On January 13, 1957, the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Hirakud dam, calling it the temple of modern India. It has submerged more than 360 villages (1,23,000 acres of land) and displaced 26,561 families.
"The agricultural production in our region has deteriorated due to pollution. Haphazard mining has lead to serious drinking water problems in the area", says Indar Bilas Shah, a 56- year old resident of Obada village, Lakhanpur block in Jharsuguda, Odisha. He's not the only one. Thousands of villagers in Jharsuguda echo these sentiments.
Who's to blame?
The Hirakud Dam project is the oldest of its kind in India. The dam was built across the Mahanadi river about 15 kms upstream of Sambalpur in the state of Odisha. It is the first major multipurpose river valley project in post-independent India and also one of its longest.