MAC: Mines and Communities

"rich" District In Poor Health

Published by MAC on 2006-04-27
Source: NewInd Press ()

Rich" district in poor health

NewInd Press

27th April 2006

BHUBANESWAR: Keonjhar, one of the "richest" districts in the State, has quite a few dubious distinctions to its credit - rising incidence of malaria, high infant mortality rate, malnutrition, increasing pollution and killer roads.

Known as the mother of all mining zones, the district continues to wallow in a vicious state of negligence by the administration. The road, communication, infrastructure, law and order, healthcare facility, civic amenities have so far shown no improvement, decades after the region contributed to development of many economies through its mineral resources.

Seeking short-term and long-term actions on these problems, a delegation of citizens from the district, under Kendujhar Citizens? Forum, met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Tuesday.

The members, while thanking the administration for completing Keonjhar-Panikoili section of NH-215 on time, they expressed concern over the unattended 45-km stretch of Keonjhar-Joda section.

All the 25 narrow bridges call for urgent attention as they are unfit for bearing the traffic load. No progress has been made as far as bypass roads for urban centres are concerned. These are the points where most of the mishaps take place.

"Commercial pressure on export of iron ore fines is one of the root causes of the plight of Keonjhar, which needs a review in the policy matter," said Kiran Shankar Sahu, a member of the forum.

The forum led by its president Bhagirathi Mahanta felt that there should be a substantial reduction or if possible a hold in export of minerals till the basic road infrastructure is in place.

The members also drew Naveen?s attention to poor funding by the State Government, confusion over four-laning and the current two-laning work and delay in creation of alternate mineral routes.

Their demand for irrigation facilities was met with immediate answers and the officials concerned promised to look into the delay in Kanupur project of Upper Baitarani, De river left canal and Rengali left canal projects to draw water to Ramachandrapur.

They also drew the CM?s attention towards the degrading condition of Orissa School of Mining Engineering, gradual degradation of environment in the district and establishment of a medical college at Keonjhar or at least a medical research centre to tackle health issues.

Against 22,000 hectares granted for mining lease, compensatory afforestation is planned on 9,000 hectares, which is doubtful.

So far, afforestation has been carried out on 4,000 hectares and such an imbalance can trigger ecological disturbances, they stated.

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