Odisha’s Hirakud Dam enters 66th year but fight for compensation continues for the displaced
Inaugurated in 1957 over the Mahanadi river, Hiradud Dam today may be looked upon as "temple of modern India" as termed by former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but it also represents misery of all the people whose wait for compensation and resettlement remains unaddressed even after six decades.
Sambalpur: As Odisha’s Hirakud Dam, touted to be the longest major earthern dam in the world, completes 65 years and stands tall as one of the biggest hallmarks of development in the State, so does the fight for compensation and rehabilitation of thousands of families who were displaced during the project.
Inaugurated in 1957 over the Mahanadi river, Hiradud Dam today may be looked upon as “temple of modern India” as termed by former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but it also represents misery of all the people whose wait for compensation and resettlement remains unaddressed even after six decades. While the Odisha government celebrated the reservoir’s 66th year today, memories of displacement and loss haunted generations of families who were uprooted by the coming of the dam.
On the day, members of the Hirakud Dam Bisthapith Kalyan Samiti staged an agitation outside the office of RDC North and then carried out a rally towards his residential office voicing a list of demands. The demands included 10 decimal land as assured by the government, settlement of agriculture land, implementation of the NHRC orders, proof of displacement and appointment of three additional tehsildars and five clerks at Lakhanpur tehsil office, informed Samiti president Sailabala Pradhan.
As per reports, around 26,501 families were affected by the project out of which 19,000 were displaced. Over the years, only 2,243 families have been relocated in 17 rehab colonies while others continue their fight for justice.
After human rights lawyer Radhakant Tripathy moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging that due compensation was eluding over 26,000 evictees, the apex body had issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh to take due cognizance of the plight of the displaced. The
Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), Northern Division, Odisha, in a reply to the NHRC notice had stated that steps were being taken to alleviate the grievances of the displaced families in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Subarnapur districts but official sources later confessed that there were many families whose compensation and settlement of land were still pending.
The State government had assured 10 decimal land, compensation amount in different phases but there is reportedly no progress yet as claimed by the project affected persons.