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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The remarkable change in grim picture of Malkangiri, often referred to as Odisha's Maoist citadel, from a safe haven for ganja cultivation to a land with new hope is no less than an epic transformation.

Several areas of this once an impregnable fortress of the left wing extremism are now on a journey towards witnessing a never before seen development.

The case of Khajuripada village in the Chitrakonda region also called the Swabhiman Anchal narrates the perfect story of this transformation.

In the not too distant past, Khajuriapada was known as a hub of ganja cultivation as many families resorted to farming cannabis under the push of Maoists who used to earn a good sum from the smuggling of the narcotics. All the while, development seemed a distant dream for the locals as most of the money never made its way to the hands of the public.

But slowly, with the enforcement of Maoist cleanup exercise following the establishment of a police camp at Jodamba and increased focus of the police and administration to bring the people of the region to the mainstream, the area gradually started to look beyond its world of ganja farming.

Now after being freed from the presence of the Maoists to a larger extent after years of struggle, the tribal people in the region are slowly shying away from ganja farming for vegetables and paddy cultivation to reclaim a new life.

Varieties of crops like chilly, brinjal, pumpkin, tomato, papaya are being grown in many acres of land in the area and the tribal people are earning their livelihood with honour. Not only vegetables, the tribal people in Jodamba area are also growing paddy in hundreds of acres of lands.

Despite a new optimism, people in the region rue that the government should make more efforts in substantiating them with better financial assistance and initiatives in their new endeavour.

“We request the government to provide us proper irrigation facilities, seeds and fertilizers for better production,” said Palasy, a resident of Khajuripada.

Meanwhile, the State Excise department has also decided to start an initiative to spread further awareness among the tribal people in the area to completely turn away from ganja farming and start a new life with honour.

“We have decided to intensify awareness campaigns among the tribals and motivate them to refrain from ganja farming. Various livelihood schemes of the State government will also be facilitated in the area to encourage them to earn livelihood and live a good life,” said Arun Kumar Padhy, Excise Superintendent, Malkangiri.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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