Thursday, May 21, 2015

BJP Leaders Flay Naveen

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 21, 2015
SAMBALPUR: Nuapada BJP MLA Basanta Panda on Wednesday termed the BJD-led State Government as ‘Dhritarashtra Government’ and said the State is bound to be doomed under Naveen Patnaik’s leadership.
Speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday, he said the number of cases related to atrocities on girls in TRW areas has crossed the 200 figure and the State Government refuses to act.
“The BJD Government is a curse for the people of Western Odisha and the latest UNDP report claims that situation in Koraput and Kalahandi is no better than Ethiopia,” said the BJP leader, adding that the law and order situation was at its lowest.
Speaking on the occasion, the party’s National Executive member Suresh Pujari said the last one year has been the worst in the 15-year rule of the BJD. “It is unfortunate that the BJP had partnered with the BJD for nine long years,” he said.
The leaders informed that the BJP members will reach out to people at the grassroots and apprise them about failure of the State Government.
They said though the State Government had claimed to provide one lakh jobs every year, only 750 persons have got jobs till now and that too in unorganised sector despite the fact that the Government spent `135 crore on ‘Nijukti Mela’.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Centre may okay funds for some Odisha dists

Times of India, May 17, 2015
,TNN | May 17, 2015, 03.53 PM IST
BHUBANESWAR: The NDA government is likely to consider state's demand for continuation of the Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi (KBK) scheme and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) implemented in 18 Maoist-hit districts.

The Centre has not allocated funds for both the schemes in the 2015-16 annual budget.

The state government raised the issue at the regional meeting of NITI Aayog organized in Kolkata on May 12.

"The NITI Aayog has agreed to take up the issue in its governing council meeting," said an officer of planning and coordination department.

The KBK, comprising Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Sonepur, Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts, is one of the poorest and most backward regions of the country.

On August 18, 1995, former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao launched a long-term action plan for KBK to alleviate hunger and usher in development.

Under IAP, each district was allocated Rs 30 crore a year for development work, which was approved and monitored by the Planning Commission. In 2010, the Union ministry of rural development started implementing the scheme in 60 districts. It later expanded to 88.

The state government demanded Rs 250 crore under special plan for KBK and Rs 540 crore for IAP, official sources said.

The state has also demanded that the Centre bears the monthly salary of gana sikshyaks under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), anganwadi workers under Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and ASHA workers under National Health Mission (NHM) because the central government has substantially reduced funding under several schemes following the 14th finance commission recommendations.

Odisha has also moved the Centre to continue funding for NHM, National Urban Livelihood Mission, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Drinking Water Programme and rural housing scheme in the existing sharing pattern after the Centre announced to give only 50% of the money.

On May 8, chief minister Naveen Patnaik during his meeting with Union health and family welfare minister J P Nadda urged him to continue NHM in its current sharing pattern.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Odisha govt set to spend Rs 795 crore for development of tribal communities

DNA, May 15, 2015
With an aim to improve the living conditions of the tribal communities in the Odisha, the state government launched Odisha PTG Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Program (OPELIP) on Thursday.

Under this program, the state government will spend Rs 795 crore for the development of 13 different PTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) – Birhor, Mankirdia, Hill-Kharia, Bondo, Didayi, Juang, Dongaria Kandha, Kutia Kandha, Lanjia Saora and Paudi Bhuiyan – living in 1,019 villages and hamlets in the state and 84 Gram Panchayats (GPs).

Overall, the program will cover approximately 62,356 households, including 13 PGTs and 62 ST and SC households.  Initially, the project will be implemented in 12 districts: Malkanagiri, Rayagada, Angul, Deogarh, Ganjam, Nuapada, Keojhar, Sundergarh, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Mayurbhanj.

The overall goal of OPELIP is to achieve enhanced living conditions and reduce poverty of the target group households. The government aims to achieve this by realising the development objective of enabling improved livelihoods and food and nutrition security primarily for 32,090 PTG households, 14,000 other tribal households and 16,356 other poor and Schedules Caste (SC) households.

Besides, the program will also focus on building the capacity of the target households, securing them their entitlements over land and forest, improving their agricultural practices for enhanced production, promoting income-generating micro-enterprises for alternate livelihoods and ensuring access to education, health and other services and improving community infrastructure.

Kharif Focus on Cash Crops

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 15, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:Kalahandi district administration has decided to cultivate kharif crop in 3,83,721 hectares (ha) of land this year. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Collector Brunda D on Thursday.
This time, the focus would be on crop diversification from paddy to cash crops, particularly cotton. The area for paddy crop has been brought down to encourage the farmers to go for cash crops.
Deputy Director of Agriculture Laxan Kumar Palatasingh said expecting a normal monsoon, the administration has planned to cover 1,85,005 ha under paddy against 1,90,000 ha last year, 87,258 ha under pulses against 83,341 ha, 50,000 ha under cotton against 44,677 ha. It has also been decided to cover 16,000 ha under oil seeds and provide irrigation to 1,59,423 ha which is 42.35 per cent of the total cultivable area. Out of this, 80,106 ha would be covered under Indravati irrigation project.
Kalahandi is the leading district in the State in seed replacement ratio. The administration has planned to increase it from 64.1 per cent last year to 65 per cent in 2015 kharif season. It has been targeted to supply 72,695 quintals of paddy seeds against 67,062 quintals last year.
Last year, Kalahandi was awarded first prize by the State Government in the field of production enhancement of rice and pulses under National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
The administration has also planned to increase processing and value addition of agriculture products through farmers’ groups, capacity building and ensuring market linkage to farmers, the Deputy Director said.
Asking the officials of agriculture and line departments to work towards achieving the targets, the Collector asked them to ensure that the benefits of various plans and programmes reach the farmers. Stating that there should be timely release of water to canals by different irrigation projects, the Collector said the improvement in farming technology should be taken to the grassroots to improve the socio-economic condition of the farmers.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

B.Ed, M.Ed courses in 29 colleges, 6 varsities of Odisha from next year

Odisha Sun Times, May 13, 2015

Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, May 13:
Starting with the education year 2016-17, 29 government colleges and six universities in Odisha will offer Bachelor of Education (B. Ed)) and Master of Education (M. Ed) courses.
BJB College in Bhubaneswar is one of the 29 colleges where B Ed course will be on offer
BJB College in Bhubaneswar is one of the 29 colleges where B Ed course will be on offer
The move is aimed to address the huge shortage of trained teachers in the state. While about 17,000 untrained teachers continue to teach in schools across the state, lack of enough seats in B.Ed and M.Ed courses meant that they were not able to get trained by the government.
The School and Mass Education Department and the Higher Education Department of the state have started the preparatory work to implement the decision.
All of these colleges and universities would apply to the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) for necessary approval by the end of this month. The decision was taken at a meeting attended by the principals and vice chancellors of these colleges and universities yesterday.
The students would be able to study in these places in self-financing mode.
The 29 colleges that will offer B.Ed courses are Sailabala Women’s College of Cuttack, BJB College of Bhubaneswar, Rajdhani college of Bhubaneswar, SCS College of Puri, Khallikote College of Brahmapur, Government College in Koraput, Government College in Bhawanipatna, Rajendra College in Bolangir, Panchayat College in Bargarh, Government College in Sundargarh, DD College of Keonjhar, MPC College of Baripada, FM College of Balasore, Dhenkanal College, Government College of Phulbani, Bhadrak College, Government Women’s College in Bolangir, KKS Women’s College in Balasore, Women’s College in Dhenkanal, NG Women’s College in Aska, Government Women’s College in Bhawanipatna, Government Women’s College in Keonjhar, Government Women’s College in Jaipur, Government Women’s College in Baripada, GM College of Sambalpur, Government Women’s College of Sambalpur, Government Women’s College of Sundargarh, Rourkela Government College and SG Women’s College of Rourkela.
All of these colleges are already offering graduation courses.
The six universities that would offer M.Ed courses are Utkal University, Sambalpur University, Brahmapur University, North Odisha University, FM University and Srijagannath Sanskrit University.
Starting next year, a four-year integrated course will also be offered in the above mentioned 29 colleges. Students would be able to enter these courses after +2. These students would be trained on Bsc B.Ed and BA B.Ed on these colleges based on their preference and performance.
Apart from this, a three-year M.Ed course would also be introduced in the universities and colleges. The students enrolling in this course after their graduation would be eligible to apply for jobs where both B.Ed and M.Ed certification is mandatory.
It may be noted that the state government will also introduce two-year B.Ed and M.Ed courses in all 15 existing teacher’s training colleges instead of the current one year ones from this educational year. This decision has been taken to enhance the quality and depth of the education. These 15 colleges have 1728 B.Ed and 120 M.Ed seats.

111 model schools to be set up this academic year

Bhubaneswar: The School and Mass Education department on Wednesday issued a notification regarding establishment of 111 model schools in educationally backward districts of the State during 2015-16 academic year. English will be the medium of education in these model schools and Odia will be taught as second language.
Education will be imparted in these schools from Class-6 to Class-12. These schools will be manged by missions/societies formed by the State government. At the district level, a managing committee headed by the district collector will be formed to manage these model schools.
In the first phase, 3 model schools in Bargarh district, 9 in Balangir, 2 in Debagarh, 7 in Gajapati, 17 in Ganjam, 13 in Kalahandi, 11 in Kandhamal, 9 in Keonjhar, one in Jajpur, 14 in Koraput, 5 in Malkangiri, 10 in Mayurbhanj, 5 in Nuapada and 4 model schools in Sonepur district will be set up in the current academic year.

Mega Project to End Water Woes of Nuapada Soon

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 14, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government will set up a mega drinking water project to address the perennial drinking water problem of Nuapada district,
The Rural Development department has floated tenders for the proposed project which is estimated to cost `752 crore. The Finance department has given its concurrence. The project will be financed by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
This will be the second mega project in the country after Tamil Nadu. The project will be implemented on turnkey basis through EPC (engineering, procurement & construction) contract. The EPC contractor will run and maintain the project for five years after completion, Principal Secretary of Rural Development department Pradipta Mohapatra said.
Water for the mega drinking water project will be drawn from four sources, including Patora dam. About 905 villages of Nuapada district and Golamunda block of Kalahandi district will be benefited from the project, he said.
A water treatment plant will be set up to purify the water sourced from four dams and one overhead tank will be constructed in every three-four panchayats for supply of water though pipe to each household.
A budgetary provision of `150 crore has been made for the first year and the project is targeted for completion within 36 months, he said. As ground water in large parts of Nuapada district is affected with high fluoride content, the department has made interim arrangements for providing safe drinking water to the affected villages till the completion of the project.
While the permissible limit of fluoride in water is 0.5 to 1 mg per litre, as per a survey done by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS), the groundwater in Boden has 1.5-3 mg fluoride content per litre.
Of the total affected villages, 305 villages are being supplied with water through pipes while the remaining 600 meet their requirement from tube wells. As many as 5,023 villages in the State are facing quality water problem and the department has decided to cover these villages under pipe water supply on a priority basis.

Monday, May 11, 2015

College Reputation at Stake for Government Apathy

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 11, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:Degree education has gone for a toss in Bhawanipatna Autonomous College which once held the reputation of being one of the best educational institutions in the district. Reason: There are not enough faculty members in the five-decade-old college that offers Plus Two, Plus Three and PG courses in History, Geography, Economics, English, Odia and Political Science besides MPhil in History and Odia. There is also a provision for PGDCA and professional courses under PPP mode.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced it College of Excellence for its multifarious activities and research works despite dearth of teaching personnel. However, the standard of education is going down each year as the vacant faculty positions are not filled up.
Against the sanctioned strength of 59 in Plus Three and PG courses, the present teacher strength is only 24 with 35 posts lying vacant. Of the 24 teachers in position, 11 have been appointed on an ad hoc basis. Worse, there are no faculty members in Mathematics Department with all the three teacher positions lying vacant. Similarly, six out of eight teacher posts are vacant in English Department and the Anthropology Department runs without a head.
In Botany Department, there is only one teaching staff against the sanctioned strength of three, in Chemistry it is one against five posts while Zoology has two against four. Geography classes are managed by just one against the need for four teachers, English has just two teachers against eight and in History, only two teachers are managing the show against five.
The silver lining is that the Plus Two college does not face the problem with two teaching posts remaining vacant out of 25. Ironically, the college does not have a regular principal though there is a provision for autonomous colleges to have a principal of professor rank.
To manage the classes, college authorities depend on guest lecturers. But that too has become difficult due to fund crunch. In-charge Principal of the college, Loknath Sahu said the college needs Rs 35 lakh for paying guest lecturers but Government has released Rs 21 lakh so far. As a result, the faculty members have not been paid remuneration since February.
In this scenario, classes are regularly suspended and courses not completed in most of the departments leaving the students and parents high and dry.
Sahu said the existing faculty members are unable to pitch in 180 days of teaching in an academic year, not only because of teacher crisis but also infrastructure shortage. Although the college runs several courses, it does not have sufficient number of classrooms. The Science block of the college is yet to be completed.
The Principal said the Government should immediately post regular teachers for smooth running of classes and look into renovation of the dilapidated college building and hostel buildings. He also sought urgent measures for eviction of the unauthorised occupants on two acres of the college campus.
■ Faculty crisis threatens students’ future in the five-decade-old Bhawanipatna Autonomous College
■ Against the sanctioned strength of 59 in Plus Three and PG courses, the present teacher strength is only 24 with 35 posts lying vacant
■ Of the 24 teachers in position, 11 have been appointed on an ad hoc basis

Biju Expressway Yet to Cut Through 'Red' Tape

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 11, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: Even nine months after launching of the Rs  3,200 crore Biju Expressway aimed at connecting the four districts of Odisha, including Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, and Sundargarh, with four KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) districts namely Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada, preliminary work is yet to be started. The project has assumed significance in view of the increasing Maoist activities in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
Official sources said that as field survey and identification of projects already awarded on the same route are yet to be completed, preliminary work on the 656 km long Expressway project is yet to be started.
The programme was launched with much fanfare by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in August last year. However, only a token Rs 30 crore has been provided for the project in the 2015-16 budget. The project was an election promise of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Though the Expressway project is 656-km long, widening of road is already going on in the same route on 234 km stretch by various departments, out of 254 km identified for the first phase expansion.
L&T has undertaken four-laning of road from Rourkela to Sambalpur (160 km) through public-private partnership (PPP) mode and work for four-laning of Sambalpur to Sohella road via Bargarh (74 km) is being funded by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
In the first phase, 254 km of the corridor would be converted into four lanes and the rest 402 km widened to two lanes at a cost of Rs 1,471 crore. In the second phase, 258 km would be made four lanes at a cost of Rs  1,729 crore.
Official sources said that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by May 2017 while the second phase is scheduled to be completed by May, 2020.
 Both the State and the Centre would bear the cost of the project, estimated at Rs 3,200 crore. For the Rourkela-Sambalpur road widening project, the State Government will spend Rs 256 crore. However, in the changed scenario arising out of the cut in Central assistance for different projects, the project has remained uncertain.
 The corridor is aimed at connecting border towns like Chandli, Boriguma, Nabarangpur, Papadahandi, Ambapani, Dharmagarh, Sinapali, Nuapada, Paikamal, Padampur, Sohella, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundagarah and Rourkela.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Digitisation is changing the way poor access TV, says study

Business Standard, May 7, 2015
Digitisation is changing the way the poor access TV and terrestrial broadcasting reception has almost disappeared in rural and urban India, says a study which looks at its impact on working class television viewers.
The study by Delhi-based Media Foundation conveys snapshots from the ground in over four states and is based on data from some of the districts considered backward including Kalahandi and Dantewada.
The first-of-its-kind study says that digitisation of TV signals was putting an end to free-to-air telecast regime.
Reporting on how digitisation was impacting people at the bottom of income pyramid, the study says that new TV households in the villages now go straight to Direct to Home (DTH) operators except in Andhra Pradesh where cable covers much of the rural population.
"Yet a substantial part of Prasar Bharati's annual budget allocations each year are absorbed by the salary and hardware costs of maintaining its terrestrial network of 1400 transmitters."
The study says that growth of television access in rural India is riding on the digital revolution.
"Post digitisation, driven by content demand, rural India has overtaken urban India in TV ownership. 2011 was the first year to record this change," it says.
The study says that majority of TV households opt for paid DTH over Doordarshan's free dish because they want content choice.
"In not a single state do even 50 percent of alll DTH households opt for Doordarshan's free dish - DD Direct."
"The absence of popular entertainment channels as Colors and channels such as Discovery and National Geographic and private regional language channels such as OTV in Odisha or Zee Chhattisgarh or numerous private channels in Andhra Pradesh on the DD direct bouquet has led to demand for DD free dish declining between 2006-07 and 2012-13," it said.
The main areas of study were Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi and were supplemented with additional group interviews conducted in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Integrated Action Plan Projects Counter Maoist Call

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 8, 2015
 BHAWANIPATNA: With Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) continuing their inroads into Kalahandi district taking advantage of its poor economy and lack of development, the Centre has given thrust to the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to gain confidence of the people and dissuade them from going to Maoist fold.
Ironically, despite its backwardness, Kalahandi was free from Maoist activities a few years back when its neighbouring districts like Nabarangpur, Nuapada and Rayagada and neighbouring State of Chhattisgarh were in strong grip of Maoists.
However, in past four years, Maoist cadres have gained foothold in the tribal dominated inaccessible pockets of Kalahandi causing security concerns. They have been targeting various development projects and have come face to face with security forces several times. The Red ultras have also allegedly murdered two persons during the period.
With LWEs making their presence felt in nine out of 13 blocks, Kalahandi is now one of 18 Maoist affected districts of the State. The worst hit blocks are Lanjigarh, M Rampur, Th Rampur, Golamunda, Bhawanipatna, Junagarh and Koksara.
However, in a bid to appease the people and prevent them from turning their ire against the administration by joining the Maoists through development, the Centre introduced holistic IAP in Maoist affected areas in 2010-11.
Out of 2,765 projects sanctioned for the district, 2,759 have been taken up by the end of last financial year. The thrust is on ensuring road connectivity, construction of schools, anganwadi and public health centres, market yards besides drinking water provision and irrigation facilities. Out of `134.46 crores sanctioned for various projects, `134.19 crores have been spent till now.
Kalahandi SP Brijesh Kumar Rai said the purpose of IAP is to bridge the critical gap in development in LWE infested tribal areas. Citing an example, he said the proposed Badpadar to Karlapat road under IAP will directly link the two tribal dominated blocks of Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur.
Similarly, the road from Gotomunda to Duhimal will link Umarkote of Nabrangpur district with Koksara block of Kalahandi. The SP said the IAP projects have started yielding result with people of the areas, where the development works have been undertaken, realising the futility of Maoist campaign.
Deputy Director (Planning and Coordination) Bimbadhar Sethi said several innovative interventions have been launched under IAP in the district like gravity-based irrigation/check dams, piped water supply, model sanitary complexes and hygienic steam cooling systems in TRW schools.
Ten gravity based water flow projects for irrigation and piped drinking water have been launched in the district while 37 check dams have increased irrigation potential in hilly areas. In Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur blocks, six weekly market sheds have been constructed benefiting 150 villages, he added.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

L and T Plea for Lease of Two Bauxite Reserves

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 5, 2015
BHUBANESWAR:  Engineering and construction giant Larsen and Toubro (L&T) on Monday requested the State Government to grant mining lease of two bauxite deposits in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to the company.
The request was made to the Government by Executive Chairman of L&T AM Naik who met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Secretariat here on Monday. Since L&T has prospecting licence over Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines located in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts respectively, the company is hopeful of getting the two deposits.
“Since we have the prospecting licence, L&T is eligible to get mining rights over the two bauxite deposits under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015,” Naik told mediapersons after meeting the Chief Minister.
“We have requested the State Government to recommend mining lease in our favour and also expedite permission for our alumina refinery project,” he added. Naik also met Chief Secretary GC Pati and Secretary in the Steel and Mines Department RK Sharma.
The Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines have a total deposit of close to 300 million tonnes. L&T, through a joint venture with Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), had proposed a `30,000 crore alumina refinery of three million tonne per annum (mtpa) capacity at Rayagada in 2005.
Though a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Raykal Aluminium was formed for the purpose, the project remains a non-starter.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Continue Funds for Key Plans, State Plea to Centre

The New Indian Express, May 4, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has requested the Centre to provide Rs 3,000 crore to continue implementation of several key programmes which will face shortage of funds in the coming days due to reduction in Central assistance. Besides, it has also asked the Centre to continue funding of area specific development (ASD) plans which are being implemented in backward and Naxal-affected areas of the State.
The ASD plans include special scheme for KBK (undivided Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi districts) region, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP).
The Centre’s decision to delink eight schemes from Central support and change the sharing pattern of 33 Centrally-sponsored schemes will substantially reduce the quantum of Central assistance in 2015-16. The State Government will have to provide funds from its own resources for sector specific and State specific programmes which were recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC). However, the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has not recommended any grants for sector and State specific programmes.
 The loss on account of reduction in Central assistance will be about Rs 8,037.26 crore. The State Government will receive an additional Rs 5,883.43 crore on account of the 10 per cent more devolution of funds recommended by the FFC. The additional liability of the State Government will be Rs 2148.83 crore in 2015-16.
 In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said delinking area development programmes like KBK, BRGF and IAP from Central assistance will severely affect development programmes taken up in Maoist-affected districts.
This will have an adverse impact on the socio-economic development of some of the most vulnerable and backward regions of the State, he said.
The Chief Minister has also taken up the issue of loss of Rs 1,700 crore per year from the current financial year for deferment of VAT on petroleum products for 11 years after commissioning of the oil refinery of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) at Paradip. The State Government is exploring a suitable mechanism to minimise loss in this regard in consultation with the Centre.
However, the revenue loss will continue till some alternative mechanism is in place.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Govt to bring backward areas of Odisha, NE on rail map

Business Standard, April 30, 2015
The government today said it was committed to bring the backward areas in Odisha and Northeastern states in the railway map. 

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha told Rajya Sabha said that his ministry is working with Odisha government through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) and five projects would be taken up under it. 

"Through SPV involving the ministries of railways, coal and Odisha government, we would be carrying out five projects at an investment of Rs. 3689 crore. We would be covering 731 kilometres through the process," he said. 

He was replying to a Private Member Resolution on various railway issues connected with Odisha, which was moved by BJD member Bhupinder Singh, but was withdrawn later. 

The Minister further said that over Rs. 41,000 crore worth of railway projects were sanctioned for Odisha. 

Sinha also promised to bring the rail density in Odisha on par with the national average. 

He lamented about "politics" of granting rail stoppages, saying it leads to reduction in the speed of trains, including Rajdhani Express. 

Requests for only valid stoppages would be approved in the future, he said. 

Earlier, moving the private members' resolution, Bhupinder Singh said even after 67 years of independence, many districts of the country have not yet been connected with railway lines. He noted that seven districts of Odisha have no railway line. 

Demanding more railway connectivity and facilities in Odisha, Singh said about 10 per cent of the total revenue of the railways has been contributed by the state during 2013-14. 

Satyanarayan Jatiya (BJP), Narendra Kumar Kashyap (BSP), Kanak Lata Singh (SP), E M Sudarsana Natchipappan (Congress), Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD), Chaudhary Munnavver Saleem (SP) and A V Swamy (Independent) spoke on the resolution.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Orissa doubles salaries of doctors in Maoist areas

The New Indian Express (Bhuabaneswar), April 29, 2015
In an attempt to stop doctors from leaving government hospitals and community health centres in poverty zones of Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) as well as Maoist-affected areas, the Orissa government has decided to double their salary.
The state Cabinet, which met Tuesday, decided the state would be divided into four zones depending on accessibility and vulnerability to Maoist violence, with V1 being the least vulnerable and highly accessible and V4 being most vulnerable and least accessible. As per the Cabinet decision, a non-specialist doctor in a V4 zone like Malkangiri and Koraput would get Rs 8,0000 a month, including Rs 4,0000 as incentive.
Even inaccessible areas in coastal districts would also be put under V4 zone. A specialist doctor in the same zone would get anything between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 1.8 lakh.
Those working in the remotest areas will get 100 per cent hike in their salary while the doctors working in the remote and far-off tribal areas will get additional Rs 40,000 apart from their salary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vedanta steps up nutritional supplement worth Rs. 2.95 crores in mid-day meals in Odisha

Orissadiary, April 27, 2015
Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar: Vedanta, under its CSR programme, has come forward to enhance nutritional supplements in Mid-day meals (MDMs) of 66,500 children in Government and Government-aided schools under Berhampur Municipality, Chattrapur and Hinjlicut blocks of Ganjam district. A memorandum of understanding has been signed to this effect with Manna Trust, which is in charge of operations of the centralized MDM kitchen at Berhampur. The company will spend over Rs. 2.95 crores in the current fiscal to ensure distribution of 2 eggs per week, which provides 248 calories per week per student, in mid-day meals provided to 81,500 students it has targeted in Kalahandi and Ganjam districts in the current fiscal. As per the guidelines of Government of India’s Mid-day Meal Program, to meet the protein requirement, it is necessary to provide children 2 eggs a week as egg proteins have the highest nutritive quality as compared to any other dietary protein. Last year SSL, Lanjigarh had added 2 eggs per week to the MDM component on request by Government of Odisha. It provided boiled eggs twice a week along with MDM to 15,000 students of 187 schools of Lanjigarh block in Kalahandi district. In financial year 2015-16, SSL is expanding its outreach to 81,500 students with inclusion of the above mentioned areas of Ganjam district. According to a company spokesperson, “Vedanta is committed to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals. MDM centralized kitchen programme is one of the steps to ensure right to food and right to education to children of disadvantaged section of society from Kalahandi and Ganjam districts studying in the class I to VIII by providing them 450 calories & 12 grams of protein in primary schools, 700 calories and 20 grams of protein in secondary schools with one wholesome meal on every school day.” - See more at:

State Govt. Proposed two Engineering College in Balangir and Nabarangpur under RUSA

Thanks to Prof. Chitta Baral for sharing this information

Monday, April 20, 2015

More Questions Than Answers From Rahul Gandhi's Sunday Noon Show

NDTV, April 19, 2015
(Ashok Malik is a columnist and writer living in Delhi.)

Rahul Gandhi's comeback event at the Congress' "farmers' rally" in Delhi this afternoon was not so much to prove to the Indian voter that he could lead the country. It was to tell the Congress worker that he has it in him to run the party.

With his mother, Sonia Gandhi, now close to 70, a generational change in the Congress is on the anvil. Rahul, as Congress vice-president, is likely to be the next Congress president. However, in recent weeks many senior Congress politicians, including Amarinder Singh and Shiela Dikshit, both former chief ministers, have suggested a succession be postponed indefinitely and Sonia stay put.

To be fair, there is no competition between mother and son. Sonia and Rahul are on the same page and are far from being factional rivals. However, the point is substantial sections of the party don't quite trust Rahul's instincts, judgement and ability to manage a complex political situation. If Rahul was attempting to change their minds today, after his 56-day holiday, he didn't quite pull it off.

A modern political meeting is a televised spectacle. It is as much about theatre as about substance. Rahul's limitations as an orator became apparent soon enough. What is more, so did his inability to stick to a coherent line and train of thought.

While his mother is no fiery orator either, her speech was much sharper and much more disciplined. It focused on the subject at hand - the plight of Indian farmers and how the Narendra Modi government's amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 would apparently hurt agriculturists. In contrast, Rahul's speech was all over the place. If a Congress worker had to choose his immediate leader solely on the basis of those two speeches, he would deliver a simple message to Rahul: Let's keep Mum.

In some senses, Rahul seems not to have recovered from the defeat of 2014. Listening to him, there was this inescapable feeling that he was in a time warp. It was not helped by the fact that he referred repeatedly to his experience of visiting drought-hit farmers some years ago. The crowd he was addressing was of north Indian farmers worried by a spell of unseasonal rain that has damaged a crop ripe for harvesting.

His mother, in her speech, took care to recall the unseasonal rain and the labour of harvesting, which the farmers had set aside to attend the political meeting. Did she have a better speech writer or simply better political judgement?

Rahul may as well have given this speech in April 2014, in the midst of the Lok Sabha election campaign. He has not moved on. He referred to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, the write-off of farmers' loans, his excursions to Bhatta Parsaul (Uttar Pradesh) and Niyamgiri (site of a Vedanta bauxite mining project and aluminium plant that Rahul and the UPA government thwarted). He announced these as his - and the UPA's - exemplary deeds. This was all very well, but it was yesterday's story. It was voted upon, one way or the other, in 2009 and 2014.

Indeed, in Kalahandi (the parliamentary constituency of which Niyamgiri is a part), Bhakta Charan Das, the sitting Congress MP, finished a distant third in 2014. One interpretation of this was that while a few hundred people wanted the mining project blocked, many thousand more saw benefit in industrialisation. If there was a learning here for Rahul and the Congress, it was obviously lost on the Congress vice-president.

Clearly, popular positions in Niyamgiri and Kalahandi were not as cut and dry as Rahul claimed they were.

The wider issue is Rahul was and is still expected to shape a platform for the future, and for the period leading up to the 2019 election. This platform cannot simply be an iteration of the initiatives and achievements, such as they were, of the UPA government, especially in the 2009-14 period. The platform's elements have to be forward-looking and contemporary. Where does Rahul stand on this?

The Congress has little idea.

In the weeks to come, there are mundane challenges for Rahul to tackle. His engagement with mass politics cannot be limited to guest appearances at stage-managed (pun intended or otherwise) party jamborees. His associates say he will take to the roads in Bihar and then other states; he has to prove he has the stomach to sustain it.

That apart, who will coordinate with non-BJP parties in Parliament as the debate and possible vote on the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill comes up? Who will take a call on the Congress' choice of chief ministerial candidate in Punjab? Who will negotiate with Laloo Yadav and Nitish Kumar, as the Congress seeks a junior role in the emerging anti-BJP alliance in Bihar? Who will sort out the civil war in the Assam Congress?

Will it be the mother or the son? Does Rahul have it in him to do any of these? The Sunday noon show provided no answers, only further questions.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Centre Favors Coast Highway, April 13, 2015
Union Minister Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari has agreed to approve the Coastal Highway in Odisha connecting Gopalpur to Digha. This will be one of the longest Coastal Road of 460 Kilometers, connecting two neighboring states-Odisha and West Bengal.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik while meeting the Union Minister Mr.Gadkari today, proposed for the Coastal Highway, Union Minister said this project will be taken up under Bharat Mala Program.
Chief Minister Mr.Patnaik said the Coastal Highway will be connecting several existing and upcoming Ports including Gopalpur, Astarang, Paradeep, Kirtania, Chandipur, forming the economic lifeline will have better Rate Of Return.
Chief Minister said that the state is prone to frequent Super/ Very Severe Cyclonic Storms and it is necessary to have a good Coastal Highway for efficient rescue and relief operations in the cyclone-prone coastal areas. He stated that these areas are also thickly populated and a Coastal Highway will provide alternative economic opportunities to the local population.
Mr.Patnaik said that the existing Road Network in the tribal nominated districts of Odisha which suffer on account of Left Wing Extremism including Gajapati, Rajagada, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bolangir and Bargarh requires urgent upgradation to  National Highway standard.
He  urged the Union Minister to declare Kuakhia-Jajpur-Aradi-Bhadrak and Cuttack-Kandarpur-Jagatsinghpur-Machhanga State Roads as new National Highways. Chief Minister also requested that Palasa-Paralakhemundi-Muniguda-Bhawanipatna-Rajkhariar-Padmapur
State Road Network may also be upgraded to National Highway. Chief Minister informed that the existing two lane carriage way inside the town limits of many towns are not adequate to cater to the present volume of traffic and these stretches face severe traffic congestion during the day time and are prone to accidents causing frequent road block agitations.
He stated that three new By-Passes including one near Bhawanipatna on NH-26, near Kotpad on NH-63 and near Manamunda on NH-57 are essentially required to address the problem.
Chief Minister brought to the notice of the Union Minister that the work on Gurupriya Bridge has already started under Engineering, Procurement and Construction Mode.
He stated that Government of India has, however, sanctioned only Rs.45 crore for the project under RRP-I of LWE Scheme against the project cost of Rs.187.25 crore.
The Chief Minister highlighted that the bridge is critical for connecting cut-off areas of Malkangiri district to the mainland, improving communication between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and more importantly for preventing spread of Left Wing Extremism.
He impressed upon the Union Minister to approve and sanction the balance amount of Rs.142.25 crore under RRP-II for ensuring timely completion of the bridge.  
Chief Minister mentioned that the improvement work on a number of important National Highways in the State has not started because PPP mode tenders have not been successful.
He urged the Union Minister to take up the improvement work of these National Highways, viz. Cuttack-Angul (NH-55), Angul-Sambalpur (NH-55), Sambalpur-Deogarh (NH-53), Deogarh-Keonjhar-Jamsola (NH-49), Balasore-Baripada-Jharpokharia (NH-18) and Birmitrapur-Rourkela-Barkote (NH-143) under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode.
Highlighting the need to keep the National Highways in traffic-worthy condition, the Chief Minister urged upon the Union Minister to provide adequate funds of at least Rs.25 crore during the current year under Ordinary Repair. He stated that during the last year, the allocation of Rs.14.39 crore fell far short of the minimum requirement of Rs.30 crore.
Union Minister assured the Chief Minister that all the proposals will receive priority attention of the Union Government and that all efforts will be made to connect the remaining two districts of Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur with the National Highway Network and to construct new By-Passes wherever required and feasible.
He also assured that the proposal for construction of a Coastal Highway in Odisha will be taken up under Bharat Mala Scheme. He further assured that all By-Passes where regular tenders have failed will be approved for execution under EPC Mode

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ruling Party Emerges Victorious in NACs

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 9, 2015
RAIRAKHOL: The BJD candidates won in 12 of the 13 Wards in Rairakhol NAC. One Ward went to the BJP kitty and Congress failed to open its account.
While Sunil Kumar Pradhan won from Ward 1, Nirupama Prusty won from Ward 2, Golapi Mukhi Ward 3, Nirmala Nayak Ward 4, Gopabandhu Bahuka Ward 5 and Sandhyarani Dehuri won from Ward 6.
While BJD candidate Aditya Narayan Pradhan won from Ward 7, it was Amrita Behera from Ward 8, Lakshmana Pradhan from Ward 9, Anita Panigrahi Ward 10, Pankajini Naik Ward 11 and Gyanaranjan Pradhan bagged Ward 12. The Chairperson seat is reserved for ST (Woman) and the party will choose between Sandhyarani and Pankajini who belong to the ST category.
The lone BJP candidate Mamata Sahu won in Ward 13 defeating BJD rival Banita Karna by a margin of 94 votes. The poll also saw defeat of former BJP chairperson from the NAC Sushma Munda by a thin margin of seven votes in Ward 6.
There was a close fight between the BJD and the BJP in Ward 3 where BJP candidate Subhasini Behera lost by six votes. BJD candidate from Ward 11 won by the highest margin of 346 votes.
Rairakhol MLA Rohit Pujari who led the party in the poll attributed the win to confidence of people on the leadership of party supremo, Naveen Patnaik.
On the other hand, the BJP cried foul and member of BJP State Executive Govind Agrawal said it was stage-managed election.
He charged the BJD workers of assaulting BJP workers and accused police of inaction.
13 Wards go to BJD
Bhawanipatna: The BJD won 13 Wards of the total 14 in Dharamgarh NAC and one seat went to Congress. Here, the chairperson post is reserved for SC (woman) candidate. Of the 14 Wards, Wards 11 and 3 are reserved for SC women.
While Congress won Ward 11, BJD’s Hira Bag bagged Ward 3.
Political observers said Bag is all set to become the first chairperson of the newly formed NAC as she has the support of 12 BJD Ward members and is the only SC woman winning candidate of the ruling party.