by the mining lessees and government of Odisha. As a result the accumulated  revenue deficit due to non-compliance of the transportation target has gone up to the tune of around Rs 10 thousand crores. In addition to JSW’s Jajang mine, the state government has issued demand notice of Rs 145 crore to ArcelorMittal and the Nipon-owned Thakurani Mining Company for failing to transport iron ore as per the government target.

The Mittal Company has a total target of 42.02 lakh tonnes of iron ore from the mine, while 1.97 lakh tonnes of iron ore has not been transported yet. As a result, under the MDPPA (Model Mines Development and Production Agreement). the state government has reportedly issued notice for revenue on Royalties, DMF and NMET. Not just JSW or Mittal, multiple mining leaseholders have failed to meet the transportation targets. Norveram Steel has been able to transport only 28.56 percent of the ore from the Roida-2 mine. The mining company has been fined Rs 1483.74 crore. Sirajuddin’s company, the biggest defaulter, has been able to  transport only 16.41 per cent of the iron ore from the Balda iron ore mine. The company has been given a demand notice of Rs 6,028.22 crore as the government’s transport target has not been met. Similarly, Jagatjani Services has achieved only 5.06 per cent of the target from the Jaribahal mine. The mining company has been given a demand notice of Rs 287.23 crore. Large mining companies, such as JSW, on the other hand, have now written to the government to surrender few of iron ore mines. Following multiple mining companies failing to meet their transportation targets have raised government concern as how to manage the huge revenue loss. (TN)

“ Dear chief minister, OBC youths want reservation in job and education, not BJD tickets” Congress

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TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar; Finally the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has brought the Other Backward Class (OBC) issue to the centre of poll narratives in Odisha. The politics over Other Backward Classes (OBC) has picked up force in the state with Panchayat and Urban Local Body elections approaching closer. On 13 August 2021, the jolt came from the BJD camp, when two senior ministers of chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet declared that BJD will give tickets to 27 percent OBC candidates in the upcoming Panchayat and ULB polls. Addressing a Press Conference, Ranendra Pratap Swain, minister, Food and Consumer Affairs and Arun Sahu, minister of Higher Education department said, their party is committed to give justice the huge OBC/ SEBC population in the state. The party acknowledges their long standing demand for 27 percent reservation for SEBC and OBC candidates in jobs and education in the state, said Dr Sahu. However due to the the Supreme Court’s restrictions to maximum reservation limit to 50 percent the state government could not give 27% reservation to OBC people, said Ranendra Pratap. 

The BJD’s decision to field 27% candidates from the OBC category in Panchayat polls came two days after the party demanded a union law empowering states to allow to give reservation more than 50 percent cap and make provisions for SEBC census in Census 2021. In February last the Odisha State Backward Classes ( Ammendment) Bill passed in the assembly. It allowed the OBC commission to survey the SEBC in the state. The BJD government has been delaying the process with the plea that the state does not have the scientific data regarding the exact population of SEBC in the state. The state does not have a reliable data as the last OBC census was done in 1931 census, which is almost 90 yr old. 

Odisha Pradesh Congress has reacted sharply to BJD’s decision to give party tickets to 27% candidates belonging  to SEBC/OBC category. Satya Prakash Nayak, convener of PCC media cell, has criticised the decision as Naveen Patnaik’s dirty politics. BJD has betrayed the SEBC/OBC people which is more than 52 percent of state’s population, said Satya Nayak. 27 percent reservation is an accepted norm enacted by the parliament. Giving 27 percent reservation is a constitution provision and rights of OBC/SEBC people of the country, unfortunately Naveen Patnaik government has been depriving the millions of OBC people of the state of their rights for over two decades, alleged Satya Nayak. Addressing a press conference, Congress party said, BJD is feeling insecure of the outcome and afraid of being rejected by the majority OBC and SEBC population in the upcoming polls therefore played OBC card. “ Dear Naveen Babu, please try to understand, millions of SEBC/OBC youths in Odisha want 27% reservation in job and education in government sector. They do not demand BJD party tickets” said Satya Nayak. Naveen Patnaik government is anti-OBC and it does not want to give 27 % reservation, that;\’s why they are taking the plea of the Supreme Court’s 50% cap, he said. If the maximum reservation limit is more than 50% then how come it is more in GoI and many other states, questions Congress. First the BJD government kept the OBC commission defunct for over decade. Now they are taking the plea of caste census. The Socio Economic Caste census done by UPA government has the required data, so why the state government is not accepting it to make the provision accordingly, asked Satya Nayak.

The 27% OBC candidate is a poll gimmicks, if Naveen Patnaik is really keen on giving social justice to the SEBC/OBC people of the state then why does not he give one post from either BJD party president or Chief Minister  to a OBC leader, asked Manoj Mohapatra, Congress spokesperson. The state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too has condemned the decision of BJD.  The BJP has given more than 35 % tickets to OBC candidates in last 2019 elections. It is BJD’s internal matter, said senior BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan. (TN) 

Treasure Trove of ancient idols discovered in Ratnachira Valley

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Bhubaneswar 13th Aug:  A team from the   group “Rediscover Lost Heritage”, who are conducting a survey of the Ratnachira Valley, have discovered a treasure trove of old temple images in Laudanki village near Satasankha on the Bhubaneswar-Puri road. The discovery was made yesterday by a six member team who were inspecting the precincts of the ancient Gateswar temple in the village, just 15 kms from Pipli. 

According to Anil Dhir, the assortment of nearly two dozen artifacts was discovered beneath a big garbage heap on the rear of the temple kitchen. The team had earlier discovered surface remains of an ancient temple strewn around the complex which comprised of carved stone blocks. The villagers had informed about many old images which had been recovered during the restoration of the temple by the State Archaeology Department in 1999. These images had been kept aside by the authorities for taking them to the State Museum, however   the place was inundated   during the Super Cyclone in 1999, and the entire lot was buried under vegetation and branches of uprooted trees. The officials forgot about the recovered   images, and they have been lying buried in the garbage heap for the last two decades.

Deepak Kumar Nayak, the Chief Co-ordinator of the RLH group, who is heading the Ratnachira project,   says that the identified images include a three feet Kartikeya image in Mayurasana, a two feet Ganesh in Ardhaparayanika, a two feet Mahisamardini image, a seven hooded serpent image of Manasa besides an assortment of temple panels with intricate carvings of Alasyakanyas, Brushavas, Nara Vidalas etc.  A   small brass mask of Lord Shiva too was found. The antiquities, except the brass mask, can be dated to a period between the 9th to 12th Century C.E. The artifacts have been kept inside the temple and the authorities have been informed.  

The team members included Conservation Architect, Aloukika Mohanty, Subhashish Dash, Suman Prakash Swain and Sitakanta Mishra. The team had earlier discovered a very early stone temple   at Biropurusottampur, just four kms from the present find.

According to Dhir, like the Prachi Valley, the Ratnachira Valley too is a treasure house of many archaeological wonders, most of them being obscure and unknown as they have not been documented.  Like the Prachi, the mythical Ratnachira too is on its death throes. Legend has it that Lord Rama had drawn the river to quench Sita’s thirst, using her pearl ring to chart its course. The ancient river, which now runs dry for most of the year, has many myths and legends with flourishing heritage on both sides of its short stretch.   

Dhir has appealed to the authorities to conduct a proper survey of the temple complex. Excavations as the site will yield rich finds. A survey of the entire 60 kms Ratnachira valley should be undertaken and the monuments documented. Earlier, after the discovery of the nearly ancient temple, the Minister of Culture had visited the place with a team of officials and promised proper restoration and conservation.

 

“Naveen led BJD government could not set up a single new Bus stand in Odisha in last 21 years?”: Congress

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TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar 12/08/2021 : Opposition Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) came down heavily against Naveen led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government’s recent decision to name all the proposed 89 indoor stadiums in the name of late Biju Patnaiks. “BJD is desperate to win Panchayat polls at any cost, that’s the only reason why the minister for sports and Youth affairs Tusharkanti Behera declared that all the proposed 89 indoor stadiums to be set up in 30 districts will be named after late Biju Patnaik ” alleged OPCC media convener Satya Prakash Nayak. Addressing a press conference here Satya Nayak has accused the ruling BJD party’s attempt to use public funds and projects for electoral benefits as the dirtiest politics a party can resort to.

Countering state governments’ claim of massive development works done by the government, Satya asked, leave alone the chief minister, can anyone in the BJD or government answer, why the state government could not set uo a single new Bus stand in Odisha during the last 21 years of BJD rule? Terming the governments’ recent declaration of series of development projects, Satya said all these are poll propaganda by Naveen Patnaik to tuck away the failures of non performance and woo the voters. Referring to a reply in the Odisha Legislative Assembly, Satya said there were only 38 Bus stands in the state when Navin Patnaik took over the charge as chief minister. After 21 years of continuous rule there has not been single new Bus stand set up in the state, said Satya.

There are 314 blocks, 114 urban Local Bodies, 58 sub-divisions but only 38 Bus stands. Interestingly out of 30 districts there are 8 districts where there is no Bus stand  says the report. Though the urban department allotted funds for setting up of 15 new Bus stands, there has been hopeless development in the completion of projects, said Satya. Taking a jibe at chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Satya said, the head quarter Bus stand of Naveen home district Ganjam,  does not have lighting, drinking water facility and rest shed for passengers. This shows the fake claim of development by BJD government.

There are more than 14000 private and 462 government run busses plying in hundreds of routes in the state but there is not a single proper Inter-state Bus Terminus in the Odisha. When more than 80 percent people of the state are depended on Bus services, unable to provide basic minimum facilities is disgraceful alleged Congress. It is unbelievable that a government in power for such a record time could deprive the people with such basic minimum services. This is betrayal to the trust of the people of the state, condemns Satya. At one end the government turning a blind eye to the requirement of functional Bus stands in the state on the other it has closed down couple of Bus stands and sold away prime lands to business houses to set up malls and market complexes, said the congress leader. The OPCC has demanded there should be one Bus stand in every Urban local Body and making arrangements for plying of private buses in all the 30 districts as there are only 462 government buses operating in the state. Presently Private buses are operating in only 20 districts.

Why did Navin stall the ‘Fortified Rice Distribution Scheme’ for over 2 yrs in Odisha’s famished Malkangiri district?

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TBN Desk

Bhubaneswar,: Poll politicking runs faster in the veins of India’s one of the longest serving Chief minister Navin Patnaik’s government than any other welfare or developmental project. The latest example is the holding up of the Fortification Rice Distribution Scheme for over two years in Odisha’s most malnourished populated district Malkangiri. On 29 July 2021, Odisha government rolled out ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) programme in the state. The same day NavinPatnaik announced the launching of Fortified Rice Distribution Scheme in Malkangiri District. A press note from chief minister’s office says, the Fortified Rice blending with Vitamin B-12, Folic acid and micronutrients would be greatly helpful for the malnourished poor women and adolescent girls of the district. This scheme is being launched as a pilot project. Malkangiri district has the highest malnourished population in the state. More than 50 percent women in the district are anaemic. According to Health Survey report the district is ranked third among 100 districts in the country having highest malnutrition children. Seven out of every ten children happen to be under weight. This pilot project will play a crucial role in addressing the nutritional deficiencies among the poor especially women and girls in the district, CM Patnaik said.

While the state government was busy chest thumping about the project benefits, documentary evidences exposed the shocking covert design of the government. Verification of documents and parliamentary proceedings contradict Odisha government’s claim that the project is the sole initiative of the state. A recent Reply on 27 July 2021 to a question in the Parliament, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, minister of state of Rural Development and Consumer affairs has said the Fortification of Rice and distribution under Public Distribution Scheme is a Government of India approved Centrally sponsored pilot scheme for a period of 3 years beginning in 2019-20. The pilot project focuses on 15 districts across 15 states. For Odisha, Malkangiri is chosen as beneficiary district. While most of the project states have already started the scheme, Odisha government held up the implementation of the scheme for over 2 years. Not only that, while the state government claims the entire credit of the project it is silent on the role of the union government.

The revelation has left many in doubt. Why did Navin Patnaik, who is always in search of populist schemes and projects, stall the proposal for more than two years? ‘The reason is poll politicking, for which Navin Babu delayed the scheme and deprived the poor people of Malkangiri district getting the fortified rice’, alleges Satya Prakash Nayak, congress leader.  Had the state government not delayed the scheme lakhs of poor and malnourished people of Malkangiri would have been hugely benefitted in last two years. Navin babu sat over the proposal and launched it recently keeping his sight on the forthcoming Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies elections, says Nayak. Let poor people of Malkangiri suffer but Navin babu’s priority lies in how much political benefit his party would get out of the scheme. And that’s the sole reason why he waited for two years to launch at a time close to polls. Interestingly the expensive ad-campaign in newspapers is silent on the central government’s role in the project with an intention to take entire credit out of the scheme, which is unfortunate, says Satya Nayak.

Coastal erosion in Odisha making several villagers refugees in their own state

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By-

  • Villages on the east coast of India have been impacted by erosion by the sea over the last few years, with some of them being completely engulfed by the sea as well.
  • In addition to recurring cyclones, human-made structures such as dams and ports have aggravated coastal erosion, say experts.
  • Impacts of the erosion is also threatening the mangrove cover which is a natural deterrent against erosion. Geo-tubes, sea walls and other artificial measures provide only temporary relief.

Podampetta is a coastal village in the Ganjam district of Odisha. Few years ago had several households which were primarily involved in fishing trade. Now, in 2020, it has only five households. The rest of the village has been resettled by the state government to a new area called New Podampetta, around 300 metres away from the village on the eastern coast of India.

The resettlement of the entire village was triggered by the massive coastal erosion the village witnessed in the last few years. The village lies along the Bay of Bengal, now at a distance of only 50 metres from the sea. Several houses there have been damaged by natural disasters and are now lying in dilapidated conditions.

“Several houses in my village were damaged due to coastal erosion. The sea which was around 500 metres away from our village is now only around 50 metres away now. Due to high tides and strong waves, the village has seen severe damages while much of the beach has been engulfed by the ocean in the last few years,” said Gyan Bohrai, a resident of the village.

Around 15 kilometers away from Podampetta, there is another village named Arayapalli where one can spot the massive damages erosion has caused over the last few years. Arayapalli is within a kilometre north of a minor port where a breakwater has also been constructed in the sea, to prevent erosion.

A scene of Arayapalli village in Odisha. Credit-Pramit Karmakar
A scene of Arayapalli village in Odisha. Photo by Pramit Karmakar.

A Telugu-speaking fishing community had been living in this area and relying mostly on fishing activities.

“After the port came into existence, the levels of coastal erosion have increased. They also constructed a long breakwater into the sea. In the last 10 years, the sea erosion in this area had been severe. The government tried to put some rocks at the coast to arrest the erosion but in vain,” said Madhu Trinath, a fisherman from Arayapalli.

Besides these two villages of Ganjam district that have been impacted by erosion, several villages in other five coastal districts of Odisha have seen massive destruction with some even fully engulfed into the Bay of Bengal. Recently, thousands of people from vulnerable areas in the state have been resettled to other safer villages.

Erosion-triggered displacement

Ranjan Panda, a climate change expert from the state and convenor of Water Initiatives terms the resettled population as “climate refugees” where the original inhabitants of a region are made refugees because of climate-induced causes. He cited the example of Satabhaya village in Kendrapara district where six villages were completely submerged into the sea and the villagers were later shifted to other areas. He attributed climate change as well as human interference in coastal areas as prime reasons for aggravating coastal erosion.

Panda also pointed out that mangrove plantations, which act as a natural deterrent to sea erosion, were shrinking. “Coastal erosion cannot be tackled unless you take care of rivers and mangrove plantations. Low sedimentation from rivers to sea due to dams, shrimp cultivation in mangrove plantation areas, climate change and other human activities have triggered loss of mangroves,” he said, adding that the mangrove belt, now under threat, is a natural deterrent to sea erosion.

Patches of mangrove plantations in Kendrapada district of Odisha. Credit-Manish Kumar
Patches of mangrove plantations in Kendrapada district of Odisha. Photo by Manish Kumar.

Odisha is home to one major port at Paradip and several minor ports also exist along the coast. Notwithstanding the threat from erosion, the government is also attempting to boost tourism to the state’s beaches.

Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh faces coastal erosion too

Similar to Odisha’s situation, in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, the Uppada panchayat has seen the worst damages due to coastal erosion. Residents of several of its villages have been displaced due to the ingress of sea into the land owing to coastal erosion, leaving behind broken houses and damaged properties.

“Five villages in the Uppada panchayat have been completely resettled – around 3,000 people have been shifted from their original place of habitation. In the last few years the sea has moved almost 2.5 kms into the land. We have personally seen several houses getting uprooted and local properties being damaged due to the erosion,” said Chokka Prasad, a resident of Uppada.

According to the villagers of Uppada, the government attempted to arrest the effect of sea erosion by the construction of synthetic geo tubes on the beach where large bags of sand are covered with heavy rocks and tied together and placed at the beach to prevent further loss by erosion.

According to Prasad though, while this helped in the initial days, the barrier itself has been damaged as it has also eroded and been engulfed by the sea. The East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh have also witnessed erosion and experts attribute it to increased human activities and construction along the coast.

The destruction at Uppada in Andhra. Credit-By Arrangement
The destruction at Uppada in Andhra. Photo by special arrangement.

Rama Subramanyam, Principal Coordinator, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Machillipatnam said the deep water ports and other human-made obstructions aggravate erosion. He also talked about the demand for other preventive measures beyond geo tubes. Experiments of geo-tubes are also done in Odisha, Tamil Nadu and other areas.

“Geo tubes are expensive but the rate of erosion has come down but not stopped. But now it seems to be laid again due to damages. It demands quite an expense. The structures are slowly going to be under the sea. So people are now demanding other options like beach nourishment and others where sedimentation from outside could be used to boost the beach,” he said.

A damaged geo-tube at Uppada in Andhra Pradesh. Credit-By arrangement
A damaged geo-tube at Uppada in Andhra Pradesh. Photo by special arrangement.

Others have also raised apprehensions about the utility of sea walls and geo tubes. “I don’t think this to be a good idea to counter erosion. These structures are likely to be taken back by the sea soon. Instead of construction on beaches, you need to explore the opportunities of off shore barriers where the waves are made. These have been utilised in places like Kaikee beach in Japan and in some places in Sri Lanka too and proved as a better option. These not only prevent erosion but boosts deposition,” said K Nageswar Rao, Professor (Emeritus) at the Department of Geo-Engineering in Andhra University.

Rao also said that the increase in construction of dams has added to the problem. “Rivers bring sedimentation with them towards sea to nurture the beaches. Dams affect the free flow of sediments towards the sea and affect the natural process of sea nourishment. Moreover, the mangrove plants which act as a buffer zone for beaches also need a combination of sea water and fresh water to grow but lack of incoming of fresh water and sediments can affect growth of the buffer zone along beaches,” said Rao.

Eastern coast more prone to erosion

The southernmost part of the eastern coast, Tamil Nadu, has also witnessed erosion by the sea.  The state has two major ports, at Chennai and Thoothukudi, and 13 coastal districts. According to the 2018 report of the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai, 41 percent of the coast in Tamil Nadu has eroded between 1990 and 2016.

Several coastal areas of the state like Thiruvottiyur, Oyalilkuppam, Periyakuppam and others faced coastal erosion. In the neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry, 57 percent of the coastline has been eroded between 1990 and 2016, as per the same study. Experts in Tamil Nadu claim that in terms of geomorphology, the eastern coasts are different from western coasts and more prone to erosion and need better conservation and more attention.

“We have more erosion of the coasts in eastern India than in western India.  In western India the coasts are mixed with rocky areas that protect them from erosion. In eastern India we have more plain and long beaches.” S. Srinivalu, former director of Institute of Ocean Management (ION), Anna University said.

Mary Divya Suganya from the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai also said that human constructions along the beaches often are linked to aggravating the risk of coastal erosion.

According to a 2018 national study of the Indian shoreline, human activities particularly urbanisation and economic activities in coastal areas turned coastal erosion into a problem of growing intensity. It claimed that man made (anthropological) effects like construction of coastal structures, mining of beach sand, offshore dredging and dams on rivers are prime reasons for triggering erosion.

Meanwhile, several severe and minor cyclonic storms entering into eastern Indian coasts, experts have said, added to sea erosion as they damaged the mangrove and other green belt with large sedimentations as well as caused other damage to beaches.

New constructions in coastal areas governed by CRZ 2019 notification

According to a written reply given by the Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Ministry of Science and Technology in Lok Sabha, the government has identified 98 coastal erosion hotspots in 11 coastal states/UTs.

“The Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change has issued the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2019 notification with a view to conserve and protect the unique environment of the coastal stretches and marine areas, besides livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal areas. The new constructions in coastal areas are being governed by this notification,” the minister had said in the Parliament in his response to query on sea erosion threats.

According to the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) which analysed the data of  6632 km of the mainland coastline for 26 years (1990-2016), about 2247 km (34%) of mainland coast is under varying degree of erosion ranging from low, moderate and high.

Another response from Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change made in Lok Sabha on December 2019 claimed that initiatives like mangrove plantation of about 16000 ha, shelter belt plantation of 1900 ha and installation of Geo-Tubes in 500 m have been taken up with a cost of Rs 86 crores.

However the government is at the same time planning to boost the major and minor ports along Indian coasts for the ambitious Sagarmala project and also planning to construct coastal highways.

The story was first published in Mongabay India. Read the original story here.

Patra’s double standard: SIT for Hathras, CBI for Pari case

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Blink News Network

Bhubaneswar, Dec 5: National Spokesperson of the BJP Sambit Patra today visited the village of Pari, the minor deceased who was allegedly abducted and murdered in Nayagarh district. The incident has now created a state-wide uproar and posed questions on the law and order in the state.

Patra during his visit to the village met the parents of the deceased and later fired several salvos against the BJD-ruled state. During his interaction with the media, he showed full faith in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and demanded a CBI inquiry into the case.

He said that the state police and the Special Investigation Team (SIT) cannot be believed and that the parents of the deceased had allegedly told him that the police is harassing the kin and also acting like ‘gundas’.

This in sharp contrast to the infamous case of Hathras where a girl was allegedly raped and murdered. Patra during his interviews with the national media talked about a SIT probe, under the state government and showed confidence on the state government led probe into the case. This was when several serious questions were raised on the action of police like late night burning of the body of the deceased and other alleged forceful actions.

The whole BJP and some of the pro-BJP channels were also terming the visits of the rival political parties to Hathras as drama meant to allegedly derive political mileage. The whole world also saw the massive police arrangements which prevented media, politicians to met the families family of the deceased while several netas also faced the beating of the Uttar Pradesh Police.

However, in Odisha, Patra faced no such obstacle of police force and visited the village and met the family members of the deceased. He strongly demanded a CBI probe into the matter. He also said that the Congress party is hand in gloves with the BJD in the state. He also demanded removal of the state minister Arun Sahoo.

At the same time, in-charge of Odisha Congress A Chellakumar also visited the site and demanded a SIT probe under the monitoring of a judge of the Orissa High Court. He also said that the CBI had a bad history of delayed and botched up cases.

Lenin Mohanty, BJD spokesperson on the other side said that the SIT has been doing good work and asked where Patra and Chellakumar in other sensitive cases in the state.

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