Daily Archives: March 26, 2012

Climate change takes toll on Mahua collection

Surunoni Kunar is the richest woman in Khandijharan village under Paikmal block as she owns 21 Mahua trees. Last year she had collected about two quintals of flowers and this year too, she expects to earn good money. However, changing climatic conditions seem to have taken a toll on the flower collection.

Mahua trees have large branches with triple leaves and small pebble like off-white flowers normally fall to the ground and are not plucked from the trees as such. This time the trees are yet to shed flowers. Surunoni uses a long stick to pluck the flowers as a result of which, they get damaged and would not find buyers.

Mahua flowers are considered a boon by the poor tribals in western Odisha, mostly forest dwellers, who have to earn their livelihood basically from minor forest produce. Most of them depend on this for sustaining themselves for around six to seven months in a year. And the period between March and May is the peak season for collecting Mahua flowers, a non-timber forest produce.

The flowers are the raw material used for making country spirit, which is a big source of revenue for the State Government.

In the wake of inclement weather over the last couple of months, flowers from the trees are not falling off naturally. Even in many places, new leaves are yet to blossom and this has raised livelihood concerns of the forest-dwellers.

Pointing out to the red ants which have invaded the plants, Surunoni said these ants are seen only after harvesting of flower. This year, the ants have already dominated the trees, indicating less flowering.

Environmentalists said climate change has taken the toll on the harvesting of Mahua flowers. With the day temperature rising and morning and nights being cold, the flowers are not blossoming.

However, anticipating that there will be a shortfall in Mahua flower collection, mahajans (middlemen) and traders are already out in villages offering advances to those who own trees and poor peasants who collect flowers.

Odisha to host Santosh Trophy

The All India Football Federation has released the fixture of the 66th Santosh Trophy Football Championship, which will take place at four venues (Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Bargarh) in Odisha from May 11 to 27.

According to host Football Association of Odisha secretary Sanjay Behera, altogether 34 States and government institutions will fight for the title, which was donated by late Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh (now in Bangladesh) and the then president of Indian Football Association (IFA).

Among the teams, 25 teams will play knock-out rounds (pre-quarterfinals) after being divided into seven clusters. The top team from each cluster will qualify for the quarterfinals, which will also involve nine seeded teams, including 31-time champions Bengal and host Odisha. The 16 teams in the quarterfinals will play league matches after being divided into four groups and the top team from each group will advance to the semifinals.

The championship will feature a total of 60 matches. Odisha, which last hosted the Santosh Trophy in 1994, has been placed in Group C along with Services, Chhattisgarh and winners of Clubster-VII.

Host Odisha will play their first quarterfinal league match against Chhattisgarh on May 18 at Cuttack and the remaining two against Cluster-VII winners and Services on May 20 and 22 respectively at the same venue.

GROUPINGS: Pre-quarterfinal Round: Cluster-I: Jharkhand, Delhi, Andaman, Gujarat.
Cluster-II: Kerala, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh.
Cluster-III: Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Pondicherry.
Cluster-IV: Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra.
Cluster-V: Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland.
Cluster-VI: Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Rajasthan.
Cluster-VII: Haryana, Sikkim, Assam, Daman & Diu.
Quarterfinal Round:
Group-A: Bengal, Punjab, winners of Cluster-II and Cluster-IV.
Group-B: Manipur, Goa, winners of Cluster-III and Cluster-V.
Group-C: Services, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and winners of Cluster-VII.
Group-D: Railways, Tamil Nadu, winners of Cluster-I and Cluster-VI.

No Clue on MLA Hikaka

The released tourist Claudio Colangelo italin said the Maoists possibly took them hostage without knowing who they were. “They perhaps took us by chance,” he said. Sandeep Sahu, one of the journalists to whom the Maoists handed over Colangelo, said he had spoken to Paolo and he was fine. “We trekked 16 hours to reach the Maoist hideout, ” he added.

In the evening, Colangelo mt Italy’s consul general in Kolkata Joel Melchiori in Bhubaneswar.

Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who behind the abduction, to ld a news channel that Paolo would be freed once the Maoists are assured that the government will full fill some of their demands. The rebels had made 13 demands. The rebels had made 13 demands including release of Pands’ wife  Subhashree, in jail for last two years.

There was no word on Hikaka. “We are waiting for some kind of response from the MLA’s abductors,” said home secretary U. N. Behera. Sources said the ruling BJD was exploring back channel negotiations with the  extremists and representatives of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, believed to be a Maoist front, for Hikaka’s release.

Maoists free one Italian hostage, no trace of MLA

The Maoists on Sunday released one of the two Italians they had abducted from the Kandhamal -Ganjam border in Orissa on March 14 Claudio Colangelo walked to safety with a group of journalists who had gone into the forest at the invitation of the insurgents.

“I feel good. It’s finished. I am very happy. I will soon meet my family.” said Colangelo after trekking to freedom after 11 days as hostage.

The Maoists, however, continue to hold the other Italian, Bosusco Paolo, as well as Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka, captive, even as fissures between the Andhra and Orissa Maoists became all clear with insurgent leader Sabyasachi Panda condemning Hikaka’s abduction on Sunday.
“The reels tried to give us good hospitality. They did not hurt us,” said Colangelo. A doctor checked him in Berhampur and found his alright.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik appealed the rebels to immediately free the other two hostages. “They should inform us about Hikaka’s whereabouts so that negotiations can begin for his release, unharmed,” he said, shortly after Colangelo was set free.

Sabyasachi Panda condemned the killing of a policeman in Malkangiri as well as the MLA’s kidnapping and admitted that it was the result of fissures within the Maoists. Panda blamed the Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee for violating his call for ceasefire but said no violaence would take place in Kandhamal, Gajapati, Ganjam and Rayagada districts, where he operates.

Colangelo(60), a native of Rocca Di Papa, Rome, said he wants to return home “the sooner the better”, but added that he would love to revisit India. “I would love to come back to India. But may be I would not be foolish to visit Maoist areas,” he told journalists at Sorada where cops quizzed him on the kidnapping.