Archive for May, 2013

In this region of Odisha, there comes an unusual Visitor every month: Sea

Mud Embankments being Constructed To Stop Tide Water

Mud Embankments being Constructed By Villages in Gadkujang Panchayat of Jagatsinghpur District To Stop Tide Water

If the topic of the article didn’t enthuse you and you are still thinking what’s so weird about this, well then be ready for the weirdest answer! Well the sea comes invited!

In the Gadkujang Panchayat of  Jagatsinghpur district, people are slowly getting  used  to the Sea water invading far into their hinterlands destroying crops and gobbling up villages after villages. But it was not like this forever!

It started happening ever since the Odisha state government decided to allocate lands from this panchayat for the proposed Posco Steel plant. What happened next was unmindful and indiscriminate felling of trees by the IDCO (Infrastructure Development Corporation) .  As a repercussion, it is now for the villagers to bear the brunt of nature’s fury.  It has become a regular phenomenon now for sea water to enter to the villages each month on the occasion of new moon and full moon day.

An estimate says that nearly 80,000 trees were felled last year only in this region , thus stripping the entire coastline with valuable forest resources.  The  trees  were instrumental in  acting a s a natural barriers for the marauding tidal waves earlier. Tidal waves from the mouth of river Jatadhara have now started entering into the areas where once the forest used to act as a natural barrier.

The marauding tidal waves have been  destroying farmlands and inundating the villages for some time now. It is estimated that more than 400 acres   of  paddy and vegetable crops get damaged every time the sea water gets into the Panchayat. The life of more than 1500 villages who inhabit the region have turned topsy-turvy.

The villagers who now insist that IDCO which now holds the land before finally handing it over to the POSCO steel company in due course of time, should take to the task of afforesting the entire region. To make up for the lost of forest cover, thousand of acres of plantation is needed now and the company should be made responsible to undertake the afforest ration activities.

In a way, the example of the  Gadkujang Panchayat is an eye opener for the state government.  If its is the role of the government to step up investments and industrial activities, it has got a responsibility towards the environment too.

Deity Left Unattended As Baba Bhusandeswar Temple That Houses Asia’s Largest Shiva Lingam Crumbles

Baba Bhusandeswar

Baba Bhusandeswar : The Largest Shiva Lingam of ASia

No travel or tourism website features it. No popular history book mentions. Little wonder than that hardly any media reported the crumbling of the sanctum Santorum that houses it!

Well, Baba Bhusandeswar, which is largest Shiva Lingam in Asia and is being worshiped in a remote village in Bhogarai block of Balasore district for years  amidst thickets of dense jungle is a popular deity in Balasore and bordering areas of Jharakhand and West Bengal. Ensconced on the banks of Subaranarekha river in Kumbhirgadi Village, the 12 ft long Shiva Lingam has been associated with miraculous healing powers as well as mythological anecdotes that date back to the Ramayana.

Carved out of black granite, only half of the 12-foot lingam is visible. The rest of it has remained buried for years.  It has a diameter of  12 feet  and has three parts. It has a square base of four feet. The middle portion is octagonal and is about 12 feet in diameter and about four feet in height.

Another uniqueness of the Lingam is that it is slightly tilted towards it’s right. Attempts to correct this deviation in the structure by the devotees have not paid any results. Latest record suggests that a businessman from Jaleswar, Mr. Sukhal Jayram had tried to use a crane to pull the Lingam out of the earth in order to install it properly. He too failed in his endeavors. Ever since the tilted Lingam does not bother its devotee anymore. People flock to this temple during Shivaratri, Bisuva Sankranti and Chadak Jatra and it is heavily crowded in these auspicious days

Despite all its specialty and uniqueness, Baba Bhusaneswar has been neglected by the administrators till long. It was not until 1984 that a temple structure was built around the Lingam. Till then it was a thatched house that sheltered the Lord!  And in a mockery of sorts, a portion of the temple roof collapsed just a couple of days back. Though no damage has been done to the Lingam, devotees are now afraid of approaching the Lingam and offer prayers. Even the priest s, afraid of entering the temple have started offering Puja in a nearby Rest shed.

And though officials of the government have already paid visits to the temple and taken stock of the situation, the crumbling temple has become topic of hot debate among political parties. It’s a real shame that a monument of such importance has been neglected so far and so long and instead of taking corrective measures, all that we are up to is bickering and mudslinging! Somebody rightly said – it can happen only in Odisha!

Man Animal Conflicts: Tragedy of Human Blunder

Man Animal Conflict

An elephant poisoned to Death near Human Dwellings in Assam

It is habitual for a resident of odisha to pick up any daily and put fleeting glances on reports of elephant’s electrocution or pachyderms dying on unmanned crossings hit by speeding trains. These stories have hit headlines with such intermittent regularity that they hardly attract any attention of layman anymore! So what happened last week in Kotpad was something brazen and tragic and invited lots of wrath of people as well as wildlife experts.

Wild bears killed eight villagers within a week causing panic among local people in the small town of Kotpad.  The residents finally beat the ravaging animal to death. The incident widely reported in media engaged lots of wildlife experts as well as wildlife enthusiasts in heated discussion.

The news was instrumental in attracting attention to one of the most neglected subject on the face of rampant industrialization of odisha – The growing Man and Animal Conflicts. Of late the incidence of such conflicts has increased and includes animals such as elephants, leopards, bears and even Olive-Ridley Turtles! The very fact that such conflicts have increased in the recent years, calls for understanding the human-wild animal conflict with all its complexities and take a very sensible scientific and compassionate approach to resolve the issue.

To begin with let’s focus on some statistics! Reports from the  Orissa Wildlife Organization  suggest that during the 6 years period from (2004-05 to 2009-10) there was a total of 352 cases of human death, 132 cases of human injury, 3863 cases of house damage and 21768 acres of crop damage due to elephant depredation, and 75 human death cases and 671 human injury cases due to other animals like bear, crocodile, wild pig, wolf and gaur. On the contrary, 331 elephant death cases have been reported during the same period, which include 55 deaths due to poaching for ivory, 96 cases due to accidents (mostly electrocution), 49 natural deaths, 82 due to diseases and 49 for unknown reasons. The same statistics go on to establish the total number of elephant population in the state to be  merely 1886. Similarly the  population of other wild animals have touched alarmingly  low proportions.

The statistics obviously tell the story they are meant to! The cases of man animal conflicts have been on rise and clearly the animals are on the receiving end. Competing with human beings for the same set of resources that once provided them with their sustenance is taking a toll on the animal population.

Human beings have started encroaching upon the area that once fed and bred these wild animals.  Large chunks of forest land have been diverted for mining, establishment of industries, roads, railways, hydroelectric projects, irrigation projects and their canal systems. Linear projects like roads, canals and railways also act as mechanical barriers in the movement of wild animals from one place to another. The habitat of the animals is clearly stressed and as their “zones” get encroached upon by human beings they have two options – either learn to co-exist or resent. And in either cases, the brunt is borne by the animals.

Odisha can take cues from countries like Thailand and Myanmar if it is serious about reducing the ongoing strife between the animal and man kingdom. These countries endowed richly with forest and animal resources have built a viable social-economic model around them. These countries promote their tourism industry around elephants. And what is interesting is that the elephant population far from being threatened keeps on growing at a healthy pace there. The same is true for countries like Australia that boasts of Kangaroo and Malaysia that promotes orangutans!

In Odisha, we need to pro-actively find a solution to habitat related problems of the animal along with ways to save them. Forest officials need to stop deforestation and poaching on one hand while stop human intrusion into sanctuaries in order to address this problem. No doubt forest laws are in place in Odisha. But implementing them with strict supervision is what is needed at this hour!

 

Chit Funds :The Simple Business of Cheating Poor People – Rule Roost In Odisha

Chi Funds - Swindling Millions from people

Chi Funds - Swindling Millions From People of Odisha

Ever since Sudipta Sen, the beleaguered head of the tainted Shradha Group hit the headlines for his  audacity and brazenness in making crores by swindling innocent people through his chit fund company, there have been “crackdowns “  on such money circulation companies in Odisha. Till late evening, police arrested as many as 110 functionaries of different companies, detained more than 80 people and registered more than 97 cheating cases against several illegal NBFCs in the state. While  raids were conducted on 50 dubious “chit fund companies” across 185 different locations in odisha, the police action is expected to grow stronger in the coming days.

While the state government has currently no data of the number of NBFCs, chit fund companies and money circulation firms existing in Odisha and the volume of money invested, police expect that they would be able to find out those details after the end of the ongoing raids. Interestingly though, whistle on the obnoxious ways of chit fund companies was blown in Odisha much earlier. It was in the year 2009 that the Bollywod actor producer Naseer Khan was first charged and later arrested for swindling innocent people from Odisha through his chit fund company “ Fine India Sales”.

While questions are being raised now why noose were not tightened on the chit fund companies even after the “Fine India “ scandal, what actually should invite attention of the sleuth is “ what actually makes Odisha a teeming ground for the burgeoning  chit fund companies?”

Though the general notion is that people of odisha aand other eastern states of the country are gullible, what actually matters is the fact that the Chit Fund Companies take advantage of the weak legal framework. While the RBI and SEBI have specific guidelines for operations of NBFC’s in India , there are no guidelines that control the  Chit fund companies. This apart, the legal provision of imprisonment of only two years for the culprits found cheating people through chit funds, is actually not a deterrent for unscrupulous people in this business.

In Odisha, the State Legislative Assembly passed the Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors (Financial Establishment) Bill, 2011, making provision of punishment against unscrupulous chit fund companies. The Bill still awaits the President of India’s assent. The provisions of the bill specifies that if a person is found guilty of cheating people of their money, he could serve jail term for 10 years and his/her properties could be confiscated . The proposed Act has the provision of returning money to investors by selling properties of the culprits.

The Bill once it gets presidential nod will no doubt provide respite to victims of fraud and also serve as a deterrent to the dubious “cheat fund” companies. But what matters now is what will happen to people who have been defrauded by these companies now? An estimate proves that  chit fund companies have looted to the tune of Rs 1,500 Crore from investors in odisha alone.  Companies like Seashore securities that cheated to the extent of Rs 600 crore , Ashore, Safex, Sai Pragati, Star Consultancy and Florish India are yet to return the money to their investors.

Nothing describes the angst among the people better than the fact that  on a single day on may 2  at least 127 hapless depositors made a queue to lodge their complaints with the State Crime Branch against the Saradha Group at Baleswar. The company, it is estimated has swindled to the tune of  Rs 50 crore from Baleswar only.

In a way, the unsuspecting investors now don’t have any other option but to blame it on their fate for putting their hard earned money with these swindlers!

 

Engineering Students from OEC design two solar powered Cars

Solar Cars developed by students of Orissa Engineering College

Solar Cars developed by students of Orissa Engineering College

Two compact size solar  powered cars have been designed by the students of  the Orissa Engineering College for use in airports, railways, malls and zoo for in-house activities. Coming just on the heels of  the “water run  bike “ developed by the young Shakti Mishra, the innovations by young students go on to suggest   the growing might of Odisha in  research and Development activities.

The solar powered cars have been designed, fabricated and assembled by the Mechanical Engineering Department of Orissa Engineering College, Bhubaneswar and were inaugurated by  principal of the college Prof. (Dr.) T. C. Panda

The Solar cars developed by the 3rd and 4th semester students under the guidance of senior faculties of the college cost around Rs 70,000.. The solar cars were constructed using in-house facilities of the Department Workshop of the college. The manufacturing costs of these cars were borne completely by the college authorities.

The cars score highly when compared to other cars that run on petrol or diesel. The cars are eco-friendly, compact and offer smart solution for in-house facilities. The students and the college authorities claim that the extensive use of the cars will go a long way in checking environmental pollution !

Encouraged by the success, Prof. Pankaj Charan Jena, the man behind the project says that the college would take a  step further and  develop solar vehicles for its versatile use of the technology in water locomotives and other fields.

 

Finally OPL – Season 2 Sees the Day

Odisha Premier League - OPL

OPL- Season 2 Sees Light

Stung by charges of corruption and financial irregularities, the Orissa Premier League that started off brilliantly with much fanfare in the year 2011  and was  forced to be abandon ed by the Orissa Cricket Academy (OCA), has finally seen the day with the beginning of the start of OPL – Season 2 yesterday from 1st May.

After repeated postponements, the organizers took the event to a colorful start this year with much changes in the format and composition of the team. The opening ceremony of the gala event was held in Barabati Stadium in Cuttack yesterday amidst much fanfare.

Having done away with the  bidding system for purchase of players and the direct involvement of any corporate in the process, the  Orissa Cricket Association (OCA)  has devised its own plan and strategy to hold the OPL and has made a list of some 176 players putting them in five grades and fixing their match allowances according to the gradation of players. A total of eight teams have been short listed  that has been rechristened as  Barabati, Mahanadi, Dhauli, Rushikulya, Baitarani, Konark, Subarnarekha and Chilika.

The playing eleven of each team consists of three players each from Grade A and B, two players from Grade C and D and one player from Grade E. The players will be paid according to their grades. Each team will have three players from Ranji team, four each from B and C grade player pool and three or four players from local area. They will be paid Rs 50,000, Rs 40,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively for each match.

This year all the matches of the Orissa Premier League (OPL) will be played in Barabati stadium (cuttack) and VSS stadium (Sambalpur). While all the Group A matches will be held in Cuttack the Group B matches will be palyed in Sambalpur. At both the venues, the first match will be played from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and second from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm. Arrangements have also been made to get the matches telecasted on local TV channels.

The champions of OPL-II will get cash a cash prize of Rs 3 lakhs, while the runners-up will take home Rs 2 lakhs.The third-placed team will be richer by Rs 1 Lakh, while the Man of the Tournament will pocket Rs 25,000.

The Twenty 20 tournament could not be held last year after it came under the scanner of the vigilance department following allegations of black money having been invested by corporate who sponsored the event. The event this year , though sans any major sponsor still has everything in it to enthuse it’s fan and have their eyeballs glued to the TV screen!