Himansu Shekhar Rout

Stone mining by the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) has allegedly taken a heavy toll on the environment and houses, apart from posing danger to lives in surrounding areas including Bhogpur of Narangada panchayat in Khordha.

Locals alleged that despite repeated complaints, there is no halt to the mining activities. They further alleged that the OMC has been carrying out khandolite stone mining day and night by engaging excavators, breakers and vibrators as a result of which many houses have developed cracks while wells and tube wells have run dry. 

This points to the fact the groundwater level is being affected by the mining activities, leading to a drinking water crisis in the area. Though water comes from tube wells, it is found to be muddy and unfit for drinking, alleged the locals.

As problems are compounding, resentment among people is brewing, it is said. The villagers, upset over the issue, have decided to boycott the upcoming polls.

“Sound from mechanized mining is so high that it is difficult to live in the village. Dust particles are floating in the air. Buildings have cracked. Drinking water has become muddy,” lamented Raghunath Balabantray of Bhogpur village. 

Another villager Manoranjan Mohapatra alleged, ”Buildings are developing cracks due to mining while the water crisis is deepening in the village. It continues to affect our lives and properties, hence the panchayat has decided to boycott the polls.”

As per the allegations, tonnes of khandolite stones are being extracted from the mine every day and the stones are being used for Srimandir Parikrama project, infrastructure development and renovation of Maa Tarini temple, Sri Lingaraj temple, Samalei temple and Ma Biraja temple. Truckloads of stones are being transported every day to these places, locals alleged.  

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People affected by the OMC mining have started protests in front of the OMC mines and warned that their agitation will continue until their demands are fulfilled. 

Sudipta Routray, a woman of the village, alleged, ”The mechanised mining of stones by the OMC has left our houses cracked. We demand compensation for the loss. The OMC has done a 400-ft deep boring as a result of which water level has drastically gone down, creating a water crisis in the villages."    

OMC safety officer Harihar Barik said, ”Some work is being done for the public welfare. Complaints of the villagers will be intimated to the higher authorities. I hope steps will be taken on their problem.”

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