Maoists set ablaze kendu leaf godown

Nuapada: Demanding payment of higher wages to `kendu` leaf pluckers and other workers, Maoists today set ablaze two collection centres (Paharighars) in Khariar kendu leaf division of the state.

"The Maoists have destroyed two `Paharighars` at Badbanki and Chotbanki under Tureikela block of adjoining Bolangir district by setting them on fire", DFO (Kendu leaf), Khariar, Prafulla Kumar Mishra said. Slogan shouting ultras raided the `Paharighars` one after another, asked people to leave the place and set them on fire, the sources said adding no one was, however, harmed.

While leaving the place, they claimed to be CPI (Maoists) of Bargarh-Bolangir and Mahasamund division, and put up posters nearby which demanded upward revision of wages to kendu leaf pluckers.

Their other demands included payment of 40 paise for one `phadi` (a packet containing 40 pieces of kendu leaves) be hiked to Re. One, wage of the watchers increased from present Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 and the daily wage of `Gochakatas` (cleaners of forest areas before plucking the leaves) and other such labourers be paid at the rate of Rs. 150 instead of Rs. 100 now.