Monday, July 28, 2014

Orissa high court orders probe into Rs 5 crore paddy procurement fraud

Times of India, July 28, 2014
,TNN | Jul 28, 2014, 09.51 AM IST
BHAWANIPATNA: The Orissa high court (HC) has ordered the Kalahandi district administration to conduct an inquiry into alleged large-scale irregularities in paddy procurement.

In the kharif marketing season 2012-13, 69,589 quintal paddy was procured by primary agricultural cooperative society (PACS) of Temra Mandi in Koksara block, about 65 km from here, out of 34 lakh MT procured in the district.

Out of 537 farmers of Temra mandi, 118 fake names have been shown in the PACS register, alleged a PIL filed by Rajeev Gupta in high court. Of the 118 names, 18 are BPL card-holders.

While hearing the petition, a division bench comprising Justices Pradip Mohanty and Biswajit Mohanty served notices to managing director, Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited, Kalahandi collector, sub-collector, Dharamgarh, and civil supplies officer to reply within four weeks.

The petitioner alleged that a fraud to the tune of Rs 5 crore was committed by falsely mentioning the 118 farmers' names that they sold the paddy in the mandi, but they were not the actual beneficiaries.

He also informed the court that a few rice millers purchased paddy at Rs 700 a quintal from the farmers as against minimum support price of Rs 1,250 and re-sold them at the mandi by falsely showing the farmers' names as sellers.

Stating that the rice millers earned profit of Rs 550 a quintal, the petitioner said although the purpose of the mandis is to help farmers get their due price, the entire system has been manipulated through a nexus between millers and officials.

Collector (Kalahandi) Bijay Ketan Upadhyay said police are inquiring into whether bank accounts had been opened in the fake names and accordingly reply will be given to the court.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Odisha sitting on over 300 PL applications for bauxite mines

Business Standard, July 25, 2014
Applications are pending at the level of the district collector, directorate of mines and steel & mines department
The Odisha state government is yet to dispose off over 300 pending PL (prospecting license) applications for bauxite deposits in Kalahandi district and undivided Koraput region.
Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (now ), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (), Jindal Photo Ltd, Industries, RSB Metaltech Ltd and state owned Odisha Mining Corporation () are among the wait listed contenders to obtain PL over bauxite mines. The pendency rate of such applications ranges from two to 25 years, reveals a written reply given to the state assembly by steel & mines minster Prafulla Kumar Mallick.
The PL applications are pending at the level of the district collector, directorate of mines and steel & mines department.
Vedanta Group firm Sesa Sterlite that is struggling to keep operations of its one million tonne Lanjigarh refinery afloat with imported bauxite, has pending applications over bauxite deposits like Kachalekha, Porapal, Titijhola, Nalachua, Adarmajhi and Choronimaribhata to name a few. Among these applications, the mines directorate has recommended one mine- Lachhuani to the state government for rejection.
After a failed bid to mine bauxite atop the ecologically fragile, the company had urged the state government to allot alternative bauxite mines in its favour. The Union ministry of environment & forests () had said no to mine bauxite over Niyamgiri after the local Dongaria tribals unanimously trumped the project in a referendum last year.
While the mines directorate has recommended one bauxite lease- Sarambai in favour of Aditya Birla Group owned Hindalco Industries, it has referred two other mines to the government for rejection- Sasubohumlai and Chandgiri for rejection.
Two other mines- Kharkhijiguda and Aligaon where Hindalco is an applicant are pending at the mines directorate and collectorate level respectively.
RSB Metaltech that has proposed 0.70 million tonne per annum (mtpa) alumina refinery at Rayagada, has filed PL applications over a host of bauxite deposits like Jilanga, Seulipadar, Tijimali and Hadakarsi-Kandala-Karaniber.

Odisha to up power generation capacity, may get new UMPPs

Business Standard, July 24, 2014
Coal-rich Odisha is set to take a giant leap in raising its power generation capacity by proposing two more 4,000 MW ultra mega power projects...

Coal-rich Odisha is set to take a giant leap in raising its power generation capacity by proposing two more 4,000 MW ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) in the state. The state already has one UMPP at Tilaiya in the construction stage and another one at Bedabahal where final round of bidding is expected to be completed soon.
The state government has already identified land and coal mines for the proposed two new UMPPs and has sought Centre's approval for coal block allocation so that bidding for the projects could start soon. The state government will approve the two new sites over next couple of months and then bring the projects before the Centre for approval so that the projects could be awarded latest by first half of next fiscal.
“Two sites, Bijoypatna in Chandbali tehsil of Bhadrak district and another at Narlas-Kasinga sub division of Kalahandi district have been identified for setting up additional UMPPs in Odisha. Bankhui coal block has already been allocated for the first UMPP while Ghogarpalli and Dipside of Ghogarpalli coal blocks has been identified for the second project but coal ministry's approval is awaited,” said an official in Power Finance Corporation, the nodal agency for the development UMPP projects through special purpose vehicle (SPV). “Once all approvals are given, we would immediately put the projects under the bidding route,” the official added.
On its part PFC has already set up two shell companies Sakhigopal Integrated Power Co. and Ghogarpalli Integrated Power Co. so that projects could be put on fast track mode once approvals are through.
Odisha is expected to get about 5300 MW of power from different proposed UMPPs. This will also be the highest in any state from these large projects. After the UMPPs are commissioned the state is expected to have surplus power to the tune of 3000-4000 MW that would be used to meet energy needs of deficit states as well as sale in the open market.
The Modi government has identified UMPP programme for giving a push to rapid capacity expansion in the country. Apart from the two new UMPPs in Odisha, exploratory exercise is also going on to initiate such projects in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Efforts are on to complete the bidding for two UMPPs at Bedabahal in Odisha and Cheyyur in Tamil Nadu.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kalahandi Rivers in Spate

The New Indian Express, July 22, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA:  Torrential rain for the last three days has thrown normal life out of gear and led to flood in major rivers of Kalahandi district.
Till Monday morning, Thuamul Rampur block received highest rainfall of 405 mm followed by Kalampur with 255 mm, Jaipatna 221 mm, Koksara 129 mm, M Rampur 73 mm, Bhawanipatna 50 mm, Kesinga 64 mm, Karlamunda 63 mm and Narla 60 mm.
Due to heavy rain in its catchment areas, river Hati has been in spate. Water was flowing at a height of four feet on the bridge over the river on NH-26 near Junagarh. A group of 10 ‘Kawarias’, who had visited Shiva temple in Junagarh, could not return due to flooded bridge. After several hours of efforts, fire fighters rescued them.
Low lying areas and agricultural land in Matikhal, Jamguda, Biripur, Balichada villages of Kalampur block, Kutengaon, Palas, Bargaon, Talmala, Sahajkana and Mankadsola villages of Junagarh block have been inundated and road link to the villages has been cut off.
In the wake of rising water level of Hati and Tel, power generation from Indravati project has been stopped since Sunday night.
In Mangalpur barrage of Indravati irrigation system, one of the six gates has been opened and 30 cubic metre of water per second is being released to river Hati. Though water level of Indravati reservoir is steadily increasing, it is much below the danger mark. The dead level and top water level of the reservoir are 613 metres and 642 metres respectively. On Monday, the reservoir’s water level stood at 630.17 metre.
Road networks in rural pockets of Thuamul Rampur, Kalampur, Jaipatna, Dharamgarh and Junagarh have been disrupted at many places due to breaches.
Water level of river Tel is rising menacingly near Nandol, Turkel and Belkhandi. Although no flood alert has been issued yet, water level of Udanti, Ret and Rahul rivers has been rising due to incessant rain. Block level officials have been put on alert to meet exigency.

Monday, July 21, 2014

‘DECLARE KHORDHA-B’NGIR RAIL LINE NATIONAL PROJECT’

The Pioneer, July 21, 2014
Rly Min agrees to meet Odisha MPs to discuss issues
BJD MPs earlier this week met Railway Minister V Sadananda Gowda in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum to him seeking many new railway projects for Odisha and national status to the ongoing Khordha-Balangir line project.
The State Government has promised to provide free land, including private land for the Daspalla-Balangir railway stretch, and to share 50 per cent of expenditure for the project, the memorandum said.
The other demands included extension of dedicated freight corridor from Dankuni to Brahmapur, East-West and East-South rail corridor in Angul-Talcher belt’s Basundhara Area, Nayagarh-Bansapani rail corridor, construction of Bhadrachalam Road-Talcher rail link via Malkangiri-Jeypore and Lanjigarh, Sambalpur –Brahmapur link via Bhishmgiri, speed execution of the Talcher-Bimalgarh line, commencement of the Bargarh Nuapada via Padampur and elevation of Bhubaneswar and Puri stations to the world class level.
The MPs also demanded sanctions for the Talcher-Sambalpur-Jharsguda broad gauge link, Sambalpur-Titiligarh line and Koraput-Rayagada line. Besides, it also demanded that a wagon factory each at Ganjam, Kalahandi and at the Railway industry at Kantabanji.
Notably, the Centre, in its Railway Budget, has made a provision of `1,420 crore for various projects against Odisha’s demand of `3,160 crore.
“We, all BJD Members, met Railway Minister V Sadananda Gowda on July 15 and submitted a detailed list of Odisha’s demands, including national status to the Khordha-Balangir Railway line national status,” BJD MP Kalikesh Narayn Singh Deo told The Pioneer.
Singh Deo also informed that the Railway Minister announced in Parliament that he would convene a meeting with Odisha MPs soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

INCLUDE KBK TOWNS IN SMART CITY LIST, PM URGED

The Pioneer, July 18, 2014
The Government has proposed in its Budget speech to establish 100 smart cities across the nation, which is a very welcome step. However, the 100 smart cities scheme seems political eyewash.
It would actually serve no purpose in reducing large-scale rural migration to the existing cities, said Prof Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The non-resident Odia professor said that unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable.
The influx of heavy population is absorbed mainly by a few mega cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.
Nevertheless, when one looks at the list of 100 smart cities, the list indeed includes Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmadabad, etc. many of which are existing metro or tier II cities.
These are all large cities and if they are modernised they would not stop the rural-urban migration in India. Rather the Government should have taken the small cities in the list of the smart cities, he opined.
“Though your Government claims to reduce large scale migration to major cities from rural area, none of the 100 proposed cities exist in any of the rural area. In fact all of them are State capitals or existing commercial cities like Pune, Indore, Nagpur, Kochi, Cuttack, Rourkela etc,” he said.
The Government admits large scale migration from eastern and northern India as a major problem but at the same time, it forgets those eastern regions that suffer from rural migration.
KBK region in Odisha is well known nationally for large-scale labour and rural migration to various cities in India. Unfortunately, not a single town in KBK region has been included among the proposed 100 smart cities, he lamented.

Renal failure claims 2 more in Kalahandi

Dharitri, July 18, 2014
Orissa Post, July 18, 2014


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NHRC SEEKS REPORTS ON K’HANDI BONDED LABOURER’S DEATH

The Pioneer, July 16, 2014
The National Human Rights Commission has sought reports from the Kalahandi Collector and Superintendent of Police and Karimnagar Collector of Andhra Pradesh over the death of a bonded labourer of Kalahandi district in Karimnagar in AP.
According to the newspaper report, one Kalia Bhoi (50) of Udepur in Golamunda block in Kalahandi district along with 35 persons of Udepur and Kanakpur villages of Khaliapali panchyat under Golamunda block had gone Karimnagar to work in brick kilns.Three dalals Mukunda Bhoi, Mantu Mangaraj and Lochan Bhoi and Dinabandhu Sunanai of Nuapada district were involved in transporting these bonded labourers to Karimpur in December last year.
But on June 1 this year, Kalia died in Karimnagar due to the merciless torture of the brick kiln owner while only four labourers managed to flee from Karimnagar.The commission has asked for a detailed report from the Karimnagar Collector, besides asking the Kalahandi Collector to collect detail about the deceased and to submit report within two weeks.
The commission also asked the Karimnagar Collector to prepare a report on status of bonded labourers.

NO TO 100 MBBS SEATS IN K’HANDI MEDICAL COLLEGE

The Pioneer, July 16, 2014
The Central Government has denied renewal of 100 seats in the Sardar Raja Medical College in Kalahandi along with 3,820 MBBS seats across the country for the academic session 2014-15.
The decision followed the recommendation of Medical Council of India (MCI), which recommended against renewal of permission for admission in 3,820 MBBS seats across 45 medical colleges in the country for 2014-15, said a Central Government Press release on Tuesday.

Letter to CM: House committee making politics on the location of second agriculture university

Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
It is ridiculous that a committee of the assembly headed by BJD legislator Pramila Mallick has suggested establishment of a second agriculture university preferably at Semiliguda in Koraput district [1].

Development of Koraput region is very important and the region needs to be considered sympathetically while establishing new institutions, at the same time it should not be in expense of another equally backward and deserving region like Kalahandi.

BJD party’s indulgent in dividing people of KBK and Western Odisha to milk out the situation is regrettable. People of this region have not yet forgotten the earlier decision to shift proposed Central University of Orissa from Kalahandi to Koraput.

In your letter to the Prime Minister [2] yourself had argued that Odisha has only one university for agriculture and the workload of this university has gone up substantially in recent years and the state needs one more university. We were glad that you had taken positive interest in this aspect.

In fact, the very much same state government had asked Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) to submit a feasibility report to upgrade the Agriculture College at Kalahandi to the second agriculture university in the state as per the suggestion of former union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar [3] where former union agriculture minister had pointed thatdespite being a backward area, Kalahandi has emerged as one of the top producers of rice, cotton and pulses in the state and required advanced technology to meet the growing demand in the coming years.

Odisha agriculture minister had also recently announced that second Agriculture University of the state would come up at Bhawanipatna [4].

What it the present justification of the committee to establish at Koraput instead of Kalahandi, which already has an Agriculture College and has greater potential in agriculture development?

Apart from Kalahandi being one of the largest producers of agricultural products and growing fast in agriculture activities, Kalahandi is located centrally to all the KBK districts and also equally suits the interest of Kandhamal, Boudh, Gajapati and backward Padampur sub-division of Bargarh district. If the second Agriculture University of the state is to serve the KBK region as a whole, I do not think location wise any other place is as best suited as Kalahandi.

This recommendation of the committee is only to create confusion and make the water muddy. The dividing and rule policy adopted by BJD is threatening integrity of people of KBK in particular and Western Odisha in general. Because of such divisive policy neither KBK head quarter nor WODC office is able come up in this region.

Currently, the state Govt. has also been establishing multiple numbers of Govt. medical colleges, but struggle of Sardar Raja Medical College at Jaring is well known. MCI has been continuously critical about this institution. Although Sardar Raja Medical College started taking students last year, the MCI has not approved this college to take student in the current academic year [5]. The success of this college in private hand has often raised questions and local people’s appeal to take out this college from private hand towards a full fledges Government medical college is falling on deaf ears.

Every time Kalahandi has given a clean sweep victory to your leadership in the election, your party had betrayed Kalahandi. Last time it happened during establishment of Central University of Orissa, and this time again it is being repeated for the Second Agriculture University in the state.

If the state Government and your leadership genuinely want to see Kalahandi as the number ONE district as claimed in multiple occasions during your speech in Kalahandi, then the proposed Indian Institute of Management in Odisha could be located in Kalahandi.

Your personal interference is required to stop this practice of dividing people of KBK region for the larger interest of the state.

Thank you and best regards
Digambara Patra

 Reference

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Letter to PM: Government’s identified smart cities do not serve the purpose

Dear Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Modi,
The Govt. has proposed in its budget speech to establish 100 smart cities across the nation, which is a very welcome step, however, the proposed 100 smart cities presented by finance minister seems like a political eyewash rather than actually serving the purpose of reducing large-scale rural migration to existing cities.

The budget of your Govt. describes that “The Prime Minister’s vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities…unless new cities are developed to accommodate the burgeoning number of people, the existing cities would soon become unlivable.”

Further, the Govt. very well realizes that increasing population burden on existing cities has been a major challenge and criticizes previous Government’s lack of proper vision on how to provide a better quality of life to the urban population. It adds migration of large number of job seekers from rural India, especially from northern and eastern States, highlights the gravity of situation. The influx of heavy population is absorbed mainly by a few mega cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.

Nevertheless, when one looks at the list of 100 smart cities, the list indeed includes Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmadabad, etc. many of which are existing metro or trier II cities.

It is confusing when the prime minister claim to modernize mid-size cities but in actual the Govt. has selected large size cities, some of which are among the largest cities in the world and are the actual reasons of existing problems.

Though your Govt’s budget claims to reduce large-scale migration to major cities from rural area, none of the 100 proposed cities exist in any of the rural area. In fact all of them are in state capitals or existing commercial cities like Pune, Indore, Nagpur, Kochi, Cuttack, Rourkela etc.

The Government admits large-scale migration from eastern and northern India, at the same time the Govt. forgets those eastern regions that suffer from rural migration. KBK region in Odisha is well known nationally for large-scale labor and rural migration to various cities in India. Often KBK region has been in news, unfortunately, not a single town in KBK region has been included among the proposed 100 smart cities when the state capital, Bhubaneswar, is located above 400 km from many parts of KBK region. Bhawanipatna is located centrally among the KBK districts; at least one town from KBK region could be included in the list.

On the other hand twin cities like Ahmedabad –Gandhi nagar, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, etc. is included separately for the proposed smart cities. Such twin cities could be very well developed together as a large single conglomerate with metro facilities rather than separate entities.

Unless the Govt. takes a corrective step, the present identification of the proposed smart cities is clear eyewash to improve infrastructure of existing metro, state capitals, and trier II and III cities for the benefit of real estate mafia in those cities across the nation. Such proposal may help in few extent to improve infrastructure of the existing cities, however, it will at the same time increase further large-scale migration to the same cities without meeting the actual objectives of the proposed smart cities.

Anticipating your appropriate correction in this matter

Thank you and best regards


Digambara Patra

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Strange action by Junagarh police

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 13, 2014

Villagers met SP alleging police not taking appropriate step

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 12, 2014

NREGA scam in Kalahandi: Wages paid for planting of trees that do not exist

DNA, July 11, 2014
The NDA government has leased a new life into the flagship programme of the last UPA government, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) which provides 100 days of work to rural workers who wish to claim it. It is difficult to oppose the Act in principle. In a country where right to life is an inviolable fundamental right for the people, many would argue that right to food and work would also be inviolable. 
But there has been much protests against the Act as well. While some including Rajastha chief minister Vasundhara Raje want it to be made into a scheme and not a law, there are few who complain the wages have been spiraling due to the Act. However, the biggest issue in the implementation of the Act has been the corruption charges, the latest added to that list being Kalahandi district in Orissa. 
Zee News reported that recently the funds to plant trees under the NREGA scheme in Kalahandi were siphoned by few officials as the the trees were never planted. Though on papers, money has been paid to workers under the scheme for planting trees, in reality, physically no trees exist.
This is also not the first instance of such scam in Orissa. In 2007, a group of researchers led by well known economists Jean Dreze and Ritika Khera found muster rolls that had fake finger prints of fake labourers. The survey was being carried out in the districts of Kalahandi, Bolangir and Boudh. The panchayat executive officer was suspended and enquiry ordered. The Supreme Court while hearing a civil writ petition had even asked why it should not call for SBI probe in a scam that was pegged at Rs 500 crore.
A second survey in 2011 showed that in Orissa and UP, 67 percent of the poorest Dalit and tribal households did not get even a day's work in the past one year. SImilarly, more than a third of them did not even have access to the public distribution system.    
The latest Economic Survey by the finance ministry also called for an overhaul of the system. It says, "Though the act is panchayat-centric and demand based, on the ground there is lack of principal role in planning, execution and monitoring by the panchayati raj institutions (PRI's) especially the gram sabha". Also the wages are in some places lower than market wages, which means mainly women come to take up jobs.
The corruption in implementing a social sector scheme is its biggest evil. On the one hand, if people who need it the most are not getting access to the government schemes, the argument of the rise in rural wages because of the scheme can be challenged. On the other hand, any modification of the scheme to make it more targeted and remove pilferage will be difficult. Those who need to implement the change are the ones who benefit the most from the current system.
NREGA is not just a subsidy scheme from the government unlike say, the mid-day meal scheme, because the state does not assume just a patronising role here. People are actually working to earn their wages. The government must work towards making the scheme efficient because both the state and the rural poor need it. The state sets a minimum wage and gets workers to work towards asset creating, while the poor have access to jobs with humane wages during the lean season or otherwise.
The new government has followed the UPA path in terms of allocation of funds. But it must take a completely different route to make this work.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

RAIL MINISTER URGED TO SET UP VARSITY IN ODISHA-C’GARH BORDER

The Pioneer, July 12, 2014
Non-resident Odia (NRO) Prof Digamabara Patra, a resident of Kalahandi district, who is currently teaching Chemistry in the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, has sought establishment of a Railway University in Odisha-Chhattisgarh border. Besides, he has demanded adequate allocation for some of the oldest railway projects in Odisha which have either not started or are moving at a snail’s pace due to apathy by the Indian Railways.
Writing a letter to Union Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda, Patra said in 1962-63, late MP Pratap Keshari Deo had pointed out in the Parliament that Parkers had done a railway line survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line, because Koraput-Kothavalasa and Koraput-Rayagada are special category railway routes having many tunnels and high-level bridges.
The speed is limited (often less than 50 kmph) and number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these two routes. The idea is Amabguda-Lanjigarh road railway line will make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier.
Realizing this, in 1991, Laniigarh road-Junagarh line was approved to connect with KK line at Ambaguda via Nabarangpur.
The 56 km Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line of this route took 25 years to get completed. However, surveyed Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route has not yet been approved which will bring railway connection to tribal dominated Nabarangur district. KK line is one of the most profit-making routes of the Indian Railways. Immediate action is needed for approval and completion of rest of Junagarh-Ambaguda line without any delay.
He lamented that no allotment of fund was made for the Wagon Maintenance Workshop at Kalahandi and Skill Development Center at Koraput in the profit making ECOR zone. He opined that a bottom-to-top approach needs to be adhered to by the Railways so as to give adequate exposure to the backward regions.

RAIL BUDGET ENCOURAGES FAVOURITISM, WIDENS GAP

The Pioneer, July 11, 2014
NRO writes to Modi not to repeat UPA policy
Non-resident Odia (NRO) Prof Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut has strongly condemned the favouritism shown to south and west India for political gain and the negligence shown to mineral bearing States like Odisha, Chhattisgarh and MP in the current Railway Budget.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patra said his NDA Government should not repeat the same blunders of the Congress of the last 65 years of showing special favour to certain regions at the cost of the rest for political concerns.
He said that the people of the country had a lot of expectations from the Modi Government on even allocation of funds for growth including in the railway sector, but things on the ground has remainedsomewhat worrying. Prof Patra also equalled Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda with that of his predecessors and said he was befooling the people.
“If one carefully analyses the number of projects in this Budget, somehow the Railways Ministry had tried to woo Karnataka in various projects: new trains (7 trains to Bengaluru alone against none to KBK-Odisha), new survey, newlines, tourism cluster, etc. and served the interest of Gujarat and UP largely for the Prime Minister’s political interest. Earlier former Railways Ministers had been also doing the same: taking political interest of their own,” said Patra.
Lamenting that the mineral bearing regions and tribal and backward pockets of the country have always been neglected in the railway sector because the top leaders always concentrated on the growth of their region for political reasons, Patra called for a need to promote the underdeveloped areas on a priority basis.
He said that locations in Odisha and Chhatisgarh, that supply coal, iron, steel and aluminum for railway infrastructure and manufacturing unit, are never considered for railway coach factory.
Narla road (comes under profit making ECoR zone) in KBK districts is located at the junction of three public sector steel plants in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). It is also close to MCL coal blocks in Angul and Jharsuguda (Odisha). Nalco, Balco, HAL and Vedanta Alumina are all located very close to it.  Such a location was never considered.
At the same time Chhapra (comes under loss making North Eastern zone) and Kolkata (comes of loss making Eastern zone) were the locations selected by the Railways for factories, he said.
MP, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have railway track less than national average per every 1,000 sq km. But tribal and backward pockets of these States are continuously ignored to suit political interest.
The current Railway Budget encourages favouritism and widens the gap between backward clusters like KBK and rich cities like Bangaluru, Delhi, Ahemadabad and Mumbai, added Patra.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Letter to Railway Minister: Establish Railway University in Odisha-Chhattisgarh border

Dear honorable railway minister Mr. Gowda,
1) In 1962-63 late MP Sri Pratap Keshari Deo had pointed out in the parliament that Mr. Parkers had done a railway line survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line, because Koraput-Kothavalasa and Koraput-Rayagada are e-special category railway routes having many tunnels and high-level bridges, the speed is limited (often less than 50 kmph) and number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these two routes. The idea is Amabguda-Lanjigarh road railway line will make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier.  Realizing this in 1991, Laniigarh road-Junagarh line was approved to connect with KK line at Ambaguda via Nabarangpur. 56 km of Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line of this route took 25 years to get completed, however, surveyed Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route has not yet been approved which will bring railway connection to tribal dominated Nabarangur district. KK line is one of the most profit-making routes of Indian railway. Immediate action is needed for approval and completion of rest of Junagarh-Ambaguda line without any delay. 
2) Railway often argues about return of investment when demand to establish new rail lines come in these backward pockets like Khordha road-Balangir, Kantabanji-Jeypore, Raipur-Debhog-Odisha (Junagarh) etc. but the same railway invest more on north eastern frontier and metro railway for social development when both metro railways and north eastern frontier railways are among the worst performing railway zones in India. MP, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have railway track less than national average per every 1000 sqkm. Railway sanctioned new lines in these states only for its commercial interest like port and mineral connectivity but social connectivity in tribal and backward pockets of these states are continuously ignored. Railway lines in the backward pockets of these states should be given national project in the line of north eastern states.
3) Surprisingly, no allotment of fund was made for Wagon Maintenance Workshop at Kalahandi and Skill Development Center at Koraput in the profit making ECOR zone. At the same time Chhapra (comes under loss making North Eastern zone) and Kolkata (comes under also loss making Eastern zone) were the locations selected by railway for factories. Whether be it Raebareli (constituency of Sonia Gandhi), Chhapra (constituency of Lalu Yadav), West Bengal (home state of Mamata Banerjee), etc. powerful political leaders have often established railway factories based on their political agenda rather than actual source of raw materials like coal, iron, alumina, etc needed for such railway factories.  
4) Locations in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, etc. that supply coal, iron, steel and aluminum for railway infrastructure and manufacturing unit are never considered for railway coach factory. For example, Narla road (comes under profit making ECOR zone) in KBK districts is located at the junction of three public sector steel plants in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). It is also close to MCL coal blocks in Angul and Jharsuguda (Odisha). NALCO, BALCO, HAL and Vedanta Alumina are all located very close to it. Such location was never considered for factory. I ruge railway university could be established in such a location.
60,000 crore investment in bullet train is appreciable, but similar amount should also be allocated to these zones that bring profit to Indian railway. Otherwise present railway budget widens the gap between backward clusters like KBK and rich cities like Bangaluru/Delhi/ Ahemadabad/ Mumbai.

Honorable prime minister has promised to the nation to approach from bottom to top rather than continuing practice the same top-to-bottom approach and I sincerely hope railway will also adhere to bottom-to-top approach by not repeating the experience of past 65 years to give justice to backward pockets of Odisha, Chattisgarh and MP.

With best regards

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Comment on R. Jagnatthan's "Rail Budget 2014-15: A holding operation, for dreams cost money"

Jagannathanji, you actually missed the important point, Sadananda Gowda is actually fooling like any other former railway minister. Bullet train, diamond quadrilateral of high-speed rail network etc are not new in the horizon, these have been quite sometime in railway's discussion at least. Importantly, you missed to recognize the actual profit maker of Indian railway, when I look into 4 most profitable zone of railway, none of them comes under any one of the metro cities and four most profit making zones of Indian railway comes largely in the states of Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Madya Pradesh (MP) that have less than national average rail network.
Most of the proposals in railway budget are an extension of earlier plans. In principle, Sadananda Gowda is an extension of same group of people to create favoritism for their respective cities/states using railway ministry. If one carefully analyzes number of projects in this budget, somehow the railway minister had tried his best to woo Karnataka in various projects: new trains, new survey, newlines, tourism cluster, etc. and not ignored interest of Gujarat and UP largely that is of prime minister’s political interest. Earlier former railway ministers had been also doing the same: taking political interest of their constituency/state, and that of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and few extend of Manmohan Singh (a factory in Punjab). We expected Modi Govt. to be above this line and create an environment based on profitability and people whose sacrifice make the rail ministry run and not collapse over years. Over the decades, who are actually making one of the largest railway to run successfully are actually at the receiving end. We take minerals from tribal
and backward pockets of the country that not only make budget of the nation
richer with their minerals and ancillary metal industries but also
transportation of these minerals make Indian railway profitable. In return, we
neither create railway line in those regions for the benefit of local people
and tribal, nor establish railway factory/Railway University for local
development. Our leaders only think to fill their constituencies and states
forgetting sacrifice of those people, whether be it RaeBareli (constituency of
Sonia Gandhi), Chhapra (constituency of Lalu Yadav), West Bengal (home state of
Mamata Banerjee), etc. powerful political leaders have established railway factories
based on their political agenda rather than actual source of raw materials like
coal, iron, alumina, etc needed for such railway factories. Locations in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, etc. that supply coal, iron, steel and aluminum for railway infrastructure and manufacturing unit are never considered for railway coach factory. For example, Narla road (comes under profit making ECOR zone) in KBK districts is located at the junction of three public sector steel plants in Bhilai (Chhatisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). It is also close to MCL coal blocks in Angul and Jharsuguda (Odisha). NALCO, BALCO, HAL and Vedanta Alumina are all located very close to this site. Such location was never considered. At the same time Chhapra (comes under loss making North Eastern zone) and Kolkata (comes of loss making Eastern zone) were the locations selected by railway for factories. Interestingly, railway argues about profitability making when demand to establish new rail lines come in these backward pockets, but the same railway invest more to north eastern frontier and metro railway for social development, both (metro railways and north eastern frontier) railways are among the worst performing railway zones in India. Unfortunately, MP, Chhatisgarh and Odisha have railway track less than national average per every 1000 sqkm. But tribal and backward pockets of these states are continuously ignored to suit political interest. When these people oppose for mining, then only we complain about naxalism? Of course, we were hopeless about UPA, at the same time is it what we expect from Modi Govt.?

Poor quality of road work: MLA Capt. Mishra pulls up to engineer

Orissapost, July 8, 2014
Dharitri, July 8, 2014


Sub-minor Indravati Canal in Gambhariguda Broke Out

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, July 8, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Odisha Asks Six STPIs

Tathya.in, July 7, 2014
The State Government today demanded setting up of six more software technology parks of India (STPIs) in Odisha in addition to the existing four.

The demand was made by the Information Technology (IT) Minister Pranab Prakash Das during a meeting with Union Minister for Information Technology (IT) Ravishankar Prasad here today.
The new STPIs have been proposed at Jajpur, Sambalpur, Jeypore, Angul, Rayagada and Kalahandi. The four existing STPIs are at Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Berhampur and Balasore.
Mr.Das urged Prasad to expedite the final clearance for two projects: the Rs 3, 700 crore IT investment region spread over 10, 210 acres in Bhubaneswar and the Greenfield electronic manufacturing cluster spread over an area of 215 acres.
The Minister also urged the Union IT Minister to grant approval to the Taiwan electronic township in Info Valley, Bhubaneswar.
State IT Secretary Sanjib Mishra and senior officials of the Union IT department were present during the meeting.
During the visit, Mr.Das today also urged Union Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal to expedite grant of mining lease for Manoharpur coal block allocated to Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) for its expansion of 1,320 mw power project at its Banharpalli plant near Jharsuguda.
During his meeting with the Union Minister in New Delhi, Mr.Das urged the latter to allow interim coal linkage from the Basundhara coal mines to run the plant. He also urged the Minister to pursue the stage-II clearance for Manoharpur coal block.
While the State Government has recommended mining lease of the coal block to the Coal Ministry, it is awaiting approval from the MoEF for stage II clearance. The coal block had obtained Stage-I forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).
OPGC’s 1,320 MW expansion plan is being taken up at a cost of Rs 11,547 crore, which also includes the cost of other components like coal block development and dedicated rail corridor.
Expressing that the State Government has come up with a mega plan to generate around 50,000 MW of power considering the huge reserve of coal in the state, Mr.Das reiterated the Government’s demand for 25% free power from coal-based power plants, 33 pc free power from power plants based on coal washery rejects in the state and 25 pc cess on the power sold outside the state.
The Minister also demanded reconsideration of the decision to disallow the benefits of Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Program (RAPDRP) to the consumers of the three private distribution companies (DISCOMs) of the State.

Due to the non-extension of R-APDRP in the State, which was pioneer in the power sector reforms in the country, Odisha is losing around Rs 1,500 crore per annum, Mr.Das pointed out.