A Town Where Hope and Despair Collide in the Shadow of Migration

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A Town Where Hope and Despair Collide in the Shadow of Migration

A Town Where Hope Springs Eternal

Kantabanji, a sleepy town in western Odisha, comes alive after Nuakhai, the harvest festival. But this year, the buzz started early, and for a different reason. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is contesting from the seat, in addition to his traditional Hinjili constituency. This has raised hopes among residents for a positive change in their fortunes.

The people of Kantabanji are no strangers to hardship. Poverty, poor irrigation, and natural disasters force them to seek work in southern states. This year, however, many chose to stay back, hoping for a better future under Patnaik's leadership.

The Lower Suktel irrigation project, inaugurated in January, is a glimmer of hope for the region. The government claims it will benefit 203 villages, but the water doesn't reach the higher areas of Kantabanji. Locals argue that creating jobs is the only cure for the migration situation.

The constituency has everything needed for industrial development – good roads, a railway station, and an airport nearby. What is lacking is the government's commitment, say residents.

Patnaik faces a three-cornered contest in Kantabanji. The BJP has made the issue of migration a key poll pitch, promising a "one nation, one ration card" scheme and job creation. Activist Sanjay Mishra believes legalizing migration would help ensure direct money transfers to migrants and middlemen.

The votes of migrants will make an impact in the upcoming elections. Political parties and agents might help them return to cast their votes.

The people of Kantabanji are hopeful that this election will bring about a change. They are tired of migrating and want to build a better future in their own land.