Posts filed under ‘Sundergarh-Khandadhar-Deodaraha-Vedavyasa’
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 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.
ROURKELA: The vegetation cover around bio-rich Khandadhar waterfall and its surroundings is depleting fast and water yield of the perennial waterfall is visibly declining.Located 85 km from Rourkela in the tribal hinterland of Talbahali gram panchayat in the Bonai sub-division of Sundargarh district, mining is being attributed as the reason behind degradation of the waterfall.
The Khandadhar waterfall originates from one of the hills under the Malangtoli hill range. While a large stream from the hilltop forms the waterfall, the same hill works as a sink to generate nearly two dozen rivulets which flow as water channels in various directions.
CPM leader Banamali Dhupal, who has been working in the region for over 20 years, said the impact of the environmental imbalance is felt. He further said that mining activities by the Orissa Mining Corporation and a private operator in the area is affecting the bio-rich reserve. Sources said that the forest cover in 20 km radius of the waterfall has also depleted in the last 20 years. Old-timers said once Haldikudar, Talbahali and Mahulpada gram panchayats in the periphery used to have an awe-inspiring dense forest housing various kinds of wildlife.
Time and again, people have been urging the authorities concerned to take up remedial measures. Though delayed, the Bonai forest division has conducted a study to preserve and protect the waterfall. The study recommended massive soil conservation projects at the hilltop to redeem the loss.A proposal in this regard would be sent to the government for approval, said Bonai DFO AK Mishra. He said additionally, the Forest Department has plans to take up afforestation programme in over 40 hectares on the onset of monsoon as the seedlings planted last year did not survive due to the erratic rainfall.
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 6: If you thought of Orissa as a home to beautiful beaches, awesome temples and exotic wildlife sanctuaries, do not forget to add waterfalls to the list.
Almost all the districts of the state have one or more falls, but some are associated with popular destinations like protected forests, wildlife sanctuaries and temples because, in most cases, tourists are not interested to see just waterfalls, feel officials of the tourism department. But the recent rise in the interest of people in getting into eco-tourism sites, there could be a chance to get serious travellers to do some trekking around waterfalls.
Alok Mishra, marketing manager with the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC), said that apart from the regular packages, emphasis was also given to promote waterfalls as major destinations as done in states like Maharashtra and Kerela, but connectivity through roads and infrastructure facility for tourists to stay should be upgraded to explore their potential.
Former joint director of the tourism department Biranchi Mishra, who is also a well-known travel writer, felt that waterfalls do attract tourists at places like Hrishankar, Pradhanpat, Barehipani, Jorandha, Khandadhar and Sanghagra and Badaghagra, but these need to be clubbed and packaged with other religious, historical, forest areas so that tourists could be more interested to include the places in their travel list.
“Like Barehipani and Jorandha in Similipal Tiger Reserve are two beautiful waterfalls of the state. But they are attached to the tourists’ travel plan who want to visit the protected areas. But people coming to see the falls in Keonjhar district — Sanghagra and Badaghagra — might be interested in coffee plantations and observing the lifestyle of the tribal families. So we have to integrate them.
Likewise, the waterfalls of Nrusinghanath and Harishankar have other nearby attractions like temples and medicinal plants. Pradhanpat falls in Deogarh district had the first hydroelectricity generating unit when there was no hydro-electric power concept in Orissa. It showed the foresightedness of the then ruler of the princely state called Bamanda. We have to have a complete database on such things and inform the travellers,” he said.
Orissa’s pride among all the reserved forests, Similipal Tiger Reserve, has got this stepped waterfall which descends from the Meghasani hills in Mayurbhanj district. It is the highest waterfall of the state coming down from a height of 400 metres. Barehipani’s beauty from the viewpoint on the other side of the hill is a thing to remember. As the birds in the forest become quiet at dusk, the sound of the waterfall become very prominent. The waterfall looks breathtaking in full moon.
Similipal is also home to Jorandha (150 metres) amidst the rich Sal vegetation. The tall trees around the fall create a wonderful ambience.
Devkund falls, in periphery of Similipal Tiger Reserve, has a series of beautiful waterfalls and the shrine of goddess Ambika. It is situated at a distance of 65km from Baripada and 140km from Chandipur. On the outer periphery of the Sal forest, the perennial waterfall is situated under the Udala block. The waterfalls from the hilltop in five stages by creating five “kundas” or reservoirs named Amrita Kunda, Ghrita Kunda, Haladi Kunda, Devi Kunda and Deva Kunda. On the banks of the river Dev festivals like Raja and Makar Sankranti are celebrated every year.
This beautiful waterfall in the mineral-rich forests of Sundargarh district descends from a height of 225metres and is the second highest waterfall in the state.
The magnificent view of the cascading waters also makes for a good picnic spot and the entire area is a treasure trove of rare medicinal plants. The place is 114km from the steel township of Rourkela.
Part of the Ghagra river, a tributary of Baitarani, the waterfall is 10km away from Keonjhar town. The 60metre fall is also near the Sanghagra falls (30metres), lying 5km from the district headquarters town. These two falls are popular picnic spots near Keonjhar town. However, another picturesque spot is Gonasika (45km from Keonjhar) where the river Baitarani goes underground briefly and emerges further down over a stone projection shaped like the nose of a cow.
The sacred hills of Gandhamardan in Bargarh district enshrines the temple of Nrusimhanath. Waterfalls like Bhimadhar, Gadadhar, Guptadhar and Chaladhar are beautiful locations.
Besides the falls, tourists also love to see ancient archaeological remains present in the area. The spot is 20km from Nuapada.
On the southern side of Gandhamardan hills, Harishankar shines with a series of beautiful waterfalls cascading on the hill slopes and the last one provides a water slide to the amusement of bathers. An added advantage to the two places of Nrusimhanath and Harishankar is the 16km trekking route by which travellers can go from Harishankar to Nrusimhanath and vice-versa and the journey ensures meeting many rare, endangered and precious medicinal plants. Even historians say that influence of Buddhism was also seen in the archaeological works in the entire area. According to Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsang, the belt might be the seat of a Buddhist university called Polo-mo-lo-ki-li.
The 16metre high waterfall is only 15km from Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district. The rainbows created by sun rays playing with the water spray creates a special charm.
This beautiful fall is part of Pradhanpat hill, which offers a scenic view and the water comes with several steps from the top creating several natural swimming pools on the hill itself. Close to the Deogarh town, the place is 96km from Sambalpur on NH-6. This waterfall had the first hydro-electric power unit in the state. This region was previously under the princely state of Bamanda.
The southern-most district of the state, Malkangiri, has got this beautiful waterfall besides several beautiful lakes spread across the region. The fall is situated 70km from Jeypore town. Duduma waterfall descends from a height of 155metres and feeds water to Machhakunda Dam.
Apart from the waterfalls listed in tourism packages, Gandahati in Gajapati district and Khandadhar, Gundichaghai and Handibhanga in Keonjhar district also draw large crowds.
Bhubaneswar, Aug 4 (PTI) Ruling out possibility of damages to the state”s tallest water fall at Khandadhar in Sundargarh district, Orissa government today said mining activities would in no way affect the local ecology. This was stated by Steel and Mines minister Raghunath Mohanty while replying a question on the state government”s move to hand over iron ore reserve at Khandadhar to South Korean steel major, Posco.
“There is no possibility of water fall being affected due to mining activities at Khandadhar,” Mohanty told the house while the state government had already recommended Posco-India”s name for prospecting license (PL) on 2500 hectare of land in the iron rich belt. Though the matter of handing over iron ore reserve at Khandadhar was subjudice, the state government was determined to explore the mineral deposited near the water fall.
Recently, Orissa High Court while disposing a case, asked the state government to reconsider its decision to recommend Posco-India”s name for PL over Khandadhar iron ore reserve. Stating that mining would begin after a proper environment impact assessment, the minister said an environment management plan would be in place before that. Adequate steps would be taken to maintain ecological balance in the area which was full of forest and hills, the minister said.
The water fall at Khandadhar was considered as tallest fall in the state with stream of water falling above 244 meters. On the possibility of mining activities affecting the local tribals who depend on the water fall for their livlihood, the minister said that all the people likely to be hit by the mining activities would be rehabilitated under the provisions of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2006.PTI AAM RG
Following are some of the tourist centers of Western Odisha as identified by Odisha govt. This list is obtained from the Orissa Reference Annual-2004. Please have a careful look if some tourist places of your region are missing. We should compile a complete list of tourist centers of Western Odisha. Then we will appeal to the tourism minister of Odisha and India to declare some of the attractive places as special tourism zones.
- Deulajhari : Hot Spring
- Balangir : Old city
- Gaikhai M.I.P. : Scenic Spot
- Harishankar : Religious Center
- Jogisarada : Religious Center
- Patnagarh : Religious Center
- Ranipur Jharial : Chausathi Yogini temple
- Saintala : Religious Center
- Turekela : Scenic Spot
- Baragarh : Sambalpuri Hand- looms
- Debrigarh : Wildlife
- Devdarha : Scenic Spot
- Gaisima : Religious Center
- Ganiapali : Historical Site
- Nrusinghanath : Religious Center
- Papanga : Scenic Spot
- Boudh : Buddhist Shrine
- Charichhak, Puruna Katak : Strategic Point, Religious place
- Charisambhu : Religious Center
- Pradhanpat : Waterfall
- Gujapahar : Scenic Spot
- Jharsuguda : District Headquarter
- Kuilighugar : Scenic Spot
- Pikalghugar : Scenic Spot
- Vikramkhol : Pictograpic Inscriptions
- Amathagarh : Fort
- Ampani : Scenic Spot
- Asurgarh : Historical Site
- Belkhandi : Religious Center
- Bhawanipatna : District Headquarter, Old city
- Dharmagarh : Historical Site
- Gudahandi (Dokrichanchara) : Pictograpic Inscriptions
- Jakam : Scenic Spot
- Junagarh : Historical Site
- Karlapat : Wildlife
- Kusurla : Religious Center
- Mardiguda : Scenic Spot
- Phurlijharan : Waterfall
- Rabandarh : Scenic Spot
- Sapagaranda : Religious Center
- Talguda : Fort
- Thuamul-Rampur : Scenic Spot
- Budhikomna : Religious Center
- Nuapada : District Headquarter, Old city
- Patalaganga : Religious Center
- Patora : Scenic Spot
- Sindursil : Scenic Spot
- Thipakhol : Scenic Spot
- Yogimatha : Cave Paintings
- Chipilima Religious Center
- Gudguda Scenic Spot
- Hirakud Scenic Spot
- Huma : Religious Center, Leaning Temple
- Kandhar : Birth Place of Bhima Bhoi
- Sambalpur : Sambalpuri Hand-looms
- Ushakothi (Badarama) : Wildlife
- Binika (Papakshya Ghat) : Religious Center
- Chandalipat Puja Dunguri : Religious Center
- Charada : Historical Site
- Khaliapali : Mahima Shrine
- Kotsamlai (Patali Jagannath Pitha) : Religious Center
- Sonepur : Temple Town
- Chhatri : Hill Scenic Spot
- Darjeeng : Scenic Spot
- Deodaraha : Scenic Spot
- Ghogar : Religious Center
- Junagarh : Fort
- Khandadhar : Waterfall
- Mandira : Scenic Spot
- Miriglotah : Waterfall
- Rourkela : Steel Plant
- Sundergarh : District Headquarter
- Ushakothi : Scenic Spot
- Vedavyasa : Religious Center
- If you have any pictures of these places please do send me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The state government is planning to develop a new tourism circuit in western Orissa by giving a fillip to different sites of tourist interests in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh and Sundargarh districts, tourism and culture minister Debi Prasad Mishra said here on Monday. Among the new plans, boating facilities would be introduced at Hirakud dam.
Mishra said stress would be on improving the infrastructure and other requirements at various historic sites, well-sculpted temples, water reservoirs and waterfalls to attract more domestic and foreign tourists. Besides, rural tourism in western parts of the state would also be promoted, he added.
According to an official release, such places of tourist interest like Chiplima, Humma, Gujuda, Hirakud and Ushakothi in Sambalpur district; Debrigarh, Nrusinghanath, Ganiapalli, Gaeseema, Barpali, Chikidi and Debadhar in Bargarh district; Pradhankhot and Kailash in Deogarh district; Gujapahar, Kueligharur, Pikhalgharur and Bikramkhol in Jharsuguda district; Chatri Parbat, Darjing, Deodhar, Junagarh, Goghar, Mandira, Khandadhar and Veda Vyas in Sundargarh district, among others, would be expeditiously developed. Besides, Harishankar Pith, Jogisarada, Ranipur-Jharial, Saintala and Tureikela in Balangir district would also be developed.