Bhawanipatna: Even as Kalahandi is known for its agriculture, mineral and minor forest produces, poor infrastructure and lack of tailor-made policies by the state government have been major roadblocks for its development.
The state government claims it has rolled out numerous welfare policies for backward districts including in Kalahandi. However, the administration has failed to enhance the capacity of people and their access to resources here.
After the closure of the sugar mill at Junagarh, thousands of people lost their jobs. Sugar-cane farmers, who provided raw materials to the sugar mill, are now going to other states in search livelihood.
To encourage cotton farmers, the state government had established a cotton-mill. But the government had to close the mill as it was unable to bear the debt burden. Now the cotton farmers are being forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices to middlemen.
A piece of land that had been acquired for a paper-mill is now under the encroachment of people.
The state government has given a lot of emphasis on the establishment of Vedanta Aluminum in Lanjigarh block for economic development of the region and optimal utilisation of natural resources. However, locals alleged the objective of the government has failed with the company spreading pollution in the region.
The district has been a laggard in the industrial map of the state despite it is being represented by Energy, Industries, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra.
Locals in the area had expected coming up of agro-based industries, but there is no sight of that. Three years have passed since the Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone of an agro-based firm, but the company is yet to start the construction work.
The State Government had cleared a proposal of Rourkela-based Starlight Energy Limited to set up an integrated grain-based distillery unit along with a parboiled rice mill and a power plant at Sargiguda in the district. Later, November 16, 2016, the Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone for the industry.
Subsequently, the company purchased 91.4 acres and the building of the now defunct Western Odisha Sugar and Chemical Ltd. Starlight proposed to set up the automatic rice mill, a biomass power plant with two turbines having 3 MW power generation each and an integrated grain-based distillery unit for preparation of ethanol from broken rice and maize on the premises of the defunct sugar mill.