28-Sep-2008 -- Sukinda : 28th September 2008
The previous attempt made last month was a failed one. We had reached within an arms length of the point, but the creepy crawlies all over had made us beat a retreat. Even though we were very disappointed, the two successful confluences the next day had helped us overcome our disappointment.
We left on a Sunday afternoon, I, Kashinath, Sahil and Nikhil, deciding to make the visit as the weather was clear and it had not rained since the last few days. Our last visit was marred by the rains, an incessant two hour cloudburst which had made the area inaccessible.
We took the NH 5 out of Bhubaneswar and went north towards Kolkatta. From Chandikhole, which is about 65 kilometers from Bhubaneswar, we ascended the Express Highway that connects the mining area of Sukinda with the Paradip Port. The distance from Chandikhole is only 36 odd kilometers, and the road is a straight stretch without hardly any twists or turns, something very uncommon amongst the roads in this part of India. Even the main highways have to meander thru the various villages that fall en route, and you will hardly come across even a two kilometer straight stretch anywhere.
We reached Duburi junction at 1.30 P.M. and took the right turn towards Jajpur Road. We had hardly traveled four hundred metres, when the GPS pointed to the left, indicating that the point was 1500 metres off the road in the northern direction. We took a left turn onto the narrow road which led to the village of Baragadia and soon arrived at the dead end of the village. There was a small dense forest beyond which lay the boundary wall of the Neelachal Ispat Nigam Steel Plant.
We parked our Scorpio SUV on the edge of the forest and loaded up for the short hike to the confluence point. We had originally intended to walk in the shadow of the tall boundary wall of the steel plant but this was thwarted by the dense vegetation and the water ditches that drained off from behind the wall.
We reluctantly walked into the forest, and even though it was early in the evening, the tall trees cast dark shadows. A few village boys who had trailed along, soon lost interest and walked away. We had to find our roundabout way from among the dense growth of trees, but were soon out of the forest and reached the green paddy fields on the other side.
The confluence point was still a good 300 metres away, and lay centered somewhere in a lush green field of rice which was flooded and the rice saplings already knee high.
To reach the field we had to cross a gushing stream, which during our early attempt had put a stop to our advance. We crossed the stream, and looked around for someone from whom we could get permission to enter the rice field. We soon found a villager working in a nearby field, who said that it was okay for us to enter, provided we took care not to trample the stalks, and that only one person was to go at a time.
Kashinath, who has had a lot of experience in working in his village rice fields, was designated as the one who would pinpoint the confluence. He entered the field and soon was squelching about, trying to get the desired zeroes in place, His attempts were rather frustrating. Getting his bearings right and all the desired zeroes in place was proving difficult for him. The overcast sky resulted in reception from only eight sats, and this made pinpointing the exact spot difficult.
After nearly half an hour of futile attempts, we send Sahil inside, who with his inbuilt knack soon claimed ground zero. I then took a straight line approach to the point, which was very near to the field boundary and we took the necessary photographs.
East to the CP lay green rice fields beyond which rose the wall of the steel plant. Westwards too was a beautiful green panorama of rice fields till the horizon. The horizon of blue hills of the Sukinda mines lay to the north. However in this direction too the greenery of the lush paddy fields was very
evident. The tall electricity pylons rising out of the green fields were seen on the south. In general, the greenery of the flatlands denoted the abundance of agriculture produce in the area.
The mines and steelworks that have transformed the culture and economy of the region in the last few decades and resulted in the violent uprising of the tribes at the nearly Kalinganagar last year. One can understand why the tribal and ethnic people have risen and resisted to the point that fourteen of them were killed in police firing. There was a road blockade which lasted nearly for a year, but the might of the state eventually ruled, and work has restarted once again. The riches of the land, be it iron ore, chrome or manganese only enriches people from outside, leaving the local tribes displaced and poorer. In fact, a recent study reports that rampant and reckless mining has left the area as one of the most polluted spots on planet earth. The pollution is so thick that even the groundwater is polluted and traces of carcinogenic elements are found in the agriculture produce, domestic cattle and dairy products too.
As dusk was fast approaching, we made our way back, thru the thick forest, most of which has been engulfed by the walls of the steel works. We did come across a few snakes; I nearly missed a small krait, which made a futile lunge at my shoe as I had nearly stepped on his tail. Sahil captured the whole encounter on his handy cam, and when we played it back, I realized how close I had come to being bitten.
Our Scorpio SUV, had meanwhile did a sinking act in the wet mud where we had parked it. It took quite a bit of maneuvering before we could get it out. It was Nikhil’s first confluence visit, and the idea enthused him to a great extent, and he implored to be taken for the next visits that we had planned. This was our fifth confluence visit from the seventeen that we have planned for the entire state of Orissa.
- Duration: 2.20 hours (until we were back on our route)
- Distance of car parking: 850 meters
- GPS height: 52.70 meters
- Description: Absolutely flat land, irrigated rice fields all around. Panoramic view of hills on the horizon.
- Given Name: The Fifth Confluence of Orissa
- Time and date at the CP: 04:00 PM on 28thSept. 2008
- GPS accuracy: 8.30 meters
- Temperature: 29 °C