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.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

900 000 rupees deposited in illegal account

Reported by Debendra Bisi
Sambad, April 14, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Centre Favors Coast Highway

Tathya.in, 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.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Land Hurdle Continues to Delay Khurda-Balangir Railway Line

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 4, 2015
BOUDH: The successful trial run of trains in a stretch of 32-km on Khurda Road-Balangir line on August 31 last year had raised hopes of completion of the project soon. But, the project continues to hang fire with land acquisition posing as a major hurdle.
The railway line which will pass through Khurda, Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Balangir districts would require construction of 11 tunnels measuring 6.3 km, around 435 bridges including a 660-metre bridge over river Tel besides culverts and other constructions.
Though the State Government had assured the Centre of providing the land free of cost, the acquisition process for the 289-km rail line has hit a road block.
As yet, only land for laying train tracks on 22 kms has been acquired in Balangir district while not a single inch of land has been acquired in Boudh district which has a lion’s share of 122 kms. However, in neighbouring Nayagarh district, land has been acquired from Raj Sunakhala to Nayagarh.
After connecting Khurda Road with Begunia in the first phase, work on the 46-km stretch to Raj Sunakhala was to be completed by March 31 this year and the 66-km stretch till Nayagarh has 2015-16 financial year deadline. But meeting the deadline now seems to be remote considering the slow pace of work.
As per official reports, the budget of the project which was estimated at `4.98 crore after the initial survey has shot up to a staggering `2,000 crore as it witnessed low budgetary provisions in Central Budgets and issues of land acquisition.
The rail link was first surveyed in 1945 by the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) administration which found the route important as it connected most backward undivided districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Koraput and Phulbani with Bhubaneswar. Smaller towns such as Daspalla, Banigochha, Manipur and Boudh were also part of the line.

Campaign in Top Gear in Dharamgarh

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 2, 2015
 BHAWANIPATNA:Campaigning for election to the newly-formed Dharamgarh NAC in Kalahandi district has reached a feverish pitch with Ministers and MLAs of BJD, BJP and Congress holding public meetings almost everyday.
The NAC, which has 14 Wards, is likely to witness a triangular contest. Housing and Urban Development Minister Puspendra Singhdeo is camping in the NAC along with some MLAs to ensure a smooth sailing for the BJD’s candidates. Incidentally, Dharamgarh NAC is part of Dharamgarh constituency from where Singhdeo was elected. Similarly, State president of BJP Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo is campaigning for the party candidates.
Meanwhile, AICC spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das alleged that the BJD is resorting to unethical practices to win the election.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kalahandi Lawlers demand High Court Bench in Kalahandi

Sambad, March 31, 2015

Government to Take Fight against Diabetes to DHHs

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 31, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government is set to equip district hospitals with advanced diabetes diagnosis equipment and facilities from April as it starts a massive grassroots level drive for detection and prevention of the disease that is on an alarming surge in the population.
District Headquarters Hospitals (DHHs) in 15 districts included under National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) will be equipped with the sophisticated HbA1c analysers for accurate assessment of glycemic or blood sugar level in diabetics.
Contrary to conventional methods of testing fasting blood sugar and post-prandial glucose which give the level on the particular day, HbA1c measures average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged period upto three months. This enables doctors to assess the glycemic control among diabetics and initiate appropriate treatment and medical care. The machines will be installed at a cost of `4.5 lakh each in the NPCDCS districts initially and expanded to the rest DHHs next year.
“This will give a huge boost to the diabetes prevention and control mission undertaken by the Government. With better analysis of blood sugar level over a duration, the doctor can ascertain if the patient has achieved glycemic control or not and also if he is at risk of developing complications. By providing these tests at the DHH level, patients will no longer have to be referred to cities or medical colleges,” State nodal officer, NPCDCS Dr PKB Patnaik said.
The State Government has chalked out an ambititious campaign to screen more than 46 lakh people in the districts of Cuttack, Puri, Ganjam, Khurda, Sambalpur, Raygada, Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi, Sundargarh and Angul starting April.
The exercise will be conducted through special camps as well as community visits by health workers, ANMs and Ashas who would be provided glucometer kits. Those found with high sugar level will be referred to the DHHs concerned for detailed diagnosis and treatment.
Odisha has more than 40 lakh diabetics with incidence ranging from 12 to 16 per cent in urban areas and six to seven per cent in rural parts. The remote tribal-dominated districts have also marked an alarming rise in diabetes burden with Nabrangpur recording around 10 per cent, Nuapada 8.71 per cent, Balangir 7.38 per cent and Koraput 7.17 per cent.
The campaign will also strive to study the incidence of diabetes-related complications in patients. All DHHs are being equipped with semi-auto analysers for conducting kidney tests, lipid profiles and albumin tests which are vital for assessing the patient’s propensity for developing complications like kidney disease and cardiac problems.
Every patient, who is found with diabetes, will also have to undergo tests for diabetic retinopathy at the opthalmological units at DHHs on a quarterly basis, Dr Patnaik added.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

LWE A Concern in 5 Dists: CM

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 28, 2015
BHUBANESWAR:Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday claimed that the law and order situation was peaceful in the State but rising Left Wing Extremism (LWE) remained a sensitive issue in five districts.
There has been substantial improvement in the overall containment of Maoist situation in the State, the Chief Minister said while replying to the discussion on demands for grants of the Home and General Administration Departments. However, the situation remains sensitive in Malkangiri, Koraput, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Balangir districts, he said.
The House passed the Budgets of both the Departments amidst noisy scenes as the opposition Congress and BJP members were shouting slogans in the well of the House demanding rollback of power tariff hike.
The Chief Minister said the intensity of Maoist activities is on the decline now as there is perceptible improvement in the situation in Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, Gajapati, Nabarangpur, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh and Nayagarh during the year.
Stating that the pro-active action taken by security forces resulted in arrest of 71 LWE Maoists including the most-wanted Sabyasachi Panda, leader of Odisha Maobadi Party and Tella Anil Kumar, State committee member of Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee, Naveen said police recovered a record number of 143 weapons including 34 quality weapons in 2014.
Besides, 99 LWE cadres and armed militants surrendered in the State during 2014 including Nachika Linga, leader of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, he said.
Stating that connectivity plays an important role in restricting LWE activities, the Chief Minister said significant steps have been taken for construction and improvement of roads and bridges in these areas. Further, to extend mobile connectivity to general public in LWE affected areas, steps were being taken to install 253 mobile towers.
Naveen said to keep vigil on the long coastline of Odisha, 18 marine police stations have been made functional. “Joint coastal security exercises are being carried out with West Bengal to improve coordination among police, Coast Guard and Indian Navy and achieve seamless operation at the time of need. A similar kind of exercise will be jointly conducted with Andhra Pradesh,” he said.
Referring to the ensuing Nabakalebara festival of Lord Jagannath, Naveen said steps are being taken to provide service and amenities on a large scale to lakhs of devotees who would visit Puri during the festival.
While 263 fire stations were already operational, the Chief Minister announced opening of 72 new fire stations in the State.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Vedanta Foundation focuses on underprivileged youth in Odisha

Economic Times, March 27, 2015
BHUVANESHWAR: Vedanta foundation, a multifaceted philanthropic initiative of London listed Vedanta Resources Plc, has opened three computer centres in Odisha to provide basic computer, networking and internet education for underprivileged youth.

The computer centres, opened at Baterlima, Chhatrapur and Basantpada villages near Vedanta group's alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district on Wednesday, would be helpful towards the Prime Minister's Mission of ""Digital India", a foundation release said today.

Vedanta Foundation, fully funded charitable trust of Vedanta Resources Plc with a heart for social development for the underprivileged population in the country, would organise free coaching classes six days a week for two months for those who wish to learn basic computer but cannot access and afford it due to lack of opportunity in the area and expensive coaching fees of commercial classes, it said. 

With its new computer centres, Foundation will be targeting about 280 villages to provide basic computer education to nearly 900 beneficiaries. With its existing ten centers now foundation will be offering services around 108 villages in Odisha where around 1300 students are getting free computer, networking and internet education, it said.

Ms Suman Didwania , Founder Trustee, Vedanta Foundation - said the Foundation was committed to bring social changes through various activities for the people in India and we are extremely happy to have ten computer centers only in Odisha to provide basic foundation to economically backward talented students. 

Ring Roads in Capital, 3 Major Towns Soon

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 27, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to ease traffic congestion in the city and three other major towns, the State Government has planned to develop four ring roads in the coming financial year.
Apart from the ring road project in Capital region, three more ring roads will be constructed in the district headquarters towns of Balangir, Sambalpur and Berhampur of Ganjam district, Rural Development Minister Badri Narayan Patra told the Assembly.
Replying to the discussion on demands for grants of Works Department on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Patra said five by-pass roads will also be constructed at Manmunda in Boudh district, Kothar in Bhadrak district, Mangapur and Jajpur in Jajpur district and Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters town of Kalahandi.
The Capital region ring road project has been envisioned to reduce traffic congestion on NH-5 passing through Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The proposed ring road will originate at Manguli and connect with Khurda through NH-42 (Cuttack-Puri road). The road would bypass Athagarh, Banki and Khurda to connect the NH-5 at Kodarmal, about 5 km from Khurda town, official sources said.
Though feasibility study for the road project was completed in 2011, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways approved the proposal recently, sources said.
Patra further informed the House that six flyover bridges will be constructed in the State Capital. The proposed flyovers will be constructed at Master Canteen square, Damana chowk, Kalinga Hospital chowk, Housing Board, Kalpana Square and Mausima chowk. Besides, an underground road will be constructed at Rajmahal.
A budgetary provision of Rs 400 crore has been made under the State Highway Development Programme (SHDP). The State Government had approved development of 2,158.26 km of State Highways to two-lane with a cost of Rs 3,000 crore.
Cumulative action has been taken for two-laning of about 1,654 km of roads with a project cost of Rs 2,758.73 crore in 2014-15. The department had completed two-laning of 40.76 km of roads with an expenditure of Rs 162.16 crore, Patra said.
On the development of road infrastructure in five Left Wing Extremism-affected districts, the Minister said the Centre had sanctioned 14 projects for improvement of 615 km roads, including a bridge over river Gurupriya in Malkangiri district at an estimated cost of Rs 970 crore.
 While development of over 473 km of roads has been completed with an expenditure of Rs 668.11 crore, the bridge construction work is in progress.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Industrial units create over 100,000 jobs in Odisha

Business Standard, March 20, 2015
Employment generation has been across sectors like steel, aluminium, power, cement and food processing
Over 100,000 have been generated in the state bythat have gone into either partial or full scale production after signing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government.

Of the 92 proponents that have inked MoUs with the state government, 66 have commenced production, either partially or fully. Direct and indirect employment has been created for 100,410 people, including 70,241 within the state with the balance 29,442 hired from outside the state, according to a factsheet provided by industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra in the state assembly.

Employment generation has been across sectors like steel, aluminium, power, cement and food processing.

has the lion's share in job creation with emerging as the top employer. The steel maker's plant at Meramandali near Dhenkanal has generated jobs for 18,801 persons. Another Bhushan Group firm Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd has so far employed 12,155 people, including 7,408 from within the state for its 2.8 million tonne steel plant at Sambalpur.

& Power Ltd (JSPL) has commenced partial production on its proposed six million tonne steel plant near Angul, creating employment for 11,683 persons.

Other projects in the steel sector to have created substantial jobs include the ones established by Essar Steel, Visa Steel, MSP Metaliks Ltd, Action Ispat & Power Ltd OCL Iron & Steel Ltd, Aarti Steels Ltd, Sree Metaliks Ltd, Adhunik Metaliks Ltd, Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) and SMC Power Generation Ltd to name a few.

In the aluminium sector, Vedanta Group owned company Sesa Sterlite is the biggest employer. Both from its alumina refinery unit at Lanjigarh and aluminium smelting unit at Bhurkamunda near Jharsuguda, Sesa Sterlite (previously Vedanta Aluminium Ltd) has generated 12,470 jobs, including 9,957 for people within the state.

In the power sector, jobs have been generated by players like Sterlite Energy Ltd, GMR Energy Ltd and Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd (JITPL).

Assembly members concerned over shortage of doctors, teachers

Business Standard, March 20, 2015
Cutting across party lines, members of both the ruling and the opposition parties in Assembly today expressed concern over acute shortage of doctors and teachers in government-run institutes in the state, particularly in the backward KBK region. 

The issue was raised both during the and during an adjournment motion debate. 

Citing figures, assembly members pointed out that 4,343 doctors were appointed as against 4,843 approved posts of doctors in the state and of the total strength many remain absent from their place of posting. 

Though provisions are being made to provide doctors in far flung areas of the state, the appointed health professionals are unwilling to travel to the hinterlands, they alleged. 

"The government has been facing problems as doctors are reluctant to work in rural and remote areas," Health minister Atanu S Nayak said adding that the government has appointed 400 ad hoc doctors in these areas. 

Further, the health minister informed the Assembly that steps are being taken to open five new medical colleges in the state. 

The opposition members claimed that a large number of teaching posts were lying vacant in different state-run colleges, aided colleges and universities and alleging that the government has been specially ignorant to the "drought" of teachers in the Kalahandi-Bolangit-Koraput (KBK) region. 

"While 42.58 per cent of teachers' posts remained vacant in government colleges, 35.41 per cent of teaching posts in universities were unfilled and the ratio of such vacancy in aided colleges stood at 15.1 per cent," said Congress member Chiranjib Biswal. 

Biswal said against the sanctioned 54 posts of teachers in Jeypore college in Koraput district, the number of vacancies was 43. Similarly of the 39 sanctioned posts, 33 posts remained vacant in Koraput college. In Bhawanipatna College in Kalahandi, the number of vacancies is 45 as against the sanctioned 57 posts. 

"Is it not a drought of teachers?," Biswal asked. 

Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati demanded that the government should stop appointment of contractual teachers in colleges and varsities as the practice affects education. 

In reply, higher education minister Pradip Panigrahi said the government has taken steps to appoint teachers in colleges even as he blamed the previous Congress government's agreement with the DFID saying the state could not make appointments after retirement of teachers in government colleges. 

However, the minister said all steps would soon be taken to fill the vacant posts of teachers.

Govt to Grant Laterite Deposits to Vedanta Plant

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 21, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government on Friday announced in the Assembly that Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) will be provided laterite deposits to run its plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
“The State Government has decided to provide laterite stone mines to Vedanta which requires bauxite for its refinery at Lanjigarh,” Minister of State for Steel and Mines Prafulla Kumar Mallik said while replying to a question from Chandrasekhar Majhi (Cong).
The Minister said VAL has been asked to sign an agreement with the Government to go ahead with exploration of laterite stone mines. He said the company would use technology for conversion of the mineral to bauxite for its plant. Laterites are soil types rich in iron and aluminium, formed in hot and wet tropical areas.
VAL has urged the Government to provide alternative bauxite supplies and to fast track its applications for three small laterite deposits in Koraput district for mining lease. The company requires alternative raw material supplies after being denied permission to mine bauxite atop the ecologically sensitive Niyamgiri hills by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
The company is running its one million tonne refinery at Lanjigarh by sourcing bauxite from States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
VAL has also submitted 33 applications for alternative bauxite mines which are pending at different stages of approvals. These includes Karlapat (south), Sasbahumali, Gandhamardhan and Ghusramali.
Mining Move
■ VAL has urged the Govt to fast track its applications for 3 small laterite deposits in Koraput for mining lease
■ The company requires alternate raw material supplies after being denied permission to mine bauxite atop Niyamgiri hills
■ VAL has submitted 33 applications for alternative bauxite mines which are pending at different stages of approvals

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Odisha Mining Corp to get Karlapat bauxite mines

Business Standard, March 18, 2015
Odisha govt had moved mines ministry seeking Karlapat deposits in OMC's favour, stating it will be in the interest of mineral conservation and prudent exploitation
The Union mines ministry has decided to allocate the Karlapat mines to state-run company, Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).

The state government had moved the ministry in June 2013, seeking the Karlapat deposits in OMC’s favour, stating that it will be in the interest of mineral conservation and prudent exploitation.

“The ministry of mines had received a request from the Odisha government for reservation of Karlapat bauxite deposit over an area of 3,113.25 hectare (ha) in district in favour of Ltd under Section 17 A (2) of the erstwhile Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957. The proposal was approved and conveyed to the state government by the ministry”, Union minister of state for mines Vishnu Deo Sai stated in reply to a query in theon March 16.

The Karlapat bauxite mines spread over 3,002.49 hectares has estimated reserves of 207 million tonne which includes 153 tonne proven reserve and 54 million tonne probable reserve. The state government had sought reservation of the bauxite mines for 30 years, arguing that it will ensure fair and equitable distribution of the raw material.

Besides, the government felt such an arrangement will help accrue more economic returns for the state by way of royalty, taxes and dividend, thereby providing more funds for developmental activities. OMC securing the Karlapat mines has offered a glimmer of hope to Group owned firm Sesa Sterlite’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh.

The one million tonne refinery without any raw material linkages was continuing operations at a low capacity on bauxite sourced from Gujarat and Chattisgarh and also imports from nations like New Guinea. OMC had entered into an agreement with the Vedanta Group firm for supplying 150 million tonne of bauxite for the Lanjigarh refinery.

The attempts to supply bauxite from the deposits to the Vedanta alumina refinery were thwarted with Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) withdrawing the clearances to the mining project, a decision which was later endorsed by the local gram sabhas convened on the direction of the Supreme Court.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Govt Slammed for Growing Regional Disparity in State

Note: Now the panel agrees on what we analysed in 2009 general election http://www.orissadiary.com/ShowOriyaColumn.asp?id=12794

The New Indian Express, March 16, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Government has projected a growth rate of 8 per cent during 2015-16, the growing disparities among different regions in the State have come in for sharp criticism from the Opposition political parties.
The delay on the part of the State Government to place the report of Justice SK Mohanty Commission, set up to look into regional imbalances, in the Assembly is alleged to be a cover-up of the lack of development in many areas of northern and southern Odisha, despite claims to the contrary.
Alleging that regional imbalance continues in its worst form in the State, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said no action seems to have been taken on the recommendations of the Commission. It is mandatory for the Government to place the report in the Assembly along with the action taken report within six months of the Commission giving its recommendations. Though six years have elapsed since the Commission submitted its report, the Government is sitting over it, he said.
Criticising the Government for not tabling the report for the last six years, BJP MLA Dilip Ray alleged that all the blocks in border areas of the State are backward. He demanded that recommendations of the Commission should be implemented on a priority basis within a time-frame.
The Commission had recommended that a Backward Area Development Council, covering all backward and very backward blocks of the State, should be set up by the Government. It has also said that a Bordering Area Development Board should be set up to intensify developments in the border blocks.
The Commission’s report is gathering dust since its submission to the Government in 2008. The Government is yet to table the report in the Assembly along with the action taken report.
The panel found seven districts to be ‘backward’ and eight to be ‘very backward’. In contrast, six districts were classified under ‘developed’ and nine under the ‘developing’ category. The panel also found serious disparities in the State in the field of industries. As many as 15 districts have been identified as industrially backward. Of these, seven were also extremely backward in terms of agriculture - which further compounded their misery. The districts were Malkangiri, Gajapati, Deogarh, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj and Kalahandi, almost all dominated by tribal people.
The Government has set up Western Odisha Development Council to undertake developments in the Western Odisha region.

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Odisha has 36% of malaria cases in India; ranks third in deaths





Odisha Sun Times, Mar 15, 2015
Odisha has earned the dubious distinction of having a hopping 36% share of all malaria cases in India and ranking third in the list of states with the most number of deaths leaving most of its neighbours way behind.
These startling revelations have been made in a report tabled by the Union Health and Family Welfare department in the Parliament.
What is more disturbing is that the number of persons getting afflicted with the disease in the state is rising every year despite the state government spending crores of rupees to arrest the spread of the disease.
The state government has been spending crores of rupees on a scheme christened ‘Mo Masari’ (“My Mosquito Net’) and has been claiming that the number of afflicted has been falling in the state. But the Central government report has exposed the hollowness of the claim.
According to the report, out of the 10.70 lakh people who were afflicted with malaria in India in the year 2014, about 3.88 lakh (36.26%) were from Odisha. In 2010, around 3.95 lakh were afflicted with the disease. The number had come down to 3.08 lakh in 2011 and had further scaled down to around 2.62 lakh in 2012, the report says.
But the number of malaria patients in Odisha is again rising at a faster pace since then, according to the Health Ministry report.
Even though the neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are identified as malaria prone states, much less people are afflicted with malaria in these states as compared to Odisha. In 2014, only 1.22lakh people were affected with the disease in Chhattisgarh while only 96,140 persons were affected by malaria in Jharkhand in the same year.
Statistics cited in the report also reveal that Odisha has left many states behind and has marched ahead of others in the matter of number of deaths due to malaria. It ranks third on this count in the country.
In the year 2014, a total of 535 persons had died of malaria across the country. Out of them 73 (13.64%) were from Odish while Tripura had the maximum number of deaths in terms of percentage at 96 (17.94%) followed by Meghalaya, another hilly state, with a toll count of 78 (14.58%).
Another disturbing fact that has emerged from the report is that out of those who have died of malaria in Odisha, 80 percent are from tribal dominated areas.

The districts of Gajapati , Kalahandi , Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada and Sundargarh account for both the maximum number of deaths due to malaria and maximum number of persons afflicted with the disease.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

State Moves Centre for Cancer Care Facility at Capital Hospital

The New Indian Express, March 9, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has moved the Centre for establishment of a Tertiary Care Cancer Centre (TCCC) at Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar.
The TCCC would not only enhance cancer care services for the Capital City region and adjoining districts but also ease the burden on Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre (AHRCC) at Cuttack. The Capital Hospital complies with all statutory requirements for setting up the TCCC and it is also essential to expand cancer care facilities to serve needy people of the State, the Health Department has stated in its proposal to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The MoHFW has already approved establishment of TCCCs at MKCG Medical College and Hospital, Berhampur, VSS Medical College and Hospital, Burla and District Headquarters Hospital (DHH), Bhawanipatna.
The units will be set up under National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, CVD and Stroke (NPCDCS) with financial support of `45 crore each. The MoUs have already been signed with the Centre and funds are expected to be released within the current financial year.
The Department has, in fact, got the ball rolling for early approval of the additional TCCC by establishing a Cancer Detection Wing (CDW) at Capital Hospital. The CDW would be inaugurated by Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak on Monday.
The unit would strive to enhance early detection systems by community screening and hospital-based evaluation activities and also act as a first point of reference for people suspecting cancer. It will also offer counselling services to cancer patients.
As per plans, suspected cases at the out patient department (OPD) will be referred to the CDW where the persons will be evaluated for signs and symptoms as well as first line of diagnosis like FNAC, pap smear, ultrasound-guided FNAC, scrap cytology for oral lesions, visual inspection with five per cent acetic acid and video colposcopy for cervical cancer. On an average, the OPD attendance at Capital Hospital is more than 1000 per day.
The wing will function with one Radiation Oncologist, two doctors, two pathologists, two staff nurses and two technicians who have received training at the AHRCC for detection and diagnostics. The focus would be on oral, head and neck, breast and cervical cancer which account for more than 80 per cent of all cancer cases in the State.
“Those found to be suffering from cancer through the first line of diagnostics will be referred to AHRCC for further confirmation and treatment. The CDW is expected to enhance early detection of cancer which can save many lives,” said state nodal officer of NPCDCS Dr PKB Patnaik.
The hospital is also set to add a five-bed day care cancer centre for chemotherapy soon. A team of doctors and paramedics would receive training on chemotherapy administration and management at AIIMS from the ensuing week.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Vedanta's Lanjigarh refinery breaks new ground on livelihood schemes; Rs.175 crores cumulative spend on CSR

Orissadiary, March 7, 2015

Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Kalahandi: Vedanta group owned alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, despite running at just about 30% of its installed capacity on imported bauxite, continues to do a yeoman’s service for the development of Kalahandi both economically and socially. The Company has spent over Rs.175 crore on CSR in the past decade despite economic unviability of its operations. 
What needs special recognition is Company’s thrust on livelihood generation. Along with Vedanta Foundation, SSL has opened more than 10 free computer training centers under its e-literacy movement. Around 7,000 local youth have already been trained under the program in the past 3 years. Livelihood generation programs for women is also a key focus area. Thus, SSL and Vedanta Foundation have already opened more than 10 stitching centers in different villages to train women and girls of the villages and make them economically self-sufficient. The response so far has been good and more youth and women are expressing their interest to receive training for their better future, said a Company official. 
To ensure quality education in the area SSL supports a number of schools in terms of infrastructure and contract teachers. At the same time, its DAV Vedanta English medium School provides quality English medium education to more than 700 students, including 200 first-generation tribal students. That apart, to take care of pre-schooling needs of children of the area the company is running 37 child care centers. To back up education with nutrition, SSL has set up a state-of-the–art fully automated kitchen to assist the State Government in providing mid-day meal to 18,000 students of 187 schools of Lanjigarh block.
The company now awaits support from the Government in terms raw-material linkage and permission to expand its production so as to operate at full capacity.It will lead to a further spike in the Company’s CSR activities expediting development of Kalahandi and Rayagada region. 
- See more at: http://orissadiary.com/Kalahandi/ShowDistrictNews.asp?id=57803#sthash.DnQSBuJ6.dpuf

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NRO PROF ALL PRAISE FOR IIM IN SAMBALPUR

The Pioneer, March 4, 2015
Non-resident Odia Professor  Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, has praised the decision of the State Government to propose Sambalpur as the site for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) under the relaxed conditions. He said this would give justice to the people of the backward Sambalpur region who had been demanding to have an elite educational institution of repute.
 
“There are sufficient numbers of top Government higher educational institutions like IIT, AIIMS, NISER, etc around Bhubaneswar.  Now such institutions should go to north-west Odisha, such as Sambalpur-Rourkela and south-west Odisha like the Bhawanipatna-Koraput region. IIM can be located in Sambalpur region; similarly Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Bhawanipatna and Government medical colleges in Balangir, Koraput, Baripada, Baleswar and Puri,” he said in a letter to the Prime Minster.
 
Patra also sought an airport in Bhawanipatna-Rayagada belt apart from the one Jharsuguda airport. Using Jharsuguda/Sambalpur as the base will develop 150 km radius comprising Sundergarh, Brajaraj Nagar, Bargarh, Sonepur and will reach up to Rourkela, Keonjhar and Angul.
Similarly, focusing Bhawanipatna as base will develop 150 km radius comprising Rayagada, Balangir, Titilagarh, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Jeypore, Boudh, Phulbani and Paralakhemundi, he said.
 
Patra demanded direct train connection from Bhubaneswar to Balangir including Boudh, Nayagarh and Sonepur (Khordha-Balangir line), Kalahandi (Talcher-Lanjigarh road line), Koraput (Rayagada-Gopalpur line), Nabarangpur (Junagarh-Jeypore line) and Malkangiri (Jeypore-Malkangiri line), Kendrapada (Paradeep-Haridaspur line) by providing free land and sharing 50 per cent of the cost by the State Government.

Dayanidhi Naik served development of Kalahandi

Sambad, March 4, 2015