Tribals up in arms against Andhra project

Staff Reporter

A high-level team expected to visit project area soon

Some 11 villages likely to be affected by the project

Additional District Magistrate to lead the team

BERHAMPUR: Another proposed project by Andhra Pradesh government in Andhra-Orissa border region has led to protest from tribals living in Gajapati district.

On Saturday Saura tribals from Rayagada block Gajapati district demonstrated at Parlakhemundi, the district headquarters town of Gajapati district. They protested against the proposed irrigation project on a stream that falls into the Mahendratanya river by Andhra Pradesh government near Gangabada panchayat of Gajapati district. These tribals were supported by the tribal organisation Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) and CPI-ML (New Democracy).

The tribals alleged that the Andhra project was going to cause displacement and affect life in 11 villages of Gangabada panchayat of Gajapati district but the Andhra government had not yet taken Orissa government into confidence about the matter. They said the work on the project was to start soon as the levelling work had already started. They also handed over a memorandum to Gajapati District Collector D.V. Swami.

Spot enquiry

According to State spokesperson of CPI-ML (New Democracy) B.C.Sarangi, the Collector promised to send a team of administrative officials and irrigation engineers to the spot to have a on the spot enquiry regarding the allegations on Jan 28. The team would be led by Additional District Magistrate of Gajapati. The Block Development Officer (BDO) of Gosani block was directed to reach the spot and get first hand information before the high level team reaches there. Mr Sarangi said the Collector had told them that he had last year informed the State government regarding this proposed project which may again be an apple of discord between the two states as Andhra had not informed about it to Orissa although villages in Orissa were to be affected by it. But the state government has not yet taken up the matter with its Andhra counterpart.

As per the agitators the seven villages which were feared to be totally submerged by the Andhra project were Manikpatna, Khambagaon, Chanpapur, Akala, Dengasahi, Dimirigaon, Sankula. The villages to be partially affected by the project were Dakasahi, Gangabada, Pachidia, Sanadeula. Among them Manikpatna is a unique village as one of its two streets happens to be in Orissa while the other street is in Andhra.

The reality behind the fear of tribals can only be assessed only after the high-level team led by the Gajapati ADM comes up with its on the spot enquiry report.

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