Tag Archives: Western Odisha

Tribals keep date with Nuakhai tradition

The Paharia tribals living in remote villages of Nuapada district have a unique way of celebrating Nuakhai. They offer liquor and meat to their presiding deity before having the new crop. The eldest member of a Paharia family worships the deity called the Duma and makes the offering.

“It has been our tradition to offer meat and liquor to the deity before partaking the new crop. After this ritual, all community members congregate at one place to join the feast,” said Satrughan Paharia. “Except this, all other rituals are same. It is the eldest member of the family, who gives the new crop to other members. Other communities offer only the new crop,” said Sriram Paharia.

The Paharias are concentrated in Bargaon, Bhainsadani, Katingpani and some villages inside the Sunabeda sanctuary.

Sources said the places where Paharias reside have turned into a Maoist den. The Paharias have been fighting for Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) status, which will help in their development. They would benefit under some special schemes too.

Second zoo in the state, near Sambalpur

The Odisha Government is planning to request the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to expedite setting up of a second ZOO in the state at Sambalpur. “We are planning to move the CZA for the proposed second zoo only after we get a concrete proposal. It will be done after finalizing the proposed site and study the related impacts of the proposed project,” said BP Singh, special secretary of forest and environment department.

He said the proposal for a ZOO at Sambalpur was announced in the Assembly nearly nine years ago. He said Laxmi Dunguri, a place between Burla and Sambalpur on the bank of river Mahanadi, is one of the sites being considered for the project. But the site is yet to be finalized, he said, adding around 100 acres of land required for the zoo is available at the site. Availability of water and pollution would also be major criterion to develop the project in western Odisha, he said.

Another officer said the department would also assess the possible impact of Hindalco, a mega aluminium manufacturing unit with captive power plant at Hirakud, situated close to the proposed zoo site. “The proposal of a zoo is a welcome decision by the government. But the government should be serious in implementing the project, “said Prakash Meher of Sambalpur. Earlier, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had declared that the Laxmi Dungri would be converted into a zoo. But it is yet to take off, Meher said.

Officials said the department has set up a department-level committee to study present condition of Nandankanan zoo and 11 deer parks in the state and recommend their development.

Fly Ash to take 30 acres of Land everyday

“In Odisha, the fly ash management issue cannot be looked into in isolation of the power plants and aluminium smelters. As the land, water and forest resources of the state cannot sustain the amount of coal fired power plants, Odisha government must not go ahead with its envisaged 75000 MW power generation plan.”

HNF Correspondent

The recent disasters with fly ash ponds in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda have concerned each and every citizen of Odisha.  While fly ash from coal fired power plants is considered to be toxic and cancerous, it is badly impacting lakhs of acres of farm land, severely polluting our water resources, poisoning our food and creating menace in different forms for the people living around.

There is an urgent need to regulate ‘fly ash generation and pollution’ in the state, said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of water Initiative Odisha (WIO) in the consultation session titled “Round Table on Fly Ash Menace in Odisha: Impacts on Water, Health, Environment and Livelihoods”. The session was organised by WIO in association with Citizens Action Forum (CAF), Angul.

 “The meeting was organised to devise a strategy by the concerned people and organisations of Odisha to device and push for an urgent fly ash management policy in the state”.

Prof. Arttabandhu Mishra, an eminent environmentalist said, “it’s a big trouble as at least 22 heavy metals are there in the fly ash, and 18 of them are cancerous that would lead to lungs, bone and other cancers in both humans and animals”. Prof Mishra also added that “by declaring fly ash as a saleable commodity, the Govt. of India has cleared the door to spread cancer in all the places of coal fired plants.”

Members who participated the consultation session expressed their concern over the callousness of the government towards the issue. The government is not even bothered to check open violation of laws by different companies. “None of the power plants are confirming to the pollution control regulations of the country,” said Rabindra Prasad Pattnaik, President of CAF adding, “Each of them is supposed to submit a Plan of Action to the government with regard to fly ash management. However, none do it.”

“The fly ash management issue cannot be looked into in isolation of the power plants and aluminium smelters”, opined the participants and urged, “Odisha government must not go ahead with the envisaged 75000 MW power generation plan as the land, water and forest resources of the state cannot sustain the amount of coal fired power plants.”

It was calculated that 700 gram coal required to produce one unit (1 kw per hour) of electricity produces about 300 grams of ash per unit. So, 300 Kg ash being produced every hour for I MW (1000 kw) electricity, Odisha’s plan to generate 75000 MW electricity shall generate 22500 metric tonne of ash per hour which requires around 1.2 acre of land to be dumped in a height of 30 feet.

As per the calculation, the fly ash produced in a day would take at least 30 acres of land in Odisha every day if all the fly ash mounts are made of 30 feet height. This will orphan lakhs of farmers and fisher folks of their basic sources of livelihood. The participants therefore urged upon the government to immediately scrap the blind push for coal fired power plants.

The consultation came up with a charter of demands that the organisers have decided to submit to the Govt. of Odisha and to use the same to educate the people of the state. Some key demands in the list include:

1. Urging the government to stop production in all coal fired power plants who are not confirming to fly ash management and other pollution control norms;

2. Asking the government to release a White Paper on the existing power plants, their coal, land, water and other requirements with transparent information on the legality of these resources they are in possession of/and or using for production;

3. Urge the government to immediately work on a power vision for the state and limit power production to meet the need of the state.

It’s to be noted that fly ash has its bigger brunt in the state of Odisha as it has not only destroyed agriculture and polluted environment but also poisoned the water of some important rivers and pushed people into chronic ailments.

Downpour improves rainfall deficit in state

The last few days’ downpour has drastically improved the state’s rain deficit. As of now, the state has received 816.5 mm rainfall which is one per cent above the average normal rain of 809.4 mm. This is the first time that the state has received excess rainfall this season, meteorology department officials said on Tuesday.

Sources in the meteorological department said five of the total 30 districts in the state have received excess rainfall between 25 and 29 percent and 18 districts have received normal rain. Sambalpur has recorded 29 per cent above average rainfall, followed by Nayagarh and Cuttack (27 per cent each), Jharsuguda (26 per cent) and Bargarh (25 per cent).

There are seven districts in the state which are still suffering from rainfall deficit even though their condition has improved.

Balasore district, which suffered with rainfall deficit for over a month, has reduced its deficit to 32 per cent followed by Gajpati (27 per cent)), Bhadrak and Deogarh (24 per cent each), and Jajpur and Mayurbhanj (20 per cent each).

The last few days’ showers have brought smiles on the faces of farmers. Paddy, the major crop in the state has been covered in 29.43 lakh hectare area in kharif this year so far against 27.35 lakh hectare area covered during the corresponding period last year.

Five Person killed in train mishaps in western Odisha

Five persons were run over by trains at level crossings in three different locations in western Odisha on Friday and Saturday.

Three persons, Jitendra Bag (20), Bhakta Kalo (22) and Upendra Khadia, (25) from Balanda village of Pandari panchayat in Jharsuguda district’s Belpahar police station area were hit by the Azad Hind Express at Belpahar level-crossing on Friday evening. Jitendra and Bhakta died on the spot. Upendra succumbed to his injuries later at a local hospital.

A youth, Arya Kumar Ashim, slipped from the Durg-Puri Express at Balangir station on Saturday and died on the spot. On the other hand, Kanhu Mirdha from Ghumka village in Sadar police station area, was crossing Hatibari level crossing on his tractor when the Sambalpur-Puri Intercity Express hit him on Saturday morning, killing him on the spot.