Black flags by Maoists amidst I-Day celebrations

Bhubaneswar: Independence Day fervour was marred by unfurling of black flags by Maoists in some Naxal-hit areas of the state while the day was celebrated with gaiety elsewhere amid tight security.

Though the day was celebrated amid patriotic fervour in most parts with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unfurling the Tricolour in the state capital, some remote areas in Maoist-affected districts like Malkangiri, Koraput and Gajapati saw hoisting of black flags by the ultras.

Despite tight security, Maoists hoisted black flags and put up posters and banners near several schools and panchayat offices in Kalimela, Khairput, Chitrakonda and Guma areas of naxal-hit Malkangiri district where the ultras had asked people to refrain from celebrating the day.

Similarly, in Koraput district black flags and posters were seen in about half-a-dozen remote places of Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon areas with a call to boycott the celebrations and observe black day, sources said.

In his address at the main function on Mahatma Gandhi Road in Bhubaneswar, the chief minister announced launch of an scheme name "Mamata" for pregnant and lactating women and infants in urban areas.

The programme has already been in force since last year in rural areas of the state.

In order to ensure effective empowerment of women, 50 per cent of seats would be reserved for the fair sex in urban local bodies as already done in panchayati raj institutions, he said.

Describing welfare of tribals and dalits and saving them from exploitation as a priority, the chief minister listed schemes like the one for Rs two a kg rice for poor being implemented in the state.

Recognising agriculture as the mainstay of economy, Patnaik said one lakh deep borewells would be in place in next three years to irrigate 10 lakh hectares of land besides expanding lift irrigation facilities to benefit farmers.