ODRP rehabilitation colonies lie abandoned, turn safe haven for criminals
During the last 7 years, 15,185 families got houses in the ODRP colonies but with basic infrastructure lacking, most houses remained abandoned as beneficiaries relocated to other places.
BERHAMPUR: Odisha’s rehab colonies built as a part of disaster preparedness strategy in Ganjam paint a dark picture of apathy and negligence. Unused, houses constructed under Odisha Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP) a year after Cyclone Phailin struck the State in 2013, bear testimony to alleged administrative apathy to resettle families worst-hit in the coastal areas.
A recent incident of a minor gang-raped in a deserted house in one of the colonies has raised serious questions on the state of affairs in such colonies. Most of the houses in the 9 ODRP colonies, built across five blocks - Khalikote, Ganjam, Chhatrapur, Rangeilunda and Chikiti - are left abandoned due to lack of basic amenities like drainage, drinking water, street lighting and roads. The abandoned colonies have also become a refuge for anti-socials.
Post Phailin, over 16,707 families of 127 villages in the five blocks were identified to be rehabilitated in the ORDP colonies which were jointly funded by the World Bank and State government on 70:30 sharing basis. Accordingly, the sites for houses were identified at safer places in coastal areas, within 5 km from high tide line and construction started in 2014.
A owner driven construction of houses (ODCH) approach was adopted and each beneficiary was allotted Rs 3 lakh to construct a 294 sq ft house.
During the last 7 years, 15,185 families got houses in the ODRP colonies but with basic infrastructure lacking, most houses remained abandoned as beneficiaries relocated to other places. For instance, over 350 houses were constructed in Sorola ODRP colony in Chikiti block. But only 25 families reside while rest of the houses are unoccupied. Despite repeated appeals, the administration has allegedly failed to address issues like potholed roads, piped water supply, sanitation, cleaning of bushes etc.
Absence of street lighting has also raised security concerns as miscreants take advantage of ununsed houses in the darkness, the gang-rape of a minor in the colony last month being one such glaring instance.
Sources said, following the incident, senior police and administrative officials visited Sorola ODRP colony and inspected the houses. They visited other colonies too. Beneficiaries were warned to reclaim their respective houses. Contacted, Chikiti BDO Phalguni Majhi said problems of the colony have been placed before the district administration and will soon be addressed.