# I visited Kashipur, the hotbed for the mines in Orissa. I am helping Agragamee a grassroots NGO working for the tribal rights. Government and the mining companies have seen to that Agragamee can not fucntion smoothly – blokage of funds, denial of simple permissions, Disconnecting telephone lines, etc. Despite all these Achut Das and his team is continuing to fight for the tribal rights. I have been part of their effort to show alternative models of development – my role is to set up micro hydro power plants. Agragamee is implementing its second power plant in a nearby village.
# There are many small bridges in the remote parts of this area which are not completed. The contractor must have billed for them already but the villagers still wade through the streams.
# No vehicular transport is available to many of these villagers. They walk about 15 km every week to the town on the market day. The market then takes them all for a ride! The middlemen buy the vegetables and forest products at dirt cheap prices and ship them out to the cities at huge profits. And then with money in their pockets, they are attracted by the strategically placed booze booths where they spend whatever little money they got. Most of them return to villages empty handed.
# I couldnt see india shining anywhere in these villages. I dont see these villages getting electricity, roads, schools, hospitals in the near future. When I see the kids in these villages, an utter depression overcomes me. What will be their future? Their land will be taken up Poscos and Vedantas. Their forests will be wiped clean. Their water will all disappear. A few of them will get some daily wage jobs and still fewer of them will get watchmen jobs. A whole lot of them have to pack and move. . .
# I did have some lighter moments! I observed that here also people spit on their hands before using their pick-axes as our helper back home does!
# A shop in Rayagada has this notice displayed at their entrance. “ Please leave your original shoes outside.”
# The company which is building the new roads in the region for the mining companies aptly calls itself ARSS.
# One of the restaurants is named ‘FAST & FAST Food”. They promise to give the fastfood very fast!
# The best place to eat lunch in Rayagada is the temple. All Temples in Orissa, I was told, sell lunch and dinner. Spiritual sustainablilty in modern days!
I have some pictures too. When the net gets faster, I will post them. . .