People’s Movement in Odisha: An Assessment

DOI10.1177/0019556117699744
Published date01 June 2017
Date01 June 2017
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
63(2) 265–283
© 2017 IIPA
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0019556117699744
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa
1 Associate Professor, PGDAVE College, University of Delhi, Nehru Nagar, Srinivaspuri, New Delhi,
India.
2 Honary Fellow, Centre for Multilevel Federalism, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Subhendu Ranjan Raj, 069–B, Pocket–3 Mayur Vihar, Phase–One, Delhi 110091, India.
E-mail: subhendu777@gmail.com
People’s Movement in
Odisha: An Assessment
Subhendu Ranjan Raj1, 2
Abstract
Development process in Odisha (before 2011 Orissa) may have led to progress
but has also resulted in large-scale dispossession of land, homesteads, forests
and also denial of livelihood and human rights. In Odisha as the requirements of
development increase, the arena of contestation between the state/corporate
entities and the people has correspondingly multiplied because the paradigm
of contemporary model of growth is not sustainable and leads to irreparable
ecological/environmental costs. It has engendered many people’s movements.
Struggles in rural Odisha have increasingly focused on proactively stopping
of projects, mining, forcible land, forest and water acquisition fallouts from
government/corporate sector. Contemporaneously, such people’s movements
are happening in Kashipur, Kalinga Nagar, Jagatsinghpur, Lanjigarh, etc. They have
not gained much success in achieving their objectives. However, the people’s
movement of Baliapal in Odisha is acknowledged as a success. It stopped the
central and state governments from bulldozing resistance to set up a National
Missile Testing Range in an agriculturally rich area in the mid-1980s by displacing
some lakhs of people of their land, homesteads, agricultural production, forests
and entitlements. A sustained struggle for 12 years against the state by using
Gandhian methods of peaceful civil disobedience movement ultimately won and
the government was forced to abandon its project. As uneven growth strate-
gies sharpen, the threats to people’s human rights, natural resources, ecology
and subsistence are deepening. Peaceful and non-violent protest movements like
Baliapal may be emulated in the years ahead.
266 Indian Journal of Public Administration 63(2)
Keywords
Development paradigm, displacement, people’s movement, defence policy,
habitat and resettlement, human rights, right to environment/life, cultural
ethnocide
Introduction
Development processes in India have led to progress but have also led to large-
scale dispossession of land, homes, forests, livelihoods and other subsistence enti-
tlement essentials of the rural people of India. As a result, one visualises that rural
and tribal people’s movements have cropped up in various parts of the country.
One hears about the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chipko, Appiko movement and
Koodankulam struggle happening in different parts in India despite the claims that
progress has been recorded by its efforts in post-independence India. The rural
sector where more than three-fourths of Indian population live and gain suste-
nance is today in a flux. The globalisation paradigm with its West-inspired
industrialisation strategy is creating unevenness by its strategies. Only when con-
centrated focus on issues and problems of rural India is made, we realise that these
rural movements were given birth by the unequal development strategies
employed by the state. The judiciary has stepped in at times and has had to perform
the duty of preserving human rights relating to rural India. However, the courts do
not step in unless and until damage has already been done and their power to give
relief is thereby limited. Therefore, genuine struggles for the rights of the peasants
and tribals are being fought by the civil society for safeguarding UN-recommended
human rights over their air, water and environment which are as important as their
fundamental rights under the Constitution of India. Of late, struggles in rural
Odisha as in many parts of India have increasingly focused on safeguarding
people’s human rights and have increasingly manifested in proactively wanting
stoppage of projects, mining, forcible land/forest/water acquisitions and pollu-
tion/radiation fallouts from government/corporate sector. India indeed has had a
tortured record of such human rights movements.
Despite having a plethora of laws on the subject, this right has been the most
neglected. It has been left to the civil society movements to enforce the basic
UN-mandated Right to Environment in all its dignity. We have a sordid record in
the sense that some of the worst cases of denial of human rights have been and
are still being fought endlessly without solutions in sight. The Narmada Bachao
Andolan has been fought for more than three decades now. The same is the case
of Bhopal Gas Pidit Andolan (Movement of Affected/Survivors of Bhopal Gas
tragedy of 1984) where no solution is in sight for some three decades. The same
is the case about people’s movements in Odisha where contemporaneously many
such struggles are ensuing. However, there is a precedent of the Baliapal people’s
movement there which was a success and is acknowledged as such not merely in
Odisha but all over the world.
This article focuses on some contemporary people’s movements in Odisha in
post-independent period. Some contemporary movements happening in this part

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