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Blood donation camp at Namrup

A blood donation camp was organised by Purbanchal Resource Management of Naharkatia at BVFCL Hospital Namrup on Wednesday. The programme was supported by Naharani Primary Health centre (PHC)- block and Department of blood blank Assam Medical College Hospital (AMCH ) Dibrugarh.
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 11:30

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When Bamboo Flowers

14 Apr 2008 - 6:33am | Rituparna Goswami Pande

“When bamboo flowers, famine, death and destruction follows”, says a tribal legend in Mizoram. Who better than the hardy Mizos would know this, considering that theirs is probably the only land on earth where history is closely intertwined with the mysterious cycle of bamboo flowering? Back in 1959, bamboo flowering in the state set off a chain of events in the rugged hilly state that ultimately led to one of the most powerful insurgencies against the Indian union spanning over two decades.

Once again the legend threatens to become a reality as thousands of rats are rampaging through rice and vegetable fields in Mizoram, adding fuel to the growing fears of famine in the region. International aid agencies have already warned of a serious crisis in this border state of the northeast.

Photo Top/right: Over 30% of Mizoram’s forest is covered by bamboo species called Melcanna baccifera, and they flower every 50 years. This flowering is followed by invasion of rats who feed on the seeds and then on to the crops and have caused famine in Mizoram in the past. This phenomenon is called MAUTAM in Mizo. Scientifically speaking the odd phenomena of bamboo flowering, is termed 'gregarious bamboo flowering' because the bamboo clumps flower all at the same time only once in the plants' lifetime. This phenomena spells disaster and causes ecological havoc. The reasons behind this strange occurrence are that bamboo plants die after flowering. And will be after some years before bamboo plants take seed again, leaving bare exposed soil – that spells disaster in mountainous states - and ultimately leading to food scarcity, as the animals depend on bamboo plants. Secondly the rats feed on the flowers and seeds of the dying bamboo tree which activates a rapid birth rate among the rodents, which leads to the huge rat population feeding on agricultural crops in the fields and granaries and causing famine.

“Countless numbers of rats have raided paddy fields and destroyed vegetables, leading to serious problems in almost all the eight districts of the state,” stated C Lalnithanga, a Mizoram government agriculture scientist and plant officer. “Hundreds of families are facing food shortages. Some are barely eking out one meal a day. Crops including rice, maize and vegetables have been wiped out as flowering of bamboo in the region caused an explosion of rodent population,” said a report by Action Aid, an international anti-poverty agency.

Mast bamboo flowering in West Khasi Hills has caused fear to the people of Riangdo area in West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya on 16-04-08
Mast bamboo flowering in West Khasi Hills has caused fear to the people of Riangdo area in West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya on 16-04-08. Pix by UB Photos.
The rat rampage has not confined itself to bamboo growing areas alone but defying predictions of agricultural scientists who said that areas where bamboo flowering did not take place would be spared as Tawaizo a village in Mizoram bore the brunt of destruction by armies of rats. This small village atop the mountainside of Tawi, the tenth highest mountain in Mizoram at 1,837 meters, experienced a total crop failure due to Mautam or famine caused by gregarious bamboo flowering last year.

A similar occurrence in Mizoram in the late 1950s led to disillusionment and anger when the authorities failed to respond with quick famine relief. This later resulted in the Mizo National Famine Front, an organization created to help people get relief, changing into the Mizo National Front, an ethnic political party which involved the Mizos in a 20-year war of attrition against India which ended only in 1987 with a peace accord. The MNF is now a regional political party that heads the government in Mizoram led by former guerrilla leader Zoramthanga.

Bamboo flowering related famine was recorded in Mizoram in the year 1862 and again in 1911 after the state witnessed similar bamboo flowerings. Incidentally the rare phenomena of bamboo flowering are a cyclical one and occur every 48 years throwing life off gear.

Bamboo grows wildly in 6,000 sq km of Mizoram’s total geographical area of 21,ooo sq km with the state, bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar, harvesting 40 percent of India’s 80 million-ton annual bamboo crops. A thriving economy revolves around bamboo. The pulp and paper industry, construction, cottage industry and handloom, food, fuel, fodder and medicine annually consume about 22 million tons of bamboo.

Though the state government has asked the Center to rush adequate stocks of food grain to curb the crisis the famine may be prevented as most villages are now linked to the main government centers, and also because the "Mizo experience" is always there to remind them of the political outcome of bamboo flowering.

ASEB employee killed, cash Rs. 2.6 lakh looted at Nagaon.

3 Aug 2007 - 4:08am | editor
Nagaon: Unidentified gunmen killed an Assam State Electricity Board employee at Nagaon on Thursday and flew away with cash amounting to Rupees 2.6 lakhs. This amount was the cash collection of the day at Nagaon Electrical Division-1, which is the only revenue collection branch for the entire district from consumers against their monthly bill.

This happened when two staff members of the office and a security man were boarding a vehicle with the cash in a bag to deposit in the Bank at 2.45 PM. Two armed youths who were loitering there for some time came close to the vehicle and tried to snatch the bag. When challenged they fired at the driver, and one of the ASEB employees, Guna Das. Das was hit by two bullets on the head and chest and died on the spot. The security man tried to prevent them by firing from his 303 rifle, but failed, as his rifle got jammed. The robbers then picked up the bag and flew away riding a motorcycle which had been parked there earlier. Later police recovered a 9 MM pistol and few rounds of fired and live cartridge from the site. Police have started an extensive search operation to nab the culprits, but no success has been reported till now.

Guwahati media to interact with Survival International

21 Nov 2018 - 7:32pm | AT News

Guwahati: Survival International, a global tribal rights’ protection platform, will be available for interaction with member-journalists of Guwahati Press Club on 30 November 2018. Sophie Grig of the influential nonprofit organization will answer various media queries through the video conferencing from London in the Friday program starting at 3 pm.

Founded in 1969, Survival International campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal people across the globe. Its campaigns generally focus on tribal peoples' desires to keep their ancestral lands. The active non-government organization calls these peoples some of the most vulnerable on Earth and aims to eradicate what it calls misconceptions used to justify violations of human rights.

Survival aims to help foster tribal people's self-determination. To ensure freedom of action, the outfit does not accept government funding. Besides London, Survival has offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Paris and San Francisco.

Days back, the organization criticized the foresters of Kaziranga National Park for adopting rude approach towards the tribal families at the fringe localities in the name of wildlife conservation.

Survival even blamed BBC’s Natural History Unit for attempting to retreat from a BBC News report that vindicated the locals’ concerns. GPC member-journalists are requested to participate in the program.