Seven Mega Projects to Eradicate Poverty in Resource Rich Odisha

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Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena

Odisha is a resource rich state situated in the eastern coast of India with coastal line of 480 km of the Bay of Bengal.  The state is rich in various natural resources including minerals, fertile soil, water, forest etc. Odisha is considered to be the store house of important minerals including iron ore, bauxite, chromite, manganese ore, coal, iliminite containing titanium, monazite containing thorium, zirconia containing zirconium and rare earths. In spite of having all these valuable resources, Odisha is lagging behind in socio economic development of its people compared to most other states in the country. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Odisha from industrial sector is 33.45%, agricultural and animal husbandry sector is 19.11% and the rest is from the service sector. Most of the major industries of the state are based on minerals. The state of Odisha can come up to the premier position in India with its rich resources if the planning and implementation of some important projects as outlined below are taken up..

 

  • Integrated water resource management:

 

Odisha with rapid increasing in population and development of various industries and urban areas is experiencing a lot of fresh water crisis in spite of getting more than average annual rain fall of India. More than half of the population of the state are deprived of getting fresh water for drinking during most parts of the year. Due to rapid deforestation and increasing habitation, in recent decades, floods and droughts are occurring more frequently in different parts of the state. Deforestation and urbanization have helped most of the rain water to drain out to the Bay of Bengal through the rivers. The water used mostly in agricultural and domestic sectors is now significantly being shared by industrial and urban sectors. In view of this, it is necessary to have an integrated and multi disciplinary approach to manage water resource. There should be better planning, formulation and implementation of various water harvesting and river basins and other wet land management programmes. This should include some important aspects like old and new wet land development, better management of catchment area, protection of environment and ecology of the regions, rehabilitation of affected people, command area development etc. The drainage system should form an integral part of any irrigation project from the planning stage. Modern irrigation facilities like drip and sprinkle irrigation should be popularized and ground water resources should be enhanced through rain water recharging.

 

The mines and industries should be encouraged to develop their own water resources mainly through rain water harvesting and recycling the used water. As the state has got nearly a dozen of major rivers like Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani, instead of going for major dams, smaller dams should be constructed at different suitable sites in the river course to preserve enough water during rainy season in order to utilize those during summer and winter months for irrigation, drinking and other domestic purposes while producing hydro power.

 

  • Development of Post harvest technology and agro industries:

 

Nearly 65 to 70% of the population of Odisha depend on agricultural land and related activities. Due to frequent flood and droughts and lack of required water supply throughout the year, the agricultural production is not in commensurate with the amount of fertile land available. In addition to this, nearly 30% of the produce from the field is lost due to lack of proper harvest and storage facilities. In addition to this, a sizeable amount of crops are eaten by rodents. In view of this, it is necessary for the government to help the farmers in providing necessary irrigation facilities, proper grade seeds, grain storage and cold storage facilities and streamlining purchase and distribution schemes. In addition to this, price volatility, middleman ship, financing, educating and training the farmers are some of the areas where a lot of stream lining and improvements are necessary. In addition to bringing developments in post harvest technology, due importance should be given to agro industries so that the farmers and their family get better job opportunities and improve their socio economic conditions by producing value added agricultural products.

 

The culture of producing organic manures from agricultural and domestic wastes which has been mostly vanished due to extensive use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, should be popularized and encouraged. In this way by increasing the agricultural production through better agricultural practices, irrigation, use of organic fertilizers, post harvest technology and agro industries, the state will get a lot of employment opportunities and revenue.

 

  • Scientific mining of minerals and development of mineral based industries:

 

Odisha is considered as the store house of most of the minerals available in the country. There is a great scope to improve the faulty mining practices, out dated technology for processing lean and complex minerals and old metal extraction processes. It may be mentioned here that, new mineral deposits of the state should be subjected to mining and utilized in mineral based industries in the larger interest of the people in the state instead of bringing narrow politics in such developmental projects. In order to avail the very valuable mineral resources, some sacrifice has to be made.  The mineral resources being non replensible, it is necessary to avoid as much as possible the export of high grade ones and better utilizing those for producing value added metals, alloys and other products. By conserving and developing the mineral resources through using environment friendly technology, the state besides providing enough employment opportunities in various major mineral based large and small scale industries, would earn huge amounts of revenue and foreign exchange.

 

  • Development of renewable energy resources while judiciously utilizing fossil fuels:

The state has got very limited reserves of coal and oil. The requirement of energy is increasing with rapid increase in population, urbanization and industrialization in the state. The fossil fuel being non renewable in nature and due to their adverse effect on the environment, it has been essential to harness clean and renewable energy from resources like sun, wind, small hydro power and biomass in a big way and use these in place of fossil fuels where ever possible.

In recent years, better technology has been developed to make renewable energy more competitive to fossil fuels. In this regard, compared to other states of India, Odisha is very much lagging behind in spite of the fact that there is a great scope to develop these clean energy resources. The Government of Odisha should give various incentives and generate public awareness to produce more renewable energy and replace fossil fuels by these at a faster rate to lead a healthy living.  At present in India, the renewable energy production is concentrated mostly in 6 states namely Tamilnadu, Gujurat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

 

  • Management of agricultural and urban organic wastes including sewage sludges for producing compost and biogas.

 

The agricultural sector in Odisha produces huge quantities of various types of organic wastes which are at present being wasted or burnt. It is essential to utilize these valuable wastes to produce bio energy or organic compost and biogas for domestic and other purposes. The government should encourage the rural mass to utilize their organic wastes to produce biogas and compost through anaerobic digestion. The farmers should receive various incentives and training for subjecting the organic wastes to anaerobic digestion for producing organic manure and fuel gas for cooking and other agricultural activities including meeting the energy requirements for agro industries. Similar programmes should be also taken up in urban areas to process the organic domestic wastes and sewage sludge including human excreta. A number of anaerobic digestion systems of the wastes at suitable sites at the outskirt of the urban area should be set up for producing biogas and organic manures. This will not only keep the environment of urban area in proper shape but also the urban authorities would be benefitted financially.

 

6)         Development of small and ancillary industries and improving vocational training:

 

Small and medium enterprises are classified into 2 groups, that is (i) Manufacturing and (ii) Service enterprises. In Odisha, there is a great scope to develop small and ancillary industries in the areas of agriculture, mineral processing, metal extraction, metal fabrication and electronics, in view of the fact that the state is mainly agro and mineral resources rich one.

 

The agro processing is defined as the techno economic processes applied for conservation and processing of agricultural produce to make value added products such as processed food, fibers, fuel, furniture, building materials etc. If proper facilities for storage of agricultural produce and simultaneously development of agro industries can come up in a big way, the state while earning a lot of revenue will bring employment opportunities and socio economic developments particularly of the rural mass. The State Government should streamline and encourage the application of post harvest technology and train the rural youth and women to set up agro based industries. The government should also provide technology, finance, infrastructural facilities, market facilities in a package form so that these industries can come up fast and be sustained. Each Block Development Office should coordinate these activities.Similarly, for providing ancillary items to mineral processing and metallurgical and mineral based chemical industries, there is a great scope to set up ancillary industries in the state. These should be also developed in a similar manner.

 

In addition to this, a lot of trained man power is required for various engineering services. In order to train these manpower, an integrated infrastructure for giving vocational training in the existing and new institutions to our youth in a organized manner should be developed so that after the training, the trained personnel can get good employment opportunities. In this regard, the government of Odisha in addition to strengthening the existing infrastructural facilities should further provide additional facilities and incentives for promotion of small and ancillary industries and for technical services in different sectors.

 

  • Focus on health and sanitation both in urban and rural areas:

 

“Health is Wealth” and if it is lost everything is lost. In the developing world even in 21st century, every 15 to 20 seconds a child below 5 years dies from diarrhea caused by poor sanitation. India particularly the state of Odisha, is very much lagging behind for maintaining a normal health and sanitation practice particularly in the rural areas. The poor health and sanitation condition in Odisha are caused mainly due to the followings:

 

  • Human faeces get the scope to pollute water and land resources due to open defecation.
  • Disposal of untreated sewer effluents into water bodies.
  • Release of various wastes from urban and industrial activities to land, water and air.
  • Non availability of clean water for drinking and other domestic purposes.
  • Poor mother and childcare particularly in rural areas.
  • Illiteracy and ignorance of most of the common people regarding the bad effects of polluted air, water and land, and
  • Poor living conditions and malnutrition.

 

In order to improve the health and sanitation condition of Odisha, some important programmes as outlined below have to be taken up urgently.

 

  • Promoting better sanitation through providing modern toilets and ecological confinement of human faeces,
  • Supply of clean water for drinking and other domestic purposes throughout the year,
  • Keeping the rivers and other water bodies on the surface as well as the water in the aquifers out of polluting agents,
  • Scientific disposal of organic wastes generated in the agriculture, domestic and other public sectors, and
  • Intense programmes for immunization, child and mother care, health care awareness and providing timely medical facilities etc.

 

In order to ensure the successful implementation of the above seven programmes, the Government of Odisha in addition to taking right measures at proper time should involve all the concerned persons.

 

 

Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena

 

(Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India)

Chairman

Institute of Advance Technology & Environmental Studies (IATES) and

President, Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF)

80A – 81A, Lewis Road, Bhubaneswar – 751002,

Email: prof.pkjena_iates@yahoo.com

 

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