Skip to main content

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das 

Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.
Natural calamities hit the state hard. The frequency and intensity of the natural calamities has increased over the years. The revenue and disaster management minister of Odisha, Mr Sudam Marandi has reportedly said more than 16,000 people have died in the state due to various disasters in the past five years. Drowning, snakebites, and lightning strikes kill a large number of people in the state. In the last two years, 1,336 people died from snakebites and 424 died from lightning strikes. As per government data, in ten years from 2011-12 to 2019-2020, as many as 3,218 died of lightning.  
The state government spends money on giving financial assistance to the victims’ families. It has built a state of the art mechanism to manage disasters and reduce the casualties. In disaster prone belts, cyclone shelters have been constructed for people. But the state government has to do more and understand the root cause of the natural calamities.
The state can’t stop natural calamities but it can reduce the impact of natural calamities. The government should restore the native tree lair and forest in the coastal belt which once worked as a protective shield against cyclones.  
As the forest and tree cover has become thin these areas have become vulnerable to cyclone impact. The damage due to cyclones is more due to deforestation; people lose their livelihood and migrate to urban centers; they lead a precarious life due to lack of skills and education to earn a decent living in urban centers. 
Pollution, aggressive construction activities on the flood plain and on the estuary of the rivers make many rivers sick and lose their fish stock.  Over the years the Mahanadi delta which served as the food bowl of Odisha, has lost much of its productivity. Odisha is going Tamil Nadu way. 
The eight Cauvery delta region districts in Tamil Nadu grow 45.4 percent of Tamil Nadu’s total paddy yield; the deltas are the major food suppliers of the state. Over the years unregulated sand mining, pollutant industries and aggressive construction activities on the Cauvery river’s floodplain and estuary has made the river terminally sick. Politics over the river water has worsened the situation. Over decades, Tamil Nadu has witnessed large scale migration of poor and middle class people to other states and to big cities.    
Low farmers’ income and unemployment in Odisha can be attributed to lack of sufficient water for growing multiple crops. High input cost, money lending activities through groups and individuals, lack of transparent marketing facilities, loss of crop diversity, growing idle energy, lack of political will to depoliticize the co-operative societies and lack of accurate ground level data etc. add to the state’s woe. 
The natural sector economy of each district of Odisha is more productive than any other economic sector; the value addition is very high. But, tapping this huge potential needs deep knowledge, courage, dedicated research, accurate survey and a vision.  The state of Odisha has immense tourism and pilgrim potential which can generate employment. 
There are reported incidents of idol thefts in many ancient temples; unless the government takes very strong action, the idol thieves will ruin the state’s pilgrim sector completely. The archeological importance of the temples in the state should be kept intact while doing renovation work. The original look of the ancient temples is the real attraction for the tourists, historians and researchers. Safety and clean environment with basic amenities boost the pilgrim sector.  
Over the years Mahanadi delta which served as food bowl of Odisha, has lost much of its productivity. Odisha is going Tamil Nadu way
The state government should not build new concrete structures near the ancient temples. It should ensure a safe environment in pilgrim places; quality local food, cleanliness, spiritual environment, greenery and clean drinking water are the basic requirements of a pilgrim center. Fifty years back, the state of Odisha had more than 100 handicraft traditions which have been reduced to less than 50 now. 
Tourists love to buy quality handicrafts in pilgrim centers; efforts should be made to open handicraft shops and local food stalls in pilgrim centers. The handicraft sector in Odisha has immense potential to generate employment but the environment which inspires creativity should be restored.
The green hills, forest and wildlife can attract a large number of tourists and generate employment. The local newspapers have reported the deaths of tigers, elephants, panthers and other animals in large numbers. The skins, bones and nails of tigers are being recovered from many places in Odisha. Hundreds of elephants have been killed or poisoned in the last few years in Odisha; the state should protect its rich flora and fauna to attract tourists.
The crime rate in the state has increased. It has made life difficult even in the capital city of Bhubaneswar. Criminals from other states make Odisha their area of operation; they harass local people, steal and rob people in broad daylight. The state needs to curb the criminal activities for growth and productivity. 
There is a dearth of quality human resources in the state to manage the economy and governance mechanism. There is an urgent need for a state of the art project monitoring mechanism which should not include people who sanction the projects. The state should inculcate discipline, moral and physical courage in the minds of children right from school level.  



What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.