Current News - State In News - Odisha

Odisha Declares Gupteswar Forest as Fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site

The Odisha government has recently officially designated the Gupteswar forest in Koraput district as its fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).

Key Points

  • Location and Significance: The Gupteswar forest, situated adjacent to the Gupteswar Shiva temple within the Dhondrakhol reserve forest, is now recognized as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. It joins Mandasaru, Mahendragiri, and Gandhamardan as protected areas in Odisha.
  • Area and Features: Covering 350 hectares, the Gupteswar forest contains sacred groves revered by the local community and hosts a diverse range of flora and fauna.
  • Faunal Diversity: A comprehensive biodiversity survey conducted by the Odisha Biodiversity Board revealed the presence of 608 faunal species, including various mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, butterflies, moths, spiders, scorpions, and lower invertebrates.
  • Notable Species: The forest is home to significant fauna such as mugger crocodiles, kanger valley rock geckos, sacred grove bush frogs, and diverse avifauna like black bazas, Malabar trogons, and white-bellied woodpeckers.
  • Limestone Caves: The limestone caves in Gupteswar harbor eight bat species, contributing to the region's ecological diversity.
  • Floral Diversity: Rich in flora, the forest boasts 182 tree species, 76 shrub species, 177 herb species, 69 climber species, 14 orchid species, and various threatened medicinal plants.
  • Conservation Measures: The State government has directed the Odisha Biodiversity Board to formulate a comprehensive conservation and development plan for these sites, emphasizing local community involvement. An initial allocation of ₹35 lakh has been made for action plan preparation and community awareness initiatives.

Odisha Government Launches “LABHA Yojana”

On 29th January, 2024, Odisha's Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, announced the initiation of the 'LABHA Yojana,' a state-funded MSP scheme for minor forest produce (MFP), with potential far-reaching effects on the tribal population.

Key Points

  • Empowering Tribals: The LABHA Yojana aims to determine the MSP for MFP annually, ensuring that primary collectors, primarily tribals, can sell their produce at the fixed MSP.
  • The scheme integrates with Mission Shakti's Women SHGs to enhance the participation of tribal women.
  • Financial Allocation: The State government has allocated an initial Rs 100 crore for the LABHA Yojana, with SHGs or other agencies receiving a 2% commission.
  • The amount will be transferred as Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to the beneficiary's account, targeting the inclusion of over 30,000 tribal beneficiaries.
  • Procurement Automation: The procurement automation system, aligned with the 'Vision 5T' framework, utilizes technology to ensure transparency.
  • It captures MFP collection details, primary collector information, and procurement points, enhancing efficiency and benefits for tribal communities.
  • Further Initiatives: To prevent distress sales to middlemen, the LABHA Yojana eliminates intermediaries. The TDCCOL will adopt e-tendering for additional sales and explore value addition and processing units.
  • Tamarind Processing Plant: The government will invest Rs 25 crore in a tamarind processing plant in Rayagada, utilizing tamarind procured through the LABHA Yojana for value addition, benefiting tribal communities.

Orissa HC appoints Panel to assess Condition of Leprosy Patients

  • The Orissa High Court has appointed a committee of three lawyers to check the living condition of people with leprosy to understand their needs.
  • In 2006-2007, Odisha was declared “leprosy free” as per the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
  • According to WHO, regions reporting 1 case per 10,000 of the population can be called leprosy-free.

BalaramYojana

  • After KALIA Yojana, the Odisha government has launched BalaramYojana to provide agricultural credit of Rs 1,040 crore to landless farmers who are facing hardships due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Around seven lakh landless cultivators will get benefit under the scheme in the next two years.
  • The scheme was designed in collaboration with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
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