Tribals staged a blockade near Talakinsari village

Tribals staged a blockade near Talakinsari village
TNN 17 July 2009, 11:01pm IST

KEONJHAR: Hundreds of tribals staged a blockade near Talakinsari village under Banspal block, demanding immediate redressal to problems relating to pollution, health hazards, unemployment, electricity, and drinking water, that continue to plague the district despite several industries being set up in the panchayat.

From July 11, the tribals blocked Putulipani-Talakainsari Road, that connects the village to the mining area of Gandhamardan hill. As a result, transportation of iron ore from Putulupani and OMC mines have been badly affected. This was the fallout of the administration’s failure to heed to their demands. Hundreds of trucks carrying iron ore ply along the road each day.

SDPO Sadar D C Puhan said, “The local tribals have set up a blockade along the Putulipani-Talakainsari road. we have heard their demands, and are trying to work out a solution.”

Talakainsari sarpanch Gopal Munda, who is leading the movement claimed that, “Due to mining operations, two rivers, on which these tribals depend for their main source of water, are gradually drying. The colour of the water has turned red. The forest, on which they depend for their livelihood, is gradually shrinking due to rampant mining operation in Gandhamardan hill. The tribals are unable to get jobs in the mines or industries and are also facing food scarcity. We demand jobs, fresh drinking water, electricity, ambulances, a school bus among our other requirements,” sarpanch Munda said.

“We will not lift the blockade till our demands are fulfiled,” said panchyat samiti member Sabitri Naik.

The locals, who staged the blockade, held bottles containing muddy water in their hands. According to the sources, there are 11 wards under Talaksinsari gram panchayat, were more than 1,000 families lived. Surrounded by hills and dense forest, this remote area has long been neglected, despite a huge quantity of mineral and forest resources being found here. Ninety per cent of the population are tribals. Almost all are below poverty line.

Another panchyat samiti member Dutia Mohakud alleged that trucks are plying and parking on tribal land and ransacking their crops. “When they oppose, the truck drivers and the mining and crusher contractors drive them away. Local police have done nothing to help the poor tribals. Instead, they support the wealthy traders and businessmen and refuse to hear our grievances,” Mohakud said.

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