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Upgrading a vision for a better life
Jharsuguda, Orissa State, India: Industrialization and displacement in Orissa and neighbouring states is a highly politicized issue. Not only are original inhabitants from India's 'Scheduled Tribes' asked to leave their ancestral lands and rural lifestyles, but as the factories go up there is a swathe of immigration from neighbouring areas. This has been a cause of tension, and even violence and conflict.

UN Volunteer Sibaram Das is himself from Orissa, and not only understands the issues but speaks the local dialects too. This gives him a vital connection and insight into the needs and aspirations various stakeholders he works among under the UNDP-supported Government of Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation Project. 

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1.    Industrialization and displacement in Orissa and neighbouring states is a highly politicized issue. Not only are aboriginal people from India's 'scheduled tribes' asked to leave their ancestral lands and rural lifestyles, but as the factories go up there is a swathe of immigration from neighbouring areas. This has been a cause of tension, and even violence and conflict.

UNV volunteer Sibaram Das is himself from Orissa, and not only understands the issues but speaks the local dialects too. This gives him a vital connection and insight into the needs and aspirations various stakeholders he works among.

2.    About 145 families were displaced by industrial development in this part of the Jharsuguda district alone, and are entitled to employment and a place to resettle. There are two points of agitation and complaints. One is employment, and the other is compensation for lost lands. Under the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy, displaced people must be offered employment – those who do not opt for it get a one-off cash payment. They are also entitled to skills training to help them build their own businesses.

3.    Gabir Chhachan (right, seen here with Sibaram Das, left, and other community members) was initially sceptical about the colony built for the community by Vedanta Alumina Ltd. However, he now even works at the company, earning a wage and putting money in the bank.

4.    "There used to be open drains here," notes Pramod Dharwa, who lives in the resettlement colony. "It used to be a large open space, where before we lived in the forest. Now it's urban. We have toilets now, and we're still getting used to using them – even wearing shoes and shirts, like city people."

5.    Khirabhati Chhachan is one of the leaders of the town's self-help groups, and acts as their informal spokeswoman. Unusually for a tribal person, who typically stay close to their traditional lands, with Sibaram's assistance she ventured to a neighbouring state for microenterprise training.

6.    Khirabhati now passes on the knowledge she gained to other community members, and hopes to set up her own beauty parlour business soon. Another 100 women are involved in mushroom cultivation.

7.    National UNV volunteer Sibaram Das works with the Capacity Development to Operationalize Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy project in eastern India.
 
UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)