Archive for June, 2012

Kosaleswar temple and other historical sites needs urgent attention of Odisha archaeology department

Following report is from the Sambad:

June 10, 2012 at 1:22 am 1 comment

Sambalpuri singer Padmini Dora

Following report is from the Telegraph:

Bhubaneswar, June 8: When Sambalpuri folk singer Padmini Dora came on stage at the Rangabati festival organised by the Odisha tourism department recently, the emotional intensity of her voice left the audience asking for more.

From veteran musicians to listeners at the programme, everyone appreciated Padmini’s performance.

For the singer, who has been performing for over 20 years now, every time she gets such a response for her rendition, it makes her “dreams” come true.

Born and brought up in Sambalpur, Padmini neither came from a family with a background in music nor had she ever imagined that she would be a professional singer one day.

“I loved music as a school girl. But I never got a chance to be trained. So, I never thought that I could make a career in singing. But when I was in Class VIII, some eminent singers of our region once heard my voice at a school performance and encouraged me to sing,” said Padmini.

By just listening to shows on classical music on the radio, a 15-year-old Padmini trained her vocal chords. Later, she gathered the courage to appear for an audition at the All India Radio in 1991 as a Class X student and got through.

“My parents consistently helped me to pursue my dreams and, miraculously, I happened to meet well-known singer Bijay Behera when I was looking for some guidance. He was my first guru and trained me the basics,” she said.

Padmini soon established her name by singing pure folk songs for musicians such as Abhijit Mazumdar for albums such as Chanhara and Luk Lukani. Her works with composer Ratan Pujari are popular even today.

One of her well-known albums is Manchuni that is based on traditional Radha Krishna rasa in the Danda folk style of Balangir and Sonepur.

The singer who is well versed in nachniya, bajniya, dalkhai, raserkali and danda folk varieties of singing, however, laments that folk music is in a bad state.

“The advent of video albums should have brought about a positive change for folk music, but over the years it only brought vulgarity. But our efforts are on to keep the authentic traditional music and songs alive. We are sure folk songs will be conserved,” said Padmini, who is a part of the Lahiri dance troupe that performs the authentic music and dance of western Odisha.

Talking about receiving appreciation for her shows, Padmini said: “When I started performing on stage, I felt like I was living my dreams and the same happens even today. I am delighted that the urban crowd love the rhythm of our music.”

Although busy performing throughout the country for various cultural programmes, Padmini loves being in Bhubaneswar. “I have always received rave response for the authentic folk music and I will be back here to perform during Raja,” she said.

June 9, 2012 at 3:25 am Leave a comment

Will industries suck Hirakud dry?

Following report is from the Samaja:

June 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm 1 comment

Drinking water problem in Odisha

Following report is from the Samaja:

June 7, 2012 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Neglected Thuamul Rampur block

Following report is from the Samaja:

June 6, 2012 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Public hearing on Sahara thermal power plant at Titilagarh

Following report is from the Samaja:

June 6, 2012 at 9:52 am 1 comment

Logistics parks to come up at Rourkela and Jharsuguda

Following report is from the Hindu:

June 4, 2012 at 6:14 am 1 comment

The death of Khandadhar waterfall

Following report is from the outlook: 

Drying up Khandadhara waterfall, a victim of iron ore mining in Khandadhar mountains

A rugged, tree-covered mountain range sweeps vertically into a brilliant blue sky. Out of a cave on its western side gushes a natural spring, its lacy, white water tripping 244 metres over a sheer black-and-red cliff face to fall into a blissful rock pool, before cascading further downhill. The site is of ethereal beauty, evoking awe, elation, a sense of rejuvenation.

One of India’s highest and most sacred waterfalls, Khandadhara in Sundergarh, Orissa, is cherished by tens of thousands for the life it brings to all in its vicinity. “It’s because of the Khandadhara that my life flows with power,” says a Munda resident of Bandhbarna village, which lies near the foot of the mountain. Although a migrant from Jharkhand, he shares the reverence of all the indigenous peoples here—including the Christians—for the Khandadhar mountain and its waterfall.

By common consent, the guardians of the range are the Pauri Bhuiya, a tribe of shifting cultivators who traditionally live in the dense sal forest that covers the peaks. Genetic research finds that about 24,000 years ago the Pauri Bhuiya shared a common ancestor with the Jarawa of the Andaman Islands—a reminder that India’s indigenous peoples directly descend from some of the first modern humans to wander the earth. The Pauri Bhuiya are also unique among Orissa’s tribals for speaking a version of Oriya, rather than an entirely different language: they claim theirs is the original Oriya.

A Pauri Bhuiya legend speaks of how their mountains came to be so munificent. The Sundergarh branch of the community was once possessed by a rapacious goddess named Kankala Devi, who consumed trees, soil and everything else. In despair, the Pauri Bhuiya placed her on a rock, which she ate through as well—creating a deep hole from which poured out the Khandadhara (split-rock waterfall). So they had water. Then a couple from the community went to visit relatives at the eastern, or Keonjhar, end of the Khandadhar mountain range. Their prospective hosts were away but a pile of grains had been left outdoors and, amazingly, not even the birds were eating it. Inside the heap, the couple discovered a small goddess, Khand Kumari, protector of the region’s prosperity. They stole her and brought her back to Sundergarh, and so her bounty became theirs.

The mining firms call the Khandadhar range the “jackpot”; Orissa govt has promised Posco 2,500 ha of it.

The Pauri Bhuiya never cut down a shade or fruit tree, so the mountaintop abounds with nourishment. The pristine, ancient jungles are home to elephants, sloth bears, leopards, gaur, pythons, peacocks, tigers and a rare limbless lizard—a keystone species that testifies to the richness of the ecosystem. The thick jungle absorbs monsoon rain, releasing the water in perennial streams that feed the Khandadhara. But in the ’90s, some 80 Pauri Bhuiya families were shifted by the Pauri Bhuiya Development Agency (PBDA) from the mountaintop to the plains, under the pretext that their shifting cultivation was damaging the forest.

“Here we have nothing,” laments Kalia Dehuri, who now lives in a PBDA settlement. “Our houses are as small as latrines. They promised us five acres of land each but gave us just a little over one acre. When we lived in the forest, if I cut my leg I could find a plant to heal it. Now I have to walk miles in the sun to the doctor, who tells me to come back another day.” The despair and hopelessness is palpable. Of the families brought down, at least 15 have since returned to the mountain. “There it is cool,” says Dehuri, “and they have fruit, water, wood, tubers.”

Not for long. The strikingly coloured rocks that give Khandadhara its beauty are red jasper and black hematite—both made of iron. Downstream of Khandadhara, one can pick up massive, gleaming chunks of largely pure iron. The mining companies call the Khandadhar range the “jackpot”, and at this very moment the Supreme Court is deciding which of several contending firms has the winning ticket. The Orissa government has promised the Pohang Steel Co of South Korea (Posco) as much as 2,500 hectares of Khandadhar—essentially the entire Sundergarh section of the mountain range.

Red waste The Kurmitar mountain now

All the region’s tribals know what will happen if Posco comes, because they have had a foretaste. Deep inside the range, invisible from normal roads, rises a horrific sight: the blood-red carcass of Kurmitar mountain, flayed of its skin of trees and topsoil and terraced into a giant pyramid by a spiralling road for trucks laden with iron ore. Dynamite blasts have pulverised the underlying rock into a fine dust that gives the mine its brilliant red colour. Behind this Mars-scape, the partially shaved surface of another mountain rises—readied for mining by clear-cutting the trees. Dust smothers the jungle for hundreds of metres around, but in the distance one can see the undulating green of what remains, for now, of the Khandadhar reserved forest.

The Kalinga Commercial Corporation Ltd (KCCL) operates the 133-hectare Kurmitar mine. It boasts on its website of having exceeded production targets by several hundred per cent, and of exporting iron ore to China and manganese ore to an unnamed Korean company. Hanuman is said to have carried on his shoulders a portion of the Himalayas in order to find a medicinal plant to save Lakshman’s life. The Samal family of Bhubaneswar, which runs kcc, could be even more powerful: it is transporting an entire mountain to China and beyond.

Kurmitar was a “devisthan”, the abode of a goddess, say the Pauri Bhuiya. It was covered with dense jungle in which thrived elephants, bears and luscious kakri fruit hanging from vines. No doubt driven out by the blasting and loss of habitat, the elephants have begun emerging in the plains. A tigress appeared in January near Phuljhar, at the foot of the mountain. In April, the forest department burned down the huts and food stores of some 20 Pauri Bhuiya families who had come off the mountain and were sheltering in jungles that had been their own.

Just as frightening, the destruction of the forest and the diversion of a mountaintop stream by KCCL has caused the Khandadhara waterfall to partially dry up. Its water no longer reaches the Brahmani river as it used to, and a canal that Bandhbarna’s residents used for fishing, bathing and irrigating crops has been bone-dry for two summers now. All over the region, tubewells are becoming defunct as the water table falls. Streams by Phuljhar and other villages run red with mining dirt, killing fish and polluting fields. When it rains, even the Khandadhara bleeds red, transforming into a ‘raktadhara’ that flows from the mountain’s gaping wounds. If a 133-hectare mine can cause such havoc, the devastation to be wreaked by Posco’s 2,500-hectare lease is beyond imagination.

To begin with, the Khandadhara waterfall will completely dry up, depriving tens of thousands of the water of life. “The miners are demons…they not only eat the soil and trees and rock, but even the water,” says a Pauri Bhuiya woman in Phuljhar. “Kankala Devi gave us this water, these demons will consume it too. We have to get rid of them or they will eat up everything.” All around the Khandadhar range, the tribals are gearing up for a fight—not only for their own survival, but in defense of a common heritage of humankind.

June 3, 2012 at 10:26 am 1 comment

Rangabati Utsav to ease the western and coastal Odisha divide

Following report is from the Hindu:

At a time when the demand for a separate state for western Odisha is gaining momentum on grounds of negligence of the western Odisha region by the State government, an IAS officer’s small step has taken a giant leap forward in erasing the much-hyped western-coastal Odisha divide.

The just concluded three-day Rangabati Utsav, a festival of dance and music of western Odisha – a brain-child of Ashok Kumar Tripathy, the Principal Secretary of Tourism and Culture of Government of Odisha – staged in the capital by Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi with financial support of Odisha Tourism and the first of its kind for the State, reaped rich dividends by reposing their faith in the people of western Odisha. “Earlier, when we performed in Bhubaneswar, we were not being treated properly. But, the grand platform, treatment and hospitality that we received during this government-organised festival were amazing. It was a belated but befitting step that the government initiated to showcase the unique cultural tradition of western Odisha. We were honoured that the Governor, the ministers and many eminent people came to watch us,” remarked Ghasiram Mishra, master percussionist and septuagenarian artiste from Bolangir, whose captivating concert fetched him standing ovation. Legendary singer Jitendriya Haripal, better known to the world as the male singer of the evergreen Rangabati number, was full of praise for the organisers of the event. “It was for the personal effort of the officer (Principal Secretary) that I and Krishna Patel could sing together on stage for the first time after a gap of 30 years, he said.

June 2, 2012 at 5:27 am 1 comment

People of Pitamahul, Tebhapadar and Buromal worried over thermal plant repercussions

Following report is from the Pioneer:

The setting up of a thermal power plant at Pitamahul in Subarnapur district and an asbestos plant in Bargarh district has raised concerns about displacement, livelihood loss and environmental degradation among the residents of the two districts.

It may be recalled here that the residents had also opposed tooth and nail the Sahara power plant at Luturbandh in Titilagarh of Balangir district following which the fate of the project still remains uncertain.

KU group of companies is going to set up a 1,320-MW power plant at Pitamahul and Tevapadar villages near Subalaya in Birmahajpur sub division of Sonepur district with an investment of Rs 7, 500 crore. A total of 900 acres of land is required out of which 800 acres would be acquired from private people and the rest 100 acres would be acquired from the Government, said Project Manager the company Bidhu Ranjan Mishra.

Once the plants comes up, it would further improve the economic condition of people of the area by providing them jobs, besides helping in growth of ancillaries industries in that area. It would also go a long way in improving the entire scenario of the area of Sonepur district, claimed Sonepur District Collector Gagan Behari Swain.

However, a meeting was held at Buromaal recently which was addressed by Prafulla Samantary of Lok Shakti Abhiyaan and Priyabrata Sahu, among others, who opposed the setting up of the project.

The thermal power plant would cause severe fly ash pollution. When the mercury laden ash falls in the ground and comes in contact with water and aquatic animals, it would increase mercury pollution resulting in serious health hazard, said Priyabrata Sahu. Moreover, the temperature in the area would go up and it would also reduce ground water affecting the livelihood of hundreds of poor farmers of the area, Sahu cautioned.

The condition of Jharsuguda and Angul belt should be an eye opener for those proposing to set up the thermal power plant here. The requirement of power as projected by the Government is not intended for the common masses, but for the power hungry big industries. 1 kg of aluminum production requires about 15 units of electricity, which requires vast amount of coal to be burnt and water to be vaporized. Besides, it causes green house emission with sulfur, nitrogen, carbon contents.  The vast amount of fly ash would contain considerable amount of heavy metals and radioactive materials, said Amitabh Patra of Baragarh.

The scenic beauty of Pitamahul and Tevapadar area is really enchanting. The bird population of the locality is impressive. But the project would affect the precious flora and fauna, besides resulting in severe water pollution, said activist Amitabh Patra.

Setting up thermal power plant at Pitamahul is not appropriate as this area frequently faces problems of drought and water scarcity. The Mahanadi river is already water stressed, which cannot bear the water requirement of the power plant. Setting up a thermal power plant is like hammering the fate of the farmers and ecology, said Ranjan Panda, Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha.

However, despite the concerns raised by people from different walks of life, Sonepur District Collector GB Swain said, “We are offering Rs 3 lakh as compensation per acre of land. Taking the people into confidence and giving them proper rehabilitation, the project will be implemented in the district.”

Meanwhile, opposition to Vishwakarma Roofings, an asbestos cement plant in Baragarh has already gained momentum. People from 10 villages held a meeting on May 22 and pledged to oppose the plant, which has purchased about 20 acres of land in the middle of Naagaom, Lebidi and Kendpali villages of Sohela block.

Among others, farmer leaders Saroj Mahanty and Lingraj of Jan Chetna Parishad addressed the gathering. They said the factory would cause severe dust emission by which as many as 42 villages in 10 km radius of the factory would be affected. As the company requires huge amount of water, it would deplete the groundwater affecting the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers, besides drying up ponds, wells and other water bodies, they pointed out.

June 2, 2012 at 5:07 am 2 comments

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