Report by OD bureau, Bolangir: A traditional ritual of Western Odisha “Nuakhai Bhetghat” was organized by the Zindabad Sangathan, Bolangir affiliated to Campaign for Survival Dignity (CSD), Odisha at Gujarati Samaj Dharamsala, Kantabaji on 30th September 2012. Around 600 community people and members of Zinadabad Sanghathan from six blocks i.e Titlagarh, Muribahal, Bongomunda, Turekela, Khaprakhol and Belpada of the Bolangir district took part in the Nuakhai Bhetghat.
The female members of the sangathan led by Champeswari Majhi, treasurer of the Sangathan welcomed the guests with the traditional gesture by offering rice, flowers and Arisha Pitha. The president of the Zindabad Sangathan, Trilochan Punji welcoming the guests and participants shared the objectives of the Nuakhai Bhetghat. He shared that it has been the tradition in the area where the community people after nuakhai(taking new rice) share with themselves the good and also the bad happening around their lives and livelihoods. He further shared that the objective of the “Nuakhai Bhetghat” is to share the local issues amongst the larger struggle groups of Odisha.
He also call upon the other organizations and Community based Sangathans of the Bolangir district working for the welfare of the tribals, dalits and deprived people to help each other to fight together against the anti-community programmes of the Govt. and NGOs in the district.
On the occasion the newly elected Rajya Sabha M.P and social activist, A.V. Swami joined as the Chief Guest and inaugurated the programme along with the anti displacement activist, environmentalist and the president of LokSaktiabhijan, Prafulla Samantray. Professor Shiba Prashad Behera, Titlagarh College joined as the Chief Speaker on the occasion. Gopal Niyal, one of the organizers of the Zindabad Sangathan readout the annual report of the sangathan.
Issues discussed in the Nuakhai Bhetghat.
In the occasion the important local issues i.e issue of migrant workers, farmer’s issues and non settlement of forest rights of the tribals and forest dwellers were widely discussed.
Addressing the gatherings, Rajya Sabha M.P, A.V. Swami said that “the urgent need of the hour is to organize the community people at the gram Sabha level and to continue the struggle for their rights in a non-violent and democratic way so that they can compel the government of the day to regard the community say all spheres.”
Prafulla Samatray, the President of Lok Sakti Abhijan said during the occasion that, “Bolangir district is worldwide known for its poverty, migration and also for its struggle for existence.” He further demanded that the Govt. of Odisha and Govt. of India should declare special package for the Bolangir district to redress the problems exists in the district.
Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha recognizing the contributions of the people of Bolangir district in the enactment of historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 shared that “FRA recognizes community ownership rights over the “village” and over the “forest”. He further criticizing the State Forest Department said that “the Forest Department has become un-wanted and un-necessary after the enactment of FRA. However, it still continued to play mischief violating the FRA through Vana Sarankhyan Sammitee (VSS) and wants to keep control over Kendu Leaf and Bamboo over which the community people have been bestowed ownership right.”
Saroj Mohanty, the farmer’s leader said that, “the Govt. of Odisha is no more the Govt. of common man and it has become the slave at the hands of the multinational companies. Further targeting the role of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) he said that “now a-days many NGOs have lost its values and ethics of their very formations and have become agents of government and companies and even do not hesitate to do anti-community activities”.
Ligraj Azad, the leader of the Niyamgiri Surakhya Sammittee explaining the ground reality of democracy said that, “the present Political Leaders are not the people’s representatives but are Political Party’s representatives and the Bureaucrats who are supposed to be the servants of the common man, unfortunately have become master over the common man.” Besides, advocates Bishnu Prashad Sharma and Jogendra Bachha and the leader of Anti Sahara Power Plant, Titlagarh, Balakrushana Sandh etc were present and addressed the participants on the festive occasion. At the end, Raghunath Rana, the Secretary of the Sangathan gave vote of thanks to the all guests and participants of the programme.