Flowers bloom in pollution belt

He proved the adage, nothing is impossible, by growing flowers over three acre when farmers of the district are shying away from cultivating their land with pollutants from industries, rendering them useless.

The thought of giving back to the nature prompted transport company owner Ajay Poddar to plant saplings in his farm, about two months ago. He pumped money into floriculture near Hirma, along the industrial belt. It is first of its kind in western Odisha and third in the state. He grows varieties of gerbera and roses there.

“It was possible because of the greenhouse, where flowers are grown in a controlled and pollution-free atmosphere,” said Poddar. To ensure adequate supply of water, automated drip irrigation system has been installed in the farm, he said.

He had hired two experts from Pune. They along with local labourers planted around 34,000 rose and 16,000 gerbera plants. About 1,600 to 1,800 flowers are plucked daily and supplied to Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, along with the local markets. “We plan to sell the produce in Raipur and Bilaspur markets, where these are in great demand during the marriage season,” Poddar said.

“Earlier, we used to procure roses from Kolkata. Customers often avoided buying the stale flowers. With the availability of fresh flowers, our sale has also increased,” said Gopal Samanta, a flower vendor.

ULBs poll differed issue: Odisha Govt to appoint administrators in nine western Odisha districts

The 25 urban local bodies (ULBs) in the nine western Odisha districts are all set to get Administrators for executing the day-to-day administration as the terms of office of the ULB councils would expire on September 19 next without any elected bodies.

“Since in the absence of any elected councils after the expiry of the five-year terms on September 19, the State Election Commission (SEC) will recommend to the State Government under the Article 243 ZA of the Constitution of India and Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 to post Administrators to manage the affairs in these ULBs where the election process was affected due to law and order situation,” said State Election Commissioner Ajit Kumar Tripathy on Friday.

The election process in the 25 ULBs was stopped due to a bandh called by the Central Action Committee of lawyers of nine western Odisha districts and supported by all political parties on the demand for establishment of a permanent High Court Bench in the region.

Meanwhile, the SEC has postponed the elections to the 25 ULBs in the nine districts Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Jharsuguda, Deograh, Baragrah, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Sundargarah on the reports from concerned District Magistrates. The SEC on Friday also withdrew the operation of the Model Code of Conduct enforced in the 25 ULBs.

Congress spokesperson Narasingha Mishra said the Government has failed to act under the Constitution to hold the election to the 25 ULBs, for which there is a Constitutional breakdown. BJP leader Biswa Bhushan Harichandan alleged that such an incompetent Government was never seen in the State. Health Minister Damodar Rout questioned the lawyers’ movement to stop the ULB elections in western Odisha. “Is the movement Constitutional, he asked.

According to SEC sources, as many as 36 of the total 3,492 candidates in the fray for the rest 66 ULBs spread over 20 districts going to polls on September 19 elected uncontested with a majority of them being ruling BJD candidates.

Stir over HC bench: 15-day relief for state government offices

The Central Action Committee (CAC) of All Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) at a meeting on Thursday issued a fresh ultimatum to the State Government and resolved to continue the agitation demanding setting up of a High Court bench in the region.

In view of Nuakhai, the agrarian festival of Western Odisha, on September 10 and Ganesh Puja on September 9, the CAC has decided that Government offices including that of Revenue Divisional Commissioner (North) and Collectors besides courts will not be affected by their agitation for 15 days beginning from September.

However, the ongoing relay hunger strike in front of the office of the RDC and similar demonstrations in front of the Collectorates in district headquarters of the region will continue.

Convener of CAC Ashok Das said the AWOBA has issued a fresh ultimatum to the State Government till September 15 for disbanding the CR Pal Commission and recommending to the Union Government for setting up a bench in the region.

He added that if the State Government does not pay heed to their demands, AWOBA would intensify the agitation after September 15. “We will also continue to boycott the Urban Local Body (ULB) polls till the Government takes a decision on our demand,” he added.

Though the Chief Minister had invited CAC members to discuss the issue on August 24, the meeting failed to yield any result and the lawyers continued their agitation.

Naveen Patnaik asks home secretary, DGP to rush to Maoist-hit Koraput

Naveen Patnaik asked the home secretary and director general of police (DGP) to rush to Koraput district and take stock of the situation in the southern region of the state.

Patnaik issued this direction while presiding over a high level review meeting on Tuesday’s landmine blast where at least four BSF jawans were killed and three others sustained injuries.

“The Chief Minister asked the two senior officials to go to Koraput and report him about the prevailing situation in there,” a senior official said.

Besides, home secretary Vipin Kumar Saxena and DGP Prakash Mishra, the director of intelligence and inspector general (operation) attended the meeting.

They have already visited the blast spot at Raleguda under Pottangi police station where a vehicle carrying BSF jawans was ambushed by the Maoists, the official said.

While asking the state police to gear up combing operation in affected areas of Koraput district, sources said, Patnaik also directed senior officials to have better coordination with paramilitary forces.

At least five battalions of BSF jawans have been deployed in Odisha’s Maoist-hit Koraput and Malkangiri districts.

Besides BSF, Central Reserve Police Force ( CRPF) jawans and Odisha’s elite anti-naxal Special Operation Group (SOG) force have been deployed in anti-Maoist operation in the state.

Naxals attack BSF convoy in Koraput, 4 personnel dead

Attacked Army Truk A group of heavily armed Naxals attacked a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy in Koraput district of Odisha killing four personnel and injuring three others.

The BSF personnel were killed when their van was blown up by the Naxals. The three personnel have been injured seriously and they have been taken to the hospital.

A convoy of 18 BSF personnel was on its way to Vishakapatanam from the base camp in Malkangiri district in Odisha on Tuesday morning when Naxals triggered a land mine blast near Patnagi in Koraput district.

Cross firing between the BSF troopers and the Naxals took place for almost an hour before reinforcement reached the spot. Massive combing operation is going on in the highly Naxal-infested belt of Odisha.

Three days back the top regional Naxal leader Madhav was killed in a police encounter and four of his supporters surrendered. Top police sources say that this attack is a mark of desperation by the Naxals who want to prove their presence in the region after immense pressure on them by the Oidsha police and paramilitary forces for past several months