Kendrapara: Odisha’s Minister of State for Labour and Employees’ Insurance, Srikant Sahu recently informed the assembly that only 23 non-Odia labourers are working in Kendrapara district. In reality, however, the picture is quite different. Sources informed that a huge number of labourers, mostly illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, are working in Kendrapara district. Such are their numbers that they wield considerable influence, more than the locals do. It is these Bangladeshi immigrant labourers who are calling the shots in Kendrapara district. They are mostly being employed by 29,249 licensed labour contractors in the district. This development has taken place due to illegal infiltration by Bangladeshis into Kendrapara district through both land and sea. It still continues as the district administration has not taken any concrete steps to prevent infiltration. All attempts to check infiltration have fallen flat due to manpower and infrastructure shortage plaguing the three marine police stations, Forest department and coast guards in the district.
Reports said that over 20,000 people from outside have settled down in Kendrapara district. However, local police stations have no clue about them and their whereabouts. Social activist Sunil Kumar Gantayat of Mahakalapara, Pratap Chandra Padhi and Kalpataru Samantray of Pattamundai, Susant Nayak and Chittaranjan Sahu of Kendrapara said that three marine police stations at Jambu, Talachua and Tantiapal were set up along the 48-km coastline of the district. It was done to prevent infiltration and ensure proper law and order in the areas under their jurisdiction.
However, these police stations have failed to achieve the purpose for which they were established. These police stations have been established in Bengali-speaking areas but the infiltration by Bangladeshis continues unabated much to the disappointment of the locals. The three police stations are reeling under shortage of manpower and infrastructure and are struggling for survival. Among them, the Jambu police station is situated approximately five kilometres from the jetty. However, such is the location of the police station that it becomes almost impossible to reach it on a two-wheeler during monsoons. The police station also lacks speed boats and trained staff to patrol the sea. As per rules, each police station should have staff strength of 81 personnel.
However, the total staff strength of the three police stations currently stands at 42. Sources informed that there is no proper verification of boats arriving and leaving the jetty. Former District Collector Reghu Jee had put in place a verification method, but it is yet to be implemented. As a result, the porous coastline, with no security system in place makes it very easy for the illegal immigrants to enter Kendrapara district in the darkness of the night. They not only become a serious threat to the security of the district but to Odisha and India also.
Similarly, people peddling various illicit products have made the district their second home by renting places. They along with the illegal immigrants indulge in various acts of crime including human trafficking and selling of drugs. Sources said that criminal activities in the district have increased manifold in the last decade. The house owners give out their places for rent without verifying the antecedents of the takers. So locals have urged the police to carry out screening to identify the outsiders living in the district. When contacted, SDPO Rajiv Lochan Panda admitted to shortage of manpower and infrastructure in the marine police stations. He said the number of marine police stations will be increased this year while efforts are being made to fill up the vacant posts and ensure supply of speed boats.