Environment activist writes to Odisha CM, seeks rehabilitation policy for climate refugees

Environment Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a forum of civil society organisations and experts that works for conservation of water and environment and advocacy on climate change issues, has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to formulate a proper rehabilitation policy for the climate refugees in the State.

In a letter to the Chief Minister on Monday, WIO convenor and environment activist Ranjan Panda said, “The people of Udayakani village under Sisuo Panchayat, Astaranga block of Puri district have been suffering because of the rapidly invading sea. This village is going to take a watery grave in a few years due rapid sea incursion. The invading sea has forced the villagers to relocate from the village thrice since 1999 Super Cyclone when the entire village went into the sea forcing people to move to their farmlands. During Phailin in 2014, they had to shift inlands again after the village got sand-cast.”

“While they had been under tremendous stress after losing their homestead and farm lands, the recent cyclone Fani worsened their condition further by making their remaining land and water sources more saline,” wrote Panda.

Same is the situation of neighbouring Tandahara village that is close to Udayakani even though the sea has not yet engulfed the village as much as it has the other village, Panda mentioned in the letter.

Panda also apprised the CM of the current state of affairs of Bagapatia rehabilitation colony in Kendrapada district where the government has relocated the climate refugees of Satabhaya – the seven villages which have already been engulfed by the sea during the last few decades.

“While the amount of support given for house building is too little considering the low-lying swampy area they have been allotted, they are provided with no livelihood opportunity,” said Panda.

Panda further mentioned that Odisha needs to prepare a policy for dealing with the climate induced displacements as many more villages in the vulnerable coastline are facing similar fate.  He has further suggested creation of a green corridor along the coastline with mangroves and other local and cyclone resilient species to prevent further ingress of the sea.

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