Lack of good governance breeding Maoism: Orissa NGO

State's paradox being perpetuated by misgovernance, being cashed-in on by Maoists


Geetanjali Minhas | August 14, 2010

Achyut Das of Agragamee speaking at an ORF event
Achyut Das of Agragamee speaking at an ORF event

Orissa's perpetual paradox has been one of acute poverty despite abundant availability of natural resources. The paradox, arising out of misgovernance and exploitation of the state's people is fuelling Maoism in the state, according to Achyut Das, the founder director of Agragamee, an organisation working for tribal development in the state.

At an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai on Friday, Das said that the state's poltical systems have failed the tribals by partcipating in their exploitation by multinational companies - letting Maoists take over 14 districts.

“Anything   related to poverty and underdevelopment is invariably found in Orissa. There are malnutrition and starvation deaths. Due to  large acquisition  of land for industrialization , mining,  construction of dams, plantation and other enterprises over a period of time , tribals have lost their  land , their source of economy  and source of livelihood .The tribals have been alienated from their own land, forests and habitat. There is tribal migration to big cities,” Das sais at the talk on "Food security and tribal welfare".

Das, who was in Mumbai to receive the Sarda Equal Opportunities National Award has been  working with tribal population in south Orissa since 1980 with a focus on their socio-economic and political development.

“Modern development is  coming from  Planning Commission and international aid agencies like the World Bank , ADB,UNDP,DFID, with an  agenda. Their agenda is to exploit the rich resources with a top down approach. The reality is compromised as no one thinks about people's problems, hopes and aspirations. Tribal’s are losing their ethnic identity. In some areas of Orissa there is zero literacy” he said .

“Once a self sufficient state, today there is increasing discontent in Orissa and people are not ready to accept disparities. Rich are getting richer and poor are increasingly marginalized from governance processes. Tribal areas are simmering .For that reason there are movements agitations and protests in the state.  Judicial   judgments favor rich and the mighty. Only a proactive judge will give a judgment for the poor. Governance system must deliver and it is important to provide democratic space” he added.

The state, in the last decade has witnessed massive investments from the industrial sector, and is gearing up for urbainsation - but at the cost of its forest, environment and tribals, he asserted.

Posco will displace 6000 families of their  habitat and livelihood by compensating them. At the cost of agriculture, water is being diverted to industry. MOU’s being are signed everyday for power sector, mining and SEZ.

Das was scathing on government policies and acts like the mineral and industrial policies, land acquisition act, SEZ act, national seeds act terming them "anti-poor".  Critical of the governance in the state, he said that there was a gap between the progressive policies of the government and their implementation.

"The resettlement and rehabilitation policies are grossly inadequate compared to the displacement caused by industrialisation," he said, " and the corporates are not helping either. It seems like they are not responding to CSR needs, however urgent they might be."



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