Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Centre to set up 6 STPI in Odisha, STPI facilitation centre at Bhubaneswar

Orissadiary, Sept 30, 2014
Report by Prachee Nayak, Bhubaneswar: Centre to set up 6 centre Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) in Odisha. This was confirmed by the Odisha IT Minister Pranab Prakash Dash.  On this regard Union  Communication and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad writes letter to IT Minister Pranab Prakash Dash. Union Minister Prasad directed concern authorities to take steps for setting up 6 centre Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) in Odisha. These six STPI centre will be set up at Jajpur, Sambalpur, Kalhandi (Bhawanipatna), Koraut (Jeypore), Angul and Rayagada. It should be noted that Odisha IT Minister Pranab Prakash Dash on July 7 met Union  Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at New Delhi and urged to set up 6 STPI Centre in odisha.  It should be noted that in Odisha STPI operates four centres at Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Rourkela and Balasore. More than 100 IT units of the state are registered with STPI. These units contribute a major chunk to the state’s IT export basket. STPI- Bhubaneswar is one the three centres established along with those at Bangalore and Pune for implementing the STP scheme and to promote software export by providing infrastructure facilities including high speed data communication (HSDC) links.  It should be noted that Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) plans to set up a facilitation centre at bhubaneswar with a mandate to give boost to the IT sector in the state. The centre, to be set up on three acres of land near the International Institute of Information Technology(IIIT), will have software and hardware incubation centres, data centre for the use of IT industries. The Union ministry has sanctioned about Rs 49 crore for the centre in the first phase for taking up the civil infrastructure. The centre will be a G+7 storied building. - See more at: http://www.orissadiary.com/CurrentNews.asp?id=53873#sthash.whlvhqnH.dpuf

Monday, September 22, 2014

Maize Farmers Stare at Crop Loss Mess

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 21, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA:  Farmers of Kalahandi district, who cultivate maize as one of the major cash crops, are set for a major loss due to adverse climatic condition during the current kharif season.
According to Agriculture Department, this kharif season, maize has been grown in 19,545 hectares against 19,672 hectares last year. Out of 82,672 tonnes of maize produced last year, around 36,000 tonnes were exported to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Kalahandi maize has a good demand even in international markets as organic manure is used in cultivation instead of fertilizer and pesticide.
During current season, the farmers were expecting a good harvest considering the last year’s experience. However, the crop yield is likely to get a setback due to adverse weather conditions throughout the district except areas of Golamunda block. The traditional maize growing areas like Bhawanipatna, Kesinga, Thuamul Rampur, Lanjigarh and M Rampur blocks received inadequate rain during initial phase of farming and later, excess rainfall hampered the growth of plants.
Deputy Director of Agriculture, Laxman Kumar Paltasingh, said inadequate rain in June and continuous rain from July affected the crop. Farmers of most areas failed to take up the weeding and earth work on time and also could not apply manure.  From the field situation, it is apprehended that there may be tentative production loss of 30 to 40 per cent compared to the last year’s output.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To help Vedanta, Orissa nudges Centre for Karlapat bauxite mines

The Financial Express, Sept 18, 2014

Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Published: Sep 18 2014, 08:52 IST
Orissa chief secretary on Wednesday urged the Union mines ministry to reserve Karlapat bauxite mines in Kalahandi for the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation.
This comes a week after Vedanta Resources chief Anil Agarwal met chief minister Naveen Patnaik seeking his help for bauxite mines for the 1 million tonne per annum bauxite refinery in Lanjigarh block of the same district.
OMC had entered into a MoU with Sesa Sterlite (earlier Vedanta Aluminum) for mining Niyamgiri hilltop in Kalahandi district jointly, but the plan came unstuck in August 2010 after protests from local tribals and environmental activists.
The Anil Agarwal-owned company is running the plant with bauxite sourced from outside Orissa.
Agarwal had met Patnaik seeking his help in getting alternative bauxite mines for his refinery as well as aluminium smelter in Jharsuguda district.
The company has got prospecting licence for 3 laterite mines in Koraput, expecting to get some amount of bauxite from it.
“The proposal would facilitate OMC to provide bauxite in a fair and equitable manner to the state-based end-use plants to meet their raw material...,” Orissa chief secretary GC Pati wrote to Union mines secretary Anup Pujari.
Official sources said once Karlapat is allocated in favour of OMC, it would be a breather for Sesa Sterlite as the state PSU can sign MoU for providing bauxite to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

‘CHOOSE B’PATNA FOR STATE’S 2ND AGRI VARSITY’

The Pioneer, Sept 17, 2014
Non-resident Odia (NRO) Professor Digambara Patra has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to set up the second agriculture university of the State at Bhawanipatna and several regional research centres of the varsity across the KBK region.
In a letter to Chief Minister Patnaik and Chief Secretary GC Pati, Patra has resented the proposal of the House Committee headed by former Minister Pramilia Mallick for setting up the varsity in Similiguda of Koraput district.
Describing it as political favoritism, Patra argued that Bhawanipatna has several merits for the top institution such as strategic location, an agriculture college with faculty, staff and infrastructure, administrative and academic advantages of the district.
Notably, last year Chief Minister Patnaik had appealed to the Centre for the second Agriculture University in KBK region. Former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had suggested setting up the university in Kalahandi since the district is a top producer of rice, cotton and pulses in the State and it required advanced technology to boost its farming.
The State Government had earlier asked Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) to submit a feasibility report to upgrade the current agriculture college at Bhawanipatna to a university.
Patra said that Kalahandi is among the 25th largest rice producer districts in India. The agriculture growth of the district is not yet saturated and it is predicted that it can be one of the forefront districts in the nation in agriculture growth.
He said Bhawanipatna is located centrally among all KBK districts and suits the interest for all the KBK districts. Semiliguda is more than 300 km from Balangir, 340 km from Nuapada and 360 km from Sonepur, whereas the farthest KBK district headquarters Malkangiri is within 250 km from Bhawanipatna.
Rest of the KBK district headquarters are in 150 km from Bhawanipatna (4 of them are in 100 km range). The proximity of Bhawanipatna to all the existing Regional Research and Transfer Technology Stations and Regional Research and Transfer Technology Sub-Stations of OUAT in KBK and western Odisha region even demands location of the proposed university at Bhawanipatna, he pointed out.
Patra suggested that the infrastructure, students and staff of the Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna can be used initially for the new university till it comes full-fledged. He said that water, electricity and road infrastructure is already available in the existing building of the college. Only the current facilities need to be expanded within in the campus, he added.
He stated that the Agriculture College is located in the township area and neighboring to Bhawanipatna railway station and on Khariar-Bhawanipatna SH 16, which is being expanded to a four lanes through World Bank assistance.
“The land available under OUAT campus in Bhawanipatna is in the samerange of land area where OUAT main campus is located in Bhubaneswar. Of course, land available in the Regional Research and Transfer Technology Station at Similiguda is much higher, but this is largely outside the urban area for research purposes, whereas the land available in Bhawanipatna is within in the township area. If land is the actual concern, there is plenty of land available adjacent to Agriculture College, Bhawanipatna that the Government could easily acquire for the purpose,” he said.
He continued to say, “However, most of the Agriculture Universities or Faculties keep their research centers that need substantial farming land in rural campus and undertake teaching and campus housing related activities in the urban campus. For example, farm and research center of Agriculture Faculty of my University is in a rural area, 75 km from our main campus where teaching is carried out.”
He also suggested that “It could be a good idea to keep the teaching campus of the proposed second agriculture university in the urban location like Bhawanipatna and distribute the research centers to various districts in KBK region”.

Monday, September 15, 2014

NRO Urges For Tribal Varsity

Tathya.in, Sept 12, 2014
Bhawanipatna : 12/September/2014 
As the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has given its nod for setting up a National Tribal University in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar region to facilitate research and development of tribal culture and dialect, leading NRO Digambar Patra has lauded the move.
 
Dr.Patra in a letter to Union Minister HRD, Smriti Irani has said that earlier Union Government  has established Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU) at Amarkantak and one of its regional campuses has been established in Manipur.
 
So Dr.Patra has urged the Union Government to set up a National University for Tribals in Kalahandi. He said that Odisha is primarily a tribal dominated state and it is one of the few major states having substantial percentage of tribal.
 
Odisha has higher percentage of tribal population compared to Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc.
 
Therefore, based on the letter of former BJP MP  Bikram Keshari Deo regarding establishment of Central University of Orissa in Kalahandi instead of Koraput, earlier MHRD had proposed to establish new tribal university campus in Kalahandi during 11th plan.
 
Information obtained through RTI act that IGNTU at Amarkantak has already received a proposal from MHRD to open a regional campus at Kalahandi.
 
As per the policy of the University, State Government of Odisha was informed to provide infrastructure facilities like a minimum of 300 acres of land, approach road and electricity supply and accordingly the state Govt. was asked to facilitate with the infrastructure facilities.
 
Following it, then Additional District Magistrate (ADM) had identified the required 300 acres of land in Benda Jhola and Kumudabahal village in Thuamul-Rampur panchayat samiti of the district and informed the same to the Department of Higher Education (DHE), Odisha.
 
Since then no action has been taken by MHRD. On the other hand, MHRD has acted immediately on the proposal of Chhattisgarh Government and considering similar proposal for Andhra Pradesh.
 
It is surprising that MHRD has not acted on the promise it has made to Kalahandi people with regards to establishment of a tribal university despite the fact that KBK region in Odisha is a tribal dominated backward region.
 
Dr.Patra pointed out that the region is also suffering due to insurgency like Bastar. The site identified by Kalahandi district administration is located at the heart of tribal population in Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Rayagada, Gajapati, Kalahandi, Balangir, Boudh, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Sonepur serving one of the largest tribal concentrations in Odisha as well as in India.
 
The site is well connected by state highway, which is undergoing a two lanes expansion and having all required infrastructure like water and electricity.
There are many other suitable Government owned sites in Kalahandi district such as one near Kesinga or Junagarh having all required infrastructure for such establishment of a national university.
 
MHRD has been establishing multiples of new IIT, IIM and AIIMS; however, it has completely sidelined its earlier commitment to establish national universities for tribal population in Kalahandi.
 

Under this backdrop, Dr.Patra has urged the Union Minister to  take necessary step to establish a national university in Kalahandi for tribal immediately.

NRO ARGUES WHY K’HANDI DESERVES TRIBAL UNIVERSITY

The Pioneer, Sept 14, 2014
As the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has given its nod for setting up a National Tribal University in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar region to facilitate research and development of tribal culture and dialect, leading non-resident Odia (NRO) educationist Digambara Patra has lauded the move.
Prof Patra in a letter to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has said that earlier the Union Government has established Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU) at Amarkantak and one of its regional campuses has been set up in Manipur.
Prof Patra has, therefore, urged the Union Government to set up a National University for tribals in Kalahandi. He has pointed out that Odisha is a tribals-dominated State. Odisha has a higher percentage of tribal population compared to Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc.
Therefore, based on the letter of former BJP MP late Bikram Keshari Deo regarding establishment of Central University of Odisha in Kalahandi instead of Koraput, earlier the MHRD had proposed to establish a tribal university campus in Kalahandi during the 11th Plan.
Information obtained through the RTI Act says the IGNTU at Amarkantak has already received a proposal from the MHRD to open a regional campus in Kalahandi. The Odisha Government was informed to provide infrastructure facilities like a minimum 300 acres of land, approach road and electricity.
Following it, the then Kalahandi Additional District Magistrate had identified the required 300 acres of land at Benda Jhola and Kumudabahal villages in Thuamul-Rampur panchayat samiti of the district and informed about it to the State’s Department of Higher Education.
Since then, no action has been taken by the MHRD. On the other hand, the MHRD has acted immediately on the proposal of the Chhattisgarh Government and is considering a similar proposal for Andhra Pradesh. It is surprising that the MHRD has not acted on the promise it made to Kalahandi people with regard to a tribal university, Prof Paztra has stated.
He has pointed out that the site identified by the Kalahandi district administration is located at the heart of tribal populations of the districts of Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Rayagada, Gajapati, Kalahandi, Balangir, Boudh, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Subarnapur serving one of the largest tribal concentrations in Odisha as well as in India.

CPM Demands CBI Inquiry into Scams

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 15, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA:  Demanding CBI probe, State Secretariat member of CPM, Ali Kishore Pattnaik said involvement of politicians in mining and chit fund scams in the State should be brought to the limelight.
Addressing mediapersons here on Saturday, Pattnaik said according to CAG reports, financial irregularities have been found in 38 departments and 17 public sector undertakings (PSUs) of the State Government. “The current BJD Government has surpassed all the past corruptions. The Government is hand in gloves with persons accused in chit fund and mining scams,” he alleged. Failure of Crime Branch and Vigilance in solving several cases has been proved and the only solution to unearth the truth is the CBI, he said.
Apparently, the State unit of CPM has launched a public awareness campaign on these scams since September 5 and it will continue till 15th.
Protests will be stepped up if the Government fails to take any action against the corrupt politicians, he added.
District secretary of CPM, Naba Kishore Pattnaik, and district committee member Biswajit Chatterji, highlighted several problems ailing the region.
Issues like establishment of an agriculture university in Kalahandi and revival of the medical college at Jaring that failed to get the nod from the Medical Council of India due to lack of infrastructure and early establishment of the proposed rail wagon factory at Narla were also discussed in the meet.

Kalahandi, Koraput in Race for Second Agriculture Varsity

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 15, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture has recommended establishment of the proposed second agriculture university at Semiliguda in Koraput district, Citizens’ Forum, Kalahandi demand the institute at Bhawanipatna.
The Committee, headed by BJD legislator Pramila Mallick, said an agriculture university plays a vital role in education, research and extension in the field of agriculture and allied sciences. There is a need for another such varsity to meet the State’s demands.
“Steps should be taken to establish a second agriculture university preferably at Semiliguda in Koraput district,” the report submitted to the Assembly said.
The site recommended by the Committee assumes significance against the backdrop of Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy’s announcement that the State Government has decided to set up a second agriculture university in KBK region.
Meanwhile, the Kalahandi Citizens’ Forum has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to establish the proposed university at Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters of Kalahandi.
In a memorandum to the Chief Minister, the forum said adequate Government land and other ancillary facilities are available near the Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna. The land available with Arkabahli agriculture farm located near the existing agriculture college and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra could be readily utilised for demonstration farming.
At least 500-600 acres of land would be required for the proposed agriculture university which will house a College of Agriculture and Agriculture Engineering, College of Fisheries and College of Animal Sciences.
Meanwhile, the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) has submitted a list of facilities available on agriculture and allied subjects in KBK districts to the State Government for taking a decision on the proposed university.
Sources in OUAT said both Semiliguda and Bhawanipatna are suitable locations. It is upto the Government to take a decision as to which site is better suited for the proposed university.
Several Congress leaders of Balangir district have also demanded establishment of the proposed university in their district.
The State Government recently wrote to Collectors of six districts to identify a suitable location in their districts for the proposed Indian Institute of Management (IIM). The six districts are Cuttack, Khurda, Ganjam, Koraput, Sambalpur and Sundargarh.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

BIJU EXPRESSWAY IN FOUR N’RANGPUR BLOCKS SOUGHT

Note: A good suggestion, indeed we have been asking state Govt. to connect Dharamgarh and Umakote directly via Jharigram since a while, which will benefit bordering area of KBK and directly connect Umarkote with Balangir, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Kandhamal etc.

The Pioneer, Sept 13, 2014
Demanding the proposed Biju Express Highway route to cover four blocks, including Dabugam, Umerkote, Jharigam and Chandahandi of Nabarangpur district, a delegation of the Zilla Nagarik Suraksha O Sachetan Manch submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through district Collector Md Sadique Alam on Thursday.
Notably, the proposed highway with a cost of Rs 3,200 crore would connect Jagadalpur in Chhattisgarh with Rourkela via Kotpad, Boriguma, Nabarangpur, Papadahandi, Maidalpur, Ampani, Kenduguda, Dharamgarh, Nuapada, Saintala, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Jharsuguda. It would cover four KBK districts and four districts in the western Odisha. For a more convenient communication facility in the tribal-dominated district, the delegation demanded that the highway be diverted from Papadahandi junction to Dabugam, Umerkote, Jharigam, Chandahandi and then Dharamgarh instead of Maidalpur-Ampani-Kenduguda as the existing NH-26 passes through the Maidalpur-Ampani-Junagarh-Bargarh route.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bad Weather Likely to Affect Cotton Output in Kalahandi

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 12, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA : Adverse weather condition is likely to hit cotton production in Kalahandi district. Being the major cash crop in the district, continuous spell of bad climatic condition has cast doubts over the crop forecast.
Sources said cotton crop has been affected due to dry condition in June and the incessant rain since July till date.
As against the target of Agriculture Department to cover 45,850 hectares (ha) in the district, cotton crop has been cultivated in 44,677 ha. Sowing of the seed has been delayed by 20 days. Plants are mostly in staggered condition and the growth is stunted. Moreover, plant density has not been uniform.
As per the periodical crop assessment of the Department, of the total 44,677 ha, cotton crop in 14,998 ha has been affected. Upto 25 per cent of crop have been badly affected in 9531 ha, 25 to 50 per cent in 4302 ha and above 50 per cent in 1163 ha.
Cotton crop specialist Narayan Upadhyaya said going by the field scenario, there may be 30 to 40 per cent production loss. Fertilizer and crop nutrients have been washed away from the fields due to heavy rain. As against initial expectation of production of more than six lakh quintals of cotton seeds, the production may come down to four to 4.5 lakh quintals, he said.
Upadhyaya further said the intercropping pulse crop Arhargrown in lines with cotton has also been affected by bad weather. If there is relief from incessant rain, there may be some improvement in crop yield, he added.

Civic poll process begins at 9 places

Times of India, Sept 12, 2014

BHUBANESWAR: The state election commission (SEC) has started process for conducting civic polls in Paradip, Sunabeda and Belpahar municipalities and Balimela and Rairakhol notified area councils (NACs).

According to an official release issued here on Thursday, the existing councils of the five civic bodies would dissolve in April, 2015.

The SEC has also decided to conduct the urban polls in four newly-created NACs like Ranpur and Daspalla in Nayagarh district, Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district and Tusura in Balangir district.

The ward delimitation process for Dharmagarh and Ranpur NACs has been completed. The poll watchdog in the state wrote to the housing and urban development department to complete the delimitation process of the remaining NACs and finalize the reservation list, the release noted.

Meanwhile, the SEC announced to conduct byelection to 18 gram panchayats in 12 districts on September 16. The results would be announced on the following day.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DEVELOP EDUCATIONAL HUBS IN ODISHA A LA AP

The Pioneer, Sept 11, 2014
Thursday, 11 September 2014 | DIGAMBARA PATRA | in Bhubaneswar
0
Through the Idco, the district Collectors of six different districts have been asked to identify 200 acres of land for the proposed Indian Institute of Technology (IIM) in Odisha.
Though politically the State Government may have played a clever game to woo different regions, it appears that actually it is not serving the interest of inclusive growth of the State.
First of all, the State Government completely forgot other districts like Balangir, Kalahandi, Angul, Dhenkanal and Baleswar where similar demands for an IIM have been made. Secondly, the present recommendations give an edge to State Capital region comprising Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. If I were a part of the Central selection committee, I would also select Bhubaneswar/Cuttack among the other proposed sites because of the fact that the sites located around the State capital region has the advantages of the entire existing infrastructure along with an international airport in a close distance.
Despite airport being given as a criterion, many of the State Governments are recommending sites for various national institutions based on their best interest. There are cases where sites located in 200 km radius from a regular airport have been considered to establish a national institution like the IIM.
For example, the Himachal Pradesh Government has proposed a site for the new IIM, which is not close to any of the regular airports. If Andhra Pradesh Government gave an option of either Visakhaptnam or Tirupati for the proposed new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Central Government would most likely pick up Visakhaptanam due to better connectivity. On the contrary, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has limited his proposal to Tirupati for the IIT, Visakhaptanam for the IIM, Vijayawada for the AIIMS, Kurnool for the IIIT, Vizianagaran for the Tribal University, Anantapur for the Central University, West Godavari for the NIT and East Godavari for the Petroleum University to bring a decentralized development of higher education in that State.
If the Odisha Government was serious about decentralization of higher education, it would not ask for sites around the State capital region including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar and limit the proposed sites to Sambalpur, Brahmapur, Rourkela and Jeypore, etc for the IIM.
Definitely, for the initial interest of the IIM as a premier quality institution, Bhubaneswar is an ideal place for its institutional development. At the same time, an international airport also is not found in any other part. But the reality is practical success of an airport needs largely development of service sector including establishment of educational and health institutions. New IIM itself could help build new airport and trigger infrastructure development in another location or hinterland of the State.
Like a few other States, if 200 km distance from any existing regular airport is enforced by Odisha for establishing the new IIM, many backward parts could be brought into developmental map. For instance, locations in Bhawanipatna, Jeypore and Rourkela may use regular airports in Raipur, Visakhapatnam, and Ranchi respectively.
The Odisha Government’s main priority should be to create few badly needed mega cities or urban clusters geographically distributed in Odisha for long term competitiveness of the State in the national level instead of just meeting the short-term institutional growth like having an IIM itself.
Naidu has proposed three mega cities in Andhra Pradesh, one in north (Visakhaptnam), second in south (Tirupati) and third in the centre (Vijajawada-Guntur), and distributed all the institutes of national importance accordingly. Tomorrow Andhra Pradesh will have three cities to compete in the national level whereas Odisha will continue to struggle with just one.
I suggest the Odisha Government should follow Andhra Pradesh’s model of creating three mega regions for future.
One could be for the coast within 200 km radius of Bhubaneswar airport including Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Nayagarh, Paradip, Jajpur, Berhampur, Baleswar, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar etc.
Second mega region could be for the north part of the State within 200 km radius of Jharsuguda airport including Rourkela, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Brajaraj Nagar, Barbil, Angul, Bargarh, Sonepur, Boudh, etc.
And the third mega region could be for south part, especially for the backward KBK-Kandhamal-Gajapati region comprising Rayagada, Jeypore, Koraput, Paralakhemundi, Nabarangpur, Sunabeda, Bhawanipatna, Umarkote, Khariar, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Titilagarh, Kantabanji, Balangir and Phulbani, etc.
Therefore it is highly needed that the State Government decentralise educational development in Odisha, especially giving priority to mega clusters that lack educational and infrastructure development in airport instead of just meeting institutional need of the proposed IIM.

(The writer, who hails from Odisha, works as Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry in theAmerican University of Beirut, Lebanon)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vedanta to Invest in Refinery Expansion

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 10, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: The capacity of Vedanta’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district will be expanded from one million tonne per annum (mtpa) to two mtpa in the next one year.
This was announced by Chairman of Vedanta Group Anil Agarwal after a meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Tuesday. Stating that additional 20 lakh tonnes of ore will be required for the plant’s expansion, Agarwal said the refinery will ultimately have a capacity of six mtpa.
Odisha Government has assured the company of a lasting solution to the problem of raw material for the refinery, he said. After the tribals of the area said ‘no’ to mining in Niyamgiri hills, the company has no other option but to get ore from the three mines of L&T to run the plant in the State, Agarwal said. Vedanta, which had set up one mtpa refinery plant at Lanjigarh seven years back, is facing acute shortage of bauxite and presently importing the raw material from other States and countries to feed its plant. The company had to shut down the plant for some months due to shortage of bauxite in 2012.
The Vedanta chief said the State Government has assured the company to expedite the grant of lease for the two bauxite reserves at Sijimali and Kutrumali mines in south Odisha’s Rayagada and Kalahandi districts respectively for which L&T had been given prospecting licence way back in 1990.
Earlier, Vedanta had entered into a joint venture with L&T, which held prospecting licence for Sijimali and Kutrumali mines at an estimated bauxite deposit of about 300 million tonnes. Vedanta has also approached Odisha Government to provide two laterite mines to partially take care of raw material requirements of the refinery.
As a result of the acute shortage of ore, the company’s smelter plant at Jharsuguda is operating at only 25 per cent of its capacity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

126 Buildings Spotted to Install Solar Panels

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 9, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: Green Energy Development Corporation of Odisha Limited (GEDCOL) has identified 126 buildings in the Twin City to install solar panels, said Chairman-cum-Managing Director of GRIDCO and GEDCOL Board of Director member Hemant Sharma.
Speaking at a workshop on solar power conducted by Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI) here on Monday, Sharma said GEDCOL has a target to produce five MW of power in the first phase of the project.
It would be executed on a public-private-partnership (PPP) mode and eight companies have been shortlisted for the purpose. 
Besides, works have already commenced at solar plants in Rengali, Manamunda and Bhawanipatna where GEDCOL has set a target of 100 MW power production by 2017.
“Solar power projects have still not percolated into the private sector and all the major projects are being undertaken by the Government. Young entrepreneurs must take initiatives in this sector,” Sharma said.
Speaking at the workshop, several industry experts opined that educational institutions should start a course on solar power and energy.
At a time when energy demand is on the rise, the future of power generation lies in solar energy.
“The cost of generating one MW of solar power is around `seven to 7.5 crore, including cost of land and transmission of power to the grid,” said a Dubai-based entrepreneur Naeem Salih. Though expensive, solar power panels have excellent return on investment and are easy to set up compared to the process of production of power through other renewable sources of energy like wind and biomass.
Among others, Santosh Sahoo, Director GEDCOL; T Harinarayan, Director GERMI; Omkar Jani, Principal Scientist GERMI; executives from public sector companies and students were present.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter to CM: Decentralize educational development following Andhra Pradesh's model

Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
Recently through IDCO, collectors of six different districts of Odisha have been asked to identify 200 acres of land for the proposed Indian Institute of Technology (IIM) in Odisha. Though politically state Government may have played a clever game to woo different regions of Odisha, it appears that actually it is not serving the interest of inclusive growth of the state.

First of all, the state Government completely forgot other districts like Balangir, Kalahandi, Angul, Dhenkanal and Balasore where similar demands for an IIM have been made. Secondly, the present recommendations give an edge to state capital region comprising Bhubaneswar and Cuttack region. If I were the part of central Govt. selection committee, I would also select Bhubaneswar/Cuttack among the other proposed sites because of the fact that sites located around state capital region has the advantages of the entire existing infrastructure along with an international airport in a close distance.

Despite airport being given as criteria, many of the state Governments are recommending sites for various national institutions based on the interest of the state.  There are cases where sites located 200 km radius from a regular airport has been considered to establish a national institution like IIM.

For example, Himachal Pradesh Government has proposed a site for new IIM, which is not close to any of the regular airports.  If Andhra Pradesh Government gives an option of either Visakhaptnam or Tirupati for the proposed new Indian Institute of Tehcnology (IIT) in that state, the central Government would most likely pick up Visakhaptanam due to better connectivity. In contrary, Mr.  Chandrababu Naidu has limited his proposal  to Tirupati for IIT, Visakhaptanam for IIM, Vijayawada for AIIMS, Kurnool for IIIT, Vizianagaran for Tribal University, Anantapur for Central University, West Godavari for NIT, and East Godavari for Petroleum University to bring a decentralized development of higher education in that state.

If Odisha Government were serious about decentralization of higher education, it would not have asked for sites around state capital region including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar and limited the proposed sites to Sambalpur, Berhampur, Rourkela, Jeypore, etc. for IIM.

Definitely, for the initial interest of IIM as a premier quality institution, Bhubaneswar is an ideal place for its institutional development. At the same time an Airport also does not come in nowhere or agriculture land. Practical success of an airport needs largely development of service sector including establishment of educational and health institutions. New IIM itself could help building new airport and trigger infrastructure development in another location or hinterland of the state. 

Except state capital region, Odisha does not have a second location, which fits the bill for national level development. Bhubaneswar region is already an educational hub in the nation having multiples of national and tens of state institutions, few of the existing national institutions in Bhubaneswar even comes under institution of national importance act, therefore, presently Bhubaneswar needs ONLY to improve qualities in existing national and state institutions and not increase in number of such educational institutions.

Like few other states, if 200 km distance from any existing regular airport is enforced by Odisha state Govt. on the Human Development Ministry as a site to establish a new IIM in the state, many backward parts of the state could be brought into developmental map by using existing airports in neighbouring states. For instance, locations in Bhawanipatna, Jeypore and Rourkela may use regular airports in Raipur, Visakhapatnam, and Ranchi respectively.

Odisha state Government’s main priority should be to create few badly needed mega cities or urban clusters geographically distributed in Odisha for long term competitiveness of the state in the national level instead of just meeting the short-term institutional growth of IIM itself. 

Mr. Chandrababu Naidu has proposed three mega cities in Andhra Pradesh, one in north (Visakhaptnam), second in south (Tirupati) and third in the center (Vijajawada-Guntur), and distributed all the institutes of national importance accordingly. Tomorrow Andhra Pradesh will have 3 cities to compete in the national level whereas Odisha will continue to struggle with just one. 

I suggest Odisha Government should ahead follow Andhra Pradesh’s mode of creating 3-mega regions for future.

One could be for the coast within 200 km radius of Bhubaneswar airport including Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Nayagarh, Paradeep, Jajpur, Berhampur, Balasore, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar etc.

Second mega region could be for the north part of the state within 200 km radius of Jharsuguda airport including Rourkela, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Brajaraj Nagar, Barbil, Angul, Bargarh, Sonepur, Boudh, etc.

And the third mega region could be for south part, especially for the backward KBK-Kandhamal-Gajapati region within 200 km radius of Utkela airport comprising Rayagada, Jeypore, Koraput, Paralakhemundi, Nabarangpur, Sunabeda, Bhawanipatna, Umarkote, Khariar, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Titilagarh, Kantabanji, Balangir, Phulbani, etc.     

I urge you to kindly decentralize educational development in Odisha, especially giving priority to mega clusters that lack educational and infrastructure development in airport instead of just meeting institutional need of the proposed IIM.

Thank you and best regards

Digambara Patra

Cholera Haunts Kalahandi, Claims Three in 15 Days

The New Indian Express, Sept 8, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: Cholera has raised its ugly head in Kalahandi district’s Narla block where the dreaded disease has claimed three lives in 15 days.
A nine-year-old girl, a 62-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy have fallen prey to the waterborne disease which has begun to spread its tentacles once again. All the three deaths have been reported from Narla, reliable sources said.
Between August 21 and September 5, over 120 cases of severe diarrhoea were recorded in the block. Once the outbreak was reported, the district administration sent samples for investigation which tested positive for
 Vibrio Cholerae.
Cholera has emerged as a major public health disorder in southern districts where the Government has failed to control it. After Koraput and Rayagada, Kalahandi is now the epicentre of the disease. The Health and Family Welfare Department, however, has been mum on the matter and attributed the deaths to severe diarrhoea, and not cholera. Diarrhoea has been under control this year with about 16 deaths reported and 1,716 persons affected. In 2013, the disease had claimed 29 lives, while 59 deaths each were reported in 2012 and 2011.
On Saturday, the Department took stock of the status of communicable diseases and stated that though outbreaks are under check, dengue has continued to be a cause of concern. The fever has been spreading rapidly in Jajpur district, where at least 415 people have contracted the disease. Of the 4,057 blood samples sent for dengue testing, 969 have tested positive this year. One person each have died in Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur.
On Saturday, 94 samples were tested out of which 36 tested positive. Jajpur accounted for 15 cases.

Rural Schools Suffer for 'Urban Teachers'

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar). Sept 8, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: The primary and upper primary education continues to remain in doldrums in Kalahandi district with shortage of teachers remaining a perennial affair in most schools. The situation has worsened with most of the teachers concentrated in Bhawanipatna Municipality limits and neighbouring places.
The district level transfer committee, which met under the chairmanship of Collector Bijay Ketan Upadhyaya here last month, expressed concern over the matter. It was revealed at the meeting that urban areas like Municipality limits and nearby places have excess teachers while the schools in remote and inaccessible areas reel under acute scarcity of teachers.
According to an official report, while there is shortage of 1,477 teachers in the district, there are 202 teachers more than sanctioned posts in Bhawanipatna block alone. Almost all blocks except Bhawanipatna are witnessing acute crunch of teachers. There total 2,317 primary and upper primary schools with student strength of  2,24,617 in the district. As per the guidelines on teacher-student ratio, there should be 7,743 teachers. As on date, there are only 6,468 teachers including regular teachers, zilla parishad teachers, Siksha Sahayaks and Gana Sikshaks.
While there are 202 surplus teachers in Bhawanipatna block, 68 more teachers than requirement are working in Municipality. There are many teachers who manage to get transferred between Bhawanipatna town and nearby urban areas for long years.
In Golamunda block, there is shortage of 180 teachers followed by 174 in Thuamul Rampur, 161 in Junagarh, 155 in Narla, 122 in Kesinga, 119 in Lanjigarh, 114 in Koksara, 112 in M Rampur, 107 in Jaipatna block, 99 in Karlamunda and 33 in Kalampur block. Most of the interior schools are run with one teacher affecting education of students.
The transfer committee, which included District Education Officer, Block Education Officers and elected representatives of the district, expressed concern over the sorry state of affairs, while deciding to take necessary steps to improve the situation.
It was decided to prepare the list of teachers in different schools and verify their service books to ascertain exact position to take action. The School and Mass Education Department has also been requested to fill up the vacant posts too.
Speaking to mediapersons, Junagarh MLA Dibyasankar Mishra said the surplus teachers in Bhawanipatna block should be posted in blocks facing acute shortage of teachers for the benefit of students.
Golamunda and Junagarh blocks which come under his Assembly segment are neglected since long and need immediate attention in this regard. Similarly, interior areas of Thuamul Rampur, Jaipatna, Narla, M Rampur and Lanjigarh blocks also need attention, he added.

Sesa Sterlite gets prospecting licence for laterite deposits in Orissa

Indian Express, Sept 7, 2014
Written by Debabrata Mohanty | September 7, 2014 12:56 am
The Orissa government has granted Sesa Sterlite a prospecting licence for two laterite deposits, which would give the Anil Agarwal-owned company some respite on the raw material front for its 1 million tonne per annum alumina refinery in Lanjigarh.
Sesa Sterlite is currently facing losses on account of the high import and transportation costs of bauxite ore from outside Orissa to feed the plant.
With the state steel and mines department granting  two prospecting licences (PL) for laterite deposits over the 47-hectare land in Dangdeula village of Koraput tehsil last week, the second one in less than a month, company officials hoped that extraction of bauxite from laterite would help lower production cost of alumina.
State director of mining Deepak Mohanty said laterites and lateritic soils contain 20 to 25 per cent aluminium oxide.
“If blended with good quality of bauxite, it can be used to produce alumina,” he said. As laterite is a minor mineral, its extraction does not require approval from the Union mines ministry.
“After the Union ministry of environment and forests rejected our application for mining bauxite from Niyamgiri hilltop last year, we are running our plant by importing bauxite from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. We are also importing from New Guinea,” said Anil Bhat, a senior official of the company.
“We are expecting grant of PL for the third laterite deposit in the same village within a next month. Once the monsoon gets over, we would soon start prospecting and depending on the results we would take a call,” he said.
The Niyamgiri hilltop, which Sesa want to mine, contained an estimated 72 million tonnes of bauxite. But the company could not mine due to opposition from Dongaria Kondh tribals residing on the hill slopes.
Sesa Sterlite officials said despite the acute bauxite crunch, the Lanjigarh plant is running at 80-90 per cent of its capacity over the last two months.
“We don’t want our machinery to rust. We are hoping that the laterite deposits would help us tide over the crisis till we get a bauxite supply from Orissa,” said the official.
To run its 0.5 mtpa aluminium facility in Jharsuguda, Sesa Sterlite needs at least 3 million tones of bauxite for the alumina refinery plant at Lanjigarh every year. State mining department officials said the company has filed 33 applications for bauxite mines in the state including Karlapat (south), Sasbahumali and Gandhamardhan.
Sesa Sterlite has already entered into a tripartite agreement with Larsen & Toubro and its partner Dubai Aluminium Company to buy Raykal Aluminium, their joint aluminium venture. The firm hoped that it would be able to source bauxite from the captive mines allotted to L&T in Sijimali and Kuturumali of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts. But the company is yet to graduate to mining lease from the prospective lease stage. The two mines are estimated to have 300 million tonnes of bauxite.

Awareness Drive on Exploitation

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept 6, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: Kalahandi district administration has started an awareness campaign to prevent the labourers from being harassed and exploited by unauthorised labour agents and contractors.
District Labour Office has released `two lakh for the purpose. Kala Sanskruti Sangh of Kalahandi has been entrusted to take up the awareness drive to be launched in eight blocks of the district which are vulnerable to labour migration. The blocks to be covered by the campaign are Golamunda, Jaipatna, Koksara, Dharamgarh, Karlamunda, Narla and Kesinga. Thirty cultural groups affiliated to Kala Sanskruti Sangh have been entrusted to campaign through different folk art forms like Ghumura, Bajasal, Pala and Sankirtan.
The cultural groups will perform in 72 villages including weekly markets within 15 days, said Secretary of District Council of Culture Kalicharan Mohanty.
After Nuakhai, middlemen have started mobilising the labourers to send them outside the State for work. They offer advance money to their families. Though many times the labourers are deprived of their statutory rights, they do not intimate Labour Office before migrating nor they check the registration certificate of the labour contractor.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Process Takes off for Dharamgarh KV

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 1, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: After initial hiccups, the proposed Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) at Dharamgarh in Kalahandi district, sanctioned by Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) on April 1, will be a reality soon. The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) officials have written to the district administration to allot land for the purpose.
As per the sanction letter issued to the Chief Secretary by the KVS, 10 acres of land are required to set up the school. If the required land is not transferred in favour of KVS within one year from the date of sanction, the approval will be withdrawn, the letter stated.
Although the district administration had selected the land in Bagad village near Dharamgarh and intimated the KVS, the land transfer could not materialise as the KVS authorities did not complete necessary paper work.
Meanwhile, the MP Arkakesari Deo along with secretary of Parents Teacher Association of Bhawanipatna KV Anil Kumar Nanda had a meeting with the HRD Minister and Deputy Commissioner of KVS at New Delhi and apprised them of the issue.
On August 26, the KVS submitted an application to the Tehsildar of Dharamgarh for settlement of the land.
Deo said the action taken by KVS has generated hope among the parents in the area that the school will take shape shortly.
The HRD Minister Smriti Irani was requested for early opening of the school and filling up the vacancies in Bhawanipatna KV, he added.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Celebration with A Difference

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Aug 31, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: The agrarian festival of Nuakhai is celebrated in a different manner in Kalahandi. The festival here does not hold any similarity with other Western Odisha districts and is not celebrated as per ‘lagna’ of Goddess Samaleswari or that of Balangir.
The presiding deity here is Goddess Manikeswari and Nuakhai is celebrated according to the rituals related to her.
The Nuakhai of Goddess Manikeswari falls on ‘Bhadrab Shukla Dashami’ and people partake of the ‘Nabanna’ after offering it to the presiding deity. There was a change in the festival after 28th king of Kalahandi Udit Pratap Deo married Asha Kumari Devi, the only daughter of last king of Sambalpur Narayan Sai in 1867.
The queen brought along some agriculture expert families from Sambalpur and these came to be known as Gountias (big landlords).
They were permitted to celebrate Nuakhai on Rusi Panchami (as per the tradition of Sambalpur) after offering ‘Nabanna’ to local village and family deities. Therefore, in many pockets that were under Gountias, Nuakhai was celebrated on Saturday.
However, in Bhawanipatna, Jaipatna, Madanpur Rampur, Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur areas, it will be celebrated on ‘Bhadraba Shukla Dashami’ which falls on September 4.
There is another interesting tradition to the Nuakhai celebrations here.
The temple of Budharaja (Mahakala Bhairaba) on the campus of Manikeswari temple opens only on ‘Mahasaptami’ night after remaining closed for a year. It is again closed on ‘Bijaya Dasami’. So Nuakhai of Budharaja is observed on Maha Nabami after the completion of ‘Chhatar Yatra’ of Manikeswari.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Letter to CM: Give free land and share cost of Junagarh-Amaguda railway line and include Umarkote-Dharamgarh route in highway project

Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
Thank you very much for envisioning two important issues that has been a long-standing demand for infrastructure development in KBK region.

First of all, I heartily congratulate you for announcing Biju Expressway to connect Jagdalpur with Rourkela. This is one of the important routes to connect Western bordering region of Odisha. I am very glad that you have positively considered our request to link NH 200 (Bhella) with NH 201 (Ampani) through this expressway, which has been one of the longstanding demands [1,2]. This route will particularly benefit to connect Koraput, Nabarangpur and Kalahandi regions with Nuapada and Bargarh regions.

However, Umarkote, another bordering town in KBK region of Odisha, is still out of this development. I request you to consider connecting Umakote-Jharigaon-Dharamgarh through a state highway to associate this part of Nabarangpur district with Nuapada, Kalahandi, Balangir, Bargarh and Kandhamal directly.

Secondly, I am also equally impressed with your initiative to share cost for Jeypore-Malkangiri and Nabarangpur-Jeypore railway lines. Kindly recall my letter dated on Jan 26, 2014 [3] appealing to share cost of Junagarh-Malkangiri railway lines in the line of proposed Khordha-Balangir rail lines.

I like to emphasize that Jeypore-Nabarangpur line gives less that 12% rate of return (ROR), but Junagarh-Amaguda has been estimated as 14.67 % ROR.  In 1962-63 parliament was informed that Mr. Parkers had done a survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line because Koraput-Kothavalasa and Koraput-Rayagada are e-special category railway routes having many tunnels and high-level bridges, the speed is limited to less than 50 kmph and number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these two routes. Amabguda-Lanjigarh road railway line will make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier. Realizing this Laniigarh road-Junagarh line was approved in 1991 to connect with KK line at Ambaguda via Nabarangpur. 56 km of Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line of this route took 25 years to get completed and survey for Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route has been done with 14.67% ROR. If the state Government of Odisha makes this a point and negotiates with the railway ministry to expedite Junagath-Amaguda railway project in a cost-sharing basis, the project will be boosted and Nabarangpur can be in railway map quickly, and Koraput and Nabarangpur can have direct rail connectivity with Western Odisha and South Odisha to further advance socio-economic development in this region.

I urge you to kindly consider building Umarkote-Dharamgarh state highway and give free land as well as share the cost of Junagarh-Amaguda railway line for the benefit of KBK region

Thank you and best regards
Digambara Patra

References

[1] Grievance to CM (March 3, 2011)
[2] Letter to CM on Feb 19, 2011;
[3] Letter to CM on Jan 26, 2014;
http://kalahandia.blogspot.com/2014/01/sharing-cost-of-khordha-balangir.html