Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Classrooms are humming again

Financial Express, May 30, 2007

As the UPA completes 3 years, we probe the efficacy of its big-spend programmes

KALAHANDI, ORISSA: Here’s the ninth part of a series on how the government’s big-ticket programmes have impacted the hinterland, filed by our reporters from across the country.
When Kalahandi’s education instructors tried to enroll 11-year-old scheduled tribe boy Nrudananda Dandasena in a local school some years back, his father had objected saying the distance his son had to walk to attend classes was too much. But, five years along, a school serving mid-day meals has come up near Nrudananda’s home. But he is still grazing cattle and helping his father in the field.

The story is similar for over five lakh children in Orissa. But the scenario may change soon for the better as Naveen Patnaik’s government is striving to reach education to all, especially in the impoverished areas.

As part of its plans to ensure that all students are enrolled in schools, the state government has created an online database of all the 98 lakh children between the 1-14 years age group. The database has helped the education authorities to start projects and programmes targeted at specific regions or even schools. Authorities are finding success in their endeavour, in snatches though. Of the total 61lakh children in the age group of 6 years to 14 years, about 55 lakh students have been enrolled in schools.

The state government wants to use Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan to enroll all children between 6-14 years of age in schools—an attempt, many say, has failed.

But nothing is hunky dory. To make matters worse, students enroll and drop out after obtaining scholarships, a problem which is acute in districts like Kalahandi. Moreover, attendance is as low as 30 to 50% in most schools and the school dropout rate is as high as 50%, according to various estimates.

“There are school dropouts. But it varies from school to school. Some have a higher percentage. We realise that dropping out of schools is a bigger problem than getting students enrolled. We are taking steps to ensure that students stay in schools,” said a state education department official. The government has started various schemes, including distribution of free uniforms to ensure that the student dropout rate comes down. But, a large part of these uniforms find their way to nearby markets.

Another major problem is the difficulty in finding teachers. As a result, more prosperous places like Paradip has excess teachers. For example, a government school in Paradip with about 300 students has 14 teachers and 9 classrooms, while the one in nearby Sijur has 250 students, no classrooms and just one teacher.

Shiksha Sahayaks, who help in recruiting students, are hired on a temporary basis initially, which is seen as a major dissuading factor for many to take up the job. Moreover, with most of the schools facing shortage of teachers, Shiksha Sahayaks also double up as teachers. In addition, the monthly pay for Shiksha Sahayaks is Rs 2,000, lower than the Rs 6,000-Rs 7,000 earned by a regular schoolteacher.

Prize for fruition of a dream

The Statesman, May 30, 2007

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, May 29: “Service to mankind is service to God” has been her motto. She is Subasini Jena (38), a female health worker in the remote Kodomeri sub-centre of the backward Nuapada district.
This simple, humble and down-to-earth health worker has turned out to be perhaps the first ever from the state to bag the prestigious Florence Nightangle National Award-2007” on the eve of International Nurse Day on 12 May. In a proud moment of her life, she received the award from the President, APJ Abdul Kalam, for her outstanding performance in Immunisation and Family Welfare Service. She was one of the 17 awardees from 16 states. Her dream had been to serve the poor and downtrodden strata of the society and this dream could materialise after completing the Auxiliary Nursing Midwife (ANM) course at Baripada.
Talking to The Statesman, she recalled her initial days as the health worker, when there was no proper transportation or communication and she had to walk miles to cover 40 villages assigned to her.
All her 17 years of service has been in undivided Kalahandi district, one of the most backward and undeveloped districts of western Orissa, where she had served in Beltukuri sub-centre, Nuapada (14 years), Lanjigada sub-centre, Kalahandi (three years).
Most importantly, her proud husband, Mr Gobardhan Joshi, is also in the same profession and is working, along with her as a male health worker in the same Kodomeri sub-centre. And this couple is entrusted with the task of looking after the health needs of more than 8,000 people of eight villages under the sub-centre.
They mainly deal with pulse polio campaign Filaria eradication and TB control programme. They also attend home calls in delivery cases. When asked about her inspiration, she names Mother Tersa and Florence Nightangle and she attributes her success to her husband and her two children, Suranjika and Samresh. She also acknowledges the contributions of Dr SP Satpathy, the present medical officer and Dr BB Jagat, the former medical officer and the present CDMO, Nuapada, for encouraging her.
Today, the health minister and senior officers organised a function here to felicitate Subasini Jena.

Raids reveal irregularities in NREGS

The New Indian Express, May 29, 2007

MALKANGIRI: Irregularities in the ongoing National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) works in Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur and Kalahandi districts came to light after surprise raids were conducted by the vigilance sleuths in these districts on Saturday.

The raids were conducted on the directions of Jeypore Vigilance SP Bishnu Charan Das. “Irregularities in Kuhurakote-Palas road construction work under Jharigaon block, non-payment of Rs 55 a day to the labourers and obtaining thumb impression from labourers who can sign were observed during investigation in the Nabarangpur district,” the Vigilance SP said.

The road is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 5 lakh and is a departmental one but during investigation, it was revealed that the work was allotted to one contractor Khaga Nayak.

Further, the contractor instead of paying daily wages to the labourers, is getting the work done on contract basis,” he added.

Similarly, irregularities have been detected in the ongoing tank renovation work at Gunthaguda village under Pujariput gram panchayat of Jeypore block in Koraput. During the raids, muster roll, payment register and list of labourers were not found at the spot. Though details like the mode and nature of payment should be reflected as per the NREGS norms, nothing was mentioned in the register, vigilance sources said.

In Rayagada, the vigilance team detected irregularities in NREGS road construction work from Adapatiguda to Dumaguda under K.Maligaon gram panchayat. During the raid, only seven labourers were present at the construction spot against 10 as mentioned in the muster roll, the SP said.

Irregularities were also detected in a road renovation work from NH- 270 to Amalpalli under Madanpur Rampur block in Kalahandi district. Cases have been registered.

Complexes sans tourists

The New Indian Express, May 29, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: To boost tourism in Kalahandi, the State Government had initiated construction of two tourist complexes in the district - one at Beheraguda on the outskirts of Bhawanipatna and the other at Thuamul Rampur in 1992. While one complex is yet to see the light of the day, the other is in a shambles today.

In fact, the Beheraguda tourist complex has been marred by controversies ever since it received administrative approval 15 years back. The then chief minister Biju Patnaik had allocated funds to the tune of Rs. 31 lakh for the construction of the complex with additional allotment of Rs. 10 lakh for area development. The foundation stone was laid on September 5, 1992.

Although the tender was floated by PWD, R&B division and the work was allotted to a contractor, the latter did not proceed after the work got completed up to the plinth level. Subsequently, the tender was cancelled.

Out of the total estimated cost, Rs. 27 lakh is still lying unspent with the State Public Works Department since 1994-95. Meanwhile, the half-completed work has also deteriorated and no new contractors are ready to take up the unfinished work.

Sources in the Tourism Department said the issue of non-completion of the complex has been repeatedly raised by the department and compliance and utilisation certificates for the fund allotted have also been sought from the Works Department but there is no response.

At present, the Public Works Department, Bhawanipatna division, is preparing a revised estimate to the tune of about Rs. 70 lakh even though Rs. 27 lakh sanctioned initially remains unutilised.

Executive engineer Asit Kumar Badpanda said on receipt of administrative approval and allotment of funds as per the revised estimate, work will be resumed.

Meanwhile, though the tourist complex at Thuamul Rampur saw the light of the day, water supply and electrification work could not be executed. At present, the shutters, doors, windows and interior fittings have been either damaged or stolen. The Works Department is yet to submit a revised estimate and is asking for Rs. 37.76 lakh more.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Heat wave warning in parts of Orissa

The Hindu, May 25, 2007

Bhubaneswar, May 24 (PTI): With day temperatures rising in most places, the Meteorological office here today issued a heat wave warning for several parts of Orissa.

"Heat wave conditions are likely to prevail in some parts of Orissa during the next 48 hours," the Met office bulletin said.

This is the second such warning from the weather office during this summer.

Sizzling heat has prevailed in the western and southern districts with maximum temperatures soaring beyond 40 degree Celsius.

While Malkangiri recorded the highest temperature of 44.5 degrees C yesterday, it was 42.6 in Balangir, 41.2 in Titilagarh, 41.8 in Sambalpur, 41.1 in Sundargarh, 41 in Bhawanipatna and 40 degree C in Jharsuguda.

Hirakud, which is located next to the massive Hirakud reservoir, recorded 42.1 degrees C.

The capital city registered 40 degrees Celsius during the day while neighbouring Cuttack recorded 40.5 degrees C, the weather office said.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana a rebuff to Centre

The Pioneer, May 24, 2007
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

*10,000 villages to be electrified in five years
*State to provide Rs 1,000 cr from own resources

In a rebuff to the UPA Government's apathetic attitude towards Orissa, the State Government announced the Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana to take up rural electrification, on Wednesday.

Echoing Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's earlier remark, Energy Minister Surya Narayan Patro said, "We will not beg for funds from the Centre to carry out the rural electrification scheme. The State Government would fund this programme from its own resources," he said.

In this connection, Chief Minister Patnaik on Wednesday held a marathon meeting of officials of the Energy and Finance Departments and other coordinating agencies to chalk out the plan. "Under the Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana, around 10,000 villages will be electrified in a span of five years. Earlier, these villages were meant to be covered under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyut Yojana," said Patnaik.

Later, briefing the media about the ambitious programme, Patro said the scheme would be immediately undertaken and covered under the 11th FiveYear Plan.

Lambasting the Centre for not providing funds to take up rural electrification programme, Patro said there would not be any fund constraints in the implementation of this programme. "A whopping Rs 1,000 crore would be spent under this scheme," he said, adding that a special programme would be taken up to identify the villages.

The District Electricity Committee (DEC) would be entrusted with carrying out the rural electrification programme. The District Collector would be given overall charge. He would ensure to the Government that rural electrification programme is carried out smoothly." District Collectors would be held directly responsible if the proposed programme is not implemented properly," said Patro.

He further said that District Collectors would convene the meetings of the distribution companies and directly discuss the issues with them. Views of the MLA and local representatives would be given due consideration while taking up the programme.

As per the plan, the Government would entrust the transmission of power to the Orissa Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL). OPTCL would be given the responsibility to execute the programme which it would monitor and supervise .The State Government would provide a Rs 550-crore bank guarantee to OPTCL. Against this bank guarantee, it could take loans from various financial institutions and invest the fund in the Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana.

New substations would be set up at Banei, Bouda, Akusinga, Aandapur, Nuapada, Bhawanipatna, Dabugaon, Chandpur and Padampur. A 400 KV line from IB to Mearmundali and a 220 KV line from Bargarh to Balangir would be erected.

It may be noted that despite the State Government's repeated requests, the Centre had not released funds for all the districts under the RGGVY to take up rural electrification. Out of the Centre's Rs 5,000 crore under the scheme, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar received Rs 4,500 crore, while all other States shared the rest Rs 500 crore among themselves. Orissa has received funds only for two districts. This after Chief Minister Patnaik had taken up the issue with the Centre several times.

Conservancy is in the pipeline

The New Indian Express, May 23, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: The Government has decided to launch catchment treatment programme for effective conservation of land, water and vegetation to help eradicate poverty in backward areas of the State. A Catchment Area Management Society would also be formed. This will manage the programmes of different river systems of the State.

In the first phase, catchment area of Upper Indravati Multi-purpose Project has been taken up as it is under serious threat of siltation resulting in reduction of its storage capacity and life span.

Official sources said Rs 170 crore would be spent on the project over a period of seven years. Official sources had warned unless the rot is stemmed the project would lose its utility causing serious socio-economic problems in the backward areas of KBK districts.

The catchment area of Upper Indravati is spread over 2,642 sq km comprising 10 blocks of Kalahandi, Rayagada, Koraput and Nabarangpur districts.

The long-term objectives of the catchment treatment programme is to check forest degradation and loss of bio-diversity, ecological restoration and conservation of environment, integrated land and water management to increase the life span of the reservoir and to minimise siltation and sediment accumulation for enhanced agricultural production.

A project director would be stationed at Koraput to supervise the progress of the project and coordinate the activities of line departments.

There will be a project-level steering committee to be headed by the chief administrator, KBK, and a State-level monitoring committee to be headed by Chief Secretary. The project funds would be transacted through a society.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The Statesman, May 21, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA, May 20: A case of murder has been registered by the Nuapada police on the basis of a complaint filed by the local doctor that a new-born girl child was found dead within 15 minutes of its birth. The doctor of a government health centre said he had conducted a safe delivery and the infant was healthy. But when he returned after a break he found the child dead. It is suspected that it was a case of dispensing with the girl child. The mother, Kanak Dei, pleaded ignorance. “There were signs of bleeding from mouth and nose,”said the doctor. n SNS

Project to breathe life into livestock farming

The New Indian Express, May 20, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: Kalahandi district has a sizeable livestock population of about 87,000 sheep and 2.23 lakh goats as per a survey by the Veterinary Department.

But the livestock owners, who generally belong to economically weaker sections, are unaware of the modern infrastructure facilities and proper marketing network which reflects on their profits.

Leave aside marketing network, the livestock farmers do not even have an idea about regular vaccination. In 1992-93, the district administration had started sheep rearing with funds from the National Ram and Buck Production Programme.

A farm was also opened at Jaring, 15 km from here.

Ironically, the Directorate of Animal Husbandry ordered for closure of the farm on the grounds of high mortality rate of the sheep and lack of feasibility.

Instead, it ordered for shifting the farm to Chipilima and utilising it for bull and calf rearing. Ever since, the farm, though still running with only 77 sheep, is not getting any fund and being managed by departmental labourers.

Even the three labourers engaged there were removed since February 2002 and they are yet to receive the arrears of Rs 66,500.

Against this background, the District Veterinary Department has drawn up a project report for strengthening sheep and goat rearing in the district, empower the livestock owners, develop infrastructure and ensure a good market linkage.

A project proposal of Rs 8.3 crore has been prepared to get funding from Backward Region Grants Fund (BRGC) of the Centre.

Chief District Veterinary Officer Ramchandra Behera said the proposal to monitor Jaring sheep rearing farm was made with an aim to produce quality rams and bucks for supply to farmers in rural areas.

This will improve the genetic make-up of local stocks for higher production.

Special thrust will also be given to marketing and health of the livestock population, he added.

This proposal is under active consideration of the Government, Behera said.

If implemented, it will go a long way in improving the present status of livestock in this economically backward area, he added.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Vedanta earnings up 90% as production, metal prices rise

livemint, The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2007
Chanyaporn Chanjaroen/Bloomberg
London: Vedanta Resources Plc., India’s largest producer of copper and zinc, said its fiscal second-half profit rose 90% on higher metal prices and aluminium output.
Net income gained to $486.6 million (approx. Rs1,995 crore), from $256.6 million a year earlier. The profit, calculated from full-year figures reported on Wednesday by the London-based company, was in line with the $486 million average of six analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.
“Production across all the metals will be better this year,” chief executive officer Kuldip Kaura said in a conference call in London.
Expansion plans: Vedanta chairman Anil AgarwalGrowing Chinese metals demand helped the average copper price in the period rise 41% from a year earlier, while aluminium increased 24%. Vedanta, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, has also increased production, expanding output at its Korba aluminium smelter in India.
Aluminium for immediate delivery on the London Metal Exchange averaged $2,721 a tonne in the six months, and copper averaged $6,522. Zinc doubled, trading at a record.
Shares of Vedanta have gained 16% this year, valuing the company at £4.07 billion ($8.08 billion). That matched the increase in the Bloomberg Europe Metals & Mining Index, which tracks 10 companies including Vedanta.
Output of aluminium rose 67% to 3,51,000 tonnes for the fiscal year, the company said on 11 April. Zinc gained 23% to 3,48,000 tonnes. Copper cathode, a finished form of the metal, rose 15% to 3,13,000 tons at Vedanta’s Indian units.
The company’s copper output in Zambia dropped 13% to 1,42,000 tonnes after a power outage and a closure caused by water pollution at its Konkola copper mines unit, the largest producer of the metal in the African nation’s copperbelt region.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization at the company’s aluminium unit more than tripled to $415.4 million in the fiscal year ended March, the biggest gain of any Vedanta unit. The zinc unit’s Ebitda more than doubled to $1.5 billion and copper rose 96% to $833.9 million.
“Economic and industrial growth in India will continue to drive double-digit growth in our commodities,” Agarwal said in the earnings statement.
Vedanta will pay a final dividend of 20 cents a share, from 14.3 cents a year earlier. Net income more than doubled to $934.2 million, or $3.05 a share, in the 12 months ended 31 March, from $373.5 million, or $1.28, a year earlier. Sales increased 76% to $6.5 billion.
Vedanta has begun the second phase of its $7.5 billion expansion programme to increase production at its copper, zinc and aluminium units to one million tonnes each. The company will start production at the Lanjigarh alumina refinery in Orissa by the end of June, it said. The unit can produce at an annual rate of 1.4 million tonnes a year.
Expansion at the Chanderiya zinc smelter, with a capacity of 170,000 tonnes a year, will be complete by the end of this year, ahead of schedule, Kaura said. Construction has begun on a 2,400MW power project in Jharsuguda with an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. Completion is expected in 2010.

State prepares road map for WB assistance

The New Indian Express, May 18, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has sought loan assistance from the World Bank for improvement of some selected roads, where reduced carriage-way widths and pavement deterioration have resulted in capacity constraints for high volume traffic.

The project includes upgrading and widening of about 906 km road through public sector financing and development of 229 km long high- trafficked road through public-private partnership (PPP).

The road corridors to be developed through public sector financing include Jagatpur- Kendrapara-Chandbali-Bhadrak-Anandpur- Karanjia-Jashipur, Berhampur-JK Pur, Kereda-Rayagada-Muniguda- Bhawanipatna-Khariar, Aska- Bhanjanagar, Bhanjanagar-Daspalla and Daspalla-Banharpal.

Official sources said besides the above roads, for which detailed project reports are being drawn up, two more corridors - 199-km Mohana-Chandiput- R Udaygiri-Parlakhemundi-Gunupur-Bangi Road and 32-km Dhamra Port-Digochia Square on Bhadrak-Chandbali road - have been identified for feasibility study for inclusion in the project.

The projects to be undertaken under the PPP mode include the four-laning of Sambalpur-Rourkela (state highway-10) for 165- km stretch, widening of the existing single lane Joda-Bamberi Road (expressway-II) of 18-km stretch to seven-meter carriage-way and widening of the existing single-lane Koira-Tensa- Rajamunda Road.

The road works would be completed within a five year period starting from 2007.

In the first phase, Bhawanipatna-Khariar, Bhadrak-Chandbali, Bhadrak-Anandpur and Berhampur-Taptapani roads would be taken up.

In the first year of implementation of the project in 2007-08, Rs 92.06 crore would be spent while in the second year the expenditure has been pegged at Rs 735.26 crore.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Final Court Hearing on Vedanta Project is on 18 May

Turn at KBK for industry, May 17, 2007

While Orissa is witnessing an unprecedented boom in industrial growth recently, industrial prospects of KBK area looks bleak.

Except few mineral based industries none of the other industries seems to be interested in the backward region of the state.

How ever the State Government in its Industrial Policy-2007 have announced special incentives for non-mineral based new industrial units to be located in KBK region along with Kandhamal, Gajapati and Mayurbhanj.

But this is not enough.

There are many possibilities to bring industries to this large backward cluster but it needs strong commitments by our policy makers and political leaders.

This backward region suffers major bottle neck of infrastructure.

Emphasis should be given by the state government in such a way that industrialists are convinced to invest in KBK region.

State government has already signed 43 MOUs only in the steel sector; if these are actually implemented then it is quite enough for a state like Orissa.

Therefore, now the Government of Orissa should modify a bit the exiting rule for steel industry putting a new clause that any new proposal to establish steel industry in the state will be considered only if it would be located in KBK region or other no major industries districts like Kandhamal, Gajapati or Mayurbhanj district, otherwise mining rights would not be provided.

For growth of down stream industries in KBK region NALCO, Vedanta Alumina Ltd, and Utkal Alumina Ltd should be encouraged to establish industrial park at Koraput, Bhawanipatan and Rayagada respectively rather in non-KBK region.


KBK region has the higher potential for generating electricity through hydroelectricity project that needs construction of new dams.

However it needs huge amount of investment that the state government might not commit in a single instance, therefore private players should be encouraged to establish dam for hydroelectricity generation and irrigation purposes in this region.


IT and BPO has generated huge employment in India recently.

Bhubaneswar is already emerging as an IT and ITES destination in the country.

In the next step the state government should expand these industries to other parts of the state.

There are already plan for expanding IT parks in Rourkela and Berhampur.

Keeping geographical location and future growth of KBK region in mind, the state government should establish at least three IT parks in Koraput, Bhawanipatna and Balangir for the whole region for IT, BPO and KPO industries.

Establishment of three real universities in the region would benefit these industries.


As such KBK region has great potential for biotechnology, especially, for agricultural biotechnology, herbal biotechnology and medicinal biotechnology.

Plantation of herbal plants and agricultural biotechnology in this region would be much beneficial.

KBK region could be a very good source of ethanol from not only agriculture but also from the forest.

Mahul a locally known forest flower that is used to make local wine) could be a good source for ethanol and methanol.

Though wine is locally discouraged, nevertheless it can be used for industrial growth to export out side the country.

The export market of Indian made wine and beer is flourishing recently.

Orissa should encourage such activity by inviting major industrialists to invest in wine and food processing market.

We must explore the possibility of local made products for export market, so that it will benefit the state government to generate more tax.

And local people including those tribal people who collect Mahul from the forest for making local wine, who are paid much lesswill also be benefitted.

The region would also be a good source for bio-diesel and bio-fuel production.

Therefore, the state government should establish biotechnology parks in the three major towns such as Bhawanipatna, Koraput and Balangir to explore all the above possibilities in KBK region.

BY Dr Digambara Patra Visiting Lecturer (Department of Physics, Waseda University, Tokyo)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stir against Vedanta's Orissa plant from June 16

Financial Express, May 16, 2007

BHUBANESWAR, MAY 15: Activists of the Green Kalahandi, an orgnisation led by Congress leader and former Union railway minister Bhakta Charan Das, will start a 'jail bharo' from June 16 protesting against the alumina refinery plant of Vedanta Resources. Activists will put up barricades and prevent the vehicles of Vedanta from enterting into Kalahandi district. The organisation has also threatened to launch an indefinite 'satyagraha'.
Das on Monday told reporters that Vedanta refinery would bring misery to farmers and destroy the ecology of Kalhandi, Bolangir, and Phulbani districts. He said Vedanta would not be allowed to operate its plant in the district.
The Green Kalahandi has the support of the Opposition parties in the state. Das, who addressed the press conference along with state Congress president Jayadev Jena, CPI (M) state secretariat member Santosh Das and CPI assistant secretary Ashish Kanungo, demanded a CBI inquiry into the deal alleging that there was an unholy alliance between VAL chief Anil Agarwal and chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Cong, Left to intensify war against Vedanta

The New Indian Express, May 15, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: Opposition to the Vedanta’s alumina refinery project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district is all set to intensify with the Congress and Left parties announcing that from June 16 check gates will be erected to prevent the vehicles of the company from entering the project site.
Announcing this at a media conference here on Monday, the leaders of the two parties said that the ‘satyagraha’ will continue for an indefinite period till the company abandons the project.
After the steel projects of Tisco and Posco, this is the third mega project which is facing opposition from the locals. While in the case of Posco and Tisco, local people are opposed to land acquisition, in Vedanta’s case mining of bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills is being opposed.
Green Kalahandi, an organisation floated by former Union minister and Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das, is spearheading the agitation.
Alleging that the project will have devastating effect on the ecology of Niyamgiri area which is one of the oldest and richest forest areas of the State in terms of bio-diversity, Das alleged that the project will reverse the green revolution that has taken place in the district in the last decade.
The Congress and Left leaders demanded a CBI inquiry into the deal between the State Government and Vedanta to expose the ‘unholy alliance between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the company’.
The haste with which the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the company a year before the signing of the Mo clearly points out that there is an underhand deal, they alleged.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Results of +3 final year degree examination of Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna Declared

The Samaja, May 15, 2007

The +3 final year degree examination results of Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna got published for 2007.

Kesinga Recorded Highest Temperature 47 degree C

Samaja, May 15, 2007

Samaja reported that temperature of Kesinga town recored 47 degree C yesterday. This has affected the normal life in the region.

Cong, Left united against Vedanta

The Statesman, May 15, 2007

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, May 14: The Congress and Left parties rallied under the Green Kalahandi banner today to declare their opposition to Vedanta Alumina project. They demanded a CBI probe into the “undue favours” shown to the company and did not hesitate to say that the role of certain Central ministers could also come under the purview of the probe.
The state Congress has demanded review of the SEZ status accorded to the project recently by the Centre.
Declaring a satyagraha programme at Lanjigarh from 16 June during which Vedanta company officials and vehicles will not be allowed entry, Mr Bhakta Charan Das, Mr S Jena and Mr Jayadev Jena (all Congress), Mr Santosh Das (CPI-M) and Asis Kanungo (CPI) launched a tirade against the state government.
Grilled on how they could absolve the Central government and blame the state alone when clearances and SEZ approvals were accorded by the Centre, Mr Srikant Jena said if some of the Central ministers had done anything wrong, they too could come under the CBI probe. Talking to reporters, they narrated the sequence of events dating back to 2003-04 when chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik laid foundation stone for the project as a pre-poll measure even before MoU had been signed till the current situation where construction activity was on despite the matter was pending in the Supreme Court.
The leaders were hard-pressed to answer questions on their opposition to mining the Niyamagiri hills on environmental grounds and at the same time drawing a distinction between OMC and private players.
The Left leaders also failed to respond when it was pointed out that the Congress supports direct negotiation between MNCs and the villagers as far as land acquisition was concerned, while the CPI has opposed such a policy.
Mr Bhakta Charan Das, who heads the Green Kalahandi outfit, announced that people of the district will court arrest, erect check-gates and prevent entry of Vedanta officers from 16 June.
“For over one year, we have been protesting peacefully and the government has ignored our demands. So we are forced to take recourse to such steps,” he noted.
Asked what would be their stand if the Supreme Court were to clear the mining and other related disputes in favour of the company, Mr Das said the matter was in “people’s court” and they had decided to oppose the project tooth and nail.
Mr Das, who had launched a padayatra in the area recently, said people of Kalahandi did not want a reversal of their economic prosperity. The district hd gained worldwide notoriety for starvation deaths and child sale during the eighties, but subsequently, it has transformed into the rice bowl of the state.
The mindless industrialisation and mining activity will destroy their agricultural growth and prosperity and push people back to the drought related distress condition of the eighties, he said.
Unfortunately, the alumina project is going to reverse the green revolution that has taken place over the last decade in Kalahandi and at least 300000 people, who have benefited from the agricultural turn around, will be economically displaced, said Mr Bhakta Das.
He wondered how reputed institutes which had initially studied the mining area and rejected the proposal on grounds of ecological destruction had subsequently modified their report to suit the needs of the industry.
It is pertinent to note here that the contentious issues related to the Vedanta project had first been raised by Congress MLA Mr LB Mohapatra and followed up by several other social activists and another Congress MLA Mr Debasis Patnaik at a time when neither Mr Srikanta Jena nor Mr Jayadev Jena were in the picture.
Of late, the Jayadev-Srikant-Bhakta combine has, however, staked claim to leadership of the movement without involving Mr Mohaptra, Mr Patnaik and others who had initiated it and taken the matter to Supreme Court.

CBI cry in green case

The Telegraph, May 15, 2007

Bhubaneswar, May 14: The day before the Supreme Court is to hear a case on the violation of conservation laws by Vedanta Alumina and environmentalists’ arguments, state’s Opposition today demanded a CBI probe into the way the state was “going all out” to “support” the company.

It is alleged that Vedanta’s bauxite mines at Niyamgiri and the almost-complete alumina refinery, both amounting to Rs 4,000 crore, will adversely affect the area’s ecology.

State Congress president Jaydev Jena, former Union minister and leader of Green Kalahandi, an outfit opposing the alumina refinery, Bhakta Charan Das, former Union minister Shrikant Jena, CPM state secretariat member Santosh Das and CPI assistant secretary Ashis Kanungo today alleged that there was a nexus between chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the firm.

“Despite the reports filed by Centrally Empowered Committee, Wildlife Institute of India and even with the case remaining pending in the apex court, the state government is actively supporting and aiding Vedanta. The state should, instead, fulfil its Constitutional obligations and restrain the company,” the Opposition leaders fumed.

A three-judge bench of the apex court will hear the arguments made by Vedanta’s lawyers tomorrow. Meanwhile, the company is losing Rs 1 crore every day due to non-clearance of the Niyamgiri mining issue. The company proposes to build an open cast mine over the Niyamgiri plateau while an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh of Kalahandi district is nearly complete.

Meanwhile, the leaders also gave a call to block all vehicles leading to or out of the Vedanta Alumina factory in Lanjigarh from June 16 as a part of an indefinite “satyagraha”.

In 2005, the Centrally Empowered Committee of the apex court, formed to look into violation of environmental laws, had recommended that the environmental clearance of Lanjigarh refinery should be withdrawn and for Niyamgiri, it should not be given in the first lace.

In a separate report last year Dehra Dun-based Wildlife Institute of India unanimously said: “Threats posed by the proposed project to the important ecosystem will lead to irreversible changes in the ecological characteristics of the area.”

Jena and Das alleged that there are attempts to manipulate the CEC and WII reports in favour of Vedanta company.

“If the court gives the verdict in favour of Vedanta on the basis of manipulated reports, the people of Kalahandi will not take it lying down. Under no circumstances should the interests of 5 lakh people be sacrificed to fill the coffers of an unscrupulous MNC,” they added.

Boos for Bhakta

Inisgtorissa, May 15, 2007

The much hyped ‘Kalahandi Suraksha Yatra’, that was deliberately planned by Bhakta Charan Das, to embarrass Vedanta for no reason, has come a cropper. As the former Central Minister from the district left with disappointment for Bijeypur, in the last leg of his weeklong yatra, it was all clear that his grand plan has fizzled out.

The yatra started at Kesinga on 14 March, the auspicious day of Pana Sankranti, marking the Oriya New Year, but the beginning seemed inauspicious. Out of some 200 people who came with curiosity, only about 40 remained for the actual yatra. Others quickly departed after taking food. By the time the yatra reached Rupra, going through villages like Sirol, Paralsingha, Thupadar, etc, only some 30 odd were seen. When yatra resumed next morning and reached Narla , only 20 were left. In all the villages Bhakta and his men faced hostile locals who booed him for his selfish motive.

Bhakta reached Biswanathpur on 17 and slogans like, “Lanjigarh Dhwani…Heu Vedanta Company (Lanjigarh wants Vedanta)”, welcomed him. The irate people asked him what they would do if Vedanta goes, now that they are earning their livelihood because of it. Bhakta and his followers faced angry protests in all villages of Lanjigarh like Champadeipur, Gopinathpur, Batelima, Belamba, Rengopali,etc, On 19 April, Bhakta cancelled his plans to go to Balabhadrapur as he got news of an abusive crowd waiting for him there. Instead, he went to Lanjigarh town where also he was greeted by a protesting crowd of 300-400 people led by local leaders like Chandra Pesnia, Sridhar Pesnia, Banamali Majhi, Vinod Gaud and Sanatan Rout. Frustrated by all this, Bhakta’s men started manhandling the people and hence, complaint has been lodged against him at the local police station.

Dejected by such turn of events much to his discomfiture, Bhakta left for Bijeypur with only a handful of his supporters. Spurred by his own political motives, Bhakta babu has been staging such gimmicks against Vedanta, off and on, even as the company has been working for the overall development of people around its project area, say the local people and leaders They have strongly decried such selfish and anti-development posturing of a person who was once a Central Minister from this backward district.

Satyagraha against Vendanta Alumina from 16 June by Green Kalahandi, May 15, 2007

One of the member of Green Kalahandi said Satyagraha against Vendanta Alumina will start from 16 June reports

Sunday, May 13, 2007

State Ask Central Govenrment to Establish Research Centers at Keonjhara and Bhawanipatna to Improve Pulses Production

Dharitri, May 13, 2007

The state government has asked central government to establish Research Centers at Keonjhara and Bhawanipatna to Improve Pulses Production beside garden agricultural university near Chiplima.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Worker dies at Vedant plant

The New Indian Express, May 12, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: A worker employed in the power plant of Vedant at Lanjigarh died in an accident while on duty. Sources said the worker, Damodar Naik, was outsourced by the company and was looking after the maintenance of the plant.

Naik reportedly got crushed to death in the conveyor belt of the plant.

Soon after, other workers stopped work and demanded compensation. The impasse was cleared immediately as VAL declared a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the last rites.

It also promised to arrange for the education of both the sons of Naik at DAV Public School, police said.

CDMO asked to furnish report on dist hospital

The New Indian Express, May 11, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: District Collector Pramod Chandra Patnaik has directed the CDMO to take urgent steps to improve the sanitation and electricity facilities in the district headquarters hospital.

He has also asked the CDMO to ensure that all staff remain present during duty hours. The CDMO will have to submit a report in this regard within a week.

The directive came in the wake of the Collector’s surprise visit to the hospital on Wednesday.

At present, the hospital lacks basic amenities. Sanitation standards have deteriorated and garbage is seen strewn in the wards.

Bedsheets and other laundries of the hospital are washed in public tanks.

The Collector was particularly upset to discover that the food items supplied to the patients are not up to the mark and that nine specialists and doctors were absent during duty hours on the day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Malaria takes an endemic form

The New Indian Express, May 9, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: Even as government machineries are making sustained efforts to check the spread of malaria, the disease continues to pose serious threat to the people of Kalahandi and other parts of KBK region. As per a retrospective epidemiological study done by the malaria control wing of the district health department, the disease has taken an endemic form in Kalahandi due to the high prevalence of Plasmodium Falciparum (PF). The high risk pockets are the rural and inaccessible areas, the report said.

The report revealed that the annual parasite index was 19.18, 19.1 and 19.48 respectively for 2004, 2005 and 2006. PF detection from the blood slides tested was 84 percent, 83 percent and 84 percent respectively for 2004, 2005 and 2006. In some of the blocks, the prevalence percentage is alarmingly high.

For instance, in Koksara, PF occurrence is 96 percent, Golamunda 98 percent, Narla 94 percent, Madanpur Rampur 92 percent and Thuamul Rampur and Jaipatna 95 percent. Absence of health staff in inaccessible areas, vacancies in the posts of doctors and paramedical staff, shortage of trained lab technicians, and lack of awareness are some of the stumbling blocks in the eradication of the disease.

Incidentally, out of the 13 primary health centres of Kalahandi, there are no malaria laboratory technicians at Chilguda, Kalampur and Chapria PHCs. Similarly 40 newly-formed PHCs run without technicians. And, in 16 PHCs, pharmacists are being trained to take up the work of laboratory technician. In such a scenario, combating the malaria menace becomes a difficult task.

Contacted ADMO, Public Health, Dr. Susil Rath said a month-long intensive campaign for ‘indoor residual spray’ will be launched from June in the rural pockets of the district, involving NGOs and other activists. This will help in controlling the disease, he added.

Welfare of farmers top on officials’ mind

The Statesman, May 9, 2007

Statesman News Service
BHAWANIPATNA, May 8: To ensure a fair deal to farmers during the rabi paddy procurement season in Kalahandi, district authorities are devising strategies keeping in view past experiences.
Dalua paddy harvest and procurement started in the areas where irrigation is done through the Indravati. During the current season, 213000 metric tons of dalua paddy are expected to be harvested as per preliminary assessment of agriculture department.
At a meeting to take stock of the rabi paddy procurement here, it was decided that different government agencies like Orissa State Civil Supply Corporation, Markfed, TDCC, Nafed and FCI and the licensed miller agents should be entrusted with the task of procuring paddy. It was decided that all payments to farmers for the procured paddy would be done through account payee cheques to save farmers from exploitation and harassment.
Mr Pramod Kumar Patnaik, collector of Kalahandi, at the meeting attended by representatives of procurement agencies and district-level officials, warned that drastic action would be taken against those agencies or miller agents, who were procuring the paddy from farmers, if their cheques were bounced.
There will be strict monitoring by revenue and block level officials to ensure that farmers got a fair deal, he said.

Utkal Gramya Bank turns around, posts profit

The Statesman, May 9, 2007

Statesman News Service
BHAWANIPATNA, May 8: Less than a year after it was formed through the amalgamation of banks, Utkal Gramya Bank has turned around its previous Rs 4. 28 crore loss, posting a net profit of Rs 2. 11 crore at the end of last financial year. Gramya Bank has 329 branches and covers 15 districts and 57 per cent of the geographical area of the state.
It was formed on 31 July last year on amalgamation Kalahandi Anchalik Gramya Bank, Bolangir Anchalik Gramya Bank and Panchabati Gramya Bank.
Sri Ramesh Chandra Pani, bank chairman announced at a Press conference yesterday that in the first year of its formation the bank and expanded business to take in Rs 2563 crore as on 31 March this year compared to Rs 2086 crores at the same time last year.
This registers a growth of 22.87 per cent with per branch business recording a growth of 20.16 per cent during the corresponding period, he said.
The bank has given priority to the agriculture sector and during the last financial year financed Rs 241 crores of agriculture credit as against the target of Rs 197.53 crores. The Utkal Gramya Bank also retained a prominent position in terms of business with self help groups. During the year a record number of 25,128 numbers of self help groups were credit linked, amounting to Rs 91.51 crores, the chairman said.
Similarly the Bank’s advances hit Rs 580 crores as opposed to a target of Rs 538.30 crores with advances to priority sectors constituting 79.68 per cent of the total advances.
This is on a par with the growth rate recovery of outstanding bank dues, which has also increased. During the last financial year recovery stood at 76.34 per cent, Sri Pani said.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Construction of bridge over Pipalnal in Bhawanipatna is finally taking place

In another development construction of bridge over PipalNal in Bhawanipatna is going on rapidly. After 5 years of waiting, finally something is being done over NH 201.
(Source: Mr Tushar Behera, Bangalore)

Updates on Medical College at Jaring

Samaja, May 8, 2007

300 bed capacity hospital would be finished in July 2007.

Details in PDF

Friday, May 4, 2007

Front Page Picture in Dharitri on Kendu Leaf Selling in Kalahandi

Dharitri, May 3, 2007

Kendu Leaf Selling: In Kesinga of Kalahandi district Pluckers are waiting with their Kendu Leaf.

Documentary shows failure of Project Tiger

Times of India, May 4, 2007

NEW DELHI: In India, a wildlife documentary and a natural history movie are often thought to be the same thing. A film on tiger conservation is invariably all about the big cat in the wild, its royal splendour on display before an indulgent camera.

But filmmaker Krishnendu Bose's Tiger: the Death Chronicles, presents the not-so-pretty picture of official lethargy and squabbling "experts" who seem to be presiding over a story with tragic portents. Shot over an entire year, after Sariska's vanishing tigers made headlines, the documentary reveals that things haven't still changed for the king of the jungle.

Bose's film shows that the Indian tiger remains at considerable risk. In some sanctuaries, the big cats have disappeared and naturalists who asked awkward questions surfed out. At others, the prey base makes the number of tigers officials claim to exist seem quite untenable. And, throughout the film's production, says Bose, senior ministry and environment officials refused to meet him.

Screened in the Capital on Thursday, the film explains why there are more tigerwallahs around some national parks today than the cats. It will help people understand that tigers face a threat not only from poachers, but also from a relentless pressure on their habitats, as decades of misplaced policies have turned the big cats' human neighbours against them. The documentary presents telling examples. In BR Hills (Karnataka), Soliga tribals, living in the tiger-dwelling habitat for ages, once denied their rights, take to indiscriminate chopping. In Kalahandi (Orissa), bauxite mining threatens to displace both wildlife and tribals.

In Buxa (West Bengal), science is shunned to list tiger numbers beyond any reasonable estimate. In Panna (MP), controversy and the forest department hounds a scientist who reports missing tigers. Bose uses such instances well — he uses personalities better.

"Is the tiger's story actually about the tigerwallahs?" TOI asked Bose. "It's a story of their ideologies," he says. So, you have not so subtle battles between Valmik Thapar and Sunita Narain. The latter is a late entrant but has shaken up the business (with her Tiger Task Force) to get India thinking if 30 years of jargon and breast-beating for the tiger did enough.

Bose uses these debates to build the narrative, but at times turns a bit polite. This is understandable as it is tough to tell your audience — the tiger loving middle class — that if the big cat wasn't their motif of natural glory and was, instead, seen to symbolise a conflict threatening India's forests and those who directly depend on them, the current crisis may have been averted.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Summer turns heat on state

The Telegraph, May 3, 2007

Bhubaneswar, May 2: The state is reeling from a heatwave and, what’s worse, there’s no respite in sight.

The heatwave sweeping across Orissa has reportedly claimed 36 lives even as officials confirm six deaths due to sunstroke. The condition is worse in the western parts where the mercury is hovering around 43°C with a monotonous regularity.

Officials in the revenue and disaster mitigation control department said while 36 possible heat-related deaths have been received from across the state, inquiry reports on 17 have reached the government. Out of these, only six have been confirmed as sunstroke deaths.

Out of six official heatstroke deaths, three have been reported from Ganjam district, while one each has taken place in Kondhmal, Nuapara and Sundargarh districts.

Today, the state recorded a highest day temperature of 43°C at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district, while similar figures were recorded at Titlagarh in Bolangir district yesterday. Hirakud recorded 39.5°C and Jharsuguda 39°C.

Last week, the mercury level was hovering above 45°C at Sundargarh (April 26 and 27) and Bolangir (April 28) .The highest temperature of 50.1°C was recorded at Titlagarh in 2003.

Even the officials in the meteorological department here indicate that the heatwave may continue for a few more days.

S.C. Sahoo, director of the meteorology centre, attributed the Northwesterly to the heatwave sweeping western Orissa.

Meanwhile, the state government has prepared an action plan to combat the searing conditions, said state disaster mitigation minister Manmohan Samal.

A three-member high-level committee was constituted comprising the secretaries of rural development, urban development and panchayati raj departments to review the water scarcity situation every week.

A sum of Rs 6.14 crore has been released from the Calamity Relief Fund to the rural development department and Rs 3 crore to the urban development department for repair of defunct tube-wells and sinking new ones to ensure drinking water supply.

Energy department has been provided with Rs 7.5 crore for replacing defunct power transformers.

Officials of the health department have been asked to keep airconditioners and ICUs ready at hospitals for the treatment of sunstroke victims.

Schools have been closed from May 1 for summer vacation, which may be extended if the heatwave conditions continue, official sources said.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Projects worth 2500 crore cleared for infrastructure development

The New Indian Express, May 1, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: Projects worth over Rs 2500 crore in the roads, fisheries and forest sectors were cleared by the State Level Project Monitoring Committee on Monday paving the way for massive infrastructure development in the State.

The projects cleared by the Committee includes the Rs 2121.11 crore Orissa State Road Project (OSRP) to be funded by the World Bank. The World Bank will provide Rs 1406.89 crore for the project to be implemented over a period of five years and the State Government will contribute Rs 714.22 crore.

The project was earlier approved by the Committee on January 20 with a cost of Rs 1642.44 crore. However, the administrative department revised the cost of the project to Rs 2121.11 crore.

To be implemented in three phases, the roads proposed under Phase-I is 835 kilometers of state highways. The roads included in phase-1 are, Berhampur-Digapahandi-JK Pur-Rayagada (201 kilometers), Kereda-Rayagada-JK Pur-Bhawanipatna-Khariar (213 kilometers), Jagatpur-Kendrapara-Chandbali-Bhadrak (152 kilometers), Bhadrak-Anandpur-Karanjia-Jashipur (142 kilometers), Daspalla-Narsinghpur-Hindol-Banarpal (89 kilometers) and Aska-Bhanjanagar (38 kilometers).

Official sources said that at a later stage the 39 kilometre long Dhamra port to Digochhia Chhak road connecting Bhadrak-Chandbali corridor and the 199 kilometer long Mohana-Chandiput-R Udaygiri-Paralakemundi-Gunupur and Bangi junction were added to the project.

The World Bank has already sanctioned Rs 13.2 crore advance which is a part of the loan for project preparation activities. A steering committee headed by the Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary has been constituted to review the progress of the project. The committee has so far reviewed the project thrice.

The OSRP includes construction of 906 kilometers of two lane roads, 93 bridges, 1006 culverts, 180 kilometers roads in built up area, 85 roads with paved shoulders, six town by-passes, 70 wildlife crossings and three elephant crossings.

The Committee also cleared the integrated management and pro-poor support project for marine fishermen of the State. To be implemented over a period of two years, the Overseas Development Agency (ODA) of Japan will provide financial assistance for the project. Two other projects under the fisheries department with an investment of Rs 175.71 crore were cleared by the committee.

The projects, cluster development approach for brackish water culture in Orissa and improvement of animal health care system would be implemented over a period of two years with financial assistance from ODA of Japan.

The catchment area treatment plans of Upper Kolab hydroelectric project and Upper Indravati Multipurpose project were also cleared by the Committee. Both the project to be financed by the Indo-German Bilateral Development Cooperation would be implemented over a period of seven years.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Do you want water or minerals?

Rediff, May 1, 2007

Do you want water or minerals? The question need not always be this. But for many activists and communities arraigned against mines, it could be something as extreme, especially if it is someone in Vishakhapatnam fighting the depleting water levels, thanks to bauxite mining.

In Niyamgiri in the Lanjigarh block of Orissa's Kalahandi district, the choice could be between the golden gecko (a rare lizard) sited there and bauxite. Vedanta has set up a refinery in a proposed wildlife sanctuary, though it has not yet got the permission of the Supreme Court to set up the mine.

People are fighting to ensure it never gets the permission. At stake are 100 pure streams of water flowing down the valley, which is the source of two rivers.

"Mines drink all the water, besides polluting them," says Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan of Orissa. He and Biswajit Mohanti of the Wildlife Society of Orissa are petitioners in the case against Vedanta.

Achyut Das and Vidhya Das, an activist couple, have been fighting the miners, Utkala Aluminium International Limited, from setting themselves up in Kashipur in nearby Raigarha district. "I have a non-bailable arrest warrant against me even now," Achyut Das says smiling through his grey beard. There is a glint of victory in his eyes at the thought of a fight that has lasted for 15 years against a corporate.

In fact, Orissa, which has seen a massive flow of mining leases in the last few years, seems to be beset with landmines of resistance almost everywhere a mining site is planned. It is there even in the much celebrated Arcelor Mittal site in Keonjhar.

The conflicts end either in Kalinganagar type bloodshed or the ongoing use of police force, as in Jagatsingpur against those resisting Posco, or in a new rehabilitation policy announced by the Orissa government recently.

Can a small room, a job for a member in the family and some cash substitute the vast wealth of land and forests?

Again, there are examples of poorly managed resettlement of displaced persons in the past.

An asbestos mine abandoned decades ago continues to poison fields and the river in Roro in Jharkhand, thanks to negligence by its former owners, the Birla-owned Hyderabad Asbestos Company Ltd.

The law is incapable of holding them accountable. Petty sums are taken as guarantee for mine closure, point out activists. Tribal victims still walk Roro with dim vision and die of strange diseases.

"Not even a medical check-up was ever done," Madhumita Dutta, an activist, points out.

In Jadugada, again in Jharkhand, a government firm has set examples of failure to build bridges with the people whose land it has decided to mine and spew with radioactive waste.

Uranium Corporation of India Ltd chairman R Agarwal scoffs at the concept of public hearing and laughs at the possibility of health disorders among people in the area. He made a strange statement attending a workshop organised by the Centre for Science and Environment this week. "Poverty is the biggest polluter," he said and walked out with his wife, even as activists from Jharkhand were virtually baying for his blood.