Odisha is home to 11 major rivers of which many are interstate rivers such as the Mahanadi. As climate change makes extreme rainfall events more frequent in the state, there is an urgent need to better manage the rivers and their basins.
The interstate dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi's water is an ongoing one and it looks like both the state governments have no interest in finding a long-term solution.
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.
"If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking to villagers who were to be displaced by the Hirakud Dam in 1948.
Since India became independent in 1947, the central and state governments have introduced various rural development schemes, and have been trying to get them to converge. While this effort hasn't been as impactful on a large scale, there are some success stories. Sarda Panchayat in Sambalpur, Odisha is one.
In India, about Rs.70,000 crore
It's been more than 15 days and the drinking water crisis in Talabeda village in Sambalpur, Odisha is yet to be addressed. The water supply system of the village collapsed due to a fault in the transformer located within the premises of the Talabeda pump house, and no one has the time to fix this and restart the water supply system.
Between May and December 2014, 17 deaths were registered in Sambalpur due to jaundice but residents say that the death toll due to water-borne diseases is much more than that. In January 2015, the Odisha High Court issued a notice to the state government asking it to furnish details on the steps taken to check the Jaundice outbreak in Sambalpur.
What is Jaundice?
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.
Guest Post by: Ranjan Panda
What 'Water Initiatives Orissa (WIO)' had found out three years ago have been substantiated now by a World Bank report, titled 'Climate Change Impacts in Drought and Flood Affected Areas: Case Studies in India'. The World Bank report , which took Orissa as a case study of flooding in a climate change scenarios - has referred to projections that 'temperatures, precipitation, and flooding are likely to increase, with adverse impacts on crop yields and farm incomes. Among the more substantial effects is a spatial shift in the pattern of rainfall towards the already flood-prone coastal areas'. Three years ago the WIO had found out significant increase in average annual rainfall in coastal districts like Baleswar and Puri. Now the World Bank report has projected 23 per cent increase in annual mean rainfall in that region.