Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Feb 28, 2007
Tuesday, Feb 27, 2007

The Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs.2.67 crore to the State Government of Orissa towards second installment of Central Funds for the Watershed Mission, Kalahandi district of the State under Haryali-II guidelines for the implementation of the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) in the district of Kalahandi for the year 2006-07.

The grant is towards plan expenditure and its utilization is subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the guidelines for watershed development and also to the conditions laid down and orders issued from time to time by the Government of India.

Department of Land Resources has brought out a new initiative called Haryali with an objective of empowering Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) both financially and administratively in implementation of Watershed Development Prorammes. Under this initiative, all ongoing area development programmes namely, Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP), Drought Prone Areas Programmes (DPAP) and Desert Development Programme (DDP) are to be implemented through the PRIs. New projects under the aforesaid area development programmes are implemented in accordance with the Guidelines for Haryali from April 1, 2003

Nod to industry policy

The Telegraph, Feb 28, 2007

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 27: The cabinet today gave its nod to Orissa’s new industrial policy, agreeing to provide incentives to “thrust sector” industries, which have maximum employment and revenue generation potential.

Agro-processing, automobiles and components, textile and apparel as well as ancillary and downstream units will come under this category. In addition, petroleum, chemical and petrochemical, pharmaceutical and leather industries will be added to the list of priority sector industries, said chief secretary Ajit Tripathy.

Special incentives will be given to industries to be set up in the Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi region as well as Kandhamal, Gajapati and Mayurbhanj districts.
Sops also await industries in the form of concession on land premium, stamp duty, entry tax, central sales tax, value-added tax and interest subsidy.

An industrial and allied infrastructure fund with a corpus of Rs 100 crore will be floated to develop infrastructure on public-private partnership, said Tripathy.

The cabinet also cleared the draft transport policy of the state, which envisages the setting up of an infrastructure development authority and a regulatory advisory council.

Onion farming suffers sans storage

The New Indian Express, Feb 28, 2007
Tuesday February 27 2007 10:20 IST

BHAWANIPATNA: Abundance of black cotton soil and favourable climate in Kalahandi and its nearby areas are suitable for onion cultivation. But in absence of marketing facilities and storage infrastructure, onion cultivation in the district is just limited to 3,800 hectares.

Experts, however, claim that Kalahandi has the scope to cultivate four times more than the present coverage area.

Last season, around 54,000 mt of onions were harvested in the district as per a market assessment done by the Horticulture Department. Farmers alleged that due to lack of adequate storage facilities and marketing networks, traders from outside the State take advantage of the situation.

According to sources, onions are purchased from farmers at around Rs 2 to 3 a kg and are stored by the traders and then brought to market when the rates are high.

Meanwhile, as against the production of 54,000 mt, the present storage capacity of the district is only 1,500 mt tonnes. Horticulture deputy director Dharanidhar Patra said plans to increase the storage capacity in the district was being mooted through the 践orticulture Mission Programme・ adding, small storage godowns with the capacity of 20 quintals had been provided to about 745 farmers during the last three years.

Each such godown costs Rs 16,000 and the beneficiary farmers have been given Rs 8,000 as subsidy. Besides, five bulk storage godowns with the capacity of 50 mt tonnes each have been set up in the district and are being managed by SHGs,鋳 he said.

He further said that steps were being taken to provide 300 more godowns of 20 quintal capacity to interested farmers during the current financial year.

The situation is, however, different in Chaptkhanda village under Bhawanipatna Sadar block, considered one of the leading onion producing villages in the State. A bulk storage godown of 50 tonne capacity is lying in a dilapidated condition for long. Gurudev Majhi, a villager, said that the District Supply and Marketing Society (DSMS) provided Rs 10,000 as working capital to an SHG, which was managing the godown.

However, the DSMS authorities directed the SHG to store and sell the onions when the price was high. In the process, the harvest decayed and the SHG incurred a loss of over Rs 1 lakh. Since then, the godown is not being used, he alleged.

Monday, February 26, 2007

NRO demands IIPH in Orissa, Feb 26, 2007

As India lives in its villages, setting up Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) across urban areas is the biggest weakness of the National Policy on Public Health System (NPPHS).

Vigilant Non Resident Oriya (NRO) Digamber Patra, while analyzing the NPPHS, called upon the Union government to establish centers of IIPH in rural, remote and backward pockets geographically situated across India.

Dr.Patra, Visiting Lecturer, Waseda University, Tokyo has suggested that places like Kalahandi (Orissa) in South-East India, Dibrugarh (Assam) in North-East India, Bellary (Karnataka) in South-West India and Churu (Rajasthan) in North-West India needs these types of centers.

How ever the urban region like Lucknow (Chandigarh or Shimla or Delhi) in Northern Zone, Thiruvantapuram (Chennai or Hyderabad or Bangalore) in Southern Zone, Bhubaneswar (Patna or Kolkata) in Eastern Zone and Ahmedabad (Bhopal or Jaipur or Mumbai) in Western Zone will be right places for IIPH.

In May 2006, the prime minister of India announced Pubic Health Foundation of India (PHFI) by replicating a similar system in the United States of America (USA).

However, before strengthening the NPPHS, the organization itself seems to be formulating its own weakness when it plans to establish few Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) across India in urban cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Ahemadabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh and Lucknow.

Pointing out the weakness he raises doubts over how the policy makers would formulate policy for the major part of rural India.

One needs to bear in mind that in “Shining India” visiting Kalahandi from Kolkata or Hyderabad might take two days where as from Delhi one could reach Kolkata/Hyderabad in 2 hours.

The current public health problems faced by rural and urban India is totally different and needs separate treatment, he suggested.

It is surprising that how it would help these proposed IIPH institutes located in various cities such as Kolkata to understand the basic health problem faced by rural Indian such as people in remote places like multi-facet backward Kalahandi.

On the other hand Orissa is among the least invested states in educational institute by Government of India.

Earlier shifting of a proposed NIS from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata had made a huge public protest in Orissa and for it the prime minister had to interfere by asking Department of Atomic Energy to establish a similar institute e.g. NISER at Bhubaneswar.

Despite that very recently an announced IIT in Orissa was abolished and shifted.

In eastern zone of the country, most of the central government’s educational institutes were/are being established only in Kolkata i.e. West Bengal state totally discounting requirement of other states like Orissa and Bihar, who are at the bottom of per capital expenditure in higher education.

This is also unlike other parts of India e.g. Southern, Northern and Western zones. For instance, Kolkata and its surrounding already have IIT, IIM, ISI, IISER, Indian Association of Cultivation Science (a science institute similar to IISc standard),

NITTR, Central University and there are proposals for new IIEST, NIPER, IIPH, etc in Kolkata. Where as none of the above institutes including proposed IIPH was/is being located in Orissa except a new IIT was recently announced in Bihar for eastern zone.

Both political and administrative apathy by decision makers is bringing this disparity in the eastern zone of the country, he alleged.

Locating permanently a separate IIPH in these pockets would be very much helpful to assess and understand the basic public health problems and for formulating new policies for rural region, Dr.Patra suggested.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Feb 24, 2007: The Telegraph

Plan pegged at 5105 cr

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 23: The plan size for Orissa for 2007-08 was pegged at Rs 5,105 crore at the end of discussions between chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the Planning Commission deputy chairman in Delhi this evening.

The annual plan outlay for the coming financial year is 46 per cent higher than the current fiscal, said an official release issued by the chief minister’s office here.

Discussions were also held regarding the size of the 11th plan (2007-12). It was, however, decided that the plan size would be finalised after “further deliberations” within a couple of months.

Addressing the meeting with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Patnaik said less-developed states like Orissa should get “greater support and higher flow of liberal assistance” from the Centre, primarily of non-debt creating nature.

The chief minister urged Delhi to provide greater assistance for development of infrastructure such as roads, irrigation projects and ports. He also stressed the need for expeditious release of fiscal incentive grants to Orissa for its “excellent performance in reducing revenue deficit”.

Patnaik reiterated the demand for increase of special central assistance for the undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi (KBK) region to Rs 500 crore per annum. He urged the plan panel official to extend concessions in central excise, income-tax and other incentives for promotion of industries in KBK on a par with some of the other backward regions of the country.
Patnaik said the Centre should redefine the criteria for according special category status to a state and treat Orissa as such.

The other major demands put forth by the chief minister included timely revision of royalty rates for major minerals on ad valorem basis, compensation of power generating states like Orissa for environmental degradation and displacement of people.

He also urged Delhi to address “inequalities” between the power producing and consuming states.

On the education front, Patnaik spoke about the need for setting up an IIT and an IIM in Orissa.

Feb 24, 2007: The Telegraph

Gold exploration nod on cards

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 23: After the scurry for steel and aluminium, it could well be time for a gold rush in Orissa.

While Posco, Arcelor-Mital, Sterlite and Tata Steel have lined up for a stake in the bauxite and iron ore reserves of Orissa, a Jharkhand-based mining company has received the Centre’s nod for prospecting gold in the state.

Rungta Mines Ltd, a part of the SR Rungta group, which has been in the mining business for the six decades, is expected to get the state government’s nod for gold and diamond exploration soon.

S.N. Sarangi, additional secretary in the steel and mines department, today told The Telegraph that his department received the Centre’s approval last week to grant reconnaissance permit to Rungta Mines for undertaking exploration of gold and diamond deposits.

So far, reconnaissance permits have been granted to 14 mining companies for exploration of precious minerals like gold, diamond, copper, lead and nickel, said mines director R.N. Sahoo. Prominent among the companies are De Beers and BHP Billiton.

Under the existing rules, the Centre’s approval is needed for grant of the permit by a state government.

According to official sources, Rungta Mines is likely to be allowed to carry out exploration of gold and diamond deposits over 2,824 sq km in mineral-rich Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts.

During the exploration exercise, aerial, geo-physical and geo-chemical surveys are likely to be undertaken.

Managing director of the company L.N. Rungta said: “The state government had forwarded our application to the Centre and recommended grant of reconnaissance permit. We would start the exploration work as soon as we receive the order.”

The senior official said they would undertake airborne surveys and other studies during the exploration period, which is likely to last three years.

A recent survey conducted by the state directorate of geology suggested that traces of gold have been found in Telkoi, Saleikana, Siriabahal, Dubulapal, Gopur, Gajipur, Odal, Taramakenta, Kalima, Kadangi and Samakuda areas of Keonjhar district, Suruda, Jashipur, Suriaguda, Kadeikucha and Gorumahisani in Mayurbhanj and Govindpalli area of Koraput.

Similarly, diamond deposits were found in Kalahandi, Nuapara and Keonjhar districts of Orissa.
A survey, conducted by Geological Survey of India in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Nowrangpur, also revealed traces of gold.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Feb 22, 2007: CNN-IBN (Feb 20, 2007 Issue)

Industries a bane for Bihar villages
Payal Bhattar, CNN-IBN
Posted Tuesday , February 20, 2007 at 19:22
Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 20:22 Email Print

(Gaya) Bihar/ (Jharsuguda) Orissa: 200 kilometers from one of India's poorest districts, Kalahandi, is western Orissa's industrial hub - Sambalpur.

In the vicinity lies Jharsuguda district where many large corporations have either set up units or are buying land. Near a large steel unit is a village where the steel company purchased 400 acres of agricultural and barren land two years ago.

Now villagers claim the company is dumping lose industrial waste here. The impact - a mound of industrial waste now adorns an erstwhile flat area.

And even as the company shows no sign of easing up on dumping industrial waste, the waste is mounting and falling on to the roads, on crops and even in the village's water sources, contaminating the water.

All this allegedly, without farmers even receiving the entire money due to them for the sale of the land.

A few kilometers away, another large corporation purchased agricultural land a year ago and the story is the same here with villagers claiming they are still waiting to be paid for the land.

The sorry tale is repeated in Jharkhand andd Bihar, where villagers have the same sad stories to tell.

About 400 kilometers from Sambalpur is Jharkhand's capital, Ranchi. The inadequate infrastructure in the city is in stark contrast to the clean and green highways around it.

The highway between Ranchi and Bodh Gaya is a pleasant and somewhat surprising reminder of the highways in western India - courtesy the huge influx of Buddhist tourists that fly to Ranchi and then travel to Bodh Gaya by road.

About 10 kilometers away from the city of enlightenment is Gaya where the basic amenities are missing and people are still waiting for roads and electricity.

Without roads, there can be no public transport and apart from the two or three trains daily that connect them to Gaya - a journey which takes seven minutes by train and almost five hours by foot - there is no real concept of public transport here.

And here too - like in many places in India - villagers are resisting selling their fertile lands for an ethanol unit.

Feb 22, 2007: The New Indian Express (Feb 21, 2007 Issue)

Celebration in Bhawanipatna
Wednesday February 21 2007 10:11 IST

BHAWANIPATNA: It was celebration time in Congress camp on Monday night after the party bagged 19 of the 36 ZP seats in the district at the end of the fourth phase.

In the triangular contest, according to available information, Congress has won 19 seats, BJP 11, BJD four and Independents two. According to poll pundits, the failure of the allies to reach an agreement on seat sharing cost them dear and placed Congress in an advantageous position.

Now the shocked BJP-BJD camp is tight-lipped and unable to react to the debacle. While BJD president Kiran Chandra Singhdeo was never in favour of an alliance with BJP, absence of Lok Sabha member Bikram Keshari Deo, who is recovering from illness, the election responsibility of BJP was left to MLA Pradipta Kumar Naik, who at present is not enjoying too much of popularity.

In such a scenario, Congress is strengthening its organisational network in the district aiming at the next Assembly and Parliament elections.

Meanwhile, the elected ZP members of Congress were introduced to media persons on Tuesday. Besides district Congress president Rasabihari Behera, senior leaders Jagannath Pattnaik, Bhupender Singh and Bhakta Charan Das attended the meet.

DCC president Rasabihari Behera said the mandate in Kalahandi was in favour of Congress. Congress will further consolidate its position in the district, he asserted.

Feb 22, 2007: The New Indian Express

State submits Rs 2552-cr plan proposal to Centre
Thursday February 22 2007 10:49 IST

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has submitted a plan proposal of Rs 2,552 crore to the Centre under the Orissa Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (OREGP) for the ensuing financial year.

The fully-funded Central scheme is implemented in 19 districts covering 39.79 households and about 25 lakh unemployed people. Under the programme, the Government is bound to provide 100 days of work to each job-seeker failing which the latter can claim unemployment allowance.

Meanwhile, the 19 districts have submitted their perspective plans to the State Government.

Balangir district has submitted a plan proposal of Rs 221.42 crore followed by Boudh Rs 28.25 crore, Deogarh Rs 33.12 crore, Dhenkanal Rs 31.44 crore, Gajapati Rs 148.62 crore, Ganjam Rs 322.61 crore, Jharsuguda Rs 50.79 crore, Kalahandi Rs 150 crore, Kandhamal Rs 138 crore, Keonjhar Rs 238 crore, Koraput Rs 174 crore, Malkangiri Rs 85 crore, Mayurbhanj Rs 504 crore, Nabarangpur Rs 154 crore, Nuapada Rs 118 crore, Rayagada Rs 193 crore, Sambalpur Rs 138 crore, Subarnapur Rs 51 crore and Sundargarh Rs 141 crore.

The demand for Rs 2,552 crore under OERGP for 2007-08 is against the Central allocation of Rs 848 crore to the State under the National Food for Work Programme (NFFWP) and Rs 345 crore under Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana in the current financial year.

Under the OREGP, permanent community assets will be created for sustainable development of rural people, who are living below poverty line.

Feb 22, 2007: Business Standrad

Students flock to NGOs for rural work
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi February 22, 2007

Volunteerism is the ‘in thing’ in college campuses across the country, as students warm up to the idea of experiencing a bit of realism. And the impetus to this movement of sorts is being provided by NGOs wanting to offer the students a view of life from a different perspective.

If the enrolment figures available with NGOs iVolunteer and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) are to be believed, the number of student volunteers is growing.

iVolunteer offered 60 rural fellowships to students all over the country for a period of six weeks. The fellowship offered a volunteer a stipend of Rs 3,000.

Seema Verma , who heads the Delhi office of iVolunteer says that the programme had been initiated just three years ago with 20 fellowships offered in Delhi.

iVolunteer has tied up with four other NGOs in different states to host the students for six weeks and expose them to the work being done in villages.

Of course, the fact the packaging is being done in an attractive manner helps. For the most part, the trip is packaged as a holiday cum reality trip, with three of the stations being in Uttarakhand and two in Rajasthan.

CSE has also decided to harness student volunteers. Its inspiration is a teacher:Jean Dreze and the Right to Food campaign which has always been drawing liberally from student volunteers for its efforts to monitor various government food schemes.

CSE plans to use volunteers from colleges to monitor National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGP) in 160 villages in 10 districts in 10 states.

Says Richard Mahapatra coordinator for the NREGP project in CSE, “We were inspired by Dreze who has used student volunteers so successfully in the Right to Food campaign.”

The CSE programme is more long term as it is identifying a university in each of the 10 districts which will tie up with NREGP permanently as a ‘development partner’ and send student volunteers every year as changemakers .

Sambalpur University, Jamia, JNU and a few others have already shown an interest, says Mahapatra.

The stipend will be Rs 100 a day for 16 days including a four day training session with Dreze himself as one of the teachers.

“It has hardly been five days since we put the announcement on our website and we are getting responses from all over, says Mahapatra.

NGO Pravah in Delhi has been tapping youth volunteers with a six day stay in rural locations for some time while National Foundation for India (NFI) has been offering two month internships to 60 students in Delhi, Pune and Sambalpur to work with NGOs in the back of the beyond.

Barsha Porishca, the programme coordinator for the NFI fellowships says it has been an amazing journey from 20 internships offered in Delhi in 2005 to 60 internships being offered last year from Delhi, Pune and Sambalpur.

NGO Patang in Sambalpur which is NFI’s partner there got 20 applicants last year and 25 this year for the 13 seats on offer.

Says Debashish Das of Patang “We sent students within and outside Orissa. They go mostly in groups of three or four. One group for instance went to the NGO Agragamee in Kalahandi.”
The students get a monthly stipend of Rs 5000 and three tier sleeper class train fare.

The rural rendezvous does not end here for the students. NFI offers apprenticeships for students to spend six to eight months with an NGO of choice with the same stipends.

About six of these have been offered so far and three of the students have subsequently joined NGOs, says Porischa.

NFI is also working with National Service Scheme (NSS) the country’s original youth volunteer programme in some places like Pune and Delhi.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Feb 19, 2007: Money Control

Vedanta's Orissa mining project courts trouble
2007-02-17 12:39:31 Source :

Tribal villages are up in arms against Vedanta's Bauxite Mining Project in Kalahandi. And the battle for its bauxite rich - Nyomgiri mountain - is heating up. CNBC-TV18 reports.

When the tribals in Lanjigarh first heard about the setting up of a Rs 4500 crore project in their forests, they were relieved and happy. The Vedanta unit, they hoped, would bring them economic development and employment. Soon, Anganbadi's came up in many villages and children were provided free education and food.

But now, about three years later, as the projects stands completed and enters its trial phase, harsh realities are sinking in. Barely 60 people from the 2000 villages in the district have been employed by Vedanta.

Vedanta says it employs a total of 450 people of which 70% are from Orissa. People from the villages where the unit is set up have been rehabiliated, but they are still struggling to find employment.

Tribals may not share that optimism and so they are against the company's mining project on Nyomgiri mountain in this region. That mining site is also home for a 100 villages and so, the battle has now reached the Court.

The Supreme Court will decide who will win the battle for the bauxite rich Nyomgiri mountain. But in the meantime, Vedanta has gone ahead and is exploring the possibility of five more mining sites here in this region in Kalahandi.

Despite that, many hopes are pinned on the Court's verdict. And the tribals here hope they will be the gainers in this battle for development.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Feb 18, 2007: The Telegraph

Next weekend you can be at ... Sunabeda

The densest forest in Orissa, near its border with Chhattisgarh, Sunabeda is tucked away from prying eyes. Hardly a tourist drifts there, though the getaway is only 160 km from Titlagarh in Orissa, 135 km from Bhawanipatna (Kalahandi district) and 198 km from Raipur (Chhattisgarh). The railway links are Nuapada and Khariar Road on Titlagarh-Raipur section of South Eastern Railway. Sunabeda is 80 km from Nuapada along an enchanting forest road.

The six to eight feet wide road is dotted on either side by Teak, Sisoo, Asan, Dhawra, Mahul, Char, Mundi and Kumbhi Haldu trees. Their branches brushed the roof of our Tata Sumo as it powered uphill. The sound of the engine sent birds and white monkeys scurrying into the forest, while tribals came out to watch us pass. The foliage parted once in a while to offer glimpses of waterfalls trickling down the rocky faces of the hills. Overhead, the clouds floated in the breeze.

With 600 sq km of thick deciduous forest and hills rearing up to 3,000 ft, Sunabeda is a study in tranquillity. The wildlife sanctuary, waterfalls and wetland are home to numerous birds and animals. Ancient monuments, watchtowers and a spectacular view of the Pofora dam are the added attractions.

By the river Jonk, in the Maraguda valley, Jumlagarh fort stands as a testament to the cultural heritage of Orissa. Sundar and Indra are the other rivers here. The forest blocks are named Patdhara, Gatibeda, Manikgarh Kanimal, Patidonger and Lodhra.

Sunabeda has a large tiger population. According to the 2004 tiger census, there are 32 tigers and 36 leopards in the sanctuary. The big cats are sighted frequently at Kitoli Bhitar, Jalmoral and Gadagada within the sanctuary. Sloth bears, spotted bears, wild dogs, nilgais, sambars, barking deer and pangolin are also seen in Sunabeda.

The temple of goddess Sunadel, ancient tribal hamlets, Beniadhus and Kharaldhus waterfall and Raital Bandh Pakshi Vihar, on the wetland, are must visits on the trip. Large number of migratory birds flock here in winter. Northern Pintail, Rudy Shell Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Gargeney and Osprey are regular visitors.


From Titlagarh via Jharsuguda and Sambalpur by train (Howrah-Koraput express and others). From Titlagarh, take another train to Nuapada or Khariar Road on the Titlagarh-Raipur section. From there, cars are available on hire to Sunabeda


There are hotels at Nuapada and Khariar Road. The Sunabeda circuit house at Nuapada is an option. Contact divisional forest officer, Sunabeda wildlife division, Nuapada, Orissa. Phone: (06678)223372

(Metro on Sunday thanks reader SAMIR CHAKRABORTY for this contribution. Picture by author)

Feb 18, 2007: Business Standard

`We deliberately chose not to celebrate`
Q&A/ Saifuddin Soz
Aasha Khosa / New Delhi February 18, 2007

The Union Minister for Water Resources, Saifuddin Soz, tells Aasha Khosa India doesn’t have to beat its own drum for the Baglihar victory.

Pakistan is saying that India has no reason to cheer on the Baglihar report since the neutral expert has acceded to most of its points.

We deliberately chose not to get into celebration mode about the award since we did not want to give an impression that Pakistan had lost. The fact is, two years before Pakistan had sought third party mediation, India on its own had offered to reduce the height of Baglihar dam exactly by 1.5 metres, and that is the award too.

In spite of that, Pakistan chose to invite a third party and engage high profile foreigners and lawyers. The result is not very much different from what it would have been, had we chosen to settle it bilaterally.

So, are you seeing a new opening in Indo-Pak relations out of the Baglihar report?

The verdict is favourable to us in so many ways. First, it has put a final seal of approval on the Indus Water Treaty. Second, the neutral expert, who has reviewed about 13,000 dams all over the world, has found no fault with the spillway gates technology. The Pakistanis had objected to our design of the dam with spillway gates. These gates are basically meant to prevent silting of the power house.

This point going in our favour has opened up a lot of possibilities on the utilisation of river waters in Kashmir by us. Pakistan’s objections to the Tulbul (navigation project on Jhelum) and Kishenganga hydel project are irrelevant now. The report has once again proved that mutual negotiations are the best way to resolve any issue between India and Pakistan.

But political parties in Kashmir - your own state - have been demanding scrapping of the Indus Water Treaty since the state’s waters cannot be used for major projects under it?

They are wrong. The treaty is a time-tested one and it cannot be reversed. They too should be happy with this report. Now, we can complete Baglihar by December, or at the most by March next year, without incurring any extra cost. With this project alone, J&K will get 450 Mw power and there are many more possibilities.

As water is becoming scarce, we have seen the dangerous trend of inter-state water disputes arising all over India. How do you propose to deal with rising demands on water?

Long ago, in August 1980 to be precise, the government had drafted a perspective plan on water that had clearly said that surplus waters from states should flow to water deficit states. However, on the ground, this does not seem to be working. I am helpless as water is a state subject.

Last year, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were fighting over water. I brought them to the negotiating table and we all decided to hold another meeting. But Andhra Pradesh went to court before it could be held. The same happened in Mullaperiyar — Tamil Nadu agreed to pursue talks but retracted and approached the Supreme Court.

Six months ago, Goa and Karnataka came to me on the same issue. We all decided to hold talks and avoid assigning the task of arbitrating water distribution to a tribunal. Goa too agreed but then it suddenly went to the Supreme Court seeking directions for my ministry to set up a tribunal under the Inter-States Disputes Act.

Well, you are the minister, after all. What about nationalising water so that surplus waters flows to deficit states?

Last year, we debated this issue threadbare in the standing committee of Parliament on water resources. Opinion was unanimous that the Centre should be armed with the authority to implement equitable distribution of water. The committee even proposed that water be taken out of the state list and included in the concurrent list. I cannot make laws unless Parliament gives me directions on this.

Based on your experience in the ministry, what is your opinion on this?

I believe that the Centre should have more say in the distribution of water in the country. Right now, we only have the responsibility of setting up tribunals to settle inter-state disputes. Water should flow in all the states by virtue of their right.

Your ministry started Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) to put irrigation projects in the country on the fast track. But in 10 years, only 50 projects could be completed: barely 3 million hectares in 10 years out of a target of 3 million hectares per annum.

That is not true. We have done 90 projects.

If you look at the KBK projects (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) in AIBP, you will find that no transaction has happened with the ministry in the last three years. Your ministry has not received any progress report from the state.

Is that so? I must find out. All I can say is we are transparent. (Asks his office for data on KBK projects: “How many KBK projects are there? What are we doing?”)

Your target for this Budget year was to cover six lakh hectares under AIBP. What has been the achievement?

We hope to reach the target by July. AIBP is the only instrument now. If it doesn’t succeed nothing will.

Why do these projects take so long, when the Metro has been able to set up rail tracks in days ?

The two cannot be compared. We can’t decide for the states. And they are not slow by design. We have declared a kind of emergency for 31 districts under the prime minister’s package for suicide-hit areas.

So, similar emergency does not prevail for KBK or drought prone areas in Uttar Pradesh where there are no suicides?

No, they are part of the 258 projects coming under AIBP. But the emergency is for 31 districts in four states. Their ministers are coming on February 20 for a meeting. They will be told to send a proposal and get approval. It is: do it or withdraw.

Though rehabilitation is the state’s responsibility, can you explain the failure in the case of Narmada oustees?

Who says there was a failure? Did you go there? I would say you should check facts on the ground in Madhya Pradesh.

Feb 18, 2007: Daily India

Rs.50 bn government fund to develop backward regions
By Rana Ajit, Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Close on the heels of the rural job guarantee scheme, the Manmohan Singh government is all set to implement an ambitious Rs.50 billion (Rs. 5,000 crore) project to help develop India's backward regions and erase regional imbalances.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has decided to revamp the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) programme by expanding its reach and focusing on infrastructure development in backward areas.

The revamped RSVY programme will be launched Monday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Barpeta in Assam with a new name, Mahatma Gandhi Backward Regions Development Fund (MGBRDF).

Unlike the RSVY programme, which currently covers only 47 most backward districts, the new development fund for backward regions will cover 250 districts - a little less than half the total number of India's 604 districts.

The programme aimed at ridding the country of regional imbalances was formulated by the Panchayati Raj ministry headed by Mani Shankar Aiyar with the sanction of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The fund would provide each of the 250 districts a minimum of Rs.100 million per annum, besides an additional allocation depending upon the geographical area and population of the district.

The fund allocated to each backward district would go directly to the Consolidated Fund of the state.

As proof of its commitment to erase regional imbalances, the major chunk of funds would go to most needy and backward states like Bihar and 'KBK regions' of Orissa.

The KBK region comprises the erstwhile Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput districts, which have now been subdivided into eight districts and are infamous for starvation deaths among poor tribal populations.

The Rs.50 billion MGBRD Fund comprises three components -- a Rs.10 billion special package for Bihar, another Rs.2.5 billion for the KBK region of Orissa and the remaining Rs.37.5 billion to be distributed among all the 250 selected backward districts on the basis of their area and population.

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the new fund will be Bihar. As many as 36 of the state's 37 districts have been included under the scheme.

Accordingly, in addition to the Rs.10 billion special package, 36 districts of Bihar would together get another Rs.3.6 billion.

The new fund would include all the 200 districts where the UPA government's flagship programme, the rural job guarantee scheme unveiled last year, has been implemented.

But it does not imply that the allocations made from the regional disparity elimination fund to the 200 districts would be utilised to provide jobs to the rural poor.

The funds under the regional disparity elimination fund would be specifically used to build sustainable infrastructure like roads, schools, dispensaries, bridges and power transmission lines.

The rural job guarantee scheme, on the other hand, envisages projects that generate mass rural employment and is aimed at ensuring means of sustenance to the rural poor.

The regional disparity fund will try to bridge critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that are not being adequately met through existing schemes, including the rural job guarantee scheme.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

Friday, February 16, 2007

Feb 16, 2007: Dharitri cover photo

Feb 16, 2007: Money Control

Orissa's villages await basic amenities, employment
2007-02-15 19:08:08 Source :

It is election time in Orissa and CNBC-TV18 takes stock of the region.

Welcome to Nabrangpur in Southern Orissa, the dense forests of which are home to many animals and varied Oriya tribes. It is one of the 1000 tribal villages in the district. The village is a 1000 years old and is still waiting for power - this, despite being right on the Highway and barely 12 kilometres away from the district headquarters.

There are about a 1000 small tribal villages in this district comprising about 10 lakh of rural people.

A few kilometres ahead comes the next district - Kalahandi. Here too the situation is the same. Hundreds of villages here are still waiting for basic amenities like water, power, and education.

Many of these villages are covered under the state's Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme - which provides employment to at least one member of each family for a 100 days in a year. And those employed are to be paid about Rs 75. But villagers who have been employed under this scheme say they have never been employed for a hundred days in a year. They claim that they are paid Rs 30-40 a day, for employment under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The state is planning electrification for many of these villages over the next two years. But until that plan sees the light of day- villages like this one will continue to wait for someone to light up their homes and their lives.

Call it 'Bharat' or the 'other India', the neglect of villages such as these are pointed out time and again, but it remains to be seen whether the lawmakers of this country will do anything other than use it as an election issue.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feb 13, 2007: The New Indian Express

Government to procure dal from self-help groups
Tuesday February 13 2007 10:32 IST

BHUBANESWAR: Encouraged by the involvement of woman self-help groups (WSHGs) in dal processing and supply of dal to government for the mid-day meal scheme in five districts, including four in KBK region, instruction has been issued to all the collectors to follow suit.

Since the first three months of every year is the major procurement season of ‘kandula’ (raw arhar dal), the district collectors have been asked to place orders for dal supply with woman SHGs by doing away with the existing tendering system. Short supply of dal by SHGs of the actual requirement in respective districts, if any, should be met from open market through tender procedure, the government order said.

SHGs do not have the financial strength to compete with traders in dal supply contract bid, neither they possess VAT or sales tax numbers nor they filed income tax returns as required in the tendering process. Besides, they do not have required amount of deposits in bank to provide guarantee, official sources said.

While the State’s requirement of dal under MDM and special nutrition programme (SNP) will be to the tune of three lakh quintals, SHGs of five districts - Koraput, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Gajapati - have been able to supply about 6,000 quintals in a year. However, 2005 was an exception when the SHGs of the five districts had supplied over 10,000 quintals of dal.

The SHGs have the capacity to meet half of the total requirement of dal under the two programmes. The low procurement is attributed to lack of funds and support from district administration.

Apart from placing orders with the SHGs in time, the district collectors have been asked to facilitate bank credit for the swarazgaris for timely procurement of ‘kandula’ and processing to dal. The district collectors have been advised to make SGSY funds available with the SHGs in case of delay in availing of bank credit. The Orissa Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) has planned to extend financial assistance of Rs 1.5 crore to the SHGs for dal processing and supply of the processed dal under MDM and SNP.

The Government has fixed the procurement price of arhar dal at Rs 26.75 a kg this year. While the raw dal is available at Rs 15 a kg, the SHGs can earn a profit of Rs 3.50 to 4 per kg of processed dal. Not only the SHG members will have a better earning, but primary growers will also be benefited immensely because of assured remunerative price for their produce, the sources said adding, supply of quality dal is also guaranteed.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Feb 11, 2007: The Tribune

Adivasi women frogmarch kids to school
The schooling of children, particularly girls, has picked up in many of Orissa’s remote tribal pockets, where schools were once unheard of.Manipadma Jena on the positive role played by the community in bringing this change

Belmati Jhankar’s father died two years ago. Her mother barely manages to put together Rs 20 on those days that she sand-fries puffed rice and travels up to 15 km to distant villages to sell it. When her father died, Belmati (then in Class III) dropped out of school and began tending the neighbours’ goats. Last year, the head teacher convinced her mother to send the child back to school. The mother agreed, persuaded in large measure by the fact that with the free midday meal, free school uniform, and the free textbooks, Belmati’s education would cost nothing at all. And she would be ensuring a better future for her child.

"Next year, admissions will see girls outnumber boys in our school," says Lily Behera, vice-president of the Village Education Committee (VEC) of Kutrukhamar UPS (Upper Primary School). In 2006, the school, which caters to six large villages, enrolled 16 girls. The ratio of girls to boys is now 144: 153.

Chance plays no role in this tide of female enrolment in schools in the Kutrukhamar panchayat of Bhawanipatna block in Kalahandi district of Orissa. Kalahandi has a Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste population of 28.65 per cent and 17.67 per cent, respectively. One of the country’s poorest districts, more than half its population comprises agricultural labourers. Nearly a fourth of the state’s population is tribal. But in some adivasi pockets of Orissa, the initiative, and the incentives, to universalise elementary education under the flagship of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme have begun to show radical changes in the prevailing parental attitudes towards educating children, particularly girls.

In Kutrukhamar UPS, Classes II and VI have the highest number of girls — 26 and 30, respectively. All over India, these two classes have the highest dropout rate for boys and girls: they drop out from class II because they either cannot cope with the learning and/or lose interest. The dropout rate in Class VI is high because, first, girls attain puberty between 11-13 years of age and social restrictions on physical mobility and gender interaction kick into place; second, in economically disadvantaged households, after they are 10 years old, girls begin contributing to the family income or take care of siblings so that their mothers can go to work.

This dropout pattern is changing. The education of adivasi girls was also hampered by the sheer distance between schools and habitations, particularly when roads wound through wooded, uninhabited and unsafe patches. That’s changing, too. Aiming to provide a school within one kilometre of every human habitation, Orissa now has 47,000 primary schools.

On the hilly terrain of Kandhamal district of Orissa, a little school nestles amidst natural greenery. Rugudipali village, little more than a hamlet, has just 13 adivasi families: they now have a primary school next door. This school started with 18 students — 14 girls and four boys.

This year, three girls and a boy passed out of Rugudipali PS (Primary School) and moved up to Suhagam UPS in Tutuluba village. Had this PS not been established so close to the village, many of the older girls would still be minding their younger siblings, fetching water, gathering firewood, and learning to light cooking fires.

Lupuri Patra, 14, would be out from sunrise to sunset herding goats. She also gathered dry twigs and branches for a head-load of firewood. "Most of our children had never even seen a book before," says Ramsingh Patra, her father, who now minds the goats.

In Orissa’s tribal districts, accessing interior habitations often means traversing rivers and hills. Tiny hamlets are scattered kilometres apart. For such deprived communities, the 19,000 schools under the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) — which works in a non-formal teaching format — is a boon.

Community involvement has become a leading feature of the EGS. By 2000, disquiet among the 57 families of Bandhapada village — merely four km from Kalahandi district headquarters in Bhawanipatna — had peaked: there was no education facility for the village’s children. The families petitioned for a school in the village. In 2001, a single teacher primary school was sanctioned under the EGS. The villagers themselves selected Tuna Swain, a local graduate, to be Education Volunteer.

In February 2001, the first class of the Bandhapada EGS was held with 25 students under a banyan tree. For 75 days thereafter, that was where the school remained. But enrolments increased. In 2004, when all four classes were running to capacity, the school had 73 students. The approaching monsoons made it imperative to have a school building. Bamboo poles and wooden rafters came up. A 30 ft by 10 ft room took shape. Mothers gathered cowdung and plastered them over the mud walls. The harvesting over, sheaves of fresh straw lined the roof. A structure this size would normally have cost Rs 7,000, but here not a single rupee changed hands: the community contributed both material and labour.

After the building came up, the community’s sense of ownership over education has grown exponentially. Now, if schoolchildren are caught playing truant, mothers — not necessarily their own — frogmarch them to the teacher. It was a proud moment in 2005 for all of Bandhapada village when 20 of its children, promoted to Class V, were seen off to the Purunapada UPS. This pride finds an echo today in many tribal communities in Orissa. — WFS

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Feb 10, 2007: The Pioneer

Land settlement in KBK to get a boost
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

A high-level meeting on Friday presided over by Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, discussed with much concern the issue of providing pattas to the landless tribes in the KBK region.

Apart from the forestland, as per the directive of Supreme Court, the left-out lands need to be surveyed.

KBK Chief Administrator GB Mukherji suggested making necessary settlements on the basis of West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharastra model, which was adopted by a Washington-based survey organisation with the help of SHGs.

Firstly, the BPL list to be finalised and with help of the Gram Sabha, at least six decimal land to be provided to the landless people. It was decided to start such type of venture with OTELP as a pilot project, which has started functioning as the survey mechanism in Kashipur block of Rayagada district. Besides, to counter the starvation deaths though negligible nowadays, it was discussed to release a circular as interdepartmental responsibilities.

As such each touring officer of any department will take into account as first concern, while reviewing the departmental developments. Block Level Extension Officer, ICDS worker and SHG would take to the notice of the Government for immediate action.

As connectivity is the prime concern in KBK districts, Chief Secretary Tripathy opined not to compromise with quality control.

Adhering to Mukherji's suggestion, Tripathy said that Rural and Works Department should follow the norms and conditions as wells qualitative work of road construction under PMGSY and NREGS. He advised to maintain the 'stage pass' for quality control.

Depending upon the prevalent rate of diseases of the concerned area and this will enable them to take immediate action. Among others RN Bohidar, Secretaries from concerned departments participated in the high level meeting.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Feb 09, 2007: The New Indian Express

High fluoride content in Kalahandi area water detected
Friday February 9 2007 10:42 IST

BHAWANIPATNA: There is water everywhere but not a drop to drink. For the residents of Gohirapadar village under Narla block of Kalahandi, this summarises their plight making survival their toughest challenge.

Two years back, some people of the village complained of muscle pain, physical deformity and discolouration of teeth.

Locals attributed this to the presence of heavy quantities of fluoride in drinking water. Later, water supply was provided through Rural Water Supply Scheme (RWSS) Department from nearby villages. Villagers, however, alleged that water supply was not adequate and not enough medical facilities were provided to those who were affected by fluoride-contaminated water.

Similarly, amount of fluoride detected in ground water of Badbasul village under Golamunda block was found to be more than 1.5 mg, according to RSWW Department survey.

Despite being rich in ground water, Kalahandi records use of only 12.83 percent of ground water but in some pockets, high level of chemical content in water is reported.

According to a report of the Central Ground Water Board, high-level of nitrate is reported in the shallow aquifers of Kesinga, Dharamgarh, Sargiguda, Baldiamal, Badbasul, Pastikudi, Daspur and Narla. Similarly, presence of high quantities of iron and fluoride is reported from shallow and deep aquifers of some parts of the district.

Locals allege that at many places, deep bore wells and tube-wells are constructed without prior survey and water testing thereby resulting in discharge of underground chemicals.

Contacted, executive engineer of RWSS Department said besides Gohirapadar and Badbasul village, fluoride content beyond permissible level has also been found in water from Kandopara of Dharmagad block, Matrupuri of Karlamunda block and Guguripahal of Narla block.

‘‘Plans are afoot to provide pipe water supply to these villages to combat the situation and a proposal has been sent to the State Government for sanction of funds for the project,’’ he added. Regarding nitrate content, he said that tests would be conducted in all tube-wells of the district in a phased manner so that corrective measures are taken on time.

Unattended Kalahandi calls out for centre of higher learning

Unattended Kalahandi calls out for centre of higher learning
Pioneer News Service | Bhawanipatna
The Pioneer, Feb 9, 2007

Why carry coal to New Castle?
But this seems to be the policy of Union Human Resources Development Ministry relating to the principle of setting up institutions of higher learning in the places where a number of institutes of national level higher education already exist.

Kalahandi has been in news for past four decades for wrong reasons as there has not been a single centre of higher learning in the area. That is why of late, non-resident Oriyas are trying to raise a hue and cry for setting up a national higher educational institute in this district.

Dr Digambara Patra of Waseda University Okubu, Tokyo, Japan, has said in an article that effectiveness of primary education is losing, as there is no parameter in higher education. All over the world, the employment rate is always higher for people having a master degree than that of a high school certificate. Quality education has always paid the best in India like for the graduates from IIT, IISc, ISI, and Central universities. Access to higher education is very much crucial, as it inspires many through its success like the case of IIT education.

In a region like Kalahandi, illiterate and poor people often question validity of education when their children cannot find employment and ultimately work in the agriculture field even after completing their graduation. They rather argue that their children should start to earn for the family by working in the agriculture field from the beginning itself. Intellectually such stand is not correct but in practice this argument has truth.

"Unless we provide quality education in this region, which could make them employable after their obtaining degrees/diplomas, poor and illiterate people would never be encouraged to send their children to primary schools. This is the reason why school drop out rate and illiteracy rate in the region are highest in the country," said Dr Patra.

Most of the issues like caste, creed, and religion are often raised in India except the geographical location of remote and multi-faceted backward places like Kalahandi that has never been addressed by policy makers with respect to establishing of national institutes for higher learning. Quality education has always been a far-reaching aspiration for those unprivileged and poor citizens, who live in remote locations of the district. Not a single national institution like IIT, IISc, IISER, Central University etc, is located within a 500-km radius of Kalahandi.

Even the State Government has done little in the district for improvement of higher education, Dr Patra pointed out. This situation is all the more disturbing since all its neighbouring districts such as Nabarangur, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boud, Balangir and Nuapada and those of the contiguous State of Chhattisgarh such as Raipur and Bastar do not have any national institute and are equally backward.

These regions have been in news for past four decades for wrong reasons of backwardness and poverty.

Dr Patra argues that national institute of higher learning in smaller towns have delivered well both qualitatively and quantitatively all over the world. Unfortunately, in the current rush of establishing national institutes like IIT, IISER, IIM, IIIT, IIPH and NIPER by the HRD Ministry and various other Central Government Ministries, not a single location like Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters of Kalahandi, has been chosen. Rather, the Central authorities are overcrowding polluted and exploding cities, many of which would be ecologically high-risk zones during next few decades as per the predictions by environmentalists.

A location like Bhawanipatna is ideal for national educational institute, not only because of environmental advantage but also for the need of creating infrastructure and employment opportunities, both direct and indirect. It would also usher in many national level academicians, researchers and students to work in this region, changing its current outlook.

Recent NSSO figures show that States having national higher educational institutes, like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, have higher attendance as compared to States without having such institutions, like Orissa.

Besides, a central university and national institutions like IIT and IIM are urgently needed in Kalahandi to get the best results from the ongoing poverty alleviation programmes.

Failing this, would require another four decades to change the fate of the district, observes Dr Patra.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Kalahandi crying for Centre of Higher Learning

Kalahandi crying for Centre of Higher Learning, Feb 8, 2007

Why carry coal to New Castle?

But it is the Policy of the Human Resources Development Ministry to adopt the same principle in setting up institutions of higher learning in the places where a number of institutes of national level higher education still exists.

Consider the case of Kalahandi.

While Kalahandi is in news for last 4 decades for wrong reasons, there has been not a single centre of higher learning in the district.

That is why of late Non Resident Oriyas are trying to raise hue and cry for setting up a National Higher Educational Institute in district.

Justify the cause NRO Dr. Digambara Patra of Waseda University Okubu, Tokyo, Japan said in the article that effectiveness of primary education is losing as there is no parameter in higher education.

All over the world employment rate is always higher for people having a master degree to that of a high school certificate.

Quality education has always paid the best in India like for the graduates from IIT, IISc, ISI, and central universities.

Access to higher education is very much crucial as it inspires many through its success like the case of IIT education.

In a region like Kalahandi, illiterate and poor people often ask validity of education when their children can not find employment and finally work in the agriculture field after graduation.

They argue rather their children should start to earn for the family working in the agriculture field from the beginning itself.

Although intellectually it is not correct, there is some amount of truth in their argument as well.

Unless we provide quality education in this region that could make them employable after their degrees/diploma, poor and illiterate people would never be encouraged to send their children to primary schools.

This is the reason why dropping out from schools and illiteracy rate in the region is one of the highest in the country and not improving substantially in recent times.

Most of the issues like caste, creed, and religion are often raised in India except the geographical location of remote and multi-facet backward places like Kalahandi that has never been addressed by policy makers with respect to establishing national institute for higher learning.

Quality education has always been a far reaching aspiration for those unprivileged and poor citizens who live in remote locations of the district.

Not a single national institution like IIT, IISc, IISER, Central University etc, is located within 500 km radius of Kalahandi.

Even the state government has done little in the district for improvement of higher education.

This is when all its neighboring districts of Orissa such as Nawrangur, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boud, Bolangir and Nuapada districts and that of Chhatisgarch such as Raipur and Bastar districts do not have any national institute and are equally backward.

The whole cluster has been in news for last four decades for wrong reasons of backwardness and poverty.

National institute of higher learning in smaller towns have delivered well both qualitatively and quantitatively all over the world.

Unfortunately in the current rush of establishing national institutes like IIT, IISER, IIM, IIIT, IIPH, NIPER etc, by HRD ministry and by various central government ministries, not a single location like Bhawanipatna, the district head quarter of Kalahandi, is being chosen.

Rather the central authorities overcrowding our polluted and exploding cities, many of those would be ecologically in high risk during few decades as per the predictions by environmentalists.

Location like Bhawanipatna is ideal for national educational institute not only because of environment but contradicting general perception it brings infrastructure and employment both directly and indirectly to a multi-facet backward region.

It would also usher in many national level academicians, researchers and students to work in this region changing its current outlook.

Recent NSSO figure shows states having national higher educational institute like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, etc have higher attendance compared to states without having such institutions like Orissa.

Beside other social development programs a central university and national institutions like IIT, IIM are urgently required in the backward Kalahandi to get the best effectiveness of other on going developmental programs; otherwise it would still take another four decades to change the fate of this backward district.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Feb 07, 2007: Organiser (issue Jan 08, 2007)

Orissa on the path of development
By Biswabhushan Harichandan
Kalahandi Will Have one Industrial Hub

Out of 45 steel companies, which have signed MoUs with the government, 14 companies with an investment of about Rs 10,750 crore have completed the first phase and commenced partial commercial production. A PCPIR (petroleum, chemical & petrochemical investment region) is being planned at Paradeep, where IOC will be the anchor tenant.

This coalition government of BJD and BJP in Orissa is ruling the state with all credibility and has been able to give a stable, effective and transparent government to the people.

The State of Orissa located on the eastern coast of India is a kaleidoscope of past splendours like the Sun Temple of Konark and other monuments that bear testimony to the great architectural skill of ancient Orissa. The state is known for its picturesque lakes, mighty rivers and exotic wildlife, which have attracted many tourists. Orissa comprises 4.74 per cent of India’s landmass and with 36.71 million people (2001 Census), comprises 3.57 per cent of her population. It is one of the richest states in terms of mineral resources. It also has a long coastline, which provides an abundant reservoir of aqua-culture resources.

The state has good road and rail connections with other parts of the country. The capital, Bhubaneswar, has regular flights with the major cities of India. Paradeep is a major port on the eastern coast. Smaller ports at Gopalpur and Dhamara are being developed into all-weather ports through the private sector.

Orissa’s advantages are based on its large untapped mineral resources, abundant power at competitive tariffs, warm people, excellent climate, skilled labour, harmonious industrial environment and a government responsive to the process of industrialisation. Other plus points are well developed industrial infrastructure and eco-friendly surrounding. On top of it a pollution-free state with abundant natural beauty provides the best living condition.

The state already has strong industrial base of core sector industries, which include a large integrated steel plant, the largest aluminium smelter of the country, two fertilizer plants, an ordnance factory and a number of steel, sponge iron, ferro alloys, cement and paper plants. Rourkela Steel Plant, NALCO, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. at Sunabeda, Ordnance Factory at Bolangir, sand complex at Chhatrapur and Coach Repairing Workshop at Mancheswar are some of the public sector industries in the state covering varied strategic products. A number of large agro-based projects such as fruits and vegetable processing units and sugar projects have come up in the state.

Orissa is endowed with rich mineral resources. The state possesses 98.4 per cent of the chrome ore reserves of the country and the share in bauxite reserve is 59.5 per cent, iron ore 32.9 per cent, nickel ore 91.8 per cent, mineral sand 30.8 per cent, manganese ore 67.6 per cent and that of coal 24.8 per cent. The policy of liberalisation of the union government has drawn the global attention on Orissa’s natural resources. The mineral based industries like steel, ferro alloys, alumina and aluminium utilizing the resources are coming up even in less developed districts of the state like Kalahandi, Rayagada and Keonjhar. Other important mineral resources of the state are limestone, China clay, nickel ore, Vanadiferrous magnate and beach sands. There are also good prospects for precious and semi-precious stones and metals including diamonds and gold.

An investor-friendly industrial policy was announced in December 2001. In this policy the thrust is on time-bound support structure to act as a friend in need to each and every entrepreneur, who comes to Orissa.

As part of the commitments made in the Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR)-2001, the Government of Orissa has introduced a single-window industrial facilitation framework.

Sixty companies have already signed MoUs out of which 45 are for establishment of steel projects involving capacity of 75 MTPA with proposed investment of Rs 161000 crore, two companies for setting up alumina refinery with smelter with an investment of more than Rs. 25000 crore and three Independent Power Projects (IPPs) with an investment of Rs 18,132 crore with a capacity of 4270 MW power production. There is also the Refinery & Petrochemical Project being set up by Indian Oil Corporation with an investment of about Rs 25000 crore with production capacity of 12 MTPA. In this project IOC has already committed an investment of about Rs 1000 crore. Orissa has also been able to attract FDI and companies like Arcelor-Mittal, the largest steel producer of the world and POSCO, the Korean company which is another big player in the field of steel, which have signed MoUs for establishing steel plants of 12 MTPA each in the state.

Out of 45 steel companies, which have signed MoUs with the government, 14 companies with an investment of about Rs 10750 crore have completed the first phase and commenced partial commercial production. A PCPIR (petroleum, chemical & petrochemical investment region) is being planned at Paradeep, where IOC will be the anchor tenant.

The Export Promotion Industrial Park at Bhubaneswar, known as INFOCITY, has been established and commissioned to create high quality infrastructure facilities for setting up export-oriented industries, with a special emphasis on Information Technology-related industries.

At Duburi Industrial Complex in Jajpur district, IDCO has acquired about 20,000 acres of land for establishment of steel, power and other mineral-based industries. This complex enjoys all industrial infrastructure advantages like power, water supply, road, railway and port links.

The state government is also giving emphasis on promotion of infrastructure. A Project Development Fund (PDF) has been created at IDCO along with ILFS for infrastructural development.

Steps are being taken to develop and revive the SSI sector of Orissa and to promote ancillary and downstream industries in the metal as well as non-metal sectors. 19 clusters have already been notified for focused development such as Engineering Cluster at Cuttack & Bhubaneswar, Pharmaceutical Cluster at Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, Rice Cluster at Baragarh, Cashew Cluster at Ganjam, Kewda Cluster at Ganjam etc. Three industrial hubs have also been identified at Jajpur, Jharsuguda and Kalahandi areas for focused ancillary and downstream industrial development.
Moreover, steps are being taken to expand technical education for development of technical human resources base for the industries coming up in the state and the same is being integrated and synergized to augment employment opportunities in the state.

Providing safe drinking water to all habitations in the state is another priority sector for the government. Villages all over the state have been covered with tube-wells. We have 638844 tube-wells and 1082 pipe water supply projects.

Agriculture on which about 70 per cent of the people of Orissa depend for their living is given priority. Ours is an agricultural economy and while industrialising the state, agriculture and its development is being taken care off.

Though there is cry for distress sale in different parts of the country, Orissa has been able to provide support price to the farmers. All possible incentives are given to them for agricultural developments.

In spite of the Naxalite activities in about 10 districts of the state, the general law and order situation is under control. There is no major threat to the security of the people.

In the field of Mission Sakti, Orissa has made a very significant progress. At present we have 2 lakh self-help groups where women, specially housewives and girls in rural areas have come forward with confidence to run their organisation and to earn their living.

Land records have been computerised and land passbooks are being distributed among the land-holders. Pre-1980 forest habitations have been surveyed and government is going to declare them revenue villages. Poor homestead-less families are being provided with homestead land under Basundhara Yojana for construction of their own houses. Regulation 2 of 1956 has been amended and lands of the Vanvasis, which have been snatched away by influential people by exercise of fraud and coercion, are being restored to them by counts and stringent actions like imprisonment and fine are being awarded to the wrong-doers.

This coalition government of BJD and BJP in Orissa is ruling the state with all credibility and has been able to give a stable, effective and transparent government to the people.

(The author is leader, BJP Legislative Party in Orissa and Minister for Industry, Law and Rural Development, Government of Orissa.)

Feb 07, 2007: The New Indian Express

9 polytechnics to meet technical manpower shortage
Wednesday February 7 2007 11:00 IST
Kalahandi Will Have One

BHUBANESWAR: As the State stands poised for the big leap on industrial front, the Centre has sanctioned nine more full-fledged polytechnic institutes to meet the increasing need of technical manpower both inside and outside the State. The nine institutes will be set up during the Eleventh Plan starting from 2007-08.

Each institute will get a Central assistance of Rs 14 crore up-front for infrastructure development and recurring expenditure for five years. After completion of five years, the recurring expenditure of these technical institutes will be borne by the State Government, official sources told this paper.

A majority of these will be located in the backward districts of Kalahandi, Koraput, Boudh, Nabarangpur and Kandhamal while Ganjam, Sambalpur and Balasore will have one each. The ninth centre will be established either in Nuapada or Sonepur district. A decision will be taken after assessment of the demographic profile of the two districts.

In the Tenth Plan, the Centre had sanctioned one polytechnic for the State and the institute is under construction in the Naxal-infested Malkangiri district.

This will be functional from the ensuing academic session, DTE&T sources said adding, an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) will also be ready by the next session. The Government is setting up an ITI in the district at Rs 5 crore.

Since Grasim Industries is keen to put up a three-million tonne capacity cement plant in Koraput district, the products of the two polytechnics in Koraput and Malkangiri districts will have better job prospects, sources added.

Apart from 14 Government ITIs and 10 women polytechnics, there are 147 private industrial training centres (ITCs) in the State. About 125 blocks of the State do not have ITIs and the State Government has already initiated a move to establish at least one in each block through private initiatives.

The Government has also decided to set up a few special technical institutes in the State. While plumbing institute will be set up at Pattamundai in Kendrapara, Ganjam will have a special institute for gems and jewellery processing.

Feb 07, The Statesman

State suffers for OREDA slackness
Statesman News Service

Bhawanipatna, Feb. 6: Renewable Energy is treated as a key to the future energy and economic security by the Government and the policy is made to mainstream renewable energy. The Orissa Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) is the agency for the implementation of the different programmes.

It has launched many activities in the state. However, ironically the activities of OREDA are not picking up in Kalahandi where there is a lot of scope and need for remote village electricity, bio-gas, solar energy and hydro-power activities. Incidentally, for remote villages electrification programmes using non-conventional ways was proposed in the year 2003-04 to provide electricity to 70 remote tribal villages providing electricity using conventional ways is difficult due to the adverse topography. After a long gap OREDA surveyed the villages in March 2006 but there are no specific time schedule as to when these will be implemented. In this background it is becoming a distant dream and the people are loosing hope.
The district branch of OREDA is headed by an assistant director and six technical field staffs. Out of these six field staffs one is under suspension and another is attached to the office at Bhawanipatna under district rural development agency. The rest of the four field staffs practically having no work. Last year there was no fund for implementing the bio-gas programme and during the current year a target has been set for only 40 bio-gases supplies.

For proper implementation of work, to support the ministry of planning and coordination in various renewal energy programmes and creation of mass awareness in the districts in continuous basis the district advisory committee has been constituted to take various persons and officials within its fold.
The committee will suggest the mechanism for formulating and implementing of remote village energy plans and programmes, to review achievements and monitor the programmes. The advisory boards have been formed to get feedback as well as to gear up work.

In Kalahandi district the district advisory committee was constituted on 24 January 2005. The Committee has 20 members including 10 officials and 10 NGO representatives where collector and district magistrate is the ex-officio chairman and project director of DRDA.

However, ironically the district advisory committee which should sit at least once in every quarter over the concerning matters has not yet convened a single meeting. One of the members of the Committee Mr Bharat Bhusan Deo expressing his concern stated that the committee becomes meaningless without activities. He said that unfortunately meetings are not held and obviously the members have no role to play in such situation. In such a scenario despite feasibility of the development in the field of unconventional energy it is distant a dream in Kalahandi.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Feb 02, 2007: Sambad

Mr Binaya Behera,IPS, a KalahandiA, received special medal from President of India.

Feb 03, 2007: Rediff

Rural job scheme: A statistical goof up Sreelatha Menon & Prasad Nichenametla in New Delhi

February 03, 2007 12:04 IST
A year after the launch of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, two sets of figures that it throws up are arresting.
First, 33.4 million job cards have been issued in the 200 districts where the programme has been operational. Those districts have 54 million rural households.

The numbers say that 60 per cent of all rural households in these districts have registered for hard manual labour, in return for Rs 50 a day.

Since only 22 per cent (or 26 per cent, depending on the figure you choose) of all households are officially poor, a 60 per cent participation rate suggests either a level of deprivation in the countryside that no one has suspected exists, or a gigantic boondoggle under which fake muster rolls get filled up.

The second arresting figure is the number of man days of work generated during the year: 446 million.

Assuming that this was evenly spread out among the 33.4 million who have registered under the programme, each job card holder got less than 14 days of work during the year.

But that calculation would have to be adjusted with the fact that all 33.4 million job cards were not issued on the first day of the programme. If they were issued in an even pattern through the year, the average job card holder would have got 14 days of work over six months -compared with the 100 days in a year promised under the programme.

The Rs 700 that would have been earned by each job card holder (and only one card is allowed per family) in the year would serve at best as supplementary income for an average family of five; it is not enough to bring poor people above the poverty line - one of the claims made on behalf of the programme.

At gram panchayat Baldevmal, part of the Junagarh block in Orissa's Kalahandi district, the scene is much worse than even what these national averages suggest.

In all, 350 job cards have been given out so far. Panchayat secretary Bhabograhi Meher's figure for man days of work created is 450. That amounts to barely one day and a bit per job card holder in the entire year.

At Bandhpari panchayat of Lanjigarh block, in the very Kalahandi district, 33-year-old Nurpa Goud got seven days of work in June. This is all that is mentioned on his card.

He says he worked more days, but they have not been mentioned on the card. He is now waiting for more work, as the state government has recently increased the minimum wage under the programme.

There are also places like Ranmal gram panchayat in Kalahandi, where no cards have been given out so far. The statewide total is 2.5 million cards and 45 million man days of work - or an average of 18 days per card.

That is slightly better than the national figure of 14 days, and marginally better than Uttar Pradesh's total (54 million man days for 3.2 million job card holders in 22 districts, making for 16 man days per card), but nowhere near the target of 100 man days per card.

If Nurpa Goud's account is true, more work is being done, but people are not being paid for it.

The vital statistical link showing man days generated per job card is mostly missing in official records.

When mentioned, it often does not reflect the truth, says Manoj Rai of Participatory Research in Asia, a resource and advocacy group on grassroots development. The states do have data on the number of man days, but they do not post it on their websites, says Rai.

In response to questions, central ministry officials in New Delhi say they are planning to revamp the information system.

Jan 30, 2007: Kalinga Times

Too many sensitive booths in Orissa
KalingaTimes Correspondent

Bhubaneswar: It sounds strange, but true. In the run up to the forthcoming panchayat polls, almost half of the total polling booths in Orissa have been found to be sensitive or hypersensitive booths.
The State Election Commission on Monday revealed that out of the total of 87542 polling booths in the State, as high as 43750 booths were found to be sensitive or highly sensitive.
The Commission indicated that various steps were being taken in those booths to conduct the polls. The polls are scheduled to be held in five phases next month.
The number of sensitive booths could increase further as campaigning had just started gaining momentum with top leaders hitting the field.
According to an official release issued by the Commission, Khurda and Bhardak districts had a high percentage of sensitive booths. While Khurda had 2019 sensitive and highly sensitive booths out of the total of 2617, Bhadrak had 2082 sensitive booths out of the total of 2970 booth.

Kalahandi and Subarnapur districts had a low percentage of sensitive booths. While only 317 of the total 3377 booths in Kalahandi had been declared sensitive, Subarnapur had 414 sensitive booths out of the total of 1358.

The release said that Angul district had 1550 sensitive booths out of the total of 2936 booths, while Bolangir had 1167 booths out of the total of 3527, Balasore had 1088 out of 4354, Bargarh 1876 out of 3401, Boudh 521 out of 880, Cuttack 3573 out of 5473, Deogarh 371 out of 738, Dhenkanal 2190 out of 2821, Gajapati 1160 out of 1526, Ganjam 3409 out of 6943, Jagatsinghpur 1596 out of 3357, Jajpur 2522 out of 4282, Jharsuguda 433 out of 928, Kandhamal 1327 out of 2083, Kandrapara 1448 out of 3624, Keonjhar 1596 out of 3680, Koraput 968 out of 2725, Malkangiri 865 out of 1319, Mayurbhanj 2077 out of 5253, Nawrangpur 1205 out of 2048, Nayagarh 1636 out of 2934, Nuapada 303 out of 1385, Puri 1162 out of 3551, Rayagada 1322 out of 2094, Sambalpur 968 out of 1874 and Sundargarh had 2194 booths sensitive out of the total of 3482.

Jan 29, 2007: The Telegraph

Health jobs await NGOs

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 28: The realisation that taking healthcare to the remotest corner of the state is not the job of bureaucrats in the health department alone has driven the Orissa government to rope in NGOs to give a boost to primary medicare.

The state has already tasted success in its experiment to hand over management of three primary health centres to NGOs. A couple of years ago, the management of three primary health centres (Khankira in Dhenkanal, Ata in Jajpur district and Naikhandi in Bhadrak) had been handed over to NGOs.

Encouraged by the success of the experiment, the government is now set to hand over as many as 60 health centres and 120 sub-centres to the NGOs by the end of March.
The state at present appoints doctors and provides infrastructural support and medicine to every public health centre and sub-centre. But there are places where the government is yet to provide basic health facilities.

In places like KBK (undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi districts), healthcare is well below the satisfactory level. Doctors are reluctant to work in these places for various reasons.

To address these problems the government has been toying with the idea to hand over the health centres and sub-centres to the NGOs, a senior officer in the health department said.

At the initial stage, management of four sub-centres and two primary health centres in every district will be handed over to self-help groups working in the respective areas.

The government will continue to look after staff recruitment and provision of infrastructure while the SHGs will monitor their functioning. The state will spend Rs 6 lakh per annum on every health centre and Rs 1 lakh for a sub-centre.

Applications have been invited from NGOs based in all districts of the state.

Apart from providing better healthcare, the NGOs are also expected to shoulder the additional responsibility of generating awareness on immunisation programmes, family planning and reducing infant mortality rate in the respective areas, said a health official.

Jan 12, 2007: The Statesman

Kalahandi in utsav spirit now
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Jan. 11: It is time for celebration for the people of Kalahandi. While Pausa Purnima was celebrated by the farming community on 3 January, the Makar Mela of Kusurla and the famous Kalahandi Utsav will be celebrated from 14 to 17 January. The Kalahandi Utsav ~ organised by the Zilla Sanskruti Parisad ~ will be held from 14 to 17 January in Bhawanipatna, while a sub-divisional-level Utsav will be held in Dharamgarh from 15 to 16 January. The biggest attraction this time will be the national-level Pallishree Mela organised by capart and ormas. Handicraft products from all over India will be exhibited at 80 stalls. There will be a state-level hand-loom exhibition and a flower show also during the Utsav. In total, there will be 200 stalls this time as against 140 in the past year. There will also be a cultural extravaganza where folk artistes of Kalahandi will perform together with troupes from different parts of the state and country. Troupes from Kalakendra in New Delhi having artistes from Russia will be an added attraction. On the occasion, a state-level flood light volley ball tournament will also be organised.

Jan 11, 2007: The Statesman

Kalahandi tops in farm mechanism
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Jan. 10: With regard to the introduction of farm mechanism, Kalahandi is picking up in the past five years and is now leading other districts in the state. According to an assessment by the agriculture department, during current financial year, 1,687 power tillers were introduced in the state. Of 1,687, Kalahandi has received 267 power tillers, while Balasore got 215, 178 for Bargarh, 139 for Kendrapada and 120 for Sonepur. The cost of one power tiller is Rs 1.16 lakh and the subsidy granted by the government is Rs 27,500. In Kalahandi, there was NIL supply of power tillers in 2002 whereas during 2003-04, it was 28, during 2004-05 it was 51, during 2005-06 it was 223 and during the current financial year, it has reached 267. With regard to the introduction of agro-service centres also, Kalahandi is No.1. In April 2005, only one agro-service centre could be introduced whereas during the current year, 27 agro-service centres were established. With a package of Rs 6 lakh each, agro-service centre includes tractor, trolley, pump sets, sprayers, paddy ripper and transplanter. During the current financial year, 148 agro-service centres have been established out of which 27 were in Kalahandi.