Monday, June 11, 2007

Centre’s social audit finds tribals hardpressed for work in Kalahandi

Financial Express, June 11, 2007

Centre’s social audit finds tribals hardpressed for work in Kalahandi
Posted online: Monday, June 11, 2007 at 0000 hours IST

NEW DELHI, JUN 10: There are no smiles on the faces of the poverty-stricken tribals of the infamous KBK hunger belt of Orissa. The government’s ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, being implement in the region, has turned out to be a mockery, largely benefiting the implementing authorities at the expense of poor tribals, according to a survey by Centre for Enviournment and Food Security (CEFS), conducted under the Union government’s social audit programme.
The erstwhile Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) has been divided into six districts, namely Bolangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nabrangpur and Rayagada. As the region was known for starvation deaths, it was declared as the region for special attention.

According to the survey, there are irregularities in entries in job cards, maintenance of muster rolls and disbursement of payments to the intended beneficiaries. CEFS conducted a survey of 100 villages in the six districts in the last two months.

Among the major findings of the CEFS report social audit has not been conducted in any of the 100 villages and the muster rolls have not been checked by the village people. In none of the villages under survey 100-day employment was given. No job cards are issued in 11 villages, no work was undertaken in 37 villages after issuance of job cards and after 16 months of the launch of the scheme. Job cards issued in 23 villages are not given to the workers, they are still in the custody of panchayat executive officers (PEOs) and junior officers.

In 25 villages under survey partial payments have been made to workers and in three village no payments have been made even after 4 to 8 months of work. In 6 villages in Kashipur block in Rayagada district work is being undertaken without issuance any job cards

“Our findings reveal a nexus between a chain of officials, from state to village levels, responsible for implementation of the scheme. Benefits are not reaching the beneficiaries," CEFS director, Parashuram Ray told FE.He said the BDO of Nandur block in Koraput district, Jyoti Rajan Mishra had instructed the PEOs not to show any muster rolls to the visiting CEFS team.

The PEO of Raisingh gram panchayat, Nagesh Choudhary has given in writing that he would not show any muster roll without the permission of the BDO. The next day when the CEFS team contacted the BDO he said that the permission from the district collector was necessary. The CEFS team even contacted the state commissioner-cum-secretary of panchayati raj, Rabindranath Dash to resolve the issue, but failed.

Ray said despite such hindrances, the CEFS team could get some interesting accounts from the people. In Maagaral village card no 2401 was issued to Hari Sisa for 59 day-work, but actually he was offered work for only 20 days.

According to the study, there are six enteries in the muster rolls in the name of Hari Sisa. Similarly job card no 2335 was issued to Mini Budi Khilo for 36-day work while he was offered work for only 8 days with three entries in the muster rolls. Balaram Sisa was issued job card no 2397 for 30-day work, but was offered work for only 5 days. Hagu Hemendru was issued job card no 2360 for 58-day work, but was offered work for only 6 days.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Health varsity on drawing-board

The New Indian Express, June 2, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: The proposal to set up a Health University is under the active consideration of the State Government.

In a written reply to a question from Utkal Keshari Parida (OGP), Minister of State for Health Duryodhan Majhi said all the medical colleges in the State would be brought under the university for better management.

The proposal to upgrade the Capital Hospital into a medical college is also under the consideration of the Government.

Replying to a separate question from Pramila Giri (BJP), the Minister ruled out appointment of homeopathic and ayurvedic doctors in place of MBBS doctors in vacant posts.

He, however, maintained that more posts of homeopathic and ayurvedic doctors would be created keeping public welfare in mind.

To a question from Haji Mohammed Khan (Ind), the Minister said the State Government has issued NOCs for establishment of three medical colleges in the private sector.

While the Nabadiganta Educational Trust will set up a hospital at Sunabeda, Selvam Educational and Charitable Trust of Tamil Nadu will establish a college at Jaring in Kalahandi district.

Shri Jagannath Educational and Health Trust will establish the third college at Balasore. Besides, the Balaji Educational and Charitable Trust (BECT), Pudducherry, has signed an MoU with the WODC for establishment of a medical college at Balangir.

The organisation has been given 25 acres free of cost. Construction of the college will start after BECT signed the lease agreement with the collector.

HSC results: Winners reveal future plans

The New Indian Express, May 30, 2007

BALASORE: Inspired by President A P J Abdul Kalam, she wants to be a scientist. ‘‘If one person labours hard, he/she will surely succeed in life.’’

This is the mantra of the first rank-holder Priyanka Das. Though always confident of securing a good position, she was not hopeful of topping the chart.

Student of Zilla High School, Balasore, she has scored 96.93 per cent marks, an all-time high in the history of HSC examinations. Priyanka wants to pursue her engineering from IIT.

The district has two more toppers. Goutam Kumar Parmanik of Bijay Kumar Academy, Soharia has secured fourth position with 95.46 percent marks and Smruti Ranjan Mallick, student of Zilla School, has secured seventh position with 95 percent marks. Both want to be doctors.

‘‘Eight hours of studying in a day and coaching classes have helped me taste success,’’ said Jyoti Ranjan Barik of Puri who stood third in the the HSC exam.

A student of Biswamber Bidyapitha, Barik wants to study in the IIT. Yet another student of the same school, Kamalesh Pattnaik, has notched the fifth position.

Pritam Abhishek of Puri Zilla School secured the ninth position. Sharing the same rank is Anshuman Badu from Jayasola High School in Raghunathpur block of Jagatsinghpur district.

Three students from Ganjam district have made it to the top 10 list. While F Naseem Ali Khan of medical campus secured sixth position, Sushree Smaraki of Nilakanthanagar Saraswati Sishu Mandir secured 10th position.

Swarup Ranjan Mishra of Saraswati Sishu Mandir at Dhiapadhal near Bhanjanagar secured seventh position. While Naseem wants to be an IIT graduate, Smaraki aims to be a doctor.

‘‘My sincerity and dedication and the support that I received from my parents and teachers helped me achieve success,’’ says Subhashree Subudhi, a student of Saraswati Vidyamandir , Bhawanipatna who has secured seventh position. Like several other toppers, she also aims to be an IITian.

‘‘Without proper diagnosis and treatment, many people die in our country. I want to save them,’’ says Pusparaj Aditi Nandan Pradhan, a student of Brajanath Badajena High School and the eight-rank holder in HSC examination. Scoring 712 out of 750 marks, this boy from Dhenkanal wants to be a doctor.

‘‘Nothing but hard work and dedication are the key behind my success,’’ said Sonali Swetapadma of Saraswati Vidya Mandir , Purbakachha .

Sonali has notched the 10th position and aspires to be a computer engineer in future.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Knot right: SEZs affect marriages

Hindustan Times, June 5, 2007

People who reside in places where land acquisition is a raging controversy are faced with a new problem - not many are willing to marry them out of fear that their agricultural land and houses might soon be taken away.

"Social life has certainly been affected due to our agitation against Posco (a South Korean steel company). Marriages in Dhinkia panchayat have not come to a complete halt, but there has definitely been a sharp decline after the agitation was launched," said Abhaya Sahu, the chairman of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Bhakata Charan Das, the convenor of Green Kalahandi which is spearheading an agitation against Vedanta Alumina Ltd, has a similar point of view.

He told the Hindustan Times, "It is for obvious reasons that eligible bachelors residing in areas where land is being acquired for industries are getting either a few or no marriage proposals at all. This has happened in the Lanjigarh area of Kalahandi too, where Vedanta is setting up an aluminum plant.”

"In rural areas, people look for stability. And generally, a family's house and agricultural land determine the kind of marriage proposals they get. If both land and houses are being taken away, then marriage proposals will dry up too,” Das added.

There is statistical evidence to back this statement.

Most Hindu marriages take place on tithis, or auspicious dates. Over 30 tithis have already passed in the first five months of 2007. Sahu, however, could recollect only two marriages during this period, while earlier at least one marriage was held on each tithi in Dhinkia and its adjoining areas.

Land and houses being dispossessed apart, there is another reason behind this reduced number — the growing number of police cases registered against the anti-Posco campaigners. For, the fear of arrest acts as a deterrent against possible matrimonial alliances.

But Sahu remains optimistic that normalcy would soon be restored in his panchayat.

“The people who live in the villages adjacent to ours have come to realise that Posco can never acquire an inch of land in Dhinkia. So, they are gradually losing the apprehension of getting their sons or daughters married in our panchayat,” he said.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Victims of cataract operation seek govt help or right to die

Khaleej Times, June 4, 2007

BHUBANESWAR — At least five of the 13 people, who had lost one eye each after undergoing a cataract operation at the state-run district headquarters hospital of Kalahandi, on Saturday urged the President to allow them to die.

The five persons, all above 60 years of age from Mendal village under Narla block, in a memorandum to APJ Abdul Kalam stated that they were facing difficulties after losing one eye each. The state government did not take care of them which ultimately "pushed them to a life of misery", they alleged.

The victims, including two women, submitted the memorandum to Additional District Magistrate, Kalahandi, B.K. Ojha who confirmed the receipt of it.

"They have urged to provide them with government assistance like issue of disability certificate or allow them to die," he told PTI over telephone.

Official sources said a total of 14 people, six from Narla block, four from Kesinga block, three from Jaypatna block and one from Bhawanipatna town, had undergone cataract operation at the government hospital on January 23. They were allowed to go home the next day.

However, all of them returned to the hospital with complaints of infection on their eyes. "We had to operate and remove the infected eyes of 13 people. The infection was caused due to lack of post-operation care," said Dr Bharatbandhu Panda of the hospital.

The incident, however, came to light in March after the victims lodged an FIR at Bhawanipatna police station holding the doctors and the hospital responsible for loss of their eye sight.

Sports complex construction hangs fire

The New Indian Express, June 4, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: In a bid to encourage sports activities and provide a platform to raw talents, a sports complex was approved for the district by the State Government in 2004. But its construction work continues to move at a snail’s pace.

Sources said the Sports and Youth Services Department had approved Rs. 254.57 lakh for the complex and R&B, Bhawanipatna division, was made the implementing agency.

The project, near Kusadangar, included an outdoor stadium with eight-lane track, football, volleyball and basketball fields, a tennis court, multigym hall, category II swimming pool, indoor hall and 100-bed sports hostel.

According to R&B department sources, out of Rs. 254.57 lakh, only Rs. 74 lakh has been released in phases till now by the Sports Department. If the funds are released at this rate, it may take several years to complete the complex and in the process, the cost of construction would go up manifold.

R & B , Bhawanipatna division, executive engineer A K Badpanda said the estimate was prepared at 2003 prices basing on which the administrative approval was accorded. Now with the rise in the price of materials and labour, the rate schedule has been revised thrice and the project cost will be accordingly increased by 30 percent of the original estimate.

The revised estimate has been submitted for administrative approval. But he maintained that the progress of the work is satisfactory.

A compound wall for the complex is essential. Since the project does not include, the district administration will take care of it for which a separate estimate of Rs. 45 lakh has been prepared by PWD (R&B).

Friday, June 1, 2007

Orissa family hoping for miracle to retrieve dead son

Daily News, June 1, 2007

Bhejapadar (Orissa), May 31: An Orissa family that lost its son to a snake bite a few days ago is trying hard to revive his dead body with the help of sorcery.

The incident happened last week in the Bhejapadar Village of Orissa's Kalahandi district, when Arun, a young child, went into the jungle to collect firewood. He was bitten by some poisonous snake and died on the spot. His family took his body to the doctor who declared him dead on arrival.

The relatives buried the body in the jungle and left for home. But three days later Arun's mother claimed to have seen an image of her son with a snake standing near his grave, as if protecting the child.

She interpreted the dream as something that indicated the child cannot die and was prematurely accepted as dead. She started believing that her deceased son could be retrieved. But led by illiteracy and superstition, the mother along with her husband approached a local witchcraft hunter for help.

"We believe in the Ojha (or, the witchcraft practitioner) and have taken the body out of the grave for him. We want him to exorcise it and bring it back to life," said Bibhisan Majhi, the dead boy's father.

"He has been exorcising for the last two days and I am sitting beside my son waiting for him to come back to life," said

According to the witchcraft practitioner, the revival of the dead is possible by treating the snake bite.

"Somebody in Arun's family had a dream after his death. That time his body had already been buried for three days. The family came to me and I told them I would try and treat him. They took out the body from the grave and I have been trying to treat it since then," said Natabara Sahu, the witchcraft practitioner.

Sahu has been trying to treat the snake bite for over two days. He is still optimistic about the dead child's recovery.