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Konark Wheel: A Grand Welcome Gesture at G20

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed G20 leaders and delegates upon their arrival at Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, for the G20 Summit.

As the leaders arrived one by one, they were greeted by PM Modi, in the backdrop was showcased the Konark Wheel from Odisha.

The Korark wheel was built during the 13th century under the reign of King Narasimhadeva-I. The wheel with 24 spokes has been adapted into India’s national flag embodying India’s ancient wisdom, advanced civilisation, and architectural excellence.

The rotating motion of the Konark Wheel, symbolizes time, Kalachakra as well as progress and continuous change. It serves as a powerful symbol of the wheel of democracy that reflects the resilience of democratic ideals, and commitment to progress in society.

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Managing Director of IMF (International Monetary Fund), Kristalina Georgieva, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and World Bank president Ajay Banga were among the first few leaders to arrive at th eBharat Mandapam venue.

India is hosting the G20 Summit, scheduled for today and tomorrow, under its Presidency amid divisions in the grouping over the Russia-Ukraine war.

World leaders including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japan PM Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are among leaders who arrived in the national capital yesterday.

The summit is being attended by more than 30 heads of state and top officials from the European Union and invited guest countries and 14 heads of international organisations.

At around 10.30 the first session of the G20 Summit: ‘One Earth’ will take place. One Earth will be one of the main topics of discussion during the session at the G20 leaders’ summit. This session will focus on accelerating climate action through increased mitigation and strengthening the agenda of global net zero emission as soon as possible.

The theme of this year’s G20 Summit, which is taking place under India’s presidency is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth · One Family · One Future” – is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad. Essentially, the theme affirms the value of all life – human, animal, plant, and microorganisms – and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.

After the conclusion of the ‘One Earth’ session, and followed by lunch, another session of ‘One Family’ would be conducted at 3 p.m. as a part of the Summit. At around 7 pm there will be a dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu. Besides, the foreign delegates parliamentarians and ministers in the current Cabinet, the

G20 Summit dinner will be attended by some of the former senior leaders of the nation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be taking part in the weekend summit. China, however, will be represented at the summit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will represent Russia. (ANI)

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Blair calls on Odisha CM, discusses economic growth  

Blair also praised the CM for the state’s success in different sectors.  He appreciated the 5T initiative for bringing transformative changes in governance…reports Asian Lite News

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday at the latter’s residence, Naveen Niwas in Bhubaneshwar, said the Odisha CM’s office.

The two leaders discussed the economic development and growth of Odisha and the future perspectives.

The Government of Odisha has inked an MoU with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) on July 21, 2023. As per this agreement, TBI will provide free policy support and assistance in developing a comprehensive economic strategy for Odisha, it said in a press release.

The Chief Minister appreciated the preliminary suggestions of TBI and expected this cooperation will help in securing balanced industrial growth and resultant inclusive benefit to citizens. He thanked Blair for the support, the release added.

Blair also praised the CM for the state’s success in different sectors.  He appreciated the 5T initiative for bringing transformative changes in governance.

The TBI will deploy 4 resources for a period of 24 months. This project team will work under the direct guidance of TBI’s leadership and its network of global experts.

The team will work in close collaboration with team Odisha team.

Headquartered in London and founded in 2016, TBI is helmed by Former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair. TBI works in over 45 countries. TBI’s domains of expertise include governance, foreign policy, investments, infrastructure and cities, climate and energy, and human capital.

In Odisha, the project team will undertake a range of activities such as current-state analysis, external benchmarking, roadmap design, capacity development, and effective communication of core reforms to enhance adoption. Prioritization of emerging industries and development of multimodal transport logistics will be the main agenda to supercharge growth, the release said. (ANI)

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King Charles shocked by Odisha train accident

Condolences poured from across the globe after the tragic train accident took place in Odisha on Friday evening last week. The accident claimed 275 lives and injured over thousand people…reports Asian Lite News

King Charles III has expressed his deepest condolences to President Droupadi Murmu over the tragic triple train accident in Odisha and said that he is “profoundly shocked” and saddened by the news.

He said that he is saddened by the dreadful accident that took place in Balasore. “Both my wife and I have been most profoundly shocked and saddened by the news of such a dreadful accident outside Balasore. I would like to express our deepest possible condolences to the families of all those who have so tragically lost their lives,” King Charles said, according to the official handle of the Royal Family which tweeted the message on Monday.

In the condolence message, he not only expressed solidarity with victims’ families but also recalled fond memories of himself visiting Odisha in 1980.

“I do hope you know what a special place India and the people of India have in our hearts. I have particularly fond memories of visiting Odisha in 1980 and meeting some of its people on that occasion,” the message read.

I pray, therefore, that you may be able to convey our most heartfelt prayers and sympathy to all those who have been affected by this appalling tragedy, together with our special thoughts for the people of Odisha, the Royal Family tweeted.

Condolences poured from across the globe after the tragic train accident took place in Odisha on Friday evening last week. The accident claimed 275 lives and injured over thousand people.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday tweeted to express his grief over the tragic triple train accident in Odisha’s Balasore, which claimed the lives of 275 passengers and left over a 1,000 injured.

“On behalf of myself and my nation, I offer my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the train accident in Odisha, India, as well to the people and the government of India. We wish a speedy recovery to the injured. We stand by India as it mourns the loss of lives in the tragic accident,” Erdogan tweeted.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made a phone call to External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to express his grief over the loss of lives in the horrific triple train accident.

Appreciating Blinken’s words, the EAM said that such sentiments are deeply valued at this challenging time.

“Thank @SecBlinken for the phone call expressing his support and sympathy on the Odisha railway accident. Such sentiments are deeply valued at this difficult time,” tweeted Jaishankar. (ANI)

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‘World stood by us at time of tragedy’

EAM Dr S. Jaishankar said the global support it received during the horrific train accident in Odisha shows India’s connect with the world…reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday the condolence messages and the outpouring of support that he received in the wake of the horrific train accident in Odisha shows how connected the world is with India.

“A lot of leaders from all over the world and the foreign minister from here [Namibia] also has expressed solidarity and sent sympathy,” EAM Jaishankar said while addressing the Indian diaspora in Namibia on Sunday. “I received many messages and foreign ministers and friends from across the world. The Prime Minister also received lots of messages. This is an example of how globalised today’s world is and how the world is connected with India,” he said further.

“A tragedy happened in India and the world decided to stand with India,” the EAM added.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday reached the Namibian Capital Windhoek to further strengthen relations with Namibia.

The Balasore derailment incident, involving two passenger trains and a goods train, claimed 275 lives and left over 1,000 injured.

The three-way accident involved Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and a goods trains on three separate tracks at Bahanaga Bazar station in the Balasore district.

Expressing grief over the accident, Jaishankar said, “I am physically here but the heart is in india. Our prayers today are for it.”

During the visit to Namibia, the EAM will call on the country’s top leadership.

He was received by the deputy minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, Jenelly Matundu.

“Arrived in Windhoek. Thank Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, Jenelly Matundu for receiving me so warmly. Look forward to a productive visit that takes our time-tested ties forward,” Jaishankar tweeted earlier.

He will also meet other ministers in the Namibian government while also co-chairing the inaugural session of the Joint Commission Meeting with the Namibian deputy PM and Foreign minister.

Before arriving in the Namibian capital on Sunday, the External Affairs Minister was in Cape Town, South Africa to attend the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

In Cape Town, Jaishankar invoked the three-decade-old ties between India and South Africa stating that there is a very “deeply emotional” connection between the two countries. He said India’s and South Africa’s respective struggles were “deeply intertwined”.

Jaishankar made these remarks while interacting with the Indian diaspora in Cape Town.

Jaishankar also recalled that when South Africa got its independence, there was as much celebration in India as there was in there.

The EAM also said that India had invited South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2019.

“We have really India and South Africa located at two different continents, but working together very closely in the United Nations, in the BRICS of which we are members in a body called IPSA, which is India, Brazil and South Africa, and in a variety of ways between the two of us directly now,” he added.

The relations between India and South Africa in these three decades have “flowered in every conceivable sense”, Jaishankar noted. (ANI)

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New Era in Odisha

Government of Odisha flags off the 16th phase of inauguration and ground-breaking of industries. The State Government held the ground-breaking ceremony of 17 projects. Two projects were inaugurated in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

Odisha initiated the 16th phase of inauguration and ground-breaking of 19 projects in the state. While the investment intent was received during MIO Conclave 2022, the auspicious inaugural and ground-breaking event was held in the presence of Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik today. 4500 plus employment opportunities are expected to be generated from these 19 projects across sectors like plastic, sea food processing, manufacturing, tourism, IT and ESDM, refractory, agro and food processing, pharmaceuticals and steel downstream.

The Government of Odisha is relentlessly working to ensure that the investment intents generated during the MIO Conclave 2022 are transformed into ground reality. Located in various parts of Odisha, 2 projects were inaugurated and ground-breaking was done for a total of 17 projects. The projects included Supreme Industries Ltd., Ashirvad Pipes Private Limited, IFGL Refractories Limited, JMS Medicon amongst many others.

In the plastic sector, 2 projects were inaugurated, namely Supreme Industries Ltd, and Ashirvad Pipes Private Limited. These projects are located in Cuttack. A total of 470 employment opportunities are expected to be generated from the projects which fall under the plastic segment. In the food processing sector, the government initiated the ground-breaking for 6 projects namely Sao Breweries and Distilleries Private Limited, Indian Potash Ltd, Globus Spirits Ltd, Oriclean Private Limited, Amrit Dhara Nutrifoods LLP and DN Sea Shells Pvt. Ltd. which together are expected to provide 1459 employment opportunities. The segment saw a total investment of INR 803.6 crores.

In the manufacturing segment the government initiated the ground-breaking for 3 projects. From setting up of manufacturing unit for modular kitchen, workstation etc to that of PET Preforms and Closures for the F&B industries, the state accommodated projects of various magnitudes under the same segment. The manufacturing sector witnessed an investment of INR 293.34 crores and is likely to generate 243 employment opportunities for the youth of the state.

The ground breaking ceremony was also held for Incture Technologies Pvt Ltd in the IT & EDSM segment and for Mayfair Hotels & Resorts Ltd, Aspen Lake Suites LLP and Luxurio Assets Private Limited in the tourism segment. Mayfair Hotels & Resorts Ltd will expand their existing resort franchise to Gopalpur and Ganjam. On the other hand, Aspen Lake Suites LLP will set-up their 5-star resort facility in Barkul, Chilika, Khurda. Luxurio Assets Private Limited is also expected to come up with their resort facility in Gopalpur and Ganjam. In terms of investments, the IT & EDSM garnered a total investment of INR 46.79 crores while the tourism sector secured a total investment of INR 203.73 crores.

In the steel downstream sector, JSE Infotech Pvt. Ltd. and Nilachal Engineers will invest a total amount of INR 12.78 crores and they are jointly expected to generate 160 employment opportunities. The projects are coming up in Ramdaspur, Cuttack and in Jaymangal, Khurda respectively. Ramdaspur, Cuttack has also been chosen as the destination for JMS Medicon which has invested INR 21.44 crores and is expected to generate 203 employment opportunities. IFGL Refractories Limited which will invest INR 66.27 crores also witnessed their ground-breaking ceremony today.

The State Government of Odisha has always welcomed industrialists to invest in the state. The Government has promptly responded to investors and has worked hard to transform investment intents into reality. Under the leadership of the Honourable Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik, the Government has actively helped industrialists to set up their projects and initiate the inauguration and ground-breaking ceremony for all the projects, phase-by-phase.

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Odisha health minister Naba Kishore Das shot at by policeman

A team of the best specialists in the state, drawn from Apollo Hospital, SCB Medical College, and Capital Hospital are attending to him, a Health Department official said…reports Asian Lite News

In a shocking incident, an on-duty police officer opened fire at Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das in Jharsuguda district on Sunday, injuring him critically, police said.

The incident occurred near Gandhi Chhak of Brajarajnagar in Jharsuguda as Das was on the way to attend a function. ASI Gopal Das, who was in his uniform, suddenly came near the minister’s vehicle and opened fire at him with his service revolver, said Brajarajnagar sub divisional police officer (SDPO) Gupteswar Bhoi.

The ASI was taken into custody, but the reason behind the brutal attack on the senior BJD leader is yet to be ascertained.

The minister fell unconscious at the spot. In such critical condition, he was first admitted to a local hospital. Then, he was airlifted to Bhubaneswar and is now under treatment at the Apollo Hospital.

A team of the best specialists in the state, drawn from Apollo Hospital, SCB Medical College, and Capital Hospital are attending to him, a Health Department official said.

Strongly condemning the murderous attack on the Health Minister, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed the Crime Branch to investigate the case.

He visited the Apollo Hospital, where Das is admitted.

“I am shocked at the unfortunate incident of the attack on Minister Naba Das. I strongly condemn the attack on him. I pray for his early recovery,” Patnaik said in a statement.

Senior officers of the Crime Branch have been asked to rush to the spot, he said.

Soon after receiving orders, ADG, Crime Branch, Arun Bothra left for Brajarajnagar along with his team to inquire into the incident, sources said.

Meanwhile, a forensic team visited the spot and started investigations.

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Make in Odisha nets INR 10.5 lakh crores

Make in Odisha (MIO) Conclave 2022 had received an overall investment proposal worth INR 10.5 lakh crores in a span of 3 days generating 10,37,701 employment potential across sectors from 741 companies. This is more than doubled investment received than MIO Conclave 2018. Highest investment received Minerals, Metals & Downstream sector. Arcelormittal Nippon Steel & JSW Steel top the investors list…reports Asian Lite News

Odisha Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik said the successful 2022 Make in Odisha (MIO) highlights the credentials of the state as the finest investment destination in India.  He was addressing the valedictory session on Day 3 of the Make in Odisha, the flagship investor summit by the government of Odisha, organised by Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Limited (IPICOL) along with investor promotion advisor PwC and industry partner FICCI at Janata Maidan, Bhubaneswar.

He announced that the Make in Odisha (MIO) Conclave 2022 had received an overall investment proposal worth INR 10.5 lakh crores in a span of 3 days generating 10,37,701 employment potential across sectors from 741 companies. 145 proposals received were from metals, ancillary & downstream sector, 102  from agriculture & food processing, 87  from logistics & infrastructure, 41 from tourism, 37 from Information Technology, 32 from power, renewable & green energy, 28 from paper, wood and forest based industries, 22 from  healthcare & pharmaceuticals, 26 from textile, apparels & technical textiles, 14 from agri-business, 10 from aerospace & defence, 10 from waste management, 7 from cement, 5 from start-ups, 2 each from education & glass, 6 from agri marketing, 1 from film & entertainment, 1 from electric vehicle and 12 from multiple other sectors along with 64 proposals from  general manufacturing sector.

“The Make in Odisha Conclave’22 has been a grand success,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “I am happy to announce that the Conclave has generated investment intents of Rs. 10.5 Lakh Crores with an employment potential for 10,37,701 people. Let us all work hard to implement these investments on the ground and take Odisha to a new era of industry-led growth

The Conclave witnessed  registration from 18785 delegates, including global leaders, industry captains, exhibitors, and participants from 11 countries which were Japan, Germany, Norway, Nepal, Bangladesh, Australia, Indonesia, Israel, China,  Singapore and Thailand. Three day conclave had conducted 38 business sessions  with 250+ speakers with involvement of 20 departments which came together. Around 65 MoU’s were signed at the end of Day 3 of the MIO 2022.

During the MIO Conclave 2022, 10 inauguration and groundbreaking ceremonies were announced which included Ultratech Cement Ltd inauguration of cement plant at Cuttack, Astral Limited inauguration of Plastic pipes & fitting factory at Cuttack, Brittania Limited  extension of existing factory of biscuits, cakes and other bakery products at Khurda Food Park, Infunex Healthcare Private Limited production at Ramdaspur, Cuttack, Jay Bharat Spices Limited ready to eat & cold storage facility at Ramdaspur, Cuttack, Vendanta Aluminium Park at Jharsuguda, Jindal Stainless Steel Park, Wonderla Holidays Limited at Khurda, Danieli Corus Refractory Solutions Pvt Ltd at Khurda and Cotton World Textile apparel manufacturing unit in Khurda. These 10 projects have  a total investment value of INR 4,595 lakhs crores with investment potential of 15135 number of people.

“The Make in Odisha Conclave’22 has been a grand success,” said the chief minister. “I am happy to announce that the Conclave has generated investment intents of Rs. 10.5 Lakh Crores with an employment potential for 10,37,701 people. Let us all work hard to implement these investments on the ground and take Odisha to a new era of industry-led growth. I thank the entire FICCI team for their support throughout the conclave cycle. I would like to give special thanks to our country partners, Japan, Norway, and Germany. I hope that we further strengthen our relationships and create more opportunities for mutual trade, commerce, and people-to-people relationships.

The Make in Odisha Conclave’22 concludes today. I thank each one of you for your immense contribution. Let the juggernaut move on.”

Out of the total investment received at the end of MIO 2022 Conclave, metals, ancillary and downstream sector fetched INR 5.50 lakhs crore, power, renewable energy & green energy sector fetched INR 2.38 lakhs crore, logistics & infrastructure received INR 1.20 lakh crores, chemicals, petrochemicals & plastics received INR 76K crores, manufacturing sector received INR 21K crores, tourism received INR 8K crores, IT sector received INR 8K crores, agriculture & food processing received INR 7.2k crores, paper goods & forest based products received INR 5.3k crores, cement INR 5K crores, healthcare & pharmaceuticals INR 4K crores, textile & apparel INR 2.6k crores, aerospace & defence received INR 3k crores, EV vehicles received INR 500 crores, startups received INR 280 crores, glass marble & granite INR 200 crores, waste management INR 170 crores, agri marketing received INR 121 crores, agri business received INR 94 crores, education received around INR 70 crores, film and entertainment received around 15 crores followed by other sectors received some INR 61 crores respectively.

The investment summit in its 3rd leg this year witnessed various interesting sessions showcasing investment opportunities in the state and providing an opportunity for investors to interact with various stakeholders from various State Government Departments & Ministries and International markets.

The inaugural edition of the Make in Odisha Conclave was organised in 2016 to showcase the manufacturing prowess of the State and the investment potential in diverse sectors. It was an overwhelming success, with the announcement of investment intent to the tune of INR 2.03 lakh crore. This year the Conclave will be a celebration of 5 days, presenting Odisha, its potential and achievements, to the world with Japan, Germany and Norway as partner countries. It will also be a platform to exchange ideas and share knowledge. The Conclave will have sector specific seminars across food processing, agro-business and agro-marketing, chemicals petrochemicals and plastics, metal downstream and ancillaries, IT/ITeS, textiles and apparels, renewable energy and equipment, real estate & social infrastructure, healthcare and pharma, film and entertainment, tourism, biotechnology, logistics and warehousing, aerospace & defence apart from other engaging events.

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Odisha tribals fight against malnutrition

The district has over 53 per cent tribal population, which is among the top communities that report higher incidences of malnutrition in the state…writes Naba Kishor Pujari

Lima Majhi, 35, proudly surveys her 300 square feet kitchen garden at Sushabhata village in Kandhamal, Odisha. The green patch has 14 varieties of fruits and vegetables such as bitter gourd, beetroot, cucumber, pumpkin, drumstick, tomato, coriander, radish, pointed gourd, brinjal, and chilly.

“I have also planted guava, banana, and papaya trees. It not only gives us more nutrition but we also save money on vegetables,” said Majhi, who belongs to the Kondh tribe.

Many villagers like Majhi in Tumudibandha block were unaware of the nutritional value of fruits and green vegetables. They ate their staple of rice often without any green accompaniment. The hilly terrain of Kandhamal has a good number of drumstick trees, but the tribals did not know that its leaves and fruit can be cooked.

Majhi started planting vegetables and fruits in 2017 after volunteers of Jeebika Suraksha Mancha, a people’s collective working in Kandhamal, educated the villagers about the health benefits of eating green vegetables and fruits and the importance of building a kitchen garden. The nutritional kitchen garden initiative, with the additional support of Noida-based NGO, Atmashakti Trust, is helping rural communities in 267 villages under Kotagada and Tumudibandha blocks of Kandhamal district grow vegetables at home. Until now, they have assisted over 2,120 kitchen gardens take root, each growing around 13 to 17 varieties of vegetables.

Rashmita Patmajhi, 30, weighed only 45 kg two years ago. With a poor haemoglobin count, she used to feel tired all the time. “I built a kitchen garden and also started eating fruits and vegetables. I weigh 49 kgs now and now I know the importance of a nutritious diet.”

In Kandhamal, at least, this knowledge is critical.

The official statistics of the Odisha government in 2018 listed about 3,500 malnutrition deaths in Kandhamal in the past five years. The district has over 53 per cent tribal population, which is among the top communities that report higher incidences of malnutrition in the state.

“Undernutrition is more prevalent among tribals in comparison to other communities. In Odisha, where 37.26 per cent of its population is deprived of nutritious food, there is a stronger need for building kitchen gardens, which will go a long way to secure nutritional status for their families,” added Sameet Panda, convener of Odisha chapter of Right to Food Campaign.

Supplementing support

“Malnutrition is more than lack of food, and tribals are traditionally agrarian communities who grow vegetables and fruits. So, there is no visible hunger among these communities,” said Ruchi Kashyap, Executive Trustee at Atmashakti Trust. “But, they do not know what a varied diet is and what fruits and vegetables will meet their nutritional needs. So, we used a behavioural change communication approach to overcome this challenge. We helped communities know food diversity, the technique to grow a kitchen garden, and avail of government schemes such as Mo Upakari Bagicha, Millets Mission, and Iron Plus Initiative to make this effort sustainable and beneficial,” she said.

The state government too has recognised and supported these kitchen gardens over the years. In 2018, Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), in partnership with Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI), implemented a nutrition project called ‘Mo Upakari Bagicha’ to spread the knowledge of nutritional outcomes from dietary diversity by promoting kitchen gardens in rural households across the state.

In June 2020, OLM converged with MGNREGA to scale up nutritional kitchen gardens in all 314 blocks with an additional budgetary allocation of Rs 500 crore from the Odisha government. The aim was to reach 5 lakh households in the financial year 2020-21 with a focus on Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Below Poverty Level (BPL) households, beneficiaries of rural housing, and small and marginal farmers.

Santosh Kumar Rath, District Project Manager of OLM in Kandhamal said in an effort to reduce undernutrition among children, women of reproductive age groups and adolescent girls, “in the last financial year, we have helped over 24,000 families build kitchen gardens in Kandhamal”.

And there has been some progress in this tribal hinterland which has recorded a significant improvement in malnutrition over recent years.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-21, stunting in Kandhamal has decreased significantly from 38.4 per cent to 34.2 per cent in NFHS-4 (2015-2016); the percentage of underweight children has reduced from 43.1 per cent to 35.40 per cent, and there has been a marginal improvement in the figures on wasting disease but these figures are all still below the state average.

Delinking nutrition and poverty

Odisha is also rated among the top 10 states with a substantial share of the population living in poverty as per the report of NITI Aayog’s National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2021. One in every two people (44.75 per cent) in Kandhamal is below the poverty line.

“Nutritional kitchen gardens can play the role of inflation insulation for them as vegetable prices remain high all through the year,” said Panda.

Kitchen gardens are vital to cater to the villagers’ nutritional needs by providing access to food that is harvested, prepared, and consumed by family members.

Sindhimai Patmajhi, 55, from Badjal village under Jubaguda Gram Panchayat in Kotagarh block, grows papaya, drumstick, banana, lemon, radish, guava, carrot, pineapple, brinjal, beans, cucurbit, cabbage, cauliflower, and beet nutritional kitchen garden. She said her frequent visits to the hospital have reduced drastically in the past two years after eating vegetables every day.

“The members of Jeebika Suraksha Manch explained to us the nutritional value of each fruit and vegetable. They asked us to grow vegetables and fruits so that we readily get the required nutrition in our food,” she said.

ALSO READ-The guardian angels of Odisha’s Gundalba forests

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The guardian angels of Odisha’s Gundalba forests

Each week, a group takes up the task of patrolling the woods. They watch out for anyone trying to cut a tree. They work in two shifts: from 8 a.m. to noon and post-lunch to sunset…reports Tazeen Qureshy

Sitting in her house in the nondescript Gundalba village in Odisha’s Puri district, Charulata Biswal (55) speaks with poetic creativity. A noted environmental crusader, she has received numerous accolades, but the awards and recognitions have not made her shun the simplicity. Her testimonials reflect the culture and aesthetics of her work, more than scientific references.

“The cool breeze under the shade of the tree on a hot summer afternoon, the soft ruffling of leaves as wind brushes past, the melodious chirping of the birds nested in the tree… These are the little joys in life that only a tree can provide,” she articulates her emotions in Odia, in a near melodic cadence.

For over two decades now, Charulata and a group of 75 women from adjacent villages have been guarding a casuarina forest in Gundalba from timber mafia. Additionally, they protect the mangroves around the coastal belt that lies in close proximity to the village, which comes under Astaranga block.

Super Cyclone and its aftermath

The devastating Super Cyclone of October 1999, which swept away several villages along Odisha’s coast, was their wake-up call. Though inundated, Gundalba, which lies half a kilometre from Astaranga beach, was not cut off. “The mangroves saved us. They reduced the pace of the waves entering our village. If not for these trees, our village could have been washed away,” says Charulata.

Two years later, under the aegis of Pir Jahania Van Surakhya Samiti – it was named after the spiritual shrine situated near the village – women from each household of Gundalba joined the green drive. Their counterparts from other villages joined in gradually. The areas of conservation were demarcated for the convenience of the participant villages.

The thengapalli method

Women in Gundalba use the thengapalli method to protect the casuarina forest. In local parlance, thenga means a stick and palli means turn. So, armed with sticks a group of 10 to 12 women stay on guard throughout the day.

Each week, a group takes up the task of patrolling the woods. They watch out for anyone trying to cut a tree. They work in two shifts: from 8 a.m. to noon and post-lunch to sunset.

“Sometimes, we also venture out in the dark, if we get information about anyone sneaking into the forest. Those in our village follow the rules, but outsiders cause trouble at times,” says a woman associated with the group.

Since the women also have households to look after, their duty hours have to be managed efficiently.

“In a household where only one member is female, she completes all daily chores before venturing into the forest. If the family has more women, we place them in different groups so that at least one of them is present in the house to manage chores,” says Mehjabeen Nisa, a member of the group.

If any intruder is caught, he is usually let off with a warning. But if the situation gets out of hand, the local administration is informed.

Nisa recollects one such incident, which took place over two years ago. “A large group of people had come to the forest once to cut the trees down. When we tried to stop them, they behaved violently. We immediately informed the forest department and entrusted them with the matter,” she recalls.

Local residents are dependent on the forest for firewood, but they mostly rely on agriculture to make ends meet. The women on forest duty always allow people to collect broken twigs and dry leaves, but ensure that no trees are touched.

A safe spot for Olive Ridleys

Women led by Charulata also offer their services to protect the nesting places of Olive Ridley turtles along Astaranga beach. “We all belong to the same village and help each other. The women who protect the forest also clean the beach area regularly. This is an important aspect in the Olive Ridley conservation. Even during the breeding season, they voluntarily help out,” says Bichitrananda Biswal, an Olive Ridley conservationist.

Inside the forest, the women keep an eye on water bodies frequented by animals. If the ponds run dry, they alert the local administration.

Globally, there are numerous studies that highlight the successful implementation of community-led efforts to conserve local biodiversity. While it is difficult to ascertain accurate statistical data on what impact they make – since most such endeavours are voluntary in nature – studies and surveys by local NGOs report improvement in the overall health of the forests after such initiatives.

“Women and forests are dependent on each other. When there is a dip in forest cover, women are the first to know as they rely on forest resources a lot,” says Sanjukta Basa, a subject expert from Odisha who has followed thengapalli closely.

A report suggests that the forest cover in Astaranga region is up by 63 per cent – from 2.58 sq km in 1985 to 4.21 sq km in 2004. The women themselves have realised this positive change. “We now spot deer in the forests. Sometimes, they enter agricultural lands and damage crops, but we are still happy to provide them a habitat by protecting the forest,” says Charulata.

A helping hand

The concept of Joint Forest Management is gaining ground, but there are challenges on the way, primarily due to the lack of coordination between different stakeholders and the conflicts in management.

Being voluntary in nature, most community conservation efforts are driven by motivation, often due to cultural resemblances. The villagers of Gundalba also started off voluntarily, but were backed by the forest department since 2009. “We do not get any monetary support, but the forest department supports us in case of a rift with intruders. We are in a way recognised by them for the work we do,” says Nisa.

A section of the forest land is said to have been officially handed over to the villagers, but this claim could not be independently verified. However, more than the legal rights, the women believe in doing their duty. “Our work is to protect the forest and that is all what we know. Today, a lot of people are recognising our efforts . We might not understand the technicalities, but we understand the forest and will work to conserve them till our last breath,” Charulata concludes.

ALSO READ-Over 4.67L people affected by floods in Odisha

India News

Over 4.67L people affected by floods in Odisha

Over 60,000 people have been evacuated to safer places. Cooking food is being served to the evacuated people at different shelters, Jena said…reports Asian Lite News

Over 4.67 lakh people in 1,757 villages in 10 districts of Odisha have so far been affected by the flood triggered by rainfall, officials said here on Wednesday.

Despite a stoppage of rain for the past three days and a fall in the water flow at the Mundali barrage near Cuttack, flood situation remained grim in the Mahanadi basin system in Odisha.

Due to heavy rainfall and subsequent floods, over 2.5 lakh people in 425 villages have remained marooned while a total of 4.67 lakh people in 10 districts affected, said special relief commissioner (SRC) P.K. Jena.

Over 60,000 people have been evacuated to safer places. Cooking food is being served to the evacuated people at different shelters, Jena said.

Anti-snake venom doses have been supplied to community health centres and primary healthcare centres while 10 vehicles carrying RO plants have been deployed to the flood affected areas of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts.

The SRC said water level at Mundali barrage has reduced to 10.57 lakh cusecs at 6 p.m., and is likely to reduce further within the next few hours.

Flood water is being discharged from Hirakud reservoir through 40 gates. The inflow of flood water from Hirakud reservoir has reduced to 5.80 lakh cusecs while discharge of water remained at 6.69 lakh cusecs.

Due to heavy flow of flood water, two more breaches in river embankments were reported on Wednesday at Kathakote in Jagatsinghpur district. Evacuation has been started in the area. So far, six breaches have been reported in different river systems, he informed.

For the first time after 2011, he said, Odisha is experiencing such a high-level of water flow in the Mahanadi system at Mundali. He, however, said that within the next 24 hours, water flow at Mundali will reduce to 9 lakh cusecs.

The district administrations and engineers of the water resources department are working round-the-clock to tackle the situation and rescue operations are also underway by Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and fire service personnel, Jena said.

The peak flood is now passing through low lying areas of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Puri districts. Water flow will start reducing from tomorrow morning, he said.

“This night is crucial when the peak flood will pass through and reach the sea. Following which, the water level will further recede,” he added.

Holding a review meeting, Odisha Revenue Minister Pramila Mallick asked the Keonjhar, Bhadrak, and Jajpur district collectors to remain on alert for another fresh low pressure likely to be formed over the north Bay of Bengal on August 19.

Meanwhile, all the government and private schools in Puri have been closed for two days — August 17 and 18 in view of the flood.

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