Grim flood situation in Odisha adding to villagers woes

Malkangiri (Odisha), Aug.20 : An under construction dam, combined with the incessant rain, has inundated Odisha's Malkangiri region, adding to the villagers woes.

The floods have affected residents of about 25 tribal-dominant villages, which is also under threat from Maoists.

Duryodhana Patro, a villager in Motu block of the district, said the the Indira Sagar Polavaram project has added to their problems.

He added that the Supreme Court had directed the Government of Andhra Pradesh to stop construction work.

"If this Polavaram project is not stopped, seven tribal villages of Odisha would be submerged in water," said Patro.

According to reports, the state government had opposed the Polavaram project on the River Godavari by the Andhra Pradesh Government, as it claimed that it would submerge many areas of Malkangiri District.

Project Director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) in Malkangiri, Biswamohan Ray, urged the state and the central governments to take necessary steps to stop work on the project.

"Currently, the project is affecting a number of villages; we cannot imagine how much area would be affected and how many villages would submerge in the water, if it gets completed. A big area of the Motu Block in the district would be under water, we won't be able to locate the region on map," said Ray.

The Ministry of Environment had given Andhra Pradesh the final clearance for diversion of 3,731.07 hectares of forest land three years ago for the project, despite protests from both the states.

According to the ministry, they had cleared it on the condition that no submergence of forest land would take place in both the states.

According to the estimates, the project would affect the population of 20,000 in the region.

Experts say decades of mass deforestation in many flood-prone areas have led to soil erosion where sediment is washed downstream, ending up in rivers where it builds up on the river bed and raises the levels of water far higher than normal.

India experiences monsoons from June to September, vital for its agriculture. But the rains frequently affect millions of people, devastating crops and homes and sparking outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery.

--ANI (Posted on 20-08-2013)

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