Rare Buddhist sculpture discovered in Jharsuguda

Sambalpur region is not only the birthplace but also the base of Padmasambhava, a distinguished promoter of Buddhism who earned the title, ‘Buddha the Second’ in history.

Some new light is expected to be thrown into his era as the Indian Trust for Arts, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) unearthed some archaeological pieces recently.

An INTACH team located a rare stone sculpture, Dakini Singhmukha (lion’s head), which was found broken into two at a rarely visited place in Jharsuguda district.

The finding was done on the left bank of Mahanadi, while the team was conducting an archaeological survey in the river valley.

Speaking on it, INTACH executive member and historian Dipak Panda said, “These findings are the assets of Jharsuguda and would be placed in the district museum. The museum’s construction is under way. The exact location of the finding would be kept a secret for the time being, for fear of the valuable historical sculpture getting smuggled out. The Jharsuguda Collector has been informed in writing about the finding, with a request to arrange for its safety and security.”

It appeared that more such findings are likely in the surrounding areas, Panda said. “The finding of Dakini Singhmukha establishes the fact that the region was a famous Buddhist centre during the peak of Buddhism in India. This could shed new light on an undisclosed chapter of history of the region,” he felt.

Dakini Singhmukha used to be the principal among the contemporary masters (gurus) of Padmasambhava as per the Nyingma (ancient) Buddhist rulings.

“The finding of Dakini Singhmukha establishes the claim that this region was the birthplace (janmabhumi) as well as the workplace (karmabhumi) of Padmasambhava,” Panda said.

“In the region, many old sculptures are shifted to newly built temples by the local people under the false assumption that such statues must be placed only in temples. The most important aspect of the finding is that it will help historians who are trying to prove that Sambhal is Sambalpur, Manad is Mahanadi and Uddiyana is Orissa,” he added.

Panda said apart from this, the INTACH team has identified many sites in Sambalpur where old sculptures are kept by people having no knowledge of their history or significance.

Convener of Sambalpur chapter of INTACH Tarini Prasad Panda said all these findings are being located on the left bank of Mahanadi, in the areas of undivided Sambalpur district. By the time the survey at the left bank is complete, more aspects of Sambalpur’s history would be unveiled, he said.

The findings are now being documented. “These sculptures clearly indicate the existence of an old Sambalpur before Balaram Dev reestablished modern Sambalpur in 1556. When we take up survey on the right bank of Mahanadi, many surprises will be in store,” said Bibhudatta Promod Kumar Mishra and Kulamani Patel, members of the survey team.

High-decibel DJ music disturb residents

Next time you hear music playing and blinking glittering colourful lights accompanying it, do not dare to proceed ahead and take a different route. There is every possibility that you may either go deaf or have an heart attack if you are an elderly citizen. Indifference of the police administration has left the denizens of Sambalpur getting exposed to high-decibel DJ music accompanying ‘Baaraat’ processions. And it continues to torture you even after 10 pm with the administration refusing to act on violation of noise pollution norms.

Sources said while neighbouring Bargarh has banned DJ music and other adjacent district administrations have ensured it is regulated, no step has been taken in Sambalpur to check it. The music not only leaves you disturbed but also creates ripples in household articles when it passes through streets. “The volume of the DJ is so high that the window panel gets vibrated because of the noise. The sound grows louder when night falls with traffic on the road going off. Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has also failed to put a check on it,” alleged a resident.

As per sub-section 29 of Pollution Control Act, 1986, there is a clear provision of noise level at different times and places of the day. While in industrial areas, the noise level should not exceed 75 decibel, it should be 55 decibel in commercial areas and 45 decibel in residential areas. The OSPCB is responsible to measure the noise level and any violation can be intimated to the police, who in turn will initiate action. But with majority of Kalyan Mandaps and Marriage Halls located in residential areas in Sambalpur city, high-decibel sound continues to haunt denizens. There has been no instance of administration taking action over violation of the provision.

Assistant Environmental Scientist of OSPCB S N Nanda said they can only measure noise level and intimate the administration, if directed. Similarly, Sambalpur Sadar SDPO, Mihir Panda, admitted that there is a direction of both the Supreme Court and the High Court on the noise level and that they are aware of the guidelines and its violation. He said the proposal to clamp down on such violation is under consideration along with playing music and band after 10 pm.

Senior ENT Specialist Dr Satyajit Mishra said sudden exposure to high-decibel sound leads to head reeling, dizziness and hearing loss. He said high-decibel sound during ‘Baaraat’ procession should be banned immediately. Similar ban on DJ was echoed by cardiologist Sunil Sharma, who said sudden exposure to high decibel sound causes irritation and could lead to cardiac arrest and heart attack following stress in the brain.

INTACH team discovers 9th Century Nataraj Idol in Sambalpur

Ancient stone sculpture Nataraj IdolThe discovery of a Nataraj Idol at Bandhapara of Durgapali village here belonging to ninth century has triggered interest among intellectuals as the history of the region between seventh and fourteenth centuries is silent.

Sambalpur Collector Samarth Verma thanked the Indian National Trust on Arts, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) team which discovered the statue during a survey at the site Wednesday. He said it is a prizes possession for the proposed Sambalpur museum. The statue has been kept in the district culture office as the proposed museum is under renovation now.

The Victoria town hall building, currently under renovation, will be converted into a museum that will house such artifacts.
Verma said he is trying to rope in experts in the fields of history, culture and archeology for identification of the statue.

Historian Deepak Panda said his team was making some inquiries Wednesday at Durgapali village. He said Brundaban Pandey alias Aditya, the priest of nearby Vanadurga temple, informed them that a broken statue was found at the top of a heap of soil. He took the team to the spot.

Aditya said there are many more historical artifacts kept at a nearby Shiva temple. Deepak said the team has found a unique statue. Only a small portion of the statue was visible on the surface. He thanked local people for helping the team retrieve the statue.
The statue was found on the top of a soil heap close to a pond known as Devibandh at Bandhapara in Durgapali village. There are three more historical ponds known as Shankarbandh, Puranbandh and Kalibandh in the locality.
Deepak said he immediately informed the Collector about the finding with a request to send a JCB machine to the spot. The statue was too heavy to be lifted by hands. It weighed more than two quintals.

He said the statue and a crown of some broken temple made from khandolite stone were brought from the spot to the district culture office. They initially presumed it to be a statue of Goddess Durga as it has ten hands with several objects spread around the body. But later, it was found to be a Nataraj statue as there is a crescent moon on the top of its head besides Ganga flowing from there. The statue is in the form of a dancing Shiva.

He said the statue might have been vandalised as its face is laced with chisel marks and the left leg is broken from its knee. It seems some invaders might have destroyed the statue along with the temple. Deepak said research on the statue may throw light on the historical nature of the deity.

Union Minister asked CM to provide safe water in Bargarh

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to provide safe water and take steps for mitigating the problem of contaminated water faced by residents of Bargarh and adjoining areas. A letter to CM Naveen Patnaik wrote by Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Pradhan said with no access to piped water, people are forced to use water from the dug wells for drinking and other purposes. Pradhan requested Naveen to make necessary allocation in the State budget accordingly towards provision of safe water to the residents of the area. He said the matter may also be taken up with the World Bank for a loan agreement to help increase access to water supply service in Bargarh areas.

 

“I urge you to look into the matter for a favourable consideration of the above request in order to mitigate the problem of contaminated water and benefitting people by directly providing safe water,”  Pradhan said.

 

 

All Grama Sabha assert rights on bamboo and kendu

Despite legally given rights on bamboo and kendu under Forest Rights Act, communities encounter constant roadblocks in enjoying these rights.

As the harvesting season for bamboo and kendu leaf approaches in Odisha, tension is building between the forest-dependent communities and the forest department.

In Kalahandi district, around 100 Grama Sabhas are planning to assert their rights over bamboo and kendu leaf despite legal curtails.

“In Kalahandi Jangal Manch meeting on February 28, we decided to assert rights over bamboo and kendu by harvesting and selling them ourselves because it is our land and we have the right over these resources. We have told the forest department and we will carry out the harvesting activity towards the end of April and starting of May,” says Kunjabihari Chandan, president of Kalahandi Gram Sabha Samuh.

Despite legally given rights on Minor Forest Produce (MFP) like bamboo and kendu under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA), communities have encountered constant roadblocks in enjoying these rights.

“While FRA gives rights over MFPs which include bamboo and kendu, in Odisha both these commodities are nationalised, thereby curtailing the rights of the people on them,” says Sudhansu Sekar Deo, a Kalahandi-based forest rights activist.

The disjunction between the central law–FRA—and how things are unfolding for the people is also evident in the policies of the state government.

Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) request, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha has told communities that they only have the right to transport MFPs on head, bullock cart or bicycle.

Experts say that this is based on the Community Forest Rights title deeds given before the FRA amendment 2012. The FRA Amendment Rule, 2012 says that “disposal of minor forest produce” shall include right to sell as well as individual or collective processing, storage, value addition, transportation within and outside forest area through appropriate means of transport for use of such produce or sale by gatherers or their cooperatives or associations or federations for livelihood.

“The FRA rules of 2007 are of no relevance as Amendment Rule 2012 supersedes the earlier one. In amendment rules, it is clear that appropriate means of transportation can be used to dispose MFPs,” Chittaranjan Pani, Odisha-based researcher on forest rights and livelihoods says.

The RTI also says that while the Gram Sabhas have the right to issue Transit Permit (TP), the permits have to be made using the format designed by the Forest Department.

“There is no need to accept the template design by Forest Department. The design and content of transit permit should be with the Gram Sabha. The content and format must be in line with the FRA provisions. The TP should also have scope to accommodate more Gram Sabha effort for entrepreneurial activities for disposal of MFPs and to reach a niche market through collective efforts of Gram Sabhas,” says Pani.

The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Kalahandi, in a letter dated January 12, asked the Lamer Gram Sabha to follow the bamboo cutting rules as laid down in the micro plan and also submit monthly progress reports to the department. The letter clearly specifies that if these conditions are not met the “Gram Sabha is liable for cancellation of this authorisation” over collecting the bamboo.

In December 2017, the Forest Division Office, North Kalahandi had sent similar directions to the people of Jamguda village. They were told to undergo training on bamboo management by the department, without which no decision will be taken on the TP book.