Friday, November 30, 2007

Boat capsize

The Statesman,Nov 30,2007

BHAWANIPATNA, Nov. 29: A boat capsised in Indravati reservoir today. Three persons (all ladies) are reported to be missing. The place is near Degreebandh village under Maligaon Gram Panchayat of Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi. Eight persons were traveling by the boat near Degreebandh village and while crossing the reservoir, in local boat, it capsised. Five persons came to the shore swimming. But three ladies in the boat are missing according to preliminary report reaching here.
Police investigation is on. Incidentally there is regular boat accident in the reservoir and the worst accident was during April 2004, where 17 persons drowned due to boat accident.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rice mills raided in Nuapada; 5 trucks seized

The Pioneer,Nov 29,2007

Nuapada: Receiving complaints on purchase of paddy at low rates from farmers, Nuapada District Collector Mrunalini Dorswal conducted a raid on rice mills at Khariar and seized five rice-laden trucks. She seized 772 quintals of rice and 2,059 quintals of paddy from Nirmal Rice Mill and 134 quintals of rice and 2,445 quintals paddy from Subhadra Rice Mill. Similarly, the Collector conducted a raid on Shyamjee Rice Mill and Binod Rice Mill and seized the rice and paddy purchased at low rates from the farmers illegally.

Drunk Sinapali BDO assaults clerk

The Pioneer,Nov 29,2007

Nuapada: Sinapali BDO Kajal Mjhi in an inebriated condition entered the office suddenly and had hit a whisky bottle on the head of office clerk Jitendra Naik, leaving him critically injured. The clerk had been admitted to a hospital. Both BDO and clerk lodged FIRs at Sinapali police station, following which the police are conducting an inquiry. Earlier, the BDO had allegedly slapped a student of Karangamal College and was taken in police custody. The District Administration promised to take disciplinary action against Majhi but has remained silent till now.

Prasanta Nanda to make film on Niyamgiri

The Pioneer,Nov 29,2007

Filmmaker Prasanta Nanda, is eying Niyamgiri hills for his next venture to catch the attention of the international community, of its rich environmental heritage and culture of the primitive tribal inhabitants. The Niyamgiri forests are now, in the thick of the controversy over the Vedanta group's proposal for bauxite mining in the area.

Nanda, also an Opposition political leader now, will make a documentary on Niyamgiri and one of its most primitive tribes, 'Dongaria Kondh'. The film will deal with the life styles of the Dongaria Kondh, which is a dwindling community of the eastern India. Eminent film personality Girish Karnad will provide script for the film.

"Niyamgiri is worshiped by the tribals as God; so, it will be very difficult on the part of a company to undertake mining in the area," said Nanda, who has done research for more than six years on the Niyamgiri hills and Dongaria Kondhs. This film would be shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, he said.

No yardstick for industrial land allocation in tribal areas

Hindustan Times,Nov 29,2007

Anti-industry movements in tribal areas have gained momentum, especially with no uniform policy on the allocation of land for industries in the state.

The Hindustan Times carried out a reality check on project costs, capacities and land requirements of several big steel and aluminium plants coming up in the state. For example, both South Korean steel major Posco and Arcelor-Mittal have signed MoUs with the Orissa government for constructing 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) steel projects in the state.

Although the capacities for both the Posco and Arcelor-Mittal projects are same, Posco has asked for 4,000 acres of land, while Arcelor-Mittal has asked for 8,000 acres.

Similarly, Aditya Alumina (Hindalco) has signed a MoU with the state government to set up a 2,049-acres project in Rayagada district at an investment of Rs 5,000 crore. But the Vedanta Alumina project in Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district with a lower investment of Rs 4,000 crore has asked for more land than Aditya Alumina. Vedanta wants 2,278 acres. Discrepancies like this are endless.

Industries minister Biswa Bhushan Harichandan told Hindustan Times, "There is no fixed criteria on how land is allocated to the industries. Technical experts fix land requirements after going through project proposals."

Bhakta Charan Das, convenor of Green Kalahandi, which is spearheading the agitation against Vedanata Alumina's plant in Kalahandi, said: "Vedanta has asked for excess land and the same has been granted by the state government. Excess land results in extra displacement play a crucial role in anti-industry protests. Land requirement in some cases are being decided in an arbitrary manner."

A senior official involved with land acquisition said: "We asked Arcelor-Mittal officials why they need 8,000 acres when Posco was setting up a similar project on 4,000 acres. They told us that since the MoU has already signed to hand over 8,000 acres of land to Arcelor-Mittal, we should stop raising any further questions."

Sources in Arcelor-Mittal said, "There is no excess demand for land. As per the MoU, 6,000 acres would be required for the plant, 1,000 acres for the captive power plant and another 1,000 acre for the township."

The draft National Tribal Policy circulated by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2006 provides answers on why companies seek excess land to set up industries especially in tribal areas. "Since tribal land is generally non-transferable, the land markets are underdeveloped and the cost of acquiring land in tribal areas is extremely low, the rate of compensation is inadequate, usually based on national market value. The difference in the cost of acquisition of the lands and the subsequent value of the land in the zone of influence after implementation of the project is enormous. The value of the property goes up substantially due to direct/ indirect downstream benefits from the project. This encourages the tendency to acquire land in excess of the requirement," the draft policy says.

Mining issue: Leave Kalahandi, Vedanta told

Newindpress,Nov 29,2007

BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leader and president of Green Kalahandi Bhakta Charan Das has warned Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) to leave Kalahandi within a month in view of the Supreme Court judgment.

Addressing a massive rally at Lanjigarh on Monday, the former Union minister said that mining of bauxite on Niyamgiri by VAL would adversely affect 15,000 tribal people of 102 villages besides 36 streams and the Bansadhara and Nagabali rivers.

Das announced if the VAL did not close down its plant at Lanjigarh within the next one month, the State Assembly would be besieged and a dharna would be staged in front of Parliament.

A human chain would be formed around the Niyamgiri hills in January, he said. Das threatened that if necessary, people would force the closure of the plant. Among others, Nabakishore Patnaik (CPM), Purnachandra Pradhan (CPI) and other leaders addressed the rally.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NCP opposes government’s agreement with VAL

Newindpress,Nov 27,2007

BHUBANESWAR: General Secretary of the State unit Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Bijay Mohapatra demanded on Monday that the State Government should scrap agreements signed with the Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) for setting up the University in Puri district and the alumina complex at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district in view of the Supreme Court judgement.

Addressing a news conference here, the NCP leader alleged that the apex court judgement has exposed the undue favour shown to the company by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Minister for Steel and Mines Padmanabha Behera.

Now both of them are looking for ways for self defence, he said and added that the State Government should not have any link with such a company. Mohapatra demanded that the reason behind the State Government's decision to hand over 8000 acres of land for establishment of the university should be made public.

He alleged that the Chief Minister is advocating for the company as it had heavily funded the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the panchayat polls.

The Supreme Court judgement has questioned the credibility of the company on the issue of financial irregularities and declined to give it permission for bauxite mining on the Niyamgiri hills, Mohapatra said and demanded that the company should be banned in Orissa.

Orissa tribals fight for hill

Hindustan Times,Nov 27,2007

Thousands of miles from Goa, in Orissa’s Kalahandi district, the Dongaria Kondh tribals are fighting to keep their sacred Niyamgiri hills away from the prying eyes of UK-based Vedanta Resources Plc. The company wants to mine the bauxite-rich region and has set up a refinery at Lanjigarh.

On Friday, the Supreme Court barred the company from mining at Niyamgiri hills, but said if the state wants to go ahead, it will have to form a special purpose vehicle which would include the Orissa Mining Corporation and Sterlite — Vedanta’s Indian arm.

“We are yet to see the final order. We are happy about the bar on mining but as far as the SPV is concerned, we think the court is trying to micro-manage things,” said R. Sreedhar, one of the petitioners.

After the order, P.V. Krishnan, head of business development at Vedanta said: “The court said after taking into account the need for sustainable development and balancing all aspects, including the livelihood of the people in Kalahandi, it would like the project to proceed… We will go by the judgment and as a responsible company we will ensure social and economic uplift of the people of the region.”

The company has been facing protests from the beginning of the project in 2002. This region is one of the few in the state that still has primary forest cover of about 90 per cent. The tribals say mining would affect at least 35 waterfalls and two rivers. “If they displace us, then it will lead to a bloodbath in western Orissa,” Jitu Jakeseka, a tribal, told a news agency.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bill for panchayati raj event pruned

Hindustan Times,Nov 26,2007

Monday November 26, 12:57 AM
The Panchayati Raj ministry would have gone ahead with a Rs 165-crore jamboree marking the 15th anniversary of 73rd Constitutional amendment, but one of its own departments put a spanner in the works. The money was to come from a Rs 3,000-crore backward region grant, meant for the least developed districts in the country.

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment forms the basis of the Panchayati Raj system. The ministry had prepared a note seeking the cabinet's approval to hold the two-day convention of rural representatives here on December 22 and 23. It had also written to the Planning Commission for its nod to divert money from the backward region grant. But before the note could reach the Cabinet, it sparked objections from the ministry's internal finance division. It questioned the funds estimation, asking that the figures be "realistically pruned", a ministry source said.

Following the objection, the projected amount was reportedly scaled down to Rs 102 crore in the final note to be presented before the Cabinet next week.
Cutting down the initial estimate of 5 lakh, the ministry has said it would invite 2.5 lakh delegates now. The expected turnout is 1.25 lakh. The ministry's wish list for the event also makes for interesting reading. Nearly 1,000 buses would ferry the delegates to and from nearby railway stations and bus stands to the venue. A 250-bed hospital would also be set up at the campsite and a helipad be constructed.

As the meet would be in winter, arrangements would have to be made for warm water, clothing, bedding and quilts. The construction of a convention hall to hold at least 5000 people and other arrangements, including a rally for the 1.25 lakh turnout, was estimated to cost Rs 50 crore. An additional Rs 30 crore was earmarked for publicity. Despite earlier objections by the Delhi government and its civic agencies such as the MCD to host such a big gathering, the Burari camp of the Sant Nirankari Mandal in north Delhi has been chosen as the venue.

Janata Dal-U president Sharad Yadav has sought the Prime Minister's intervention in the matter. In a letter to Manmohan Singh, he said the Centre was encroaching upon a state subject. He also said this was a wastage of public funds. "This money is being spent on a mere rally, whereas scores of backward districts like Kalahandi and Bolangir have been left uncared for," he said.

Naveen must go, says Congress

Newindpress,Nov 26,2007

BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court judgment declining permission to Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) to mine bauxite has come as a shot in the arm for Congress which is planning to raise the issue in the Assembly on Monday.

Stating that the judgment is vindication of the Opposition stand, the Congress demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik step down owning moral responsibility for ‘showing undue favour’ to the company.

Describing the judgment as a victory of truth, leader of Green Kalahandi and former MP Bhakta Charan Das said it would go a long way in protecting the flora and fauna of the district. Activists of the Green Kalahandi celebrated the judgment and went round the Bhawanipatna town in a rally.

Deputy leader of the Congress in the Assembly Narasingh Mishra said the Naveen Government has been exposed. It is now established that the Government had shown undue favour to Vedanta.

OPCC president Jaydev Jena said the party would soon submit a memorandum to the Governor demanding Naveen’s removal.

Thappar becomes Avantha group

The Pioneer,Nov 26,2007

Koraput: Name of the Thappar group of companies, headed by Goutam Thappar, has been changed to Avantha group, informed Amar Singh, CGM of BILT's Sewa paper unit at Jeypore during a Press conference. He said about 20,000 employees, including some form 10 other countries, were working in the 80-year-old company, which has a special fame in production and distribution of power, manufacture of paper, establishment of food processing and chemical units and infrastructure development.

The word Avantha is derived from both Parsi and Sanskrit languages, which denotes stability in progress, he said. "It is an adventure and experience of a company for its recognition in the whole world by a new logo, and the group will have a separate feature in the globalisation," said General Manager (HR), BILT, Deepak Choudhury.

Raghunath Patnaik's birthday celebrated

The Pioneer,Nov 26,2007

Koraput: The 80th birthday of former Minister and senior Congress leader Raghunath Patnaik was celebrated by the Raghunath Patnaik Jayanti Committee at Tankua near Jeypore on Saturday. Over 500 well-wishers of Patnaik, including senior citizens, advocates, party workers and journalists attended the function. They referred to Patnaik's contributions to Koraput district's all-round development. The committee organised quiz and song competitions among schoolchildren and the selected participants were awarded.

Jeypore college observes Pharmacy Week

The Pioneer,Nov 26,2007

Koraput: On the occasion of 46th National Pharmacy Week, a rally with the theme 'Know your pharmacy for right use of medicines' was held by the Jeypore College of Pharmacy. The rally was inaugurated by local municipal chairperson Geeta Nanda at the JELC school campus on NH-43. The week was observed by the college from November 18 to 25 with colourful events and cultural programmes. A new building of Jeypore School of Engineering and Technology was inaugurated on the occasion by local MLA Rabi Narayan Nanda. The function was attended by Arloph J Vieira of Mumbai as the chief speaker, while Dr BC Roy was the guest of honour. The function was presided over by the college secretary Sruti Ranjan Mishra.

Science exhibition in Jeypore

The Pioneer,Nov 26,2007

Koraput: A science exhibition was held on Friday on the campus of Modern English School, Jeypore. About 80 innovative science projects by schoolchildren were exhibited. DIET principal Nalini Sahu was the chief guest at the inaugural function. Jeypore Municipality chairperson Geeta Nanda, Dr Sudhakar Das from Vikramdev College, KC Panda and NP Patro were the honoured guests at the valedictory function. Principal of Modern English School Kumudbala Mohanty, who presided over both functions, said every year science exhibitions at the municipal level were held and the selected little scientists take part at the district-level and then at the State and national level exhibitions. "I am quite happy to participate in the exhibition and I stood sixth among the junior scientists," quipped Sabyasachi, a student of Class VII of Saraswati Sishu Mandir, Aurobindonagar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mines of trouble

The Frontline,Nov 21,2007

At a function organised on June 14, 2000, to mark the completion of 100 days in government during his first term as the Chief Minister of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik announced that his priority would be the proper management of jami, jala and jangala (land, water and forest). Seven years down the line, Patnaik is drawing flak from various quarters for using these gifts of nature to serve the cause of big companies.

One of the companies that have been at the centre of controversy is Vedanta Alumina, which is setting up an alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district. Patnaik himself laid the foundation stone for the project in early 2004. The company has now run into a fresh controversy following the decision of the Norwegian government to withdraw investments in its parent company, Vedanta Resources Plc, in the United Kingdom.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global has excluded Vedanta Resources Plc because one of its arms was causing serious damage to people and the environment in India, the Norwegian government said in a statement. The investment of the Pension Fund in Vedanta was estimated to be more than nine million euros.

The Council on Ethics for the Fund, which recommended the exclusion of Vedanta Resources Plc, had examined four Vedanta subsidiaries operating in India. They are Sterlite Industries, Madras Aluminium Company, Bharat Aluminium Company and Vedanta Alumina.

The council’s recommendation was based on surveys and investigations conducted or commissioned by Indian authorities, reports from national and international non-governmental organisations, articles in Indian and international newspapers, and letters and documentaries. Besides, the council had commissioned its own studies by external Norwegian, British and Indian consultants.

The decision has given a fresh impetus to the movement against Vedanta Alumina’s refinery project at Lanjigarh. Those who have been opposing the project tooth and nail for the past several years are happy that their stand has been vindicated at the international level. However, they are unhappy that the State government has not paid heed to their demands to date.

Nobody in the government has given them a patient hearing on their opposition to the mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills. Opposition to the project surfaced about five years ago when the company started the process of acquiring land.

“If a government organisation of a foreign country could decide not to put its money in a company that was damaging environment and affecting people’s livelihoods, is it not time for our own government to rethink?” asked social scientist Sudhir Pattnaik.

“Does it not speak about a breakdown of the fundamental institutions of Indian democracy, which had been designed with pain to protect the interests of its people? Why should a foreign government come to the rescue of our people when we claim to be the biggest democracy in the world?” He said the Norwegian government’s decision only showed that the people of Lanjigarh were right in opposing the establishment of the refinery project and the proposed mining of bauxite.

The Vedanta’s refinery project, like many other industrial ventures, has been facing stiff opposition. Chief Minister Patnaik’s thrust on industries seems to have created more problems for the people than ensuring their well-being. At several places, people are up in arms over the setting up of mineral-based industries that could displace them and imperil their livelihoods.

Apart from being the point of origin for two major rivers, the Vanshadhara and the Nagabali, Niyamgiri is home to more than 6,000 Dongaria Kondh primitive tribal people. The Dongarias, whose population has shown a decline in recent decades, do not want to leave the land they have been living in for centuries.

The initial protests by the local people were followed by three separate petitions before the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court. The petitioners pointed out a series of violations that were allegedly committed by the company with regard to forest and conservation laws.

The committee visited the site at least twice and submitted its reports to the apex court, pointing out the violations that the company had committed while implementing the refinery project. The matter is pending in the Supreme Court. However, except for the continuing opposition and the latest development in far-off Norway, everything else seems to be going in favour of the company.

The Patnaik government has all along turned a blind eye to the protests in the hope that the agitation would lose its strength with the passage of time. The government has been arguing that the opponents of the refinery are fewer than those supporting it. The powers-that-be have never taken seriously the argument that the industrial project would damage the environment and imperil livelihoods.

Said Prafulla Samantara, one of the petitioners before the CEC: “Justice will be done to the Dongaria Kondhs if the apex court takes into consideration the observations and recommendations of its own expert committee along with the stand taken by the Norwegian agency.” He expressed the hope that Niyamgiri would be saved from an environmental disaster.

Vedanta Alumina has already completed construction of the refinery with an investment of over Rs.2,200 crore. It has since commenced trial production by procuring bauxite from outside. The company is waiting for a favourable order from the Supreme Court as the project would be viable only if it was allowed to mine in Niyamgiri.

Whatever the outcome of the case, Vedanta Alumina’s operations in Orissa seem to be heading for bigger trouble. Its proposed smelter plant project in Jharsuguda district is facing opposition from the farmers of western Orissa, who are against the State government’s move to provide water to various industries from the Hirakud reservoir.

The agitating farmers have already created a “Lakshman rekha”, in the form of a wall, to prevent Vedanta Alumina from laying its pipeline to draw water from the reservoir for its smelter plant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Orissa tribals thank Norway for banning Vedanta investments

News.monstersandcritics,Nov 20,2007

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) A few days after Norway directed its pension fund to sell all shares of London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta Resources Plc and not to invest in it further, a delegation of Orissa tribals Monday met Norwegian embassy officials here to express their gratitude.

'A delegation of Dongaria Kondh tribals went and met two representatives of Norwegian finance ministry in the embassy and gifted them two photographs of Niyamgiri Mountain,' said Simon, a supporter of the tribals.

Vedanta Alumina Ltd, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc, has signed an agreement with the Orissa government to set up a bauxite refinery in tribal-majority Kalahandi region. It will mine bauxite ore from the Niyamgiri mountain region for this purpose.

Norway's state pension fund has sold around $13 million worth of shares in Vedanta Resources after the fund's ethical council found the mining and minerals giant has caused severe environmental damage and violated human rights.

'The tribals said thank you as a goodwill gesture to the Norwegian government and hailed their concern for environment and human rights,' Simon, who regularly travels to Orissa to make a documentary film on the tribals, told IANS.

A Supreme Court-appointed expert committee has said bauxite mining in the region will not only affect human habitation but will also destroy biodiversity.

The tribals have now scaled up their protests. They have brought their message to the capital.

Last week, the tribals had said that granting of mining rights to Vedanta would affect at least 35 waterfalls and two rivers in the region.

It is also bound to destabilise wildlife in the area that includes elephants and rare lizards, besides medicinal plants, they held.

'We need Niyamgiri and Niyamgiri needs us. We have been fighting for nearly four years against industrialisation. If they displace us, then it will lead to a bloodbath in western Orissa,' said Jitu Jakeseka, a visiting tribal.

Widow found senseless outside Kalahandi hospital

The Pioneer,Nov 20,2007

Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

...70-yr-old struggling to get pension

A woman was found in an unconscious state in the heart of the district headquarters town of Kalahandi.

Dura Nag (70) lost her husband, who was a cycle mechanic, a year ago. A resident of Chancharpada in Bhawanipatna, Dura managed to survive with the help of a few relatives who stepped in to help her after she lost her only daughter too.

She had been running after the officials of the Bhawanipatna Municipality Office for her age old pension, which she was denied. She had to put up with a lot of harassment as she did not have the BPL card and the pension amount. Dura was found in an unconscious state on November 16 at the main road of Ghodaghat Bridge.

Dura was admitted to the Bhawanipatna Hospital by one Bijay Sahu and his friends on the same day. On regaining consciousness, she asked for food. She is still undergoing treatment in the hospital.

Municipality Chairman Niranjan Pradhan however told The Pioneer that he could comment on whether the widow would be given the pension amount or not only after checking the records.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mining in Orissa will affect 35 falls, two rivers, say tribals,Nov 19,2007

New Delhi, Nov 19 - Tribals in Orissa are campaigning against the right of bauxite mining awarded to a London-based company, saying it will affect at least 35 waterfalls and two rivers in a sprawling region.

Tribal leaders say mining in the Niyamgiri mountain range in western Orissa is also bound to destabilize its wild life that includes elephants and rare lizards besides plants rich with medicinal values.

Vedanta Alumina Ltd has signed an agreement with the Orissa government to set up a bauxite refinery. For this purpose it will mine bauxite ores from the mountain region.

The Dongaria Kondh tribes, who populate Kalahandi, Gajapati and Rayagada districts, began their campaign nearly four years ago. In recent times they have scaled up their protests. They have now brought their message to the capital.

'Niyamgiri mountains have at least 35 small and big falls. Two rivers, Bansidhara and Nagabali, are flowing from it. The mining will affect our water bodies seriously,' said Jitu Jackseka, a tribal from Rayagada.

'There are a lot of elephants and rare lizards and the region is rich with medicinal plants. The rivers are helping us in agriculture, and bauxite mining will destroy the ecology,' the under-graduate told IANS.

Praful Samantra, a tribal rights activist, said: 'The Central Empowered Committee appointed by the Supreme Court has spoken vehemently about tribal rights but we can see the court is going to grant Vedanta mining rights.

'In the name of economic uplift, the government and Vedanta are interfering in the life and culture of tribals. Why are they hell bent on polluting the region and creating ground for forced displacement of innocents?' Samantra asked.

'The government was planning to open an elephant corridor in that region due to its rich bio-diversity but everything seems to have been forgotten.'

Said Dandu Sikara, another tribal: 'Both the rivers from Niyamgiri help us to cultivate farm products such as maize, pulses, pineapples, orange, turmeric and other crops.

'Apart from 300 villages of our region, pollution and drying up of these rivers are going to affect fellow tribals in Andhra,' she said, almost pleading: 'Don't take our Niyamgiri.'

Ranga Kadraka, another tribal, said tribals were never beggars. 'They work hard and earn their livelihood. In the name of development they are going to throw us out of our homes.

Uncertainty looms over cotton market,Nov 19,2007

BHAWANIPATNA: Cotton farmers in Kalahandi district are a worried lot. Although cotton plucking has already started, the farmers have been forced to stock the crop at home in the absence of a marketing facilities.

Like last year, this year too five bio-cotton trading companies had made an agreement with the farmers to procure cotton from 14,788 hectares of land out of the total 17,798 hectares from the village point.

However, though the companies had applied for the requisite license through the Regulated Marketing Committee (RMC), the State Agriculture Marketing Board is yet to issue them.

Considering the gravity of the situation, the district-level cotton procurement committee has now made alternative arrangements.

At a meeting held here on Saturday, presided over by the Collector and attended by Agriculture Department and RMC officials, it was decided to start cotton procurement only through the ‘mandies’ at Karlapada, Utkela, Biswanathpur and Uchhala. If necessary, six additional mandies at Hatikhoj, Panimunda, Artal, Borbhata, Tuting and Chahaka could be used.

Since the Kalahandi cotton is of good quality, it was decided to fix the minimum bidding price at Rs. 2,170 per quintal in the cotton auction. It was also decided to collect Rs. 2.5 lakh from the traders to get the RMC license to participate in the auction.

Within four days of finalisation of auction in the mandi, the traders have to complete the weighing of cotton and within five days, have to deposit the auction amount with the RMC.

The RMC, on its part, will give account payee cheques to the farmers in a fortnight. It is decided to start the cotton mandi from November 27.

However, the farmer representatives who attended the meeting insisted on village-level procurement as they were apprehensive of harassment if procurement is done only at mandies.

Even the bio-cotton traders were in favour of village-level procurement as they were apprehensive that in the mandies, the bio-cotton that they are introducing may get contaminated with other non-bio varieties.

Scheme fails to curb child labour in Nuapada

The Pioneer,Nov 19,2007

Aswini Panigrahi | Nuapada

No significant progress has been made in Naupada under the National Child Labour Programme (NCLP), though crores of rupees have been spent for its implementation. The programme aims at eradication of child labour, but children are still found to be engaged in hotels, dhabas and tea stalls.

According to a bench mark survey, there is a great difference in the number of the children assessed by the NCLP authorities and private agencies.

As per the official assessment, there are only 104 child labourers, while as per private agencies' survey the number is as high as 2,0480, out of which 3,648 are in Nuapada block, 2,937 in Komna block, 5,477 in Khariar block,6,744 in Sinapali block and 1,744 in Boden block.

Though employment of children below the age of 14 is unlawful, many people employ child labourers.

On the other hand, the official machinery responsible for rescuing child labourers from the clutches of the employers is found to be inactive. No proper steps to make the children educated are being taken.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Colleges closed

Newindpress, Nov 18, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: Unaided private colleges, both Plus II and Plus III, will be closed on November 19 in the KBK districts in protest against government ‘negligence’.

In a release, members of the KBK Unaided College Teachers and Employees Forum alleged that despite rendering service for 15 years, 136 unaided colleges of KBK districts are deprived of aid.

“Visa-vis to coastal districts, the KBK region is far behind in higher education. Hence it requires a special education policy and government attention,” he said.

Three gets RI for rape

The Pioneer,Nov 18,2007

Additional District Judge Raj Kumar Sahu on Saturday awarded seven years of rigorous imprisonment to Dhajaketan Panigrahi (26) and three years each to Jagdish Panigrahi (38) and Sidheswar Panigrahi (22) for raping a married woman. All the three accused are sons of Late Dukhishyam Panigrahi of Ladugaon under Koksara police station.

One married woman (mother of a girl) was raped on February 25, 2006 by three men who were her distant relatives at Ladugaon.

Police have arrested the three accused and forwarded them to court after an FIR was lodged against them. With the help of 13 people acting as witnesses, the ADJ sentenced Dhajaketan to seven years RI

Agitation spills over into Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer,Nov 18,2007

The agitation spilled over into Kalahandi district as thousands of teachers under the banner of the Orissa Secondary School Teachers' Association (OSSTA) took out a procession here on Saturday before reaching the district Collectorate to press their various demands, including abolition of Block-Grant-Aid and implementation of Grant-in-Aid.

When they reached the first gate of the Collectorate and forcibly entered the boundary of the court premises, the second gate was closed immediately by police personnel for security reasons.

The teachers shouted the slogan Siksha Banchao, Orissa Banchao. After an hour, ADM Brajakishore Majhi came to the second gate and received a memorandum submitted to him by the teachers' association leaders.

The schools have been closed since November 1 by the teachers, who have gone on an indefinite strike.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stepping on the mine fields

Hindustan Times,Nov 17,2007

The very day — November 15 — Vedanta Resources Plc released its record interim profits, the dark side of these glitzy figures hit the headlines: the Norwegian Council on Ethics directed its Government Pension Fund–Global to sell shares of the metals and minerals major and not invest in the firm and its subsidiaries. The Council stated that the company seems to “lack interest in and willingness to do something about the serious and long-term damage that its operations inflict on people and the environment”. Since 2004, protests have been gathering pace against the company’s bauxite mining and refinery project in the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa’s Kalahandi district.

Reports have proved that the company provided wrong information to get clearances for the project. The Supreme Court-mandated Central Empowered Committee (CEC) said that forestland was given to the firm in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and recommended the revocation of the environmental clearance to the refinery. It criticised the Orissa government’s role in the case. Another report by the Wildlife Institute of India highlighted the significance of the area in terms of biodiversity, water and for the tribals. Yet, despite such stinging reports against the company, the SC till now has diverged from the recommendations of its own expert body. In fact, the bench had gone by Vedanta’s assurances that it would undertake mining in an eco-friendly manner. The final judgment is due this month.

This case is not the first of its kind nor will it be the last in India. We have had Kashipur, Kalinganagar protests and the ongoing Posco crisis. Land acquisition has been and will remain an emotive issue for those who depend on it. In Niyamgiri, tribals subsist on land and forest produce. And, therefore, they see very little benefit in these projects. In fact, they see them as detrimental to their livelihoods. But with the government’s to-be announced new mineral policy seeking to remove “bottlenecks in mining sector” in anticipation of an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next 10 years, it is crucial that these two opposing views are accommodated. The role of the environment ministry and the Orissa government should also be investigated. Instead of hydra-headed clearances for such projects, the government should set up one body. That will ensure that companies like Vedanta don’t exploit the loopholes in the law and withhold information.

The only way to avoid such crises is to rationalise mining. Experience has shown that nobody, at least here, follows the rules for mine closures or rehabilitation/compensation. Can the government ensure that companies do their bit? But what is absolutely crucial is an audit: mining vis-à-vis the people and environment. While the Geological Survey of India has identified the mineral deposits in the country, no such survey has been done by the Botanical Survey of India to measure flora and fauna resources. Only then we will know how much we are losing. And, once we know that, we will probably realise that we are losing much more than we are gaining.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Firm bad for Norway, good for Orissa?

The Times Of India,Nov 15,2007

NEW DELHI: The Norwegian government's dramatic decision last week to expel Vedanta from its "investment universe" is more than a loss of face to the British metal and mining company of Indian origin.

It created a piquant situation for the Supreme Court, which had just a few days earlier reserved its verdict on petitions challenging a Vedanta aluminium project in Orissa on the very grounds on which Norway had taken action against the company.

On the basis of an inquiry done by its ethics council, Norway held on November 6 that "the allegations levelled at the company regarding environmental damage and complicity in human rights violations, including abuse and forced eviction of tribal people, are well founded."

Norway's indictment, however, runs contrary to the indications given so far by the Supreme Court in favour of diverting 660 hectares of forest land for Vedanta's proposal of bauxite mining on top of Niyamgiri Hills in the Kalahandi district of Orissa.

To begin with, the apex court had ignored the recommendation made by its own Central Empowered Committee two years ago to stay the construction of an alumina refinery by Vedanta at Lanjigarh next to the proposed site of bauxite mining. The refinery has since been fully constructed and is awaiting bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills.

At the last hearing of the case on October 26, the bench consisting of CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia brushed aside a list of alternative mining sites proposed by empowered committee to save, among other things, the flora and fauna on Niyamgiri Hills and Vamsdhara and Nayavali rivers originating from there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

HC directs Govt to control flood damage at Nuapada

The Pioneer,Nov 13,2007

The Orissa High Court while hearing a writ petition on flood control measures in river Udanti, filed by Tulsiram Jagat and some fellow villagers of Kapasi under Sinapali block in Nuapada district, has directed the State Government to take necessary remedial measures to check the flood damages in these areas within a stipulated six months time.

Every year, flood causes vast damages to these areas and the villagers are adversely affected by way of losing their properties. For many years the flood wreaks havoc for the locals and they become apprehensive of losing their crops and properties.

There is no such concrete and permanent embankment along side the river to check its ferocity. The petitioners have mentioned that the flood water in river Udanti remains uncontrolled in each year and causes sever damages to the life and property of the locals.

In the light of such a traumatic situation for the locals during flood when no action has been taken by the State Government to end the people's woes, the petitioners have prayed for judicial intervention in this case.

The petitioners have made secretary Panchayatiraj Department, secretary Water Resource Department, Chief Engineer, Nuapara District Collector, DRDA Project Director and Executive Engineer of Kalahandi irrigation division party to this case.

In the petition it is mentioned that construction of flood embankment and concrete wall along sides of the river is highly necessary to check flood damages in these areas.

Earlier, the High Court had directed the State Government to give its report in this case. In its report, secretary, Panchayatiraj had mentioned that the Department is planning to construct a spur and a wall along sides the river with an estimated cost of Rs 5.7crore.

Kabyashree Gadadhar Mishra remembered

The Pioneer,Nov 13,2007

Nuapada: Great Oriya poet, Kabyashree Gadadhar Mishra Sharma, was remembered by many poets on November 7 for his literary contribution to Oriya literature in many educational and literary institutions of Nuapada district in Orissa. The Gadadhar Sahitya Sansad at Komna published volumes of books titled Prerana Puspa by Kumar Chandra Mishra and Nutana by poet Bana Bihari Pande. The chief guest on the occasion was former MLA Bhanu Prakash Joshi.

Cracker shops set ablaze at Khariar

The Pioneer,Nov 13,2007

Nuapada: Two cracker shops in Pattanaikpada of Khariar were mysteriously set on fire, injuring shopkeepers Sor Kumar Yadav and Tarachand Keshorwani. Two motorbikes were also destroyed. The cracker shops were located in a crowded public place of Khariar. The incident warrants the attention of the district administration, to direct proper inquiry into the incident.

10 gamblers nabbed at Khariar

The Pioneer,Nov 13,2007

Nuapada: Ten gamblers were arrested by the Khariar police for gambling. Shyama Rout, Laxmi Rout, Birkishore Barik, Juna Rout, Naresh Bhoi, Sudhu Jal, Digambar Bhoi and friends were caught while gambling just behind the police lines. People of Khariar claim that the practice has been going on in Khariar even in broad daylight. Eventhough the police have a good knowledge regarding these ongoining crimes,yet no action has been taken so far .

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One killed in bike mishap in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Nov 11, 2007

Bhawanipanta: One Daitari Pujari (20) of Khariar died when he was on his way home on Friday on a new Hero Honda bike, which collided with a Suzuki rider at Karlapada Phandi under Sadar police station. The Suzuki rider was coming from the opposite side. Pujari was rushed to the Bhawanipatna hospital by the Karlapada police in a serious condition where he succumbed to his injuries in the hospital at 6: 30 pm.

Rajiv Youth Forum district office inaugurated

The Pioneer, Nov 11, 2007

Bhawanipatna: The district head office of the Rajiv Gandhi Youth Foundation was inaugurated by Zilla Parishad president Sarat Chandra Naik at Mahabirpara here. Development of young talents, social work and women-empowerment will be the main activities of the organisation in Kalahandi. Youths of the organisation gathered at the inaugural function and resolved to follow the ideology of late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for social development. Chairman of the foundation Dhyanananda Pana informed that a branch office of the organisation would be opened in every block of the district very shortly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Farmers' body demands waiver of loans in Kalahandi

The Pioneer,Nov 8,2007

Pioneer News Service | Kalahandi

The Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Congress (KKMC), under the banner of the Kalahandi District Congress Committee, organised a procession from the Congress office to the Collectorate here and held a public meeting on Tuesday, protesting against the waiver of Rs 2,300 crore to the IMFA Group, demanding waiving of banking loans outstanding against the farmers and to streamline procurement of paddy and cotton in Kalahandi.

The president of Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Congress said that an equal amount of agriculture credit is outstanding against farmers and as they are defaulters they are not entitled to get fresh loans.

This is affecting the farmer's economic condition and their distressed condition is forcing them to commit suicide. So the waiving of all the loans to farmers is demanded by the organisation.

Paddy is the main crop of Kalahandi and cotton is the main cash crop.

However, no full proof system has not been taken up to systematise their procurement in the district. This is resulting in harassment of farmers and exploitation by unscrupulous traders, Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Congress alleged.

The organisation submitted a memorandum to the Governor through the ADM with a request for completion of the ongoing and proposed irrigation projects and to repair and renovate lift irrigation points which have been damaged by floods, the district is witnessing every year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Irate locals gherao MLA, officials in Kalahandi

The Pioneer,Nov 7,2007

Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

...demand bridge over Hati river

Fed up with their failure to construct an over bridge on Hati river since last couple of years, the people of Kalampur block in Kalahandi district at last took a big step to fulfil their demand.

Thousands of people of Kalampur block led by Vikas Manch on Monday took out a huge procession from Regulated Marketing Committee of Mukhiguda and staged a mass dharna near Mangalpur Barrage and organised a public meeting demanding construction of over bridge of 150 meters from Kalampur to Mandal Rural Development road over Hati river.

Kalampur block has been divided into two parts by Hati river. There are two RD roads crossing the river connecting to the sub-divisional and Panchayat Headquarters.

Seven Gram Panchayats have been affected due to the river's movement between the GPs of the block.

The surplus water is released from the Mangalpur Barrage to Hati river after commencement of power generation through Indravati power house resulting in communication problems for 68,000 people in the block.

Even after 60 years of independence, there is no bridge over the river. People therefore cross it by boats throughout the year, said locals.

In the meeting the details of the past attempts were publicly discussed by the Manch that tenders were invited four times between 2004 and 2006 for the construction of an over bridge and it was cancelled by the Government showing different reasons.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid a foundation stone at Karmel Ghat to construct an over bridge on February 7, 2004 in Kalampur block but the construction work is yet to be started.

After the meeting, the irate public gheraoed the Mangalpur barrage and shut down the gates despite deployment of police personnel.

The locals gheraoed the Junagarh MLA, the Zilla Parishad Chairman and Sub-Collector Jagannath Mohanty of Dharamgarh who was on Magistrate duty to fulfil their demand immediately. No one was arrested yet, though the public continued to confine them, police sources said.

Villagers besiege barrage, seek bridge over

Newindpress,Nov 7,2007

BHAWANIPATNA: Thousands of people besieged the Mangalpur barrage on Monday demanding stop to release of water into the river Hati.

They were also seeking construction of a high-level bridge over the river at Karmel ghat and construction of embankments on both banks of the river to check river erosion.

The agitation was being conducted under the aegis of Kalampur Bikash Manch. Members of the Manch alleged that the surplus water of the Indravati Project is being discharged into the Hati through Mangalpur barrage. Due to this, the river faces floods five or six times a year during the rainy season resulting in widespread damage to property and lives besides causing river erosion.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid foundation stone for construction of a bridge over the river at Karmel ghat in 2004. The project, however, is yet to be started.

Dharamgarh Sub-Collector Jagannath Mohanty said that though the situation had been brought under control, people are still camping at the Mangalpur barrage site.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gram Sabha backs agitating teachers in Kalahandi

The Pioneer,Nov 6,2007

Pioneer News Service | Bhawanipatna

A Gram Sab ha was organised by the high school teachers under the Block Grant category in front of Medinipur gram panchayat office under Sadar block on Saturday in protest against the State Government's "apathy" towards the education sector.

Continuing their agitation for the third day by locking up of all high schools in the State, in response to the call given by the Orissa Secondary School Teachers' Association (OSSTA) they organised the Gram Sabha under the leadership of Sarpanch of Medinipur Ramesh Majhi. The meeting demanded abolition of Block Grant Aid and implementation of the grant-in-aid for all high school teachers and appointment of two peons in every school under the Block Grant Category.

In the presence of OSSTA leader Himanshu Sekhar Pattnaik, the teachers, president and secretary of the school committee, panchayat samiti members and ward members as well as hundreds of local people held discussions on the development of school education and supported the Sikhsa Banchao, Orissa Banchao Andolan. They criticised the State Government's education policy.

A resolution was passed at the meeting and a letter was faxed to the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the effect that the demand should be accepted immediately, failing which the agitation of locking up high schools would be continued for an indefinite period.

Kalahandi admn gears up for paddy procurement

The Pioneer,Nov 6,2007

Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

The District Procurement Committee of Kalahandi under the chairmanship of Collector Pramod Chandra Pattnaik met to decide on the collection of paddy in the current kharif season of the year 2007-08. The meeting set a target of procurement of 4.30 lakh tonnes of paddy and 2.90 lakh tonnes of rice in the year.
The Government agencies like OSCSC, NAFED, MARKFED, TDCC and NCSC have been appointed to purchase paddy at all gram panchayats in the district.
The Government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of common paddy at Rs 645 per quintal and Rs 675 per quintal for 'A' grade FAQ standard paddy this year. Any miller, agent or Government agency purchasing paddy below the minimum support price would be punished under the Essential Commodities Act 1995. It was also decided at the meeting that Accounts Payee cheques would be issued to the farmers by the Government agencies, whereas millers would pay a 20 per cent of cash amount or upto Rs 20,000 in cash, with the rest of the payment being made only by Accounts Payee cheques.
The District Procurement Committee also decided to open atleast one paddy procurement centre in each gram panchayat, and the women Self Help Group (SHGs) would be appointed by the Collector for collection of paddy at the procurement centres. The Collector has directed the Regulated Marketing Committees (RMCs) to open mandis from November 6 in the district.

Kalahandi athletic body polls held

Bhawanipatna: The annual general body meeting and elections to the District Athletic Association, Kalahandi, were held at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium Conference Hall here on Sunday. Eminent educationalist and senior advocate Sachi Kanta Mishra conducted the polls as the Election Officer and declared the names of the elected office-bearers. All office-bearers were elected unanimously. Former Minister Kiran Chandra Singh Deo was elected as Honorary Working President, while Jagmohan Pattnaik was elected Honorary General Secretary for the sixth time. Two vice-presidents, two Joint Secretaries, an Athletic Secretary, football and cricket secretaries and seven executive body members were also elected.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

RDC reviews development works in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Nov 3, 2007

Bhawanipatna: Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), South Division, Satyabrata Sahu, reviewed the works of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency for two days in Kalahandi. He checked all the records of developmental works of the tribal region on Tuesday. He directed to suspend Ganesh Sahoo, Senior Clerk of the developmental branch for his alleged negligence in official paper works. In the afternoon, the RDC also reviewed the works under 'Mo Jami Mo Diha' Programme at the DRDA conference hall and warned the employees of the Revenue Department that if mutation cases are not solved within the stipulated period action would be taken against the concerned employee.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

St John Ambulance award to Vedanta

The Pioneer, Nov 3, 2007

Vedanta Aluminium, Lanjigarh, has been awarded with the coveted St John Ambulance Award for imparting first-aid training in collaboration with St John Ambulance, Orissa chapter.

The award was presented to Vedanta Aluminium by Governor MC Bhandare at a function at Raj Bhawan in Bhubaneswar. Umesh Mehta, vice-president (Commercial) and Dr SK Swain, medical officer, received the award on behalf of the company. Health Minister Duryodhan Majhi; Director General of Police, Kalahandi and Rayagada district Collectors and officials of St John Ambulance were present on the occasion.

Vedanta is actively involved in healthcare, safety, first-aid and environment protection in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts. The formation of ambulance brigades for the first-aid activities is yet another effort of Vedanta to extend its support towards the local community and others, especially in times of natural calamities and accidents.

Binaya Behera becomes first police commissioner of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar

The New Indian Express, Nov 3, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: As a step towards implementation of the commissionerate system in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the State Government on Friday appointed senior IPS officer Binay Kumar Behera as the first commissioner-designate.

An officer of the 1982 batch, Behera is now the Chairmancum- Managing Director of the Orissa State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC). The process will take a while as the Government is yet to notify the introduction of the commissionerate system.

The Assembly had passed the Orissa Urban Police Bill in December, 2003 and the Bill got the presidential nod recently.

The Centre has also approved it. The commissionerate would comprise all police stations of the two cities, including those in the adjoining areas — Baranga, Choudwar and Jagatpur of Cuttack district and Jatni, Chandaka, Balianta and Balipatna of Khurda district. The remaining police stations of Cuttack and Khurda districts would be under the respective rural DSPs.

There would be two additional commissioners (ACPs) in the rank of DIG to be posted in the two cities. ACPs would have two DCPs under them who would be officers in the SP rank.

The Commissioner, ACPs and DCPs will have magisterial power. The magisterial powers entail powers under the Criminal Procedure Code like issuing of arms and driving licences, making preventive arrests, regulation of migrants, crowd management, parking, traffic and road regulations, among other things. Currently these powers are with the civil administration.

The Government has also formed a high power committee comprising the Director-General of Police and senior officials to study the functioning of the commissionerate system in other cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and submit a report within a month. Commissioner-designate Behera said this is a big responsibility and a challenge.

Locals resent poor rail connectivity

The New Indian Express, Nov 2, 2007

BHAWANIPATNA: The district remains a shadow zone of railways though there is good scope for rail connectivity with the State Capital, Hyderabad and Mumbai. To press for the demand, Kalahandi Rail Jatri Sangha has been campaigning for better rail connectivity for more than a decade.

With their demands falling on deaf ears, on October 22 District Collector Pramod Chandra Patnaik had requested the General Manager of East Coast Railways for extension of Bhubaneswar- Balangir Inter-city and up to Kesinga to cater to the needs of a large number of passengers of the district.

The extension would also help the district have direct train link with the State Capital.

The Collector stated that daily more than 700 passengers from Bhawanipatna, Dharamgarh and Lanjigarh depend on either bus services to reach Bhubaneswar or have to go to Titlagarh in Balangir district to catch a train to the capital.

At present, there is no direct train service to Bhubaneswar, Mumbai and Hyderabad at Kesinga railway station which is the main station of the district, alleged sangha general secretary Jatin Das. The district has 53-km rail link with five stations, including Kesinga.

The sangha has also demanded extension of Bhubaneswar-Balangir Inter-city up to Kesinga, Bhubaneswar-Kurla Express to Kesinga, Raipur-Bhubaneswar Inter-city to Kesinga and introduction of Sambalpur-Hyderabad Express to cater to the needs of passengers of Kalahandi and neighbouring districts. Das has threatened to stage an agitation if their demands were not conceded.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sanskrutik Anusthan to hold annual fest at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, Nov 2, 2007

Bhawanipatna: The 43rd annual function of Mahabir Sanskrutik Anusthan will commence here on November 10 and conclude on November 14, the Sishu Diwas (Children's Day). Programmes like various competitions, a drama festival, seminars and a national child art exhibition will be organised. State-level awards, Prof Bhubaneswar Behera Sahitya Samman and Natyarashmi Prafulla Kumar Rath Natya Samman will be presented on the occasion.

Besides, Kalahandi Yuva Prativa Puraskar and Mahabir Yuva Kalakar Puraskar will be presented to successful competitors and eminent personalities of the region will be felicitated during the function. Earlier on November 1, a district-level one-day volleyball competition will be organised in the premises of the Municipal High School.

Teachers to boycott schools

The Pioneer, Nov 2, 2007

Bhawanipatna: As per the programme earlier announced by the OSSTA to intensify its agitation across the State in protest against non-fulfilment of the demands of its members, hundreds of schoolteachers under the Block Grant category staged a peaceful Mashaal Rally from Manikeswari High School here in the evening on Wednesday. It was decided that the teachers would boycott schools from Thursday for an indefinite period.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

BJP slams UPA for ignoring State

The Pioneer, Nov 1, 2007
Nimai Charan Sahu | Sambalpur

A day after completion of the State executive meet of the BJP at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district, the party's State president Suresh Pujari declared that his party would not act as a mute spectator to the negligence of the Centre towards Orissa.

Taking to mediapersons on Tuesday, Pujari slammed the UPA Government for maintaining a step-motherly attitude towards Orissa as well as hampering the further progress of the State.

Further criticising the UPA, he said that it is because of this shabby treatment that the State is still deprived of a Central University, a Tribal University, AIIMS or IIT, or even more funds for communication network in the State as well as kerosene and cooking gas quota.

He further alleged that due to the Centre's apathetic attitude in the past and present, Orissa is still poor inspite of possessing huge quantities of natural resources.

When questioned regarding the Congress' allegation of incompetence of the BJP-BJD coalition Government for non-utilisation of Central funds, Pujari challenged the Congress to publish a white paper regarding the funds allocated to Orissa and other States. "For our 1,600 km new National Highways, the UPA Government has not even given sixteen rupees," he informed. "Orissa is neglected and humiliated when there is a Congress Government at the Centre," said Pujari.

In a bid to protest such negligence his party would launch a two month long agitation throughout the State on three point programme.

Refusal of installing the statues of Orissa's Freedom fighters Veer Surendra Sai and Buxi Jagabandhu is yet another example of the UPA Government's 'love' towards Orissa, said Pujari satirically. These two heroes including Chakara Bisoi started fighting against the British rule much before 1857, reminded Pujari.

During the two months agitation BJP would demand minimum support price for paddy like that of wheat at the rate of Rs 1,000 per quintal. It would also protest the Setu Samudram Prakalpa of UPA and TN Government demolishing the millions' year old Ram Setu, he said.

Answering on the massive industrialisation and its adverse impact on agriculture in the State, Pujari maintained, "My party welcomes industries but not at the cost of agriculture."