NEW DELHI - Scientists have unearthed a 1.1 billion-year-old fossil of a worm-like creature from rocks of the Vindhyas in Madhya Pradesh, which they say is the oldest such find in India.

A team from the Madhya Pradesh-based Center of Advanced Study in Geology at Sagar University discovered the fossil “Spriggina” from the lower Vindhyan rocks at Chauriya village in the Damoh district. The scientists have dated it 1.1-1.5 billion years back which, according to them, is also probably the oldest such fossil in the world. Spriggina was a worm-like creature, somewhat resembling annelids (the group comprising earthworms and related worms whose bodies are divided into segments). But unlike modern-day annelids which have no limbs, Spriggina had limbs on the side, Dr. Pradeep Kathal, a reader from Sagar University, said. The fossil dug out by his team had an indistinct horseshoe-shaped head, followed by a curving 10-cm-long trunk or body which was broken at the back. Details of the find by Kathal and team members D.R. Patel and P.O. Alexander have been reported in the latest issue of an international journal of paleontology, News Jabarbuch for Geologie and Palaontologie, published from Germany.

The rocks from which the fossil was dug out are lower than the Churhat area from where an Indo-German team of scientists reported discovering a similar fossil of a billion-year-old burrowing worm in 1998. The Spriggina fossil belongs to a group of animals known as the Ediacaran fauna. Ediacaran fauna are the oldest known assemblage of fossil remains of soft-bodied marine animals, which were first discovered in Ediacara hills of Australia. Study of fossils from this group is considered necessary for understanding the origin, composition, and diversity of earlier life forms. Kathal says that if more such fossils are recovered the discovery may lead to an overall change in the concept of evolution of life on the earth. Most fossil scientists believe that the Ediacaran organisms first evolved 1.1 billion years ago as a “failed experiment” of nature—that is, they did not survive properly. They reappeared after 500 million years as a new form that has been classified by zoologists as Vendobionta.

Thursday, June 17, 1999, Indian Express

Buddhist stupas of Gupta period unearthed

BHOPAL, JUNE 16: Archaeologists claim to have unearthed a series of Buddhist stupas dating back to the Gupta period in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh.

A 30-km long and two metre wide wall of the Kushana period along with 10000-year old tools belonging to middle Stone Age have also been uncovered in this region.

Scattered in dense forest of the Bundelkhand region these historically important remnants could throw a new light on the civilisation of the Kushana and the Gupta period.

Archaeological Survey of India, Bhopal division in-charge Dr Mishra described the findings as ``a great success'' and regretted that such archaeologically significant findings had not been discovered earlier.

Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Ratnesh Saloman, who is taking personal interest in these excavations, said the state government was planning to establish an archaeological park in order to preserve these valuable ancient remnants and to protect the rich forests of the region.

The region, which is known for its richforests and cultural heritage, has secured an important place in the archaeological map of the country with these developments.

Mishra told newsmen that the area around Banshipur village was very important archaeologically. About 1000 to 1500 years ago, the area was occupied by a lake which had dried up with the course of time, he said.

It seemed that the area was an eminent centre of Buddhist monks as remains of thousand stupas had been found here, he said adding that it was too early to comment on the remains of a wall probably belonging to the Kushana period found in the neighbouring Aloni village. He said the wall, made of bricks and stones, measured two foot in height, two metre wide and 30 km long and its size indicated that it was used as a sort of complex. Its antiquity might go back to the 1-2 Century A.D., he added.

On the basis of these remains in the region, Mishra said one could infer the existence of a huge stupa along with rock edict constructed by Mauryan king Ashoka to propagate hispolicy of `Dhamma'. The possible discovery of Ashoka's monolithic pillars inscribed in Brahmi script would throw a fresh light on the historical role of the region, he said adding that the same Ashokan pillar had been found at Rupnath village in the neighbouring Jabalpur district.

During the excavations remains of four Gupta temples had been found in Khari Deori village, he said adding that the earlier temples of the same style comprising plain roof and straight columns had been discovered in Tigwa village of Jabalpur district.

Another Buddhist site found in MP forest: More than 500 stupas, dozens of Buddhist mounds and the remains of several shiv temples were unearthed early this week atop a hill in Bansipur forest in the Sangrampur area of Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district. This finding is barely a month after another major Buddhist site was discovered at Madighat in Rewa district. (The Statesman, New Delhi, 17/06/99, Page No:06)

Nohta Millenium FestivalPreparatiions in full swing  Bhopal

      A two day state level Nohta Millennium Festival would be organised at Nohta in Damoh district on Feb. 10 and 11 to celebrate the completion of one thousand years of Shiva temple of Kalchuri period. Preparations for the festival are in full swing.

     The Minister for Higher Education Shri Ratnesh Solomon reviewed the preparations for the festival recently. Shri Solomon said that Damoh district was very rich in terms of historic heritage, religious places and natural beauty. The festival would help establish Nohta as a centre of tourist interest. Sculptures of Taradevi and Budha have been recovered from Vanshipur village in Damoh district. Smililarly Bade Baba of Kundalpur and Jageshwar Dham of Bandakpur are other prominent places of interest. Shri Solomon said that Damoh is situated between Jabalpur and Khajuraho making it highly accessible.

     On 10 February a national seminar would be organised and cultural programme would be presented by the local artistes. On February 11, artistes from outside would present their programme. Reception cells have been set up at Damoh and Nohta for giving information to the visitors. On this occasion local archaeologists, historions also offered their suggestions. Senior district officers, distinguished citizens and patron of the Millennium Festival and district collector Shri Arun Tiwari were present on the occasion.
ONGC to take up drilling in M.P.
Hindu Business Line, March 28, 2000


Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is preparing the ground to launch a deep exploration drilling job at Damoh in the rocky Vindhya basin in Madhya Pradesh. The oil exploration major will launch the work shortly, with an estimated outlay of Rs. 30 crores, according to Mr. I.B. Raina, Group General Manager of ONGC's Krishna-Godavari (K-G) basin.
He told reporters in Vizag on Monday that the drilling rig `Branham', which recently arrived at Vizag after completing contract drilling work in Oman, would be deployed at Damoh. The drilling operation was likely to continue for a year, he said. ONGC had drilled a well in 1991 in the same basin at Jabera, near Jabalpur, which had indicated the presence of gas; the Damoh project will be its second one.

``The entire basin consists of some 400 to 500 sq. km. of uniform area, with the estimated reserves being in the region of 400 million tonnes,'' Mr. Raina pointed out.

He said ONGC was planning to start production at its K-G offshore basin, where some 10 exploratory wells have already been drilled in the two blocks _ GS 15 and GS 23. Two offshore platforms, currently being constructed in Indonesia at a cost of Rs. 70 crores, would be installed within a few months in the K-G offshore region, he said. The company was looking at an initial production of at least three lakh cubic metres of gas per day and 50 tonnes of condensate, he said.

According to him, ONGC was also increasing its production capacity in the K-G basin from the present 4.5 million cubic metres of gas per day to 8.5 million cubic metres, which would take almost two years. The Gas Linkage Committee had already increased the gas allocation for ONGC for this purpose.

December 31, 2000 Central Chronicle

Women playing active role in dairy development

DAMOH, DEC 30: Women are playing active role in the dairy development programmes being implemented by the Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Dairy Federation in the tribal areas of the state.

According to an official release, women are not only motivated to engage in milk production activities but are also made self- reliant. The Federation is paying special attention towards production and marketing of milk in certain districts.

About 30,000 villagers in the Bundelkhand area are associated with the Sagar Dughdha Sangh of whom 60 per cent are landless, marginal farmers, farm labourers and those belonging to scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the release added.

In the predominantly tribal district of Damoh, 75 milk producers' cooperative societies have to be formed, of which eight will be fully run by women. Active participation of tribals is being enlisted in milk participation. Under the tribal scheme, nine milk cooperatives with 60 members have been organised so far.

About 75 milk cooperatives of Damoh district are collecting around 14,000 litres of milk per day. These societies sold about 78,000 kgs of cattle feed `Sudana' to their members last year.

The Dugdha Sangh is also planning to conduct a programme in every district for empowering women, to develop leadership qualities in them and to make them aware of eradication of social evils. They have been organised into 36 self-help groups under 22 milk cooperatives with 738 members. These groups have received a loan of Rs 6,90,000 from the National Fund for Women. They have also made a saving of about Rs 6,65,000 and provided loan to 285 members.

Besides, the Dugdha Sangh is also planning to entrust responsibility of running milk parlours in the blocks to certain women societies.

It may be mentioned that this particular move have been taken in Kalidebi of Jhabua district where Bairani Kuldi (a thrift society of women) have been handed over the responsibility. This is the first thrift society in the country playing direct role in marketing of milk and milk products of the Dugdha Sangh, thereby setting a worth emulating example for other self-help groups.

Chronicle News Service

Mysore Cement to sell 2 units in MP, UP -Economic times 1st July 2000.

S.K.Birla group company Mysore Cements on Friday informed stock exchanges that it was planning to sell its Damoh and Jhansi cement units in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively. The Rs 250-Crore Mysore Cements said, its board of directors has decided, in consultation with investment banker ICICI Securities & Finanace Co to restructure its business by hiving off the cement units and the power plants at Damoh in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh subject to all necessary approvals. The bard has decided to sell the cement units and has constituted a committee of directors to finalise an appropriate proposal in consultation with its merchant bankers, the company stated in its notice to stock exchanges. The Mysore cements board, which met in Bangalore on Friday, also adopted the financial results for nine- month period ended March 31,'00. The company's financial year ending has been changed from June 30,'99 To March 31, '00 and accordingly, the current financial year is nine months Period ended March 31.

Billion-year-old fossil of worm-like animal found in MP


JUNE 16: Close on the heels of the Bastar land and forest scandal (Malik Makbukja scam) in Madhya Pradesh, a similar scam of almost equal or greater magnitude has come to light in the Damoh district of Bundelkhand region.

Trees worth crores of rupees have been cut illegally by the timber mafia in collusion with some politicians and bureaucrats near the `Eco Centre' in Rani Durgavati sanctuary in Damoh in the last few years. Incidentally, Forest Minister of MP, Ratnesh Soloman has allegedly been aiding and abetting the timber mafia in massive destruction of the forest area in the region.

When the rampant destruction of forest with the connivance of timber mafia and politicians came to light at the end of last year, the Supreme Court asked the Lokayukta of MP and the Additional Inspector General of Forests, government of India to probe into the matter. The Lokayukta soon despatched a fact-finding team to the spot to investigate the matter.

Meanwhile the National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources (NCPNR), a national network of more than 50 NGOs from various parts of the country which lodged a strong protest against the activities of the Forest Minister Soloman demanded stern action against the culprits.

Talking to The Indian Express S R Hiremath, president of the NCPNR said Soloman had purchased land in the midst of the Rani Durgavati Sanctuary near a lake, surrounded by forests. Soloman, however, failed to show the trees on the land during purchase of the area. Subsequently he cut down a number of teak trees illegally without permission of the concerned authorities.

The timber mafia has systematically been felling trees in the Sangrampur area of Damoh district, even as the forest department allegedly chose to keep silent. Hiremath charged that Soloman allegedly provided protection to the timber mafia instead of stopping their illegal activities.

Incensed with Soloman's involvement in the timber scam, local activists in Damoh region filed public interest litigations and complaints against him. The minister, who admitted in the MP assembly last year that, `Cases of felling of trees do occur', is himself charged with denuding 155,000 sq kms of forest cover in MP!

Santosh Bharti, convenor of the NGO group-`Sadbhav' and one of the complainants has accused Soloman of evading stamp duty by concealing information about the teak plantation on five acres he and his wife bought at Singrampur in September 1997. Bharti also accused him of felling 107 trees worth crores of rupees, without the permission of the District Collector.

When Bharti tried to protest against the alleged attempt by some forest officials to destroy papers/documents relating to investigations into the forest destruction, including the alleged serious irregularities committed by various persons led by Soloman, he and some other activists were badly beaten up by the police officers.

Bharti charged mass felling of trees started in Damoh only after Soloman's brother-in-law and Congress MP Ajit Jogi got Congress president Sonia Gandhi to visit Singrampur on May 24, 1999. Soloman arranged the public rally and also bore all expenses. In May 1999 around 50,000 logs of wood were allegedly removed from Singrampur area on trucks.

Mounting pressure from the local people and activists forced Jabera police to seize a few vehicles. Later these vehicles were released on a nominal fine. Forest cover has been fast depleting in Tendukheda, Sagoni and Madiado, but there is still hope of saving the forest if only the MP government begins to take note of situation seriously, says Hiremath.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

Madhya Pradesh encroachment case -- SC notice to policemen

NEW DELHI, AUG 27: The Supreme Court today issued notices to four police officials including an additional superintendent of police of Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh to show why they should not be proceeded against for contempt of court for obstructing an inquiry into alleged encroachment of forest land by State Forest Minister Ratnesh Solomon.

The notices, returnable by September 10, were issued by a three-judge bench comprising Justices B N Kirpal, V N Khare and M B Shah on an application by a local journalist alleging that the police, in connivance with forest officals, were attempting to manipulate investigation into the alleged encroachement of forest land by the Minister.

The application by Santosh Bharti was filed in a public interest litigation highlighting large-scale deforestation in Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, the court perused a report by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had been asked by the court to investigage into the alleged assualt on the journalist and others protestingagainst the destruction of Forest Department records on the night of August 15.

On August 2, the court asked Additional Inspector General of Police (Forests) N K Sharma to visit Damoh between August 23 and August 26 to investigate into the alleged encroachment of forest land by the Minister.

Before Sharma could reach Damoh and investigate into the encroachment of the forest land, some people entered the forest office and allegedly attempted to destroy the records.

The court today also directed the Damoh district forest officer A K Bhat to file an affidavit explaining how the office of the Forest Department was opened late at night on August 15, which was a National holiday, and records destroyed, and what action had been taken in this regard.

The State Government was also asked to file an affidavit on its stand on the issue and whether the Government was holding any inquiry into the incident.

The court said that proceedings in the case would not come in the way of the State Lok Ayukta to holding anyinquiry against the Minister for alleged encroachment of the forest land.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.