Kalahandi mahua collectors in the lurch

Kalahandi: Though the government earns crores of revenue from country liquor made from mahua flowers, lack of warehouses at panchayat level in Kalahandi has irked the flower collectors. The poor tribals, unable to avail the facilities of the warehouses, are forced to sell flowers at distressed prices.

Mahua flowers play a vital role in the livelihood of the tribals of Kalahandi district. Even after the government’s announcement, markets for the minor forest product, are yet to be set up. Adding to their plight, the middlemen take undue advantage of the situation.

In 2011-12, the government provided licenses to 70 liquor vendors to collect mahua flowers. The excise department has been able to collect Rs. 11 crore 71 lakh till date while it had set a target of Rs 12 crore for 2011-2012.

Due to lack of awareness, mahua collectors fail to know the warehouse system as well as the market price set by the panchayat. The situation remains the same despite continuous allegations and demands by the mahua flower collectors.