Subarnarekha Suraksha Sena

A people’s movement on achieving sustainable disaster mitigation and community development

About Subarnarekha Suraksha Sena
Subarnarekha Suraksha Sena is a civilian corps consisting of individuals, institutions, organizations who are directly or indirectly affected by river ‘Subarnareknarekha’and have taken vow to protect themselves and the people in the river basin from severe flood that comes almost every year. It works on issues concerning preparedness, relief and rehabilitation during flood and going to take up advocacy activities on term strategy for flood control, which is a major cause of poverty in the area of north Balasore. It certainly has a development approach for the people of the area for whom the river plays a vital role in their life but with an activist overtone. The reason behind activism is to bring a halt to the step-motherly attitude of the government of the land towards the issue and development approach forms the part of the people’s responsibility to work towards a sustainable solution by involving in the appropriate platform that has been availed to them

The river ‘Subarnarekha’ originates from Chhotnagpur hill of Jharkhand (the then Bihar State) and enters Balasore district near Olmara of Jaleswar block. Except some small strips of embankments the river is mostly without embankments. The river falls in Bay of Bengal near Kirtania of Bhograi block. During flood, large areas of Jaleswar, Bhograi and Baliapal Basta, Balasore Sadar blocks of Balasore district and a small pocket of Rrasgovindpur block of Mayurbhanj districts are affected perennially by floods in the river Suvernarekha. Due to the heavy rain on 4th, 5th, and 6th July 2007 in the region, the water level of the Subarnarekha went up beyond its danger line. As a result the area was flooded. The flood was so severe which the people say was unprecedented and never seen in last 50 years. The flood took 21 lives, destroyed thousands of houses, washed away kharif crop in thousands of hectors and caused devastation to lives of lacks of people in the areas.The flood was an eye opener for the people of the region. It was certainly a wakeup call for every concerned individuals to come under one platform i.e. Subarnarekha Suraksha Sena to work on the longstanding issue affecting their life.

In 1999 there was a severe flood like this when UNNAYAN a local NGO in the area got itself engaged in rescue, relief and rehabilitation work during the flood. While distributing relief to the flood affected people of a particular village, i.e, Gadasahi Baliapal under Jaleswar Block, the villagers came up with request to construct an embankment near their village which had been a long standing demand of the people, without having a sympathetic view of the govt. The volunteers of UNNAYAN took up the challenge and organized the people of around 20 villages which are badly affected due to non-existent of this embankment. After month long massive campaign it was Oct 29th when aound 10, 000 people gathered near the village and though voluntary Shramdaan the people constructed the 2and half km embankment was constructed in one day. Suvernarekha Surakshya Manch took birth on that day.
After the recent flood the people in the region again felt the need of such peoples organisation for flood protection and various other flood related issues and Suvarnarekha Surakhya Sena was formed who jumped in to the relief and rescue operation in the flood hit areas in the Suvarnarekha basin.

What it stands for
The river ‘Subarnarekha’ does not only represent the river but means a lot more than that. We can call it a civilization. From time immemorial, it has been the lifeline of the people of the north Orissa. It has also become the death line when it submerges major areas of Balasore like Bhogarai, Baliapal, Basta, Jaleswar blocks and some parts of Rasgobindpur block of Mayurbhanj every year during rainy season causing large scale devastation in the villages situated on both sides of the river. The problem is as much a natural phenomena as political. There had been three committees on the river Subarnarekha for a planned intervention to put an end to flood and managing its water for sustainable agriculture and other development but no substantial measures have been taken so far to solve the issue.The first committee set up to look in to the permanent solution to the problems of flood in Suvernarekha was in the year 1928. Subsequently in the year 1962 and 1965 Janardan Tripathy Committee in the year 1973 that came up with certain recommendations on the basis of which a dam on the river was proposed to be construted at Chandli in earlier Bihar, now in Jharkhand. Which is supposed to be completed in 2010. Experts say that even if the Chandili dam comes up the intensity of flood in the Suvernarekha basisn is not going to be reduced because of two reasons. One, the quantum of rain water that flows in to the river in the lower part of chandli dam itself is so huge that itself causes flood in the downstream particularly in 6 blocks of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts. Second, the safe water carrying capacity at present in the river suvernarekha at Rajghat is 75,000 cusec per second, where as during the rainy season and particularly during flood 1.5 to 2.00 cusec water flows in the river. The river bed and the river mouth have been silted with sand to such an extent that with minimal water flow flood is being caused.

Every year, people suffer from the same problem; the only change is in the intensity of the flood. Therefore, the question arises “why is this recurring flood and suffering caused thereby to people?” There is no short cut or readymade answer to this longstanding problem. Some say it lack of political will, some lethargic attitude of the government system, some people’s lack of awareness and preparedness and so on. Nothing is whole and soul reason but they all combinedly form the basis of the problem. The solution also comes from these quarters and needs a proper framework for achieving sustainable disaster mitigation and community development.

Organizational arrangement
This Manch/Sena is not a registered body. However, it certainly has an operational structure. For the time being, Mr. Sudarsan Das and Mr. Gobinda Ballava Dalai are coordinating the activities of the SSS with support from UNNAYAN and in collaboration with many grassroots CBOs, PRI members and local well meaning political leaders. The Sena will be having 12-15 volunteers who will be working initially for a period of 2 years. The financial transaction will be done through ‘Unnayan’- the NGO working in the region and is pioneering the relief and rehabilitation process in the past as well as in the recent flood scenario. At present, CYSD and TISS will be helping in providing financial and technical support to work on short term and long term basis.

Framework for intervention
Short term intervention

The short term intervention will be looking after the post flood relief and rehabilitation which is already under way. However, there is still lot more way to go in this regard. The government as well as organizations both INGOs and NGOs have started the intervention. SSS will work closely with them as and when required apart from some of the direct interventions from CYSD, OXFAM and TISS at present. The whole idea is to have a collaborative approach and organized way of doing things in post flood situation to set up proper delivery mechanism and benefit the needy.
Priority areas for short term intervention- Temporary shelter, Health and sanitation, Kharip crop restoration, food security up to the end of this monsoon.

Long term intervention
Long term intervention includes thee broad areas which are very much dependent on each other. One is doing a range of study which will help in developing a master plan for flood control in the region. The other one is taking up development activities by closely working with government and reconstruction of damaged embankments and village roads by using the benefits under NREGS. The third one is advocacy on the issues that are not being easily taken care of by government.

Master plan for advocacy
1. Undertaking an independent environmental impact assessment of the major structural developmental projects in Orissa, including the Golden Quadrangle Project, using GIS data to show before-and-after situations.

2. Undertaking a project to develop low-cost housing in collaboration with the departments of civil engineering, IIT (Mumbai/Roorkee) to supplement the efforts of the government under the Indira Awas Yojna.

3. Undertaking an implementation monitoring initiative in collaboration with CYSD

Capacity building
4. Capacity building of community based organizations/ grassroot volunteers in post flood rehabilitation and reconstruction and disaster response.

5. Working with the Special Relief Commisioner’s Office in evaluating the World Bank project on disaster management that focuses on 3 areas: building saline embankments along the cyclone-prone coastline, building cyclone shelters and mangrove plantation.

6. Supporting grassroots organizations in invoking the Right to Information to demand information on utilization of welfare funds allotted, implementation of the relief operations

7. Establishing linkages at district, state and national levels to bring together flood response. The organizations that can be brought together are: Government of India’s disaster management portals and forums, such as NIDM and NDMA from Delhi, the Orissa State Disaster Management Authority, civil society organizations and NGOs such as UNDP and CYSD.

8. Consultation on flood management: ‘Living with floods’ in which experts from other regions (national and international) can come and share their models with the Orissa authorities. Specific structural and non-structural models of flood preparedness such as groins, pynes, seed and grain banks, cooperatives, etc. may be presented. The Special Relief Commissioner has expressed interest in holding such a consultation.

9. Forming a group to work on low-cost flood-proof rural house unit, in collaboration with either the department of civil engineering, IIT Roorkee/Mumbai/Delhi and Indé Design (Mohan Rao), who have worked on this in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands before.
10. National/Regional-level dialogue on river basin and catchment area management to prevent flooding over the longer term.





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Contact Us

Coordinating Office
HIG- 185, Kanan Vihar Phase - 1
PO Patia, Bhubaneswar – 751031
Orissa, India
Ph - +91-674-274-1112, 274-1198
Fax- 0674- 2743033 (attn: Unnayan

Field Office -
Unnayan,At- Tambakhuri, Po. Rajghat, District. Mayurbhanj, Orissa, PIN: 756030.
Ph: +91-6781-237841