Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Migrating back and forth: The struggle for survival - What is going on in Odisha?

Sun Temple, Konark

"They fled their workplaces from Rajasthan in whatever way possible, fleeing the COVID-19 infection. But barely two months later, the migrant workers from Odisha’s Balangir district have returned to their workplace right across the country, to stave off hunger....More than seven lakh people mostly migrant workers had returned Odisha following COVID-19 lockdowns"
- The Hindu

Labours fled the cities and went to home states when COVID-19 killed their jobs. Now they are going back to same place, not because COVID is over but being alive became more important than the killer disease. I took this Odisha specifically becuase its a oxymoron. This state is blessed with everything that nature can give; still close to a million people from Odisha are working as migrant labours in other states. Even in terms of total number of bonded labours identified and released Odisha stads 3rd in India.

If you look at Odisha there are,
1. No political unstability.
2. Abundant natural resources - This state has one fifth of India's coal; a quarter of India's iron ore, third of bauxite and rare earth minerals like Chromite.
3. One of the biggest steel plants
4. Population density is not so high, this mean land is available for projects
5. Large coast line and a major port - Paradip
6. Abundant supply of water
7. Potential to be tourist heaven

Of course there are problems like Maoists etc. I think Odisha should do a self searching to see why the state is not in the list of India's front-line states. Almost a decade back I spent a week in Odisha criscrossing the western areas. Odisha is beautiful; in fact I would say one should visit Konark sun temple at least once in a life time. 

I request the state government which is there for two decades to seriously use that potential and bring Odisha to the forefront where it belongs. Saudi, Qatar, UAE sitting on huge oil reserves attract migrants not the other way around; then why can't Odisha?



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