Due to Odisha Mining Corporation, the streams and water resources in Sundergarh, Lahunipada block are turning into red water.
Odisha’s mineral-rich districts such as Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Jajpur, Rayagada, Koraput, and Angul districts have resulted in massive deforestation and air and water pollution. In Sundargardh, Lahunipada block, several villages are facing an acute water crisis. Despite the fact, there are a number of streams in the village, but the water cannot be used for drinking.
Water resources originating from forests are intensively getting polluted. “Dust and waste from the OMC have blocked our streams. We are not getting sufficient water. We were getting sufficient water earlier because the streams were big. Today, even our cattle do not have water to drink,” says Daitari, who lives in Uskella village. Odisha Mining Corporation, (OMC) took the Kurunotra forest on lease in 1996 for mining purposes. It also took Sareikela village under them, for development. OMC claimed that while the mining is been done, no adjacent village or people residing in these villages will face any difficulty due to mining.
The reality, on the other hand, was very different from what Odisha Mining Corporation affirmed. “Since the OMC has come we have been facing an acute deficiency of water”, said Koili, a resident of Ushkella village. The families of these villages, now rely on monsoons for clean and safe water. In times of rain, they collect rainwater and use it for drinking and cooking. “We search for water sources inside the forest. We clean it and cover it with sand”, replied Guta, when Community Correspondent Bideshini Patel asked her, as to what she does during monsoons.
The water of the streams is turning red, due to the pollution and residue that OMC is withdrawing. Consumption of this contaminated water is causing several health ailments. Factors like, land alienation, deforestation, mining, big dams, adds to the abject poverty and massive displacement in these villages and districts of Odisha, and losing water resources is also one of them.
Globally 2.1 billion people don't have access to safe and clean water at home. This put them at risk of Cholera, Diarrhoea, Dysentery, and Typhoid. People residing in Kurunotra forest, are channeling their misery by putting it into folk songs and demanding their right to live, and access to clean and safe water.
Video by Community Correspondent Bideshini Patel.
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team