Tribals Oppose Privatisation Of Machkund Hydroelectric Project’s Health Centre

Koraput: Hundreds of tribal people including women launched an agitation protesting the alleged privatisation of the Health Centre of Machkund Hydroelectric Project at Ankadeli in Koraput district. Even though the concerned authorities have held three rounds of discussions with the protestors, the impasse could not be resolved.

On Wednesday, residents of nearby Badadural gram panchayat of Malkangiri district and Ankadeli, Chikenput and Badigada gram panchayats under Lamtaput block of Koraput district staged demonstration outside the office of the project officer over nine-point charter of demands including better medical facilities for the locals.

As a mark of protest, the agitators also closed the power gates of the Machkund hydroelectricity project resulting in disruption of power generation in the dam. Subsequently, a meeting was held between the concerned project authorities and the agitators, but it remained inconclusive.

“Ever since the authorities proposed to privatise the health centre in 2009, we have been protesting through rallies and demonstrations. The concerned authorities are only giving us assurances of better medical facilities but nothing tangible has been done so far,” alleged one Sadan Pangi.

Sushant Kumar Dash, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) of Koraput said, “Following allegations that these people are deprived of healthcare services, I decided to pay a visit. The project hospital is providing medicines to all the workers employed in the project and also the residents of nearby villages free of cost. If possible, treatment will be made free of cost. But for now, the people should withdraw the agitation.”

“As per the demands of the villagers, we had agreed to provide ambulance and medicines but they are demanding more facilities. Recently, six persons of the village died due to non-availability of medical staff at the hospital and therefore, they are demanding compensation. They are also seeking to meet higher officials and CEO of the hospital,” informed DE of Machkund Hydroelectric Project, P Rajasekharam.

It may be noted that the Machkund hydroelectricity project is a joint project of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh government and managed by Odisha Hydropower Generation Corporation and Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation.

However, sources said that the project’s health centre was recently handed over to a private organization triggering resentment among the locals who alleged that the privatization will deprive them of medical facilities provided by the government.