Bolangir: Deomali hill on the Chandragiri-Pottangi sub-range of Eastern Ghats and located near Koraput town is the highest peak in Odisha. This was stated by the Govind Ballabh Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment (NIHE) at Almora in Uttarakhand, while replying to an RTI query. This information surprisingly contradicts Tourism Minister Aswini Kumar Patra’s statement in the Odisha Assembly in the recently-concluded Monsoon Session. He had claimed that Deomali hill is not on the records of the state’s Revenue, Forest and Tourism departments.
However, after an application was filed by activist Hemant Panda here, under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the truth emerged. Panda decided to file the RTI plea after Patra’s statement in the Assembly.
Odisha Assembly Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukha expressed concerns over Patra’s information. He directed Patra to hold a coordination meeting of the three departments and take steps to rectify the error. To clear the confusion, Panda sought details on the highest mountain peak in Odisha as well as in India. He sought a reply from the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change departments. In its reply, the NIHE said that Deomali on the Eastern Ghats is the highest peak in Odisha while Arma Konda is the highest peak in neighbouring Andhra Paradesh.
According to details available, Mount Kanchenjunga, a part of the Himalayan range, is the highest mountain peak in India with a height of 8,598 metres while the smallest is Sibalik hill in South Champaran district of Bihar which stands 880 metres tall. The height of the Deomali hill in Odisha is 1,672 metres and it is in 16th position among the hills in the country. Panda said that the minister should have got the facts right while making such comments in the State Assembly.
He said that the Odisha government should collect all details and records and keep it ready in case of border disputes with neighbouring states. Panda alleged that Patra’s statement about Deomali not being on the records of the government has harmed Odisha’s prestige with regards to the border disputes with Andhra Pradesh. He pointed out that on the basis of details from NIHE, the Odisha government should not have any problems in including Deomali hill in records of the Forest department.