Almost four years have passed since the Kalinganagar industrial area in Jajpur district -- a dream cherished by the state`s legendary politician, late Biju Patnaik -- became a witness to one of the bloodiest moments in the country`s industrial history when 14 tribals fell victim to police bullets. It was a circumstance propelled by the extreme lack of political wisdom and the lives were lost while opposing the construction of a boundary wall for Tata`s proposed steel plant in this hub. Even nine platoons of police force could not impose a diktat on the people`s psyche and the residual anger is still kicking and alive, in the areas which had once bathed with the blood on January 2, 2006.
The festering sores are still visible as one walks down the gullies. Some have recovered from the trauma while others nurse the wounds of losses of their kins. An absolute oxymoron of hope and dismay; some driven by politics and some induced by fear within. Buying someone`s loyalty using wealth is a game as old as humanity itself, but when the question is of livelihood, fear within is imminent when seen in the perspective of displacements down the years in India. It is apparent that a lack of attitude from the entrepreneurs or investors or even the government has bred the venom of distrust.
But there is a change in sight notwithstanding the intentions behind. A trudge into the rehabilitation area by the Tatas in Kalinganagar in the wee hours paints a different picture. The mornings are calm and one can notice kids kicking the dust playfully, while adults come out of the small one-room houses to take on the day ahead. Time has perhaps helped them to recover from the pain of leaving their village as they pin their hopes here on the rehabilitation camp raised by the Tatas, where people have started living before they shift to the new houses in the allotted lands little away.
Driving on the road that runs through Sukinda, the rich chromite hub, one can notice a colony on the right -- very make-shift in taste yet sporting a scenic profile against the majestic Mahagiri hills in the backdrop. There are about 700 families displaced from some villages now in transit. As the day matures young boys can be seen on bicycles pedaling out of the camps and an encounter with one of them would reveal that they have started to look ahead.
Industrialisation or not "I had never thought I would get a job in life as I had no such education worth a good job," said an elated Mahavir Hembram, a welding technology trainee who recently got a job in a local plant after his training at the Tatas’ camp. There were 29 others of Mahavir`s category who have been able to wriggle out of the industrial hotchpotch and are in the waiting for a tomorrow that could be more meaningful. Women there can be seen taking a leave from the traditional brewing of `handia`,
a home-made liquor from fermented rice, and selling it in roadside jhuggis. Now they are trying their fate through SHGs. There is a sign of self-reliance but it would depend a lot on the continuity of the progress on the other side, now face-to-face with nagging odds.
In a nutshell, what is seen in this part of Kalinganagar is that the investors or companies who arrogate to themselves the writ to reign by money and government backing, have started to learn to see beyond the nose. The days are gone, it seems, when you expect things on a platter and industrialisation flourishes on the ruins of the people`s emotions.