Wednesday, April 30, 2008

OREDA to grow bio-fuel plants in KBK

The Pioneer, 30th April, 2008

Bhubaneswar: The Orissa Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) has taken several initiatives for cultivation of bio-fuel plants in the State, official sources said on Monday. Jatropha and Pomgambia will be grown in the KBK and other districts. The drive includes enumeration of oilseed-bearing trees in the KBK districts to assess the available potential and plantation of saplings, promotional and awareness activities and demonstration of bio-diesel production units. Funds are available from the State plans as well as from the Central Government.

KBK receives Rs 115.02 cr during 2007-08

The Pioneer, 30th April, 2008

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister for Tribal Affairs PR Kyndiah, in a reply to a question by Ramachandra Khuntia in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, said the flow of funds to the KBK districts during 2007-08 for healthcare, education, drinking water and food has been tentatively calculated on an average basis and worked out to Rs 115.02 crore under tribal sub-plan, out of which Rs 82.46 crore has been reportedly as utilised. A sum of Rs 57.15 crore under Special Central Assistance (SCA) for the KBK district under Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) provided in the year 2007-08 for tribal education, health care and feeding programmes has been reported as utilised.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stress on cash crops this season

The Statesman, 29th April, 2008

Diversification of crop to different types of cash crops will be the target for coming year’s kharif season in Kalahandi district. In the kharif strategy meeting held recently, it was decided to cover 3,83,000 hectares with different types of crops with thrust on cotton, maize and tuber crops. As against cotton covered in 17,798 hectares during last kharif season, it is now targeted to cover cotton in 23,000 hectares in the coming kharif season. Similarly looking at the soil condition and success of last year, it is programmed to cover 16,500 hectares under maize cultivation in the coming Kharif season. Similarly it is programmed to give thrust on varieties of tuber crops like sweet potato, yam, etc. in tribal-dominated and hilly areas of Thuamul-Rampur, Lanjigarh and Madanpur Rampur through horticulture and watershed mission activities.While drawing up the strategy, it was decided to reduce paddy areas. As against 1,57,000 hectares paddy area during last Kharif season, it is now targeted for only in 1,15,000 hectares. The aim is to diversify crops and to introduce cash crops. To meet the Kharif, target, provision of agriculture loans to the tune of about Rs 151 crore as against Rs 84.5 crore distributed during last season has been finalised. It was informed that the notable achievement of the last season was higher seed replacement ratio which was almost 19.5 per cent, the highest in the state, while the state average is about 12 per cent. Similarly in the field of introduction of field mechanisation, the district are far ahead with supply of 243 power-tillers to the farmers under subsidy sale materialised through Krushi Sahayak Kendras.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shortage of storage space likely to hit

The Statesman, 29th April, 2008

Shortage of storage space at the godowns of Food Corporation, Orissa Ware House Corporation and Civil Supply Corporation is likely to hit the prospects of summer paddy procurement which is slated to commence from 1 May in Kalahandi district.The issue of storage capacity was discussed at a procurement strategy meeting held here yesterday. It was held that procured rice of last Khariff season meant to be delivered to Food Corporation of India was adversely affected due to the same reasons and Rs 51 crore worth of undelivered rice is lying with millers. During the current year summer paddy has grown in 56,402 hectares, most of it in the Indravati irrigated area. Now that the storage problem has cropped up, several people here feel that unless alternative arrangements is made, distress sale will start taking place.The khariff procurement season saw millers delivering 1,57,907 metric ton of rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) leaving a balance of 35,996 metric ton of rice processed and lying in the premises of different millers due to paucity of space in the godowns of Food Corporation of India and Orissa Civil Supply Corporation. The Food Corporation of India godowns at Kesinga, Bhawanipana, Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna have a total capacity of 73,500 metric ton while the Civil Supply Corporation godowns have a capacity of 30,500 metric ton, godowns located in different parts of the district. District authorities have asked the FCI to create space by transporting the stocks at Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna godowns to other places. The meeting held yesterday also discussed the transport rates being given by the FCI to miller agents. The Rs 17 per kg rate given by FCI to millers is less than half the market rates, said some of the members at the meeting. This is one of the reasons why millers of Dharamgarh are reluctant to deliver rice at FCI godowns located at Bhawanipatna and Kesinga .The meeting was chaired by the collector of Kalahandi. Minister of state for labour Mr Pradeipta Kumar Naik, officers, farmer and miller representatives attended the meeting.

Lower excise duties to make Indian exports competitive: MPs

The Hindu, 29th April, 2008

New Delhi (PTI): Members in the Lok Sabha on Monday made a strong plea for greater thrust on development of backward regions as also lowering excise duties for making Indian exports competitive in the face of an aggressive China.
Participating in the discussion on the Finance Bill 2008, they also expressed concern over rising prices.
B K Deo (BJP) said since China is the biggest competitor of India in exports, the government should lower excise duties for small as well as big industries. This, he said, would ensure a level-playing field for Indian corporates.
He wanted simplification of the Wealth Tax and Income Tax returns and also a greater thrust on developing regions like Kalahandi in Orissa.
Nikhil Kumar (Cong) was of the opinion that inflation should not be seen in isolation. He hailed the fiscal management of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and said the government had to face high energy prices.
He said there should not be any politicisation of the inflation issue. Kumar also said farmers who cultivated both rabi and kharif crops last year should be included in the loan waiver scheme proposed by the government in Budget 2008-09.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said direct Central allocations to states are attached with conditionalities and wanted to know why most of the grants given by the Centre to the states are in the form of Centrally-sponsored schemes.
"All these suggest that there is lack of fiscal federalism in the country," he argued.
Harin Pathak (BJP) refuted the government's contention that high global commodity prices reflected in domestic rise in prices.

Rice worth Rs 51 cr lying with millers in Kalahandi

Newindpress, 28th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Due to shortage of space in the godowns of Food Corporation of India and Orissa Civil Supply Corporation in Kalahandi district, more than Rs. 51 crore worth of procured and processed rice of last kharif season is lying with the millers.Meanwhile, the fields are ready for summer paddy (dalua) harvest and it has been decided to take up dalua paddy procurement by the first week of May. During current fiscal, summer paddy has grown in 56,402 hectares of land and from sample survey conducted by the Agriculture Department, yield of about 38 quintals per hectare is expected. However, if the problem of space shortage in godowns persists, distress sale is apprehended. Considering the gravity of the situation, a paddy procurement strategy meeting was called on Friday chaired by the District Collector.It was revealed that for the kharif season, the procurement agents have so far delivered 1,57,904 mt of rice at FCI leaving a balance 35,996 mt of processed rice with different millers. While FCI has 73,500 mt capacity godowns at Kesinga, Bhawanipatna, Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna, the Civil Supply Corporation has 30,500 mt godowns across the district.At the meeting, the FCI was asked to vacate godowns at Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna by transporting the existing stock and hiring new godowns so that millers of these areas can deliver the backlog rice as well as the summer paddy rice which is yet to be procured.It was further pointed out that FCI is giving transport charge to millers at Rs. 17 per km for delivery of rice which is half the market price. As a result, millers from Dharamgarh sub-division are reluctant to deliver rice at FCI godowns at Bhawanipatna and Kesinga.The members suggested FCI to provide higher transport charge. Minister Pradipta Kumar Naik was present.

Oriya youth given Youth Excellence Award

The Pioneer, 28th April, 2008

Bhubaneswar: At a glittering function at Rajendra Bhawan in Delhi, Delhi-based Oriya youth Kamal Kumar was awarded the Youth Excellence Award-2008 for his contributions in the field of education. Kamal, who hails from Junagarh in Kalahandi districy, runs a hotel management institute in Delhi, LBIIHM. MP Ramdas Athawale and AICC secretary Alka Lamba gave away the award to him and three others.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finally, block to get a bridge

Newindpress, 27th April, 2008

VILLAGERS of around six panchayats under Titilagarh block, who are cut off from the mainstream by the Undeer river, heaved a sigh of relief after their long-standing demand for construction a bridge over the river was conceded.The approval for construction of the bridge was obtained by Titilagarh block Chairman Bhaktaram Majhi. At a meeting held recently, Works Minister AU Singhdeo sought permission from Panchayati Raj Department for the bridge.As the villages come under the department, a resolution was passed that the work would be undertaken by the Works Department at an estimated cost of Rs 29 crore.The bridge was a longstanding demand of the people, which if fulfilled will connect Titilagarh with neighbouring Kalahandi district directly. People don’t have to make a detour to go to hospitals once the bridge opens.Around 80,000 people of 30 villages have to travel 60 km to reach the town, while the distance could be easily covered by crossing the river of 2 km.

Vedanta Group hopeful

The Telegraph, 27th April, 2008

Despite Rahul Gandhi’s adverse opinion on the bauxite mining project on Niyamigiri hills in Kalahandi district, chairman of Vedanta Group of Industries Anil Agrawal said he was hopeful of getting raw material for their Lanjigarh alumina refinery.
“We have requested the state government to provide the raw material for our alumina refinery and hope it will be resolved soon”, said Agrawal after meeting chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat here this evening.
Vedanta Group has set up a 1-million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore. The construction of the plant has been complete and the trial production is on. But commercial production could not be started due to lack of raw material. Though the Vedanta Group had been allotted the bauxite mines on Niyamgiri hills, the mining project could not be taken up due to opposition by the environmentalists and tribals.

Allahabad Bank celebrates 144th anniversary

The Pioneer, 27th April, 2008

Pioneer News Service Bhawanipatna
A meeting to mark the 144th anniversary of Allahabad Bank, the oldest nationalised bank, was organised at Bhawanipatna under the presidency of Chief Accountant of the bank's local branch Radhakanta Sahoo. Branch Manager Sibaram Dixit analysed the present status of the bank citing it as the most successful bank in Bhawanipatna. The branch is credited to have more than 3,229 customers so far, Dixit said. Retired professor Bamadeb Purohit and president of KBK Samachar Santosh Kumar Munda joined the meeting as the chief guest and the chief speaker, respectively.

Vedanta's Orissa projects are on schedule :Agrawal, 27th April, 2008

NRI industrialist and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal Saturday said all projects of the group in Orissa were on schedule. “All projects in Orissa are on schedule. We will work for the benefit of the state,” he told reporters after talks with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and senior state government officials here.
He met Patnaik at a crucial time when Vedanta’s projects in the state are facing opposition from residents who say they will not give up their land for industrialisation.
The Anil Agarwal Foundation, promoted by Agarwal, is setting up a multi-disciplinary world-class Vedanta University near the Konark-Puri marine drive with an investment of Rs.150 billion ($3.75 billion) in phases.
Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, is building an alumina refinery with an investment of $800 million in the state’s Kalahandi region.
It is also building an aluminium smelter project costing Rs.70 billion in Jharsuguda district.
“Our refinery project in Lanjigarh is one of the best projects in the world. We hope bauxite will be available for it,” Agarwal said.
He was hopeful of getting raw material and adequate water for the Lanjigarh project. “There is enough water in the Hirakud reservoir for industries and we will not touch a drop of water meant for farmers,” he said.
Regarding rehabilitation of the affected people, he said: “We will follow R&R (resettlement and rehabilitation) policy of the Orissa government for all our projects.” He described Orissa’s R&R policy as the best in the country.
Speaking of the progress of Vedanta University, Agarwal said in the first phase, the foundation stone for a medical college and a 600-bed hospital will be laid soon in the university campus.
“We will work towards giving 25 percent seats to the students from Orissa who will be taken on merit basis,” he remarked.
However, the projects still face criticism of several social groups. “Vedanta has already violated the law of the land by building plants in the state without valid environmental and forest clearances,” social activist and writer Sudhir Patnaik told IANS.
“The company has nowhere respected the natives of the land. Profits and only profits are the prime motive of the company wherever it goes,” he added.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When science met drama

Newindpress, 26th April, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: DRAMA is a powerful way to communicate and in order to popularise science among schoolkids it can be an effective medium. And it was aptly realised at the State-level science drama competition at Regional Science Centre (RSC) here.Organised by Directorate of Teacher Education and State Council for Education, Research and Training (TE & SCERT), Orissa in association with Inspector of Schools Khurda Circle, the participants tried to address contemporary issues relating to science with dramatics.The State-level competition was meant to select one team for the next East zone regional level to be held at Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata, on July 10 among 13 states. Last year Ranpur High School from Khurda Circle made it to the national level, said Bijaya Patra, deputy director TE & SCERT.Three teams were present, ie. Chichuguda High School, Kalahandi with its drama ‘Barsha Asuchi’ (The Rain is coming), Ratnakar Bagh Town High School, Nilagiri, Balasore district with ‘Jalara Artanada’ (Wailing of Water) and Sarada Vihar High School, Puri with ‘Jala Amara Jeebana’ (Water is our life). As expected, the issue of water emerged the most favoured topic among the participants as the world over scarcity of rainfall, short supply of drinking water, irrigation and privatisation of water bodies have become the major issue giving rise to several conflicting situations. Chichuguda High School won the first prize.

Girls still not preferred

Newindpress, 26th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: FEW come forward to adopt girl children from destitute homes in Kalahandi district. This is notwithstanding several big hoardings reading - Want to adopt? Adoption is the best means to help a child - appearing in important places of the district.So lack of interest among public to adopt destitute children may be attributed to absence of awareness or due to small number of suitable adoptive parents, said Omprakash Agrawal, treasurer-cum-liaisoning officer in-charge of Nehru Seva Sangh, an NGO dealing with child welfare, orphans and destitute.On the outskirts of Bhawanipatna in Paramanandpur, an orphanage/destitute home and Shishu Griha is being operated by the seva sangh. The Shishu Griha is running with the support of Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), Ministry of Women and Child Development, since 2003 for promotion of country adoption.At the beginning of 2006-07, 11 children were in the home. The number came down to seven after four of them were adopted.Among the seven, five are girls and two boys. Ironically, The seva sangh failed to get Central grant last year since it failed meet the criterion like 10 adoptions in a year.It is indeed a difficult job to find suitable and affluent foster parents for adoption because most of the inmates are girls, said Sarojini Dash, secretary of seva sangh. In Orissa and particularly in Kalahandi, few people volunteer to adopt girl children from Shishu Griha, said Agrawal.However, things changed for better after a leading NGO ‘Catalyst for Social Work’, Pune, dealing with child welfare stepped in. Last week twins Suniti and Suruchi (three years), inmates of the Shishu Griha, got a new home in Mumbai. Similarly, an assistant MVI from Visakhapatnam adopted three-year-old Sobha.Three-month old Shakuntala was adopted by a journalist couple from Delhi. Inside Orissa also two persons came forward to adopt girl inmates. It is difficult to find proper foster parents without intensive home study report including study of social status and income tax returns of prospective parents, Omprakash said.

Central Univ at B’patna catches up, 26th April, 2008

All credit goes to the leading Non Resident Oriyas (NRO)s like Dr.Digambara Patra, Ms.Madhusmita Panda and Mr.Lingaraj Patra.
These educationists sitting thousand miles away thinking for their native place and have fired the idea of setting up of a Central University at Bhawanipatana.
And now setting up of a Central University (CU) at Bhawanipatna is catching up in a big way. A story covered by has received wide support from the various cross sections of the people of the state as well as its readers. Readers one after another has joined in the support of the CU and all of them feel this will empower the development of the region. Kalahandi is one of the most backward regions of KBK. Commenting on the story Sitanshu Sekhar Behera said “this is a highly appreciable thing to have a CU at Bhawanipatna. According to Mr.Behera, it is the most suitable place for the proposed education institution in Orissa. For Srikant Bishoi “it will be best thing for the people who call KBK their home. Mr.Bishoi said “this will empower the development of this region.” Biswa Ranjan Panda has lauded the idea as a “well thought one”. Mr.Panda said that it had been recently firing up in some online forums also. He called upon to join hands and spread the idea to make it a reality. Maitreyee Behera termed it as a golden opportunity for the people of Kalahandi. Ms.Behera called upon to grab the opportunity and try the best to make it possible. Sailendra Panda found novelty in the idea and appreciated the same. Mr.Panda said CU at Bhawanipatna will be most suitable. Surya Kanta Thakur has rolled out stats to prove his point by saying the undivided Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi (KBK) of Orissa is one of the most backward regions of India. Mr.Thakur said the KBK districts account for 19.72 per cent population over 30.59 per cent of geographical area of the state. Tribal communities which constitute 38.72 per cent dominate the region, said he. Drawing his point Mr.Thakur questions the authorities on failing in their attempt to bring social, economical, political and educational justice to the poorest zone of the country in Western Orissa. Appreciating the cause for setting up of a CU at Bhawanipatna, he said central location of the KBK has its locational advantage. Last but not the least Achanta Raju asked the State Government to prepare the plans by identifying the district for a CU. Mr.Raju said with setting up of a CU will make the region feel proud. This will help to fill the critical gaps between KBK and external world, said he. The CU will work as a catalyst for the district’s development and create a delivery system so that maximum benefit can be derived from betterment of these areas, hoped Mr.Raju. Spontaneous support by the people of KBK will influence the decision making process of the State Government to choose Bhawanipatna as the venue for the proposed Central University, said a senior mandarin.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sunflower proving money-spinner for Orissa farmers in tribal areas, 24th April, 2008

Birampur (Orissa), April 23 (ANI): Its been about two decades when many farmers in some tribal pockets of Orissa were persuaded to take up sunflower cultivation apart from traditional crops like rice and wheat. Today, the initiative is yielding good returns.Many farmers in States Boudh and Kalahandi districts and some other places are delighted since they are today better off after taking up sunflower cultivation. The crop has proved the most profitable cash crop.“When I came to Boudh as a Rural Agriculture Officer in 1991 from Kalahandi, no sunflower cultivation was done in the area. I thought that such a crop can help the local people financially and also develops the land. I decided to propagate cultivating sunflower here, said Purnachand Gaiguria, the Agriculture Overseer with Additional Seed Sale Centre in Birampur.Initiallly (in 1992), the cultivation was started with merely two to three farmers practicing it in the district, which later grew into five to seven farmers. By 1996 we extended it to 100 acres,” he added.The geo-physical aspects of Orissa, make cultivation of sunflower very appropriate. There is plenty of water from River Mahanadi .The farmers alternated sunflower and paddy initially. Today, one can see many smiling faces in these Districts since the farmers are getting better prices from sunflower vis-a-vis traditional paddy.“We have been gradually growing sunflower. In our village, nearly 500 to 1,000 acres of land is being used for its cultivation and over 40 farmers are dependent upon this kind of cultivation. It’s been going on since the past 12 years in our village here, said Narendra Kumar Sahu, a local farmer of Birampur.Over the past four years, many farmers have paid serious attention to growing sunflower by investing rupees 1,500 to 2000 per acre. The return is worth rupees 10,000, he added.Nearly 600 acres of land has been devoted to sunflower cultivation in Boudh District alone.“We are able to get 10 tins of oil from one acre of cultivation. Out of this, we sell eight tins of oil at rupees 8,000 and the remaining two tins are kept for our own consumption. As a result, we are earning more profit from the cultivation of sunflower as compared to paddy crops. Moreover, we have to put in less effort and labour as compared to the paddy cultivation,” said Lala Behera, one of the cultivators, Birampur, Boudh in Orissa.According to the current prices, a kilogram of sunflower oil is sold at prices ranging from rupees 80 to rupees 100.More and more farmers are now taking up sunflower cultivation.

Tribals reap livelihood scheme benefits

Newindpress, 24th April, 2008
Thursday April 24 2008 11:21 IST
Ump Shankar Kar

BHAWANIPATNA: ALIENATION of land is continuing to be a socio-economic problem in the predominantly tribal Thuamul Rampur and Lanjigarh blocks of Kalahandi district despite land reforms.However, the execution of Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihood Programme (OTELP) is seen as a success in some pockets where poor tribals got back their lands after long years of mortgaging them. Two types of land mortgages are prevalent in the area - Kat-ti bandha and Kado bandha. In Kat-ti bandha, the loanee while mortgaging his land makes an agreement with the money-lender for a specific period and for a specific amount.During this period, the money-lender cultivates the land and he keeps the return as repayment of the loan. At the end of the specific period, the owner gets back his land. In case of Kado bandha, for a specific amount the loanee mortgages his land with the money-lender which he gets back after returning the principal.In this case also the money-lender cultivates the land and the return he gets is taken as annual interest of the loan amount. It is an unending process and the innocent tribals, in most cases,never get back their land.OTELP is in operation in the two blocks for past four years. Through the programme, 28-year-old Nua Majhi, a poor farmer with marginal land holding in Amjhola village under Thuamul Rampur block, could get back his land after long years.Eleven years back his father Dinjang Majhi mortgaged his one acre paddy land for a small loan of Rs 1600 to purchase a pair of bullocks under Kado bandha. The money-lender enjoyed the produces of the land for last 11 years. However, after working for the fitment of uplands of the village through land and water management component of OTELP in February and March he could get more than Rs 4500 and repaid the loan and got back his ancestral land. Like Nua Majhi eight others also got back their lands with support of OTELP.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

UTI Mutual Fund opens financial centre at Sambalpur, Orissa, 23rd April, 2008

UTI Mutual Fund (UTI MF) has opened a new financial centre at Sambalpur, Orissa.
D Mohanty, Country Head-Retail, UTI Asset Management Company, said, ``This is the second UFC in the state of Orissa after Bhubaneswar and the first in the western part of the state. This initiative will enable us to offer our comprehensive range of mutual fund products to a wider segment of the society and bring our products and services closer to the doorstep of investor in the western part of Orissa.``
UFC at Sambalpur will provide easy access to the investors in the areas of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Deogarh, Sundergarh, Boudh, Bolangir, Sonepur, Kalahandi and Nuapada.
UTI Mutual Fund reaches clients through a number of distribution channels, including retail distribution consisting of regional offices, UTI Financial Centres, satellite offices, district representatives and collection centres, and independent financial advisors. Other distribution channels consist of institutions, private and foreign banks, PSU banks and post offices and corporate distribution houses.


Press Information Bureau Government of India, 22nd April, 2008

Under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) central grant of 90 per cent is provided to the major/medium projects and surface water minor irrigation schemes of the special category states and Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi districts of Orissa. Major and medium projects of non special category States benefiting drought prone/tribal/flood prone area are eligible for upto 90 per cent grant under AIBP depending on the extent of such area benefited from project and included in AIBP. Surface water minor irrigation schemes of non special category states (as per eligible criteria specified in AIBP guidelines) benefiting drought prone/tribal area are eligible for 90 per cent grant under AIBP. All other major/medium projects are eligible for 25 per cent grant of project cost included in AIBP. This information was given by the Minister of State for Water Resources, Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav in response to a question by Shri Pyarelal Khandelwal in the Rajya Sabha today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NROs battle for Central varsity at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, 22nd April, 2008
Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar

In an effort to provide better education facilities, the Non-resident Oriyas (NROs) from various parts of the world demanded a Central University at Bhawanipatna, the headquarters of Kalahandi district, which is the epicentre of Orissa's most backward KBK (undivided districts of Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput) zone.
After the Government of India announced to set up two Central Universities in the State, officials and planners are busy finding sites in the developed urban areas. But nobody is thinking about the rural and remote areas, lamented leading NRO Digambara Patra, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. He feels in the current scenario no importance is given to the rural and remote area in the matter of technical and higher education.
"Unfortunately, many in our political and administrative circles do not have a complete idea of a backward area like the KBK region in Orissa, which is reflected in their very poor judgment while establishing national institutes," echoed Madhusmita Panda, an NRO from Lebanon. She pointed out that the Central University in the North-Eastern States, which are inaccessible, hilly and extremist torn areas, have done quite fine. The NERIST in Arunachal Pradesh is doing quite well. When IIT Guwahati was established, many academicians were thinking nobody would go to teach there, but today it is one of the best technical institutes employing the best brains across the country as its faculties, she said.
Lingaraj Patra from Tokyo said that unless a chance is provided to the KBK area on the assumption that the Central University that they would not get the right kind of faculty, the people there would never get out of their backwardness. Two decades ago, Assam was inaccessible; today it is a destination for higher education because of its IIT and Central Universities.
Detailing out the facilities, Digambara Patra said that Kalahandi in fact has many advantages for location of a Central University. It is not only the epicentre of all the KBK districts having its borders with the other five KBK districts and additionally with other backward districts of Boudh and Kandhamal. It is well connected by road through NH-201 and links Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Berhampur and all the headquarters of KBK, Boudh and Phulbani districts. The Kesinga railway station is located within 26 km of Bhawanipatna, and the direct railway link to Bhawanipatna via Lanjigarh is almost complete.
Besides, Raipur airport is directly linked by road and located about 220 km from Bhawanipatna. Raipur has daily air connectivity to most of the major cities in India. Moreover, an aerodrome at Utkela is hardly 12 km away. To start with, the Government Autonomous College of Bhawanipatna is one of the best colleges in the KBK region imparting teaching up to PG classes, said Madhusmita Panda. The achievements of the college include the status of Potentiality for Excellence by the UGC. It is one of the three colleges in Orissa to have been honoured with this award in the first phase.
To start the university at present, the built-up area of the Government College campus at Bhawanipatna is 60 acres of land, and towards its north-east more than 100 acres of land is lying vacant, pointed out Patra.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kalahandi Central Univ; high in demand

Tathya, 21st April, 2008

Non Resident Oriyas (NRO) from various parts of the world are demanding for a Central University at Bhawanipatna. Bhawanipatna is the district headquarters of Kalahandi district, which is the epicenter of KBK zone. KBK(Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) is the most backward areas of the state.
After the Government of India announced to set up 2 Central Universities (CU) in Orissa, officials and planners are busy in finding sites in the urban areas of the state, which are in a much developed condition. But no body is thinking about the rural and remote areas of Orissa, lamented leading NRO Digambara Patra. Dr.Patra teaches at the American University of Beirut. He feels in the current scenario no importance was given to the rural and remote area in technical and higher education.
Unfortunately many in our political and administrative circles do not have a complete idea of backward place like KBK region in Orissa, which is reflected in their very poor judgment while establishing national institutes, echoed Madhusmita Panda, another NRO from Lebanon. . Ms. Panda said the Central University in the North-eastern states which are inaccessible, hilly and extremist torn areas have done quite fine. NERIST in Arunachal Pradesh is doing quite well. When IIT Guwahati was established many academicians were thinking nobody would go to teach there. Today it is one of the best technical institutes employing the best brains across India as its faculties, said she.
Lingaraj Patra from Tokyo equally concerned for the worst backward region, said unless a chance is provided to areas in KBK, and keep saying that the central university there will not get faculty, how will they ever get out of their backwardness. Two decades ago Assam was inaccessible; today it’s a destination for higher education because of IIT and central universities for the whole nation. Detailing out the facilities, Mr.Patra said the Kalahandi in fact has many advantages for establishing a CU. It is epicenter to all the KBK districts. It’s the only district which has a border with five other KBK districts and additionally with other backward Boudh and Phulbani districts and district of Chhatisgarh.
It is well connected by road through NH201 and connects Visakhapattanam, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Berhampur and all the District’s head quarters of KBK, Boudh and Phulbani districts. The Kesinga railway station is located within 26 Km of its reach and the direct railway link to Bhawanipatna via Lanjigarh is almost complete. Raipur airport is directly linked by road and located about 220 km. Raipur has daily air connectivity to most of the major cities in India. Moreover, an aerodrome at Utkela is hardly 12 Km away from the college campus.
It has plenty of available land for a CU .To start with Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna is one of the best colleges in KBK region imparting teaching up to P.G.classes, said Ms.Panda. The achievements of the college are: the status of Potentiality for Excellence by the U.G.C. It is one of the three colleges in Orissa to have been honored with this award in the first phase. No other college of KBK district has received such rare distinction by the University Grants Commission of India.
To start the university at present the built up area of Govt College Bhawanipatna campus is 60 acres of land and towards its north-east more than 100 acres of land are there lying vacant, revealed Mr.Patra. So from various point of view, Bhwanipatna is the most suitable place for a Central University and all of them demand to set up the institution immediately.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mobile clinic staff demand pay increase

The Statesman, 18th April, 2008

Statesman News Service,BHUBANESWAR, April. 18: Doctors and staff of mobile health units functioning in the backward KBK districts ( erstwhile undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi) threatened to go on leave en mass if their demands were not fulfilled by the government.Talking to reporters here today general secretary of the KBK Mobile Health Unit Employees Association, Dr Debabrata Barik said that since 1996 they have all been put on contract and their salary has not been revised."A total of 500 employees are engaged in the mobile health units which serve the remote backward pockets of the state and yet the government remains apathetic," he alleged.There are 96 such mobile units and each has a staff of five including doctors, attendants, drivers and pharmacists.Dr Barik said they were under a contractual payment of Rs 8200 per month while the pharmacists get Rs 4000, attendant Rs 3700 and driver Rs 2150 per month. "These need to be revised and we should be at par with government employees," he said. The other major demand is the regularise the appointments rather than continue with the contract system. "After all there are scores of vacancies in government run hospitals and health care centres," he noted.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Vedanta refinery may lose ground for growth, 18th April, 2008

New Delhi: The proposal by Vedanta Alumina Ltd for a sixfold expansion of its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, Orissa, which is predicated on the company adhering to environmental safeguards, could be derailed following the findings of the Orissa State Pollution Control Board, the apex pollution control authority for the state, after a routine inspection of the plant’s existing facilities.
The board has found that the company’s waste water has contaminated the Vanshadhara river as well as local groundwater, which is accessed by residents of neighbouring villages.
The inspection report of the board, dated 29-30 January, concludes: “The industry (the Vedanta factory) has not taken adequate steps on the problems identified by the Board officials during their visit to the industry from 2nd to 4th November, 2007. It has also not complied (with) the points specified in showcause notice and directions issued by the Board.”
Late Thursday, the company emailed a statement in response to Mint’s questions.
“The VAL refinery has all the clearances required and is currently in trial production. The pollution control board and the company are in constant dialogue and all the action mutually agreed are being implemented in time. There is obviously a huge misinformation campaign, which you are aware of, to keep economic activity out of backward regions like Kalahandi to keep these regions permanently backwa-rd,” according to C.V. Kris-hnan, head of business development of Sterlite Industries India Ltd, an associate company of Vedanta. The statement did not address the specific findings of the board’s report.
The Vedanta factory has been in operation since October 2006.The board’s findings are important because Vedanta has applied to the ministry of environment and forests for a sixfold expansion of the same refinery, from current capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum.
Another 1,343.20ha of land will be required for the expansion, taking the total land area under the project to 2,007.72ha. The ministry’s expert appraisal committee, which oversees environmental clearances, has issued detailed terms of reference to the company, based on which Vedanta has to commission an environmental impact assessment of the expansion. Total cost of the expansion is pegged at Rs6,500 crore, of whichRs145 crore is earmarked toward environmental pollution control measures.The application for the expansion says that waste water will be recycled and reused and hence no waste water will be discharged outside the premises. Additionally, Vedanta has said that “wet” waste generated in the manufacture of alumina, or the so-called red-mud pond, will be treated and reused.
However, the board has found Vedanta wanting on both issues.Even if the ministry were to sign off on the proposal, Vedanta’s expansion plans will depend on whether an associate company, Sterlite, will get the go-ahead from the Supreme Court to begin mining of bauxite, the basic raw material for manufacture of alumina, in the neighbouring Niyamgiri Hills.Both Vedanta and Sterlite are wholly owned subsidiaries of London-based Vedanta Resources Plc., which is controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal.Activist groups welcomed the findings of the board.
“A few villagers from Chhatrapur village have lost livestock and a few peoplehave got skin infection because of bathing and while crossing the streams, which are polluted,” said Bratindi Jena, a member of Sachetan Nagrik Manch, an Orissa-based forum.“That is why they are protesting regularly at the company gates. And, now that the (board) has come out with its observation report, you know it is true.”
Jena said local villagers have been protesting against leaking water pipes from the alumina plant, which are affecting local water streams, for about two months. In its report, the board observed that the red-mud pond has not been constructed as per design specifications and there is clear indication of groundwater contamination in the area. The report says the seepage from waste ponds is alarming and is expected to further deteriorate, when the plant goes into full production. The plant is currently operating at 30% capacity.
“Red-mud treatment and disposal is critical for aluminium industry. It has a toxicity level and needs to have proper management plans for disposing and treatment. The main problem arises because it is generated in huge quantities, it is a serious concern. But, every alumina plant has to have this plan and expenses are not a question here. Nevertheless it is a simple enough procedure, which doesn’t require a lot of expertise,” said a ministry official who didn’t want to be named.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Orissa receives increased support from NABARD

Kalingatimes, 16th April, 2008
KalingaTimes Correspondent Bhubaneswar, April 16:

Orissa received a financial support of Rs 1215 crore from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) during 2007-08. At their annual press conference held at the bank's Orissa Regional Office here on Wednesday, the Bank's Chief General Manager C.R. Patnaik said while Rs 231 crore was given as loans to the State government under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund during the last fiscal, Rs 359 crore was released as investment credit support to banks and a sum of Rs 625 crore was disbursed as production credit support to various banks.Orissa had received Rs 1176 crore support from NABARD during 2006-07, Patnaik informed. Besides, NABARD disbursed an amount of Rs 900 crore during 2007-08 towards credit disbursement under the Self-Help Group (SHG) bank linkage programme that has credit linkage with 2.6 lakh SHGs.
Further, the Bank supported several programmes aimed at development of rural non-farm sector and creation of alternative employment opportunities. The Bank officials informed that three WADI projects aimed at integrated tribal development had been sanctioned in Mayurbhanj, Malkangiri and Kandhamal districts.The project envisages WADI (Fruit orchard) development over one thousand acres involving 1000 tribal families of the above districts. Around 6500 acres WADI had been developed by March end this year.
Under the watershed development programme, the Bank supported two projects at Bhitariguma in Kalahandi and Dharupada in Nuapada districts together covering 600 hectares. Besides, there were 11 other watershed development projects (three in Kalahandi and eight in Angul) wherein capacity building phase had been completed.
The Bank has also launched a pilot project for integrated development of backward Blocks in one Block each in 10 districts of the State. The objective of the initiative is to develop a replicable model where the selected Block is developed in an integrated manner.During 2007-08, NABARD also adopted 74 villages in 30 districts of the State under the village development programme.
This programme envisages integrated development of the villages with focus on financial inclusion, economic development, infrastructure development and other aspects of human life.
Under the farmers' clubs programme, 225 new farmers' clubs were launched during the last financial year by sponsoring through banks.
As regards support non-government organisations, NABARD sanctioned grant assistance of Rs 44170 to VARRAT, an NGO in Keonjhar district on system of rice intensification vermin-compost and integrated farming system.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Abject poverty continues to stalk KBK

The Pioneer, 15th April, 2008

Bursi Mandig, aged 21, looks like a woman as old as in her late 40s. Backbreaking poverty has robbed her of her youthful charm.In 2001, when reports of starvation deaths from various villages of Rayagada and Koraput districts rocked the Naveen Patnaik Government, Bursi was only 14 years old. Now a mother of two, she is also thriving on mango kernel gruel for at least three months in a year. The tribal woman of Jagipalur village of Narayanpatna block in Koraput supports a four-member family. Things have not changed for her despite infusion of huge funds in the KBK region. In a given financial year, each block in the region receives more than Rs 20 crore for developmental works.But Bursi is in penury and strives to earn out her living by selling woods. Her income is Rs 20 per day and, that too, if she is able to sell the woods. Whenever she goes for sundry jobs in the nearby villages, she receives Rs 30 per day, which the jobs are rarely available. Abject poverty stalks the villages, and it has to be seen to be believed. Take another sample. Hareka Anku, 30, of the village Chintaguda of Narayanpatna block also earns her livelihood as a wage-earner. Due to adverse climatic conditions, she has lost crops in her field and there is not much left to feed her family of five. Over and above, she is saddled with bank loans as she has failed to repay the agricultural loans. Hareka receives Rs 30 per day for wage, the payment of which is done on a weekly basis. Similar is the case of Sukanti Garda. She also goes for sundry jobs in the neighbouring villages. Hareka and Sukanti receive Rs 30 as daily wage, even though the State Government has enhanced the minimum wage per day to Rs 75.
In this tribal and hilly terrain, there is no supervision of minimum wages Act by the Government authorities. Secondly, the question is raised as to why these women are denied 100 days' jobs I a year which are supposed to be provided under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The people expressed their ignorance about the presence of any welfare programmes like the NREGS. However, officials in the district reject the people's allegations, saying the NREGS is being implemented in full scale in these blocks but some people show the least interest in doing hard earth cutting jobs. So, they prefer to cut woods from the jungles and prefer to thrive on their sale in the market.While allegations and counter allegations go on, poverty continues to weaken the entire tribal population in this worst backward and poverty-stricken zone of the State as before.

NREGA: Corruption mars welfare security

Merinews, 15th April, 2008

THE CENTRAL government introduced several anti-poverty programme in KBK (undivided Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi) districts to prevent hunger deaths and to prevent migration from rural to urban areas. But the fate of the poor has not changed.
The government introduced National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Orissa, on February 2, 2006, to strengthen the economic condition of the rural poor in India, with a commitment to ensure the poor people’s right to work. The right is restricted to 100 work days in an year for a family and providing them pure housing power from the public distribution system (PDS) shops to keep them free from hunger .
As a journalist, with an experience of over 25 years, I found the NREGA, the biggest and noblest anti-poverty scheme in the post-independence India. However, the biggest noble scheme seems defeated in KBK districts. The officers looted, and are still looting, the poor men’s money in an organised way by taking advantage of their innocence and illiteracy.
A visit to some villages under the Kaberibadi and the Pedalada panchayats under the Bandhugaon block in Koraput district reveals the pathetic condition of the Kondh tribe. The government, the local elected representatives and the government officials ignore all the 23 villages, which are on the other side of the river Jhanjabati. The tribals living there do not know any other languag, apart from their own dialect Koya, Telugu and a bit of Oriya language.

While most of these villages can only be reached by foot, some villages can be accessed by two- wheelers in all seasons, except rainy season. A concrete 150 metre road, from Kaberibadi to Maudivalsa, under the NREGA funds of Rs 2, 50,000 is completed and no other work is in sight to provide employment to the people. This proves the negligence and carelessness, which is nothing but the denial of the constitutional right to work and live.
A few villagers of the Maudivalsa panchayat of the Bandhugaon block received job cards, but neither had they received job nor any employment allowance. The story is the same in all the 23 villages, which have a tribal population of 6056 and 70 per cent of the population below the poverty line. Male literacy is about four per cent and the female literacy is zero.
These depressiong figures made this writer to visit Kaberibadi, Maudivalsa, Lopeta and Barlamunda. Most of the tribals mortgaged their below poverty line (BPL) cards, to sundhi and baniya/kumutis (business community people), who are buying food grains under the PDS and selling them in local market.
In the Barlamunda village, a local tribal journalist, Lakmidhar Meleka, accompanied me. Barlamunda village is under the pedalada grama panchayat of the Bandhugaon block, bordering Andhra Pradesh. About 100 families reside in the village and one must track about 15 km. to reach there. The means of transport are non-existent.Out of the 100 families, 63 families have BPL cards and 15 people have been identified under the antyodaya anna yojana. But not even a single family has benefited by these schemes.

Most of the BPL cardholders mortgaged their cards to the moneylenders belonging to the sundhi family, the most exploiting class in Andhra Pradesh, and in Orissa.
About eight years ago, eight families were identified to provide houses under the Indira awas yojana. Out of these eight houses, five houses are completed and construction work is yet to start in the remaining.
Most of the schools under the education department, and the anganwadi centres in 23 villages are cut off by the river Jhanjabati and are functioning only on paper. Government benefits like rice for mid-day meal to the students (no students seen reading), food and other materials to the anganwadi centre is available at a rate, which is 50 per cent less than the market rate at the block office Bandhugaon. When contacted the block development officer (BDO), Dukhishyam Paik, gave no official information showing false, fabricated and concocted reasons.
The child development project officers (CDPO) were nowhere to be seen and an official revealed that the teachers are officially working but not physically present in the schools. They are more powerful financially and politically and it is difficult to take action against the teachers.

All the 23 villages are desperately trying to get their problems solved by submitting their representations to the higher ups, but all in vain. As a final recourse, all the voters of these 23 villages boycotted the by-poll, held for the Lakshmipur assembly constituency, on April 12, 2008, in protest against the non-construction of a bridge over the river Jhanjabati and for not getting the BPL cards and job cards.
The BDO advised a few local journalists, including this author, that the boycott threat, issued by the Communist Party of India- Maoist (CPI- Maoist), was nothing but to save his skin.
Hundreds of women, of the deomali mahila federation of Dudhari, rallied from the office protesting against the involvement of government officials in corruption, while implementing the welfare schemes.
The president of the federation, Kosai Jani, leaders, Tikiri Disari, Sunam Antal, Mali K Jani, sarpanch of the Pitaguda Daitari Kandulphula, committee member of the kanti lingaraj gemel, spoke in well attended public meetings at Similiguda, to prevent irregularities while implementing the anti-poverty schemes and payment of long outstanding wages. They also demanded for equal rights to women and submitted a representation to the BDO, Semiliguda, urging him to fulfil all their legitimate demands within 30 days, failing which another rally will be organised.
It is a shame on the part of the government to leave the corrupt anti-poverty implementing agency without initiating criminal charges. Even today, many families have not received the job cards. Those, who have got job cards, applied for the job but they neither got the work nor any unemployment allowance, which is mandatory under the NREGA.
Village committees are yet to be formed and the local contractors take the projects. Gender discrimination is rampant in KBK. There are no facilities at the work site, like temporary erection of shed, drinking water and medicines. Most of the job cards are being kept with the contractor or the panchayat officers. The unemployed youths are migrating to the neighbouring states in search of work and food.
It is corruption that is keeping India perpetually poor and makes life miserable for the common citizen.
The Orissa development action forum (ODAF) is a network, which is working in 13 districts of the state for the development of the adivasis. Apart from many other things, it has taken a keen interest in facilitating the implementation of the NREGA.
Orissa organised a two-day consultation on NREGA/OREGA on from June 18 to 19, 2007. The seminar was attended by villagers, the representatives of political parties, the government authorities, the panchayat representatives and the civil society organisations and it submitted a representation to the chief minister through its executive secretary, Dr William Stanley, on behalf of the 55 participant who attended the seminar. We have to see and watch how the government implements the suggestions of the ODAF.

Ram Navami celebrations

Newindpress, 15th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Even as Ram Navami was celebrated in different temples, in Dokri Chanchara of Kalahandi under Koksara block, the festivities were in a different flavour. In Madhu Madhab Pitha at Dokri Chanchara, the celebration started from April 13 and will conclude on April 20. The celebration is named as ‘Gudhandi Dokrichanchara Mahotsav’.In Madhu Madhab temple and Jhadeswar Mahadev temple, ‘namo jagnya’ and ‘deepa jagnya’ are also organised. Simultaneously, puja is conducted in Gudhandi hill caves and in the Dokri Chanchara waterfall.

Monday, April 14, 2008

IFAD plans 3 new projects; to focus on Hindi belt

The Financial Express, 14th April, 2008
Posted online: Monday , April 14, 2008 at 2342 hrs IST

New Delhi : In keeping with its strategy of focusing on improving rural people's access to economic and social resources, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), a UN agency, plans to assist three new projects in Rajasthan, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
‘‘The project details are in different stages of finalisation and will be launched in the next three to five years. This year onward, we have planned to concentrate in the Hindi belt,’’ said IFAD president, Lennart Bage, who was recently in India to participate in the first Global Agro-Industries Forum conference in Delhi.
In Rajasthan, the project would aim at mitigating poverty in the western part of the state, while the project for sustainable livelihoods in coastal fisheries will be implemented in West Bengal. Another project for sustainable livelihood is slated to start in the suicide-prone districts of Maharashtra.
IFAD has financed 21 programmes in India since 1979, including a highly concessional loan of about $565 million. At present, IFAD has seven ongoing loan programmes extending assistance of about $200 million to seven programmes in 11 states. These include the north-eastern region community resource management project for upland areas, Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh tribal development programme, Orissa tribal empowerment and livelihoods programme, livelihoods improvement project for the Himalayas, Post-Tsunami sustainable livelihoods programme and Tejaswini rural women’s empowerment programme.
According to IFAD’s country report, Portraits of Resolve, the Orissa project changed the lives of the tribals along the Muktikhana Jhola catchment area in Kalahandi district after 36 structures were built in the area to prevent flash floods. This project also generated 300 wage-days of labour.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Project at Mali Parbat: How environment friendly?

Merinews, 13th April, 2008
k.Sudhakar Patnaik

MALI PARBAT is a hill, which falls under Eastern Ghats, that lies only kilometres away from the town of Semiliguda. Around it twenty-two villages with numerously high tribal populations, enjoy the hill’s four perennial streams, which feed the surrounding land used for agricultural cultivation. A proposed mining project by Hindalco to mine Mali Parbat’s rich bauxite, presence endangers not only to these people’s direct livelihood, but will cause an environmental catastrophe that will dry up the four rivers and make cultivation in its immediate surroundings impossible. It will force the villagers to move away from their ancestral land and look out for other livelihood options.

Industrial context of Orissa

Orissa has rich natural resources found in forest, rivers, land and minerals. For years now, the Orissa government has been trying to set up a state-wide programme, of rapid industrialisation based on a vastly increased scale of mining projects - primarily bauxite, iron-ore, coal and chromite - along with aluminium refineries and smelters, steel plants, plus coal-fired power stations and hydro-electric dams to power them.
The ides is that this will rapidly bring great wealth into the state in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI), which will quickly pay off Orissa’s foreign debt to the World Bank and other foreign multilateral institutions, at the same time. It will promote any overall development in the state, which has a high level of poverty and records of starvation causing deaths. Already a joint national aluminium company limited at Damanjodi have started producing alumina past several years, which is polluting the rivers. Hundreds of people suffer from skin diseases due to air and water pollution. Another two alumina companies one at the Langagorh and another at Kashipur of Raygada district are under construction in Orissa tribal populated area, as a string of big dams and four power projects (Machkonda, Kolab, Balimila and Indravati) started generating power and irrigation to benefit MNCS and big land lords. Three million indigenous cultivators are thrown from their lands in undivided Koraput and Kalahandi district without being provided proper rehabilitation.

The village of Pakhjhola

In all of the villages Mali Parbat agriculture is the main economic activity and a source of income. The land produces wide varieties of cereals, fruits and vegetables (including guava, mango, ladyfinger, ridge guard, sugarcane, eggplant, papaya, and maize to name but a few), which are sold on the weekly market in the nearby town of Semiliguda.
One of the twenty-two villages around Mali Parbat is Pakhjhola, a peaceful and fertile oasis of some 550 inhabitants, 70 per cent of which is of indigenous ancestry (Paroja tribe). One of the four perennial streams that source on the hill feeds the land throughout the year, giving the villagers the advantage of making a modest living all year round. The domestic animals, that are crucial for the cultivation of the land, graze on the hill. An abundant presence of wildlife can be found in the forest on the Mali Parbat: snakes, tigers, peacocks, deer and wild boars can be found there among others. But they are hunted during a yearly hunting festival in May. The hill is also the site where the villagers practice their animist religion. The rich deposit of bauxite in the Mali Parbat is a key feature in the fertility of the region. It acts as a sponge for its porous quality makes bauxite ideal for holding the monsoon rain-water over the coming months of the hot season, releasing it slowly through the streams through out the year, enriched with life-giving trace elements of all the minerals, which bauxite is rich in. Certainly, because capping of these mountains that Orissa has started to look like a desert - a process already visible around Panchpat Mali in Koraput district. For when bauxite is mined out, the mud that is left exposed which later hardens. Its previous life-giving properties of storing water, providing grazing ground for the cattle and feeding the land to make agricultural activities possible go into reverse. Pakhjhola will itself suffer from mud flows that will come down during the rainy season because of the mining waste and take away the land that lies in front of the hill.

Benefits are a fraud

What then are the so-called advantages that the proposed mining project will bring? The profit in the short-term is not in doubt. But profit for whom? Clearly not for the uprooted ‘adivasis’. The lack of respect being shown to them now in Lanjigarh and Kashipur is an ill omen for their future. This is why the inhabitants of the Mali Parbat villages have organised themselves in the Mali Parbat Protection Forum (Mali Parbat Surakshya Samiti). The tribals dispossessed by the Indravati, Kolab and NALCO projects, know that promises of a good "resettlement package", "employment opportunities", and other benefits are basically a fraud.
In the undivided Koraput district of Orissa, out of 71,794 persons displaced by various industries, a mere 17,225 (i.e. 3,445 families or 24 per cent) have bee resettled in colonies and around 10,000 others have been given some economic opportunities and limited resettlement. Thus more than two thirds of the displaced people are not resettled at all, giving them no future prospects and forcing them to look for alternative livelihood options in the urban periphery. However in Semiliguda most businessmen are not local but have come from other districts to take advantage of the local poor. In this competitive context it is unlikely that the ‘adivasis’ will manage, because they don’t have a feeling for this kind of business its only for the lack of money that they have agreed to set up such businesses.
The social structure of tribal society is inevitably fractured by displacement, as numerous studies have shown. ‘Adivasis’ know what is at stake is nothing less than their continued existence, as a culture. They live in close-knit communities. Their social values are centred on their relationship with their land and natural environment and in being self-sufficient for most of their needs by their own labour: for food, building their own houses. To call them “poor” is correct only when the system of exploitation imposed on them by trader-moneylenders is already taking away a large part of the food they grow. Where they are still largely self-sufficient and control their own land – as in Pakhjola – they do not see themselves as poor. Corporations know this and try to influence the to be displaced villagers, by violence, bribe, threats or court cases. While I was talking to some villagers of Pakhjola, one such situation had occurred in one of the three villages, where the road for transporting the bauxite is planned. At a moment when some villagers were drunk, people from Hindalco took them to a hotel, served them beef and tried to bribe them with Re 5,000 to get their fingerprint in order to make a road though the village possible.

Hard livelihood conditions

It is because of this lack of training in modern technology, only a negligible harvest is produced every year. Sometimes it is too little to meet their own needs, in such cases they have to buy what is needed in Semiliguda; but with what money? When there is surplus production it is sold but with very low profit. The villagers are unable to get a right price for their produce goods. Businessmen ask Rs five to six per kg of tomatoes, forcing the locals to sell them at Rs two to three per kg, which can hardly be called a fair price. When talking to them, they mentioned that big agricultural farms get subsidised, while small scale cultivators like them are relentlessly forced into the competitive market logic. According to them, the government should do something about this unequal situation.
Extra financial income is generated through daily labour, which is the second biggest economic activity in Pakhjola, followed by gathering the selling of forest products. Next to construction work, the villagers are employed in granite cutting. The leaves – mainly gathered by female workers – are sold for one rupee per bundle. The men collect firewood and carry them on their shoulders all the way to Semiliguda by foot, where they get Rs 80 to 100 for 40 kg. Hundreds of households in the nearby villages around Mali Parbat depend upon this kind of economic activity. Although they face many problems, the Paroja tribe of Pakhjola is destined to stop the proposed mining project on Mali Parbat. Let us wait and see what will happen the fate of these people living in 22 villages.

No direct NREGS funds to districts

Newindpress, 13th April, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: THE Centre has decided to discontinue with the practice of directly releasing funds to districts under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) from the current financial year following largescale complaints from states.The Rural Development Ministry has intimated the State to open a separate account under NREGS so that the Central assistance will directly go to that account.The distribution of funds to districts will now be the job of the State Government. Under the national flagship wage employment programme launched in 2006- 07, the Ministry of Rural Development was sanctioning projects and releasing funds directly to the NREGS districts. The districts were preparing the project proposals and submitting the State Government approved plans to the Centre for financial assistance.In 2007-08, several districts experienced paucity of funds due to inordinate delay in allocation of the second dose of assistance from the Centre. As the district administrations of Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi and some others failed to pay the wages of the workers, the State Government had to arrange contigency fund from its own resources.The delay in release of Central assistance was mostly due to delay in sanctioning of district projects. As the Rural Development Ministry sought repeated clarifications on flimsy grounds, the sanction of funds got delayed, a senior officer said.After writing several times to the Ministry, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took up the issue directly with Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh during his visit to Delhi. After receiving similar complaints from other States, the Ministry was forced to revise its policy, the sources said. The Government has opened a separate account for the scheme.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Privatisation in a standstill

Newindpress, 12th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Privatisation of sanitation process in Bhawanipatna Municipality is not making any headway as the temporary daily-wage employees, who are working with the municipality, are reluctant to join the private party entrusted to take up the work.Bhawanipatna municipality, which is one of the oldest in the State, was given the status of municipality in 1951, but it is facing crisis of sanitation management. Shortage of sanitation staff is a big hindrance to manage 233-km road and 210-km drain of the town.At present, there are only 78 regular scavenger staffers and 21 temporary staffers. At least 70 percent of required staff posts are lying vacant and a ban has been imposed on new postings by Urban Development Department.As a result the drains are chocked and garbage are lying heaped on the roadside. To tide over the crisis, the municipality thought of privatising the sanitation work in a phased manner. Incidentally the municipality has been included in the ‘Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Medium Towns’, a scheme of Central Urban Development Department, and for the purpose there is pre-condition to start the privatisation process. Accordingly after open tender, agreement signed by the municipality with Sulabh International to take over the sanitation work in five wards in the first phase out of 15 wards and it was launched on April 1, 2008.For the job, Sulabh International will receive Rs 1.8 lakh per month from the municipality. Assessing the success in these wards, it is programmed to extend the privatisation to rest of the wards.However, the temporary daily-wage employees are reluctant to work for the private party and they have not joined the work with Sulabh International till today.Due to this, the sanitation work in the five wards has virtually collapsed causing unhygienic condition. Chairman of the municipality Niranjan Pradhan said negotiation is on with the temporary daily-wage employees to cooperate in the privatisation process and the problem will be sorted out soon.Municipality does not have any alternative but to go for privatisation for better sanitation, he said.

Pupil-teacher ratio poor

Newindpress, 12th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Rationalisation of pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) and universalisation of education is one problem that has been haunting primary education in Kalahandi.There has long been a debate in maintaining an equilibilibrium in PTR ratio in the district but this hasn’t yielded any result so far. As a result, there is heavy concentration of teachers in urban pockets whereas schools in rural area have comparatively less number of teachers.For instance, in Bhawanipatna Municipality, the PTR is 19.16 whereas in rural pockets and interior blocks like Thuamul- Rampur, it is 51.90, Lanjigarh 44.08 and Golamunda 40.78.In Bhawanipatna Municipality, for 39 primary schools there are 222 lady teachers and 34 male teachers, a total of 256 as against the requirement of 148.In Dewan Shebpada School, for 54 students there are eight teachers as against the requirement of two. In Dhobapada, for 57 students there are three teachers, in Golap Manjari for 59 students there are six teachers.Similarly, in Shaktinagar for 47 students there are four teachers and in Police Children School for 85 students there are nine teachers. But in Belur Primary School in Madanpur-Rampur block for 126 students there is one teacher, in Ainlajore school of Dharamgarh block for 239 students, there are just two teachers, in Nichemask of Thuamul-Rampur block for 110 students there is only one teacher.The matter was raised in the ZP meeting held in January this year at Bhawanipatna. It had been resolved to weed out surplus teachers from urban areas to the schools in rural areas.Accordingly, it was decided to send surplus teachers from Bhawanipatna Municipality on deputation to the nearby rural schools having shortage of teachers. Basing on the decision, 79 women teachers from Bhawanipatna Municipality have been served with deputation order but this led to agitation.The women teachers who were picketing in front of the office of DI of Schools called off the strike after the Collector did not concede to the demand and the ZP meeting too did not show concern.

The Last Stand Of Niyam Raja, 12th April, 2008

The sacred mountains of Orissa’s Kondhs are about to be pulverised for bauxite

POSTERS OF Rahul Gandhi greet us on our way to Ijurupa village, where Dongria, Kutia and Jharania Kondhs have gathered to offer prayers to their beloved local deity Niyam Raja. Less than a fortnight back the Congress general secretary had met the indigenous tribes in the same village and promised them support in their struggle to save Niyamgiri, the 40 kilometre long mountain range adjoining Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa. The Kondhs’ sacred mountains are now under grave threat as mining giant Vedanta Alumina Ltd. is poised to break them open for bauxite
But the Kondhs cannot imagine life outside Niyamgiri. At a makeshift shrine, Kone Majhi, a Behejuni, a Dongria Kondh woman priest, prays, “Niyam Raja, give us strength to protect you and ourselves. Help us help you and ourselves. We promise we will not leave you. Thank you for giving us food and sustaining us. Please continue to look after our children.”
For generations, the tribals of Kalahandi and Rayagada have looked to Niyamgiri forests for fruits, tubers, medicinal herbs and spices. Besides, they grow millets, black pepper, chillies, green and black gram, green leafy vegetables and sesame seeds on the foothills.
Eighteen-year-old Rapna Majhi’s family of Bundel village in Kalahandi sold eight acres of land to Vedanta for Rs 700,000. The company promised Rapna a job at Vedanta’s alumina refinery built at the foot of Niyamgiri in 2003 once he trained at the district Information Technology Institute (ITI). But he has lost faith, since over 100 other tribal youth who passed out of the institute have yet to land a job at the factory. The fertile land lost to Vedanta once used to feed Rapna’s family of five all year round, now they buy food from market. The Rs 4000 they get as interest from the sale money every month do not go far. Twentyyear- old Arjun Majhi’s family is bigger, but the interest they get for giving up their three-acre property is lesser than Rapna’s. “We are already facing acute shortage of food. Earlier we had our own rice and mangoes,” Arjun says. Several tribal families like his remain unemployed. Initially, Vedanta had announced that everyone could get jobs with the company, with salaries in line with their qualifications and abilities. Rapna, who is a graduate, had hoped for a salary of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. “Young men had bought into that dream and pushed their parents to sell their farmland, not knowing they are signing away their livelihoods and all that is important to the tribal way of life,” says Bratindi Jena, who leads ActionAid’s work with indigenous communities in India.
Several other dreams lie shattered. The company and the local administration had assured clinics, schools, street lights and water facilities. Instead, 60 people including 11 women were put in jail in December 2007 after they sat outside the factory gate demanding clean water supply. Vedanta’s refinery had after all gobbled up the ponds and wells in their erstwhile villages. “I feel frustrated and angry. When a Vedanta vehicle passes our house, I feel like either killing them or myself,” Rapna says.
Frustration is rife in Kalahandi. Twenty-one year-old non-tribal youth Hrudya nand Patra from Lanjigarh block did get a job at the Vedanta refinery. He has a graduate degree in Arts from Biswanathpur College. “There are no jobs in Lanjigarh. So I took a job at the factory running errands for a salary of Rs 5000 per month,” says Hrudyanand. He told us why his job was shortlived. On May 19, 2007 he was asked to collect a sample of caustic soda from the company laboratory. In the lab, liquid caustic soda would fall from a pipe into a pit. When Hrudyanand went to get it, the ground around the pit sank, and took his right leg along with the gum boot, into the chemical swell. For 19 days, Hrudyanand lay in hospital. For four months, he was not able to walk.
A company official promised his parents that their son will get his job once he gets better. Despite repeated reminders, the company has neither offered him a job nor compensation. Hrudyanand’s burnt leg often bleeds and he has to take medicines everyday. His family is finding it difficult to afford his treatment. Lawyer Siddharth Nayak, who chairs Sachetan Nagrik Manch, a local forum of civil society groups and activists, filed a case for Hrudya - nand in the district court. The court has yet to announce any hearing. Hrudyanand knows at least 10 young men who have either lost or damaged limbs at the Vedanta factory.
In November last year, the Supreme Court disqualified Vedanta Alumina from mining the Niyamgiri, but with the provision that the project can be revived if Vedanta’s Indian arm, Sterlite Industries came back with a proposal to preserve the rights of local indigenous people through a special purpose vehicle. A hearing on Sterlite’s proposal is expected soon. Meanwhile, Niyamgiri’s fate hangs in balance.

Anjali Lal Gupta is a development writer with ActionAid

Friday, April 11, 2008

Upgrade Sambalpur varsity: VC

Newindpress, 11th April, 2008
Friday April 11 2008 09:10 IST
Express News Service

BURLA: AFTER the employees, ex-students, academicians, intelligentsia, Sambalpur University Vice-Chancellor U C Biswal joined the bandwagon demanding Central varsity status for Sambalpur University.Addressing mediapersons, Prof Biswal said keeping in view the excellent track record of the University in education, academics, research and various other parameters, the Sambalpur University deserves to be upgraded into a Central University. He added that two basic requirements, comprising school concepts and semester system, were prevalent in the varsity besides well equipped laboratories with sophisticated equipment.Pointing out that the University had under its ambit colleges in as many as 19 districts, he highlighted the achievements made by the University in the field of research with support from UGC, ICSSR and international universities. In the recent past, School of Life Sciences, PG departments of chemistry, economics and history have received funding support for eight researches to be carried out by the departments.Moreover, UGC has allotted Rs 50 lakh and given its nod to open Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy.He also spoke about proposals, sent to UGC, for opening 15 advanced centres of studies at a cost of Rs 75 crore and two satellite campuses at Bhawanipatna and Rourkela.Disclosing that e-governance will be implemented shortly in the campus including the administrative building, Prof Biswal said funds had also been received for a new ladies hostel and a guest house to be built at a cost of Rs 75 lakh each.He further added that two more national awards apart from Gangadhar Meher Award have been instituted by the university on Social Science and Natural Science and will be conferred from next academic session.Maintaining that the State Government had already written to the Centre for upgrading Sambalpur University into a Central University, he said conferring a Central University status would go a long way in the development of the backward western Orissa.

Water supply foundation stone laid

The Statesman, 11th April, 2008
Statesman News Service.

BHAWANIPATNA : Urban Development Minister Mr Kanak Vardan Singh Deo laid the foundation stone for pipe water supply projects at Bhawanipatna and Kesinga municipal areas and also inaugurated a water supply project at Junagarh. The projects being taken up under Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP), will help meet the drinking water problem of the urban pockets of Kalahandi district. Laying the foundation stone at Bhawanipatna for the Rs.10. 62 crore water supply project Mr Kanak Vardan Singh Deo said that under this project water will be supplied from Hati river and a 5 lakh litre. capacity over head tank to cater to the population of 82,000 people will be constructed. The total work is scheduled to be completed by 31st March 2009, he said.Besides this another scheme for improvement of water supply in Bhawanipatna Municipality area at a cost of Rs 28 crore has been sent to the central government, he said before adding that necessary funds under central schemes will not be available unless and until the mandatory reform measures are taken by the civic bodies. Since last three years we have been persuading civic bodies to undertake reform measures as per guidelines and stipulations of the center so that funds can flow but most of the civic bodies have not complied, he said. The Minister also laid foundation of 24 hour pipe water supply project under RLTAP with an estimated cost of Rs.6. 80 crore at Kesinga. Water will be supplied from Tel river. Assessing success of this project, similar schemes will be launched in other towns of the state, said the Minister.

Stones laid for water projects

Newindpress, 11th April, 2008
Friday April 11 2008 09:15 IST
Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: URBAN Development and Public Enterprises Minister KV Singhdeo on Thursday laid foundation stones for three drinking water projects in Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput (KBK) districts.The first project at Kesinga, to be constructed under the Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP), has been designed keeping in view the drinking water requirement of the people till 2036. The first 24-hour drinking water project will cater to 17,000 families. The project cost has been estimated at Rs 679.6 lakh.The project at Junagarh will be implemented under the Accelerated Drinking Water Supply Project (ADWSP).The project cost has been fixed at Rs 169.13 lakh. The project at Bhawanipatna will cater to 70,000 people.The cost of the project to be set up under the RLTAP will be Rs 955 lakh. Among others, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Pradipta Nayak, Kalahandi MP Bikram Keshari Deo,MLAs, former MLAs and senior officials of the district were attended.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Congress makes diarrhoea deaths poll issue in Orissa, 10th April, 2008

The Congress party is making the deaths of over a hundred persons by waterborne diarrhoea and cholera in Orissa last year its main poll issue in the Laxmipur assembly by-election to be held Saturday. The seat fell vacant after the death of sitting Congress member Anantaram Majhi on Nov 24 last year.Political observers say the main contest in the five-cornered fight is likely between the Congress and the ruling Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.The Congress has fielded Purnachandra Majhi, son of Anantaram Majhi. BJD, backed by BJP, has fielded Bibhisan Majhi - a former legislator from the area. The chief minister is camping in the area since Tuesday. “Hundreds of people died in the region due to diarrhoea and cholera last year. The government could not save their lives,” state congress president Jayadev Jena told a public meeting in the region while campaigning for his party candidate.
“It was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who sent relief when the state government failed,” he said.
The Congress party is highlighting various initiatives taken by the central government and exposing the failures of the state government, mainly the diarrhoea and cholera deaths, Jena told IANS.On the other hand, Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, while addressing several rallies in the region, highlighted the failures of the central government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The central government is always neglecting Orissa,” he alleged.Laxmipur constituency, some 500 km from here, is part of the Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada districts in the KBK (Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput) region - considered as the most under-developed region of the country.
The region is often in the news for starvation deaths and distress sales of children. Job opportunities in the region are limited with the major economic activity, agriculture, generating little income.The region witnesses outbreak of waterborne diseases almost every monsoon as rainwater slush from hilltops contaminates water sources. Last year in August, such an outbreak claimed some 100 lives in the region, according to official figures. Non-government organisations place the toll at over 300.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Party switches to poll mode

Newindpress, 7th April, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: BJP Foundation Day was celebrated here by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in a grand way by organising the ‘Yuva Sankalpa Divas’ which was attended by all important State party leaders.The message of the congregation was clear - the leaders at the grassroots should get ready for a big win in the Assembly and Parliament elections.The party leaders used the opportunity to target the UPA Government, particularly the Congress. Issues like food security, price rise, negligence to Orissa in different fields, the mineral policy of Centre and the policy of Congress against industrialisation in the State were raised.A motorcycle rally and a public meeting were organised on the occasion. A statue of martyr Rindo Majhi was unveiled by Law Minister Biswabhusan Harichandan in the park near Jail Chowk.Addressing the meeting, Harichandan lashed out at the Centre for the recent mineral policy and said it is an attempt by the Centre to control the mineral-rich states and weaken their economy.Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal criticised the UPA Government for the current price rise which has hit the common man. He alleged that Orissa is not getting its due share of PDS rice and the stock with the Centre has dwindled.Lok Sabha member Bikram Keshari Deo claimed that the Centre puts spokes when the State Government is taking up new projects. On industrialisation, he said the alumina project at Lanjigarh is the only industry in this backward region. But the Congress is opposed to that too.State BJP president Suresh Pujari, MP Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister Pradip Kumar Naik, MLAs Himanshu Meher, Dhaneswar Majhi, Yuva Morch State president Bibhuti Bhusan Jena and All India Yuva Morch president Amit Thakre addressed.

Infrastructure to be thrust area of Biju KBK plan

Newindpress, 7th April, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: Development of power and road infrastructure and provision of drinking water will be the thrust areas of the Biju KBK plan which is being implemented with the State Government’s funds.Official sources said that the slogan of ‘bijli, sadak, pani’ given by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during the last Assembly polls is being translated into reality through the new scheme.The Biju KBK plan had a budget of Rs 120 crore during 2007-08 financial year. Out of this, Rs 9.88 crore was earmarked for power, Rs 59.91 crore was for road sector and Rs 36.9 crore for drinking water. Besides, Rs 13.31 crore was provided for implementation of other programmes.Power sector development will include village electrification including street lighting. The programme includes construction of concrete roads within the village or any other form of connectivity. Creation of irrigation and drinking water sources will also be taken up under the scheme. Funds will be made available for implementation of any other scheme having inadequate budgetary provisions.Official sources said Rs 20 crore was provided for the implementation of the Biju KBK plan during 2006-07.Out of this, Rs 3 crore each was allocated to Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi districts while Rs 2.5 crore each was earmarked for Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts.About Rs 2 crore each was provided to Malkangiri, Subarnapur and Nuapada districts. Construction of 87 hostel buildings for girls, 247 buildings for women self help groups (SHGs), 165 buildings for anganwadi centres and 165 bridges/culverts have been taken up in all the KBK districts with the funds.The Assembly Committee on Planning and Coordination Department has, however, taken strong exception to the failure of the poverty alleviation programmes in reducing poverty in a spectacular manner. It has asked the State Government to fix time limit for reduction of poverty.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Whose life is it anyway?

Merinews, 7th April, 2008

THE TRIBALS in Jeypore subdivision of this Koraput district are still uncivilised. Living in 64 villages declared as reserved forest area under Boipariguda block, mainly depending on "Podu cultivation" and despite the claims of the government of ameliorating their plight, these tribal are being exploited by politicians, officers and businessmen alike in the sale and purchase of forest produce.
A recent visit to the tribal populated villages Machaguda, Maliguda, Gellaguda, Malaguda, and Kaliajad as showed that the tribal are leading a hand to mouth existence in the absence of basic facilities like education, drinking water, medical and housing facilities. According to survey conducted by a group of journalist their population, which is about more than 5557 live in 64 villages, once before independence these tribal, who are living in reserved forest depending on forest and cultivation.
Unfortunately the illiteracy, innocence of these tribal contributed their lands for Machkunda Hydro Electric Project expecting to get light to their residential quarters. At the time of composite Madras state and prior to the formation of the Orissa state a comprehensive report was done by Sir, Henry Hewerd in 1931, with the formation of Orissa state in the year 1936 the Machkund River become the boundary for Madras and Orissa. Field surveys and investigations of the scheme were started in 1941. Subsequently, after the formation of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa have agreed to share the power for the benefit of urbanites without sharing the problems of the tribals those who have contributed their lands, forest and the villages where they live-in.

The first stage of the electric scheme with three units of 17 Molecular Weight (MW) each was inaugurated on August 19, 1955 by our first President of Republic of India Dr.Rajendra Prasad. About 10,000 Paraja, Godaba, Kondh tribals lost their lands, forest and number of tribal families has been displaced. The state government is having no records and doesn’t even seem to take interest to find out the families displaced by the first Machkunda Hydro Power Project in the district and earliest one probability in India. Many families settled in Andhra Pradesh living on the top of the hills in Visakhapatnam agency area, who are neither the citizens of Andhra Pradesh nor of Orissa.
It is almost a separate story. One of the villages visited by this writer out of five villages (visited) Gellaguda is very interesting story, where in 84 families belonging to Gadaba tribe live-in. The villagers, earlier before construction of Machkunda Power Project are the residents of Gellaguda for, which again after displacement it was, renamed Gellaguda to remember the birthplace.
Gellaguda is one of the villages like other 64 villages developed under Ramagiri Gram Panchayat, reserved forest area immediately after their displacement by Machkunda Power Project. The tribals developed the villages found no difference in between their earlier birth places (Reserved Forest Area) and Ramagiri Reserved Forest area. In a latter stage within past 15 years the "Timber Mafias" with the help of forest officials reduced 50 per cent of the Reserved Forest Area into plain cultivable land (a Vigilance cases against forest officials and Timber Mafias are pending), but the entire Ramagiri area recorded as Reserved Forest area.
The area once again concentrated by the Timber based multinational companies, and started planting Eucalyptus plantation with the help of forest officers even on standing Paddy crops belonging to the tribals and reduced them like baggers. Soniya Godaba is one of the five native doctors working in the village. He gets more number of malaria cases and cure even chronic diseases and gets on average Rs 10/- per day.
There is a school without schoolteacher and students. The government offices also provided one below poverty line card to one Danu Gadaba and the other one to another Adu Godaba out of 84 families, who are under poverty line. Padama Godaba is another native lady doctor, who is expert in curing female diseases and delivery cases besides she knows all type of "Tantrik education" (witchcraft, blind belief). She can keep even the powerful devil to prevent the entry inside the village, she said, but she is blind, another 75 years lady Sama Gadaba is blind remembered and expressed the way her family was displaced, the third one Samara Godaba is more than 70 years but become deaf due to roaring sound of using the blasting materials at the time of project construction. She is still unmarried all the three ladies are counting their early days and last days too.
Padama Gadaba native doctor is blind another old lady Soma Godaba is blind and so is the government. It also seems to be mute like Samara Godaba. Another village Purna Pani is also a remote village about 12Km from Ramagiri Grama Panchayat headquarters. The villages can be reached only on foot through a narrow beaten track. A 20 years girl holding two children looks like a skeleton. It seems the survival of the newborn kid is bit difficult. The mother is an anaemic and the kid is malnourished they too received no benefit from the government.
When contacted the revenue officials who wants to be anonymous for fear of official wrath, hag conformed the ignorance to provide basic amenities and the political leaders forced them to issue first photo identity cards only for the purpose to win in the election with number of false promises. But immediately after being elected they forget the promises given to them.
In fact the undivided Koraput district is the second biggest district in India next to undivided Bastar district in Madhya Pradesh. It is having two Parliamentary constituencies reserved for tribal seats. One is Nowrangpur constituency, which represented more than eight times by one Khagapati Pradhna, under whose constituency these villages fall and the present MP is Parsuram Majhi.
The second, Koraput Parliamentary constituency is represented by Giridhari Gomango elected more than seven times, under whose constituency the Machkunda Power Project falls. When this scribe contacted him more than six times, he clearly said that he was representing the constituency only to protect the tribal culture and music. But that he had no time to visit the villages to know the difficulties, he has gone even up to the extent of telling that the people vote for his shoes and why I should move to the area for the development.
All the 64 villages are symbol of utter official neglect. The villagers live a wretched life of hunger, disease and misery. Some leaders say there are Hundreds of Gellaguda in undivided Koraput district. Some villagers that this scribe met on the way to Gellaguda say the political leaders, elected representatives and the district administrative officers visited us, promised us to provide facilities and left, but our miseries continue.
The tribals living in all the four divided districts of undivided Koraput district is one and the same. Fate has never ceased to be ironical for the helpless inhabited. They were in the reserved forest accustomed and were in the dark before independence. Their condition has not changed much, as they are still in the dark. It is what the development of undivided Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi, the so called KBK districts, where infamous starvation deaths, sale of children very much prevalent keeping them in darkness after 60 years of independence.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Two die of suspected food poisoning

The Pioneer, 4th April, 2008

In a freaky incident, two women labourers of Salpanga village of Yugasayepatna Gram Panchayat in Kalahandi district died and three were admitted to hospital on Wednesday after they consumed rice and water. The two deceased died on the spot whereas the other three including two minors were rushed to the Lanjigarh hospital, where they were still undergoing treatment.
Sources said five women daily wagers were engaged in the field by wife of Kainru Harijan of Salpanga village. Kainru's wife had given them some rice and salt for preparation of their lunch.
One woman worker had cooked the rice under a tree near the working field and joined them at work keeping the cooked rice there with a silver plate over the dish. After finishing the work all the women workers gathered and ate cooked rice with salt. Later, they drank water from a nearby water body. Sources further said on their way back to the field to resume the second half of the day's work they suddenly fell ill.
Alani Dei (18), daughter of Nari Majhi and Pogadi Dei (27), wife of Ram Singh Majhi of Khajuriguda village died on the spot. Linjo Dei (15), daughter of Dambaru Majhi, Sanja Dei (16), daughter of Sana Majhi and Banaga Dei (18), daughter of Lengu Majhi were rushed to the hospital. Although it is yet to ascertain the reason behind the sudden sickness, Bhawanipatna BDO Purandar Pujari confirmed that the locals for both drinking and bathing purposes used the concerned water body.The cooked rice might have become poisonous and after eating it the workers died, maintained Pujari. The locals, however, demanded Government's aid for the deceased's families.

KBK region is 'remotely' administered

The Pioneer, 4th April, 2008

The State administration seems to be running the KBK region by remote control as most of the officers are on 'French leave, alleged a senior officer working in the KBK.
The administration has no penetration in these areas and officers are at their sweet will to stay or to go on leave. The Chief Administrator of KBK is a Chief Secretary-rank officer, who hardly finds time to visit KBK and stay for a long period. The Revenue Divisional Commissioner administers these areas from Berhampur, which is as distant as Bhubaneshwar is from Malkangiri.
Perhaps none of the KBK districts has posts of all the officers required to man the requisite jobs. Many districts share a common District Judge, RTO, Agriculture Officer, Vector Control Officer, Veterinary Officer, Weights Control Officer and the like. Even when there are independent officers for the district, they hardly remain in districts. Some are always on tour to Bhubaneswar and a few are on official leave, while others are on 'French leave.'
However, all of these officers are seen in the districts only in the month of March, as they have to clear the bills at the end of the financial year. They pack their briefcases after clearing the bills and go away. There are also many small Government servants who perform their duties remaining far away. Some teachers, as per records, teach every day. But it is a different story that pupils do not attend schools in the absence of teachers. And the mid-day meal scheme rice goes to the Maoists.
Some senior mandarins and top cops occasionally make flying visits coming by helicopters and finishing their works hurriedly before returning. One can meet officers in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack who boast that they were never posted to KBK. Everybody in the top State administration knows the situation, but things have never changed for better.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Orissa finds fresh mineral deposits

The Financial Express, 2nd April, 2008
Dilip BisoiPosted online: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 at 2343 hrs IST

Bhubaneswar : Orissa has found signs of diamond deposits, besides coal, iron ore, bauxite and heavy minerals in various districts across the state.
According to state steel and mines minister Pradip Amat, the directorate of geology has located 66 million tonne of coal deposits in Padma block of Talcher coalfields and 18 million tonne of bauxite in Tadapani plateau of Ramgarh area under Koraput district.
Exploration for heavy minerals such as ilmenite, monazite and rutile in Udayagri sector of Puri resulted in establishing a reserve of one million tonne of heavy minerals. Viable iron ore deposit of 1.9 million tonne has been located in Dholtapahar area of Sundergarh through geological mapping and drilling.
The exploration for search of primary source of diamond in Dharambandha area of Nuapada district yielded positive results, where the government is planning detailed drilling. Besides, the exploration for gemstone in Shagaraha area of Kalahandi district can bring to light three iolite occurrences.