Saturday, August 30, 2008

Peace meeting held at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, 30th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: A peace committee meeting was held here on Friday, where the leaders of all political parties, people of all religion and lawyers opined to maintain peace and harmony in the district. Kalahandi Collector R Santhagopalan presided over the meeting. The meeting was held after the killing of the VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in the Kandhamal district. SP Bibek Rath and district collector assured them to solve out their grievances.

Lawyers' bandh peaceful in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, 30th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna : In order to establish a permanent bench in western Orissa, the Western Orissa Bar Association called a 12-hour bandh at Bhawanipatna on Friday. Buses and trucks were off the roads. Schools and colleges, commercial establishments and Government and private offices remained closed. Commuters suffered due to closure of the filling stations. The court of Dharmagarh was also closed. About 50 advocates were arrested by the police, while the judges were not allowed to enter into the court. However, the bandh was peaceful as no untoward incidents were reported from Bhawanipatna and other places of Kalahandi district

Friday, August 29, 2008

Uranium traces found in Orissa

Zee news, Aug 26, 2008

Bhubaneswar, Aug 26: A recent survey has found traces of uranium in at least eight districts of Orissa which are also rich in iron ore, bauxite, nickel and titanium, state Steel and Mines Minister Pradip Kumar Amat said on Tuesday.

The survey conducted by Atomic Mineral Directorate, found traces of uranium in Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Baragarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj and Jajpur districts, Amat told the state assembly.

According to the survey report, uranium was found in at least 19 different places in Sundargarh and 12 places in Sambalpur district.

Similarly, four places of Baragarh district and two locations of Jharsuguda districts have shown presence of uranium reserve, he said.

One place each in Deogarh, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj and Jajpur were identified as uranium bearing locations.

"We hope that there is maximum possibility of uranium reserve in Sundargarh and Sambalpur districts," an official said.

Orissa could emerge as a suitable place for finding uranium after Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, he said.

Journalist Basant Panda dead

The Pioneer, Aug 28, 2008
Bhawanipatna: Senior journalist of Oriya daily Prajatantra Basant Panda (52) died at the headquarters hospital here on Wednesday. He was the State secretary of Kissan Khet Mazdoor Congress, Kalahandi district president of the Youth Congress and the NCP president of Jai Prakash Narayan Seva Anusthan and district coordinator of Ama Odisha. Besides, he was a drama artist. Hundreds of people gathered at the hospital after the doctor declared him dead.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Orissa received Rs.1240 crore DFID funds, Bhubaneswar:27/August/2008

The Department for International Development (DFID), the UK Government’s arm for managing aid to poor countries and poorer states, is likely to increase financial assistance for Orissa.

DFID is the largest bilateral donor in Orissa and has been working in the state since 80’s.

From 2002-03 to 2007-08, DFID, has spent about Rs.1240 crore directly in Orissa.

“Though its financial contribution at approximately Rs.200 crore per year is small compared to resources available to the state, but its technical expertise and knowledge of good development practice has made a difference in helping the state address poverty successfully,” said a senior DFID official.

DFID, which works at the national level as well as is supporting programs in several states like Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.

During last five years it has provided Rs.8,000 crore to India in bilateral aid.

“The aim is to help India achieve the millennium development goals as announced by the United Nations in 2000,” said a source in DFID.

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his recent visit to the country had announced an investment of Rs.6, 600 crore in India over the next three years.

Of that, up to Rs.4, 000 crore is likely to be spent on health and education.

Similarly in Orissa to improve health and education DFID has come in a big way, said an official.
In the Orissa Health Sector Support Program (OHSSP) with budgetary support of Rs.400 crore and technical assistance to the Government of Orissa, DFID will be playing a major role.

OHSSP covers comprehensive health sector plan to be carried out during 2007-2012 in order to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates by nearly half by 2010, eliminates leprosy and polio, reduce deaths from malaria and TB by half and various others programs.

District Primary Education Project (DPEP) with a funding of Rs.320 crore during 2001-08 has positive impact on increasing enrolment from 77 per cent in 2001 to 97 per cent in 2006-07, while arresting the drop out rates.

Public Sector Reform Program (PSRP) aiming to reform the state civil service with a funding of Rs.240 crore has helped the state to increase revenue earning 25 per cent on year to year basis by switching over to VAT regime.

PSRP helped in computerizing the entire treasury system, resulting seamless money transfer and smooth transaction of bills.

Public Enterprises Reform Program (PERP) has helped the state taking care of ailing and sick Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) with support of Rs.240 crore during 2004-08.

Thanks to DFID support, now the State Government is saving Rs.192 core per annum on this count, said an analyst of the PSUs.

Sincere initiatives of Supriya Pattnayak, Chief of State Unit in spearheading the activities of DFID has resulted addressing the poverty reduction and generation of goodwill for the UK Government, said a senior Secretary in the Government of Orissa.

Civil Society and Poverty Program (CSPP) came to the rescue of the smaller NGOs engaged in poverty reduction in Orissa.

DFID funded Rs.12 crore during 2003-08 in which 34 NGOs have been supported.

Funding to the tune of Rs.264 crore has supported the Western Orissa Rural Livelihoods Project (WORLEP), which reaches about 80,000 house holds in the most poor and backward districts of Orissa like Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir and Bargarh.

Improvement in household income has been reported due to the support program.

Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project (OTELP) funded by DFID to the tune of Rs.80 crore during 2004-10 reaches 23,000 households across 4 tribal districts of Koraput, Gajapati, Kalahandi and Phulbani.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Traffic disrupted

The New Indian Express, Aug 26, 2008

MALKANGIRI: Irate activists of the Saffron brigade razed a church at Nakamamudi under Chitrakonda police limits in Korukonda block during the Orissa bandh.

Normal life was badly hit in Malkangiri, Balimela, Mathili, Kudmulgumma and Govindpalli areas with the activists taking to the streets to enforce the bandh.

In Balimela, Power House, OHPC, Potteru Irrigation Project, NAC Office and SBI remained virtually inaccessible for the government employees. They had to walk to offices in the absence of public transport.

In Malkangiri Town the attendance in Government offices was thin as the bandh supporters detained the employees at several places by blocking road and burning tyres.

BHAWANIPATNA: All important places like Kesinga, Junagarh, Dharamgarh, Jaipatna, Madanpur Rampur and Narla were affected and vehicular traffic and shops and business establishments remained closed.

The activists picketed government offices and locked the main gates of Doordarshan and Akashvani Kendra. However, no breach of law and order was reported.

BARIPADA: Movement of vehicular traffic on the two national highways - NH-5 and NH 6 - passing through Mayurbhanj district came to a halt following the dawnto- dusk bandh called by the Sangh Parivar on monday.

Long distance trucks got stranded on the Jharkhand side of the border near Jamsola border checkpost in Mayurbhanj on NH-5 as their entry into Orissa was virtually impossible due to picketing by VHP activists, police said.

Twelve platoons of Orissa State Armed Police and Armed Police Reserve have been deployed in vulnerable and sensitive areas. Combing operations in the Maoist-prone areas of the district have also been intensified.

Offices, educational institutes, shops and courts remained closed as a result of picketing by VHP activists in front of the main entrance gates of the courts and offices. Except the damage to a vehicle carrying garments for sportspersons from Jharkhand near Palabani the bandh was peaceful all over the district.

JAJPUR: A missionary educational institution at Nadiabhanga and a church at Kalarangi in Kaliapani chromites area in Jajpur were damaged by the Saffron Brigade despite deployment of heavy security in sensitive areas, said Jajpur SP D.S. Kuttey.

Reports of stray violence were reported from Sukinda, Kaliapani and Kalinga Nagar areas. As many as 12 activists were arrested and over 100 others detained in the district, police said.

Traffic on NH-5, 215, 200 and 5(A), passing through the district, came to a halt as the protesters erected barricades and obstructed vehicular movement by burning tyres on the roads. Public transportation vehicles kept off the road and train services were also paralysed with the activists squatting on the tracks.

Mining activities and transportation of chromite ore at Sukinda chromites valley too came to a grinding halt.

PURI: The bandh was total in the Holy City and the activists did little to enforce it as Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati was a highly revered Seer here. The Saffron activists prevented entry of officials to the government offices and the district judge court. They squatted on the rail tracks and bus terminal.

The traders and businessmen downed shutters as a mark of respect to the departed Seer. The Grand Road also wore a deserted look.

The police threw security cordons around the churches, two mosques in the city and around the office of the designated returning officer.

However, the bandh had little effect on the prospective candidates who came along with their supporters in processions to file papers for the municipal elections. About 30 candidates filed papers today.

KENDRAPARA: The agitators forced closure of shops, banks and other establishments. A clash took place between the VHP and Bajrang Dal activities and members of minority community after the activities destroyed a shop of the community member.

Three persons sustained injuries. Police lathi-charged at the old bus stand to disperse an irate mob, said Santun Das Officer-in-Charge of Kendrapara police station.

An irate mob blocked NH-5(A) at Duhuria, Chatta, Balichandrapur, Gopa and other places. They also burnt tyres on the road.

Heavy police deployment was made in the Christian populated areas of Mahakalapada, Rajnagar and Kendrapara.

PARADIP: The activists blocked the road at Jagatsinghpur, Paradip, Tirtol, Kujang and other areas of the district. They ransacked the Tirtol block office on Monday and locked the staff for three hours demanding closure of the office.

Tirtol police rushed to the spot and rescued the officials. However, it did not have any impact on the loading and unloading of cargo and the operations were normal.

ANGUL: The VHP-sponsored bandh passed off peacefully in industrial district of Angul. The bandh was complete, claimed Rajya Sabha member Rudra Narayan Pany who blocked the traffic on NH-42.

The three national highways passing through the district wore a deserted look as activists of VHP, RSS and BJP blocked the highways at several places by burning tyres. Shops and business establishments remained closed and offices recorded thin attendance.

NTPC and Nalco power plants functioned normally while works in all the coal mines were stopped.

The Talcher Thermal Power Station main gate was blocked by agitators.

Review petition in SC to save Lanjigarh hill

The Pioneer, Aug 26, 2008

Bhawanipatna: Invoking Article-137 of the Indian Constitution, a review petition has been filed by senior advocate and member of State Bar Council Daitary Pradhan in the Supreme Court to save the natural resources at Lanjigarh after the court gave clearance to Vedanta Alumina for setting up of a refinery unit. Addressing a Press meet, Pradhan said he had filed a petition in the High Court against the Government, Sterlite Industries and Vedanta and the case is pending for disposal. Even as the Supreme Court rejected the application of Vedanta for forest clearance in Niyamgiri hill, how the Sterlite Industries was given clearance for the same ownership, he asked. Sterlite Industries have cut down more than 5, 000 valuable trees from the forestland for its refinery much before it obtained the forest clearance, he alleged.

Bandh peaceful in Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, Aug 26, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhawanipatna

The 12-hour bandh of the State organised by the Viswa Hindu Parishad on Monday in protest against the brutal murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others in the ashram completely paralysed the normal life at Bhawanipatna. Hundreds of activists from VHP, Hindu Jagaran Sammukhya, Bajarang Dal and RSS, organised a protest meeting, staged demonstrations and blocked roads at different places throughout the district of Kalahandi. In a Press statement the Member of Parliament from Kalahandi, Bikram Keshari Deo has demanded an inquiry by a Supreme Court judge.

Markets, banks and private commercial establishments remained closed and operation was affected in some Government offices too. A scooter and a motorcycle were torched by the supporters of the bandh at Naktiguda. Attempts to set fire to churches in some areas were foiled by timely police intervention.

Dead too in voters’list

The New Indian Express, Aug 25, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: With the filing of nomination for urban body polls, election fever has gripped the urban pockets of Kalahandi. For Bhawanipatna municipality 48,031 voters will cast their votes in 20 wards. The chairman post is reserved for SC (women). For Kesinga NAC, 12,014 voters will exercise their franchise in 12 wards. Here the chairman seat is reserved for OBC. For Junagarh NAC, 12,234 voters will cast their votes in 12 wards and the chairman post is reserved for OBC.

But large number of errors have crept into the voters’ list. At least names of 700 dead persons have found place in the list while names of several genuine voters have been deleted. Also there are names of some bogus voters in the list, it is alleged.

In the months of April and May there was a door-to-door campaign by teachers to rectify the voters’ list. However, the corrections could not be carried out in the computer system.

A seat-sharing formula has been worked out by BJD-BJP. BJP and BJD have agreed to contest in 12 and eight seats respectively in Bhawanipatna while in Junagarh and Kesinga BJP and BJD will field cadidates in seven and five seats each. The Congress has decided to contest all the seats alone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Concern over vacant doctors’ posts in Kalahandi district

The Statesman, Aug 20, 2008
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Aug. 19: Chief administrator Mrs Rajalakshmi expressed concern over doctors’ posts lying vacant in Kalahandi district, while chairing a review meeting here yesterday.
As many as 59 posts of doctors are lying vacant in Kalahandi, department sources said. The vacant posts include four posts of senior class-I specialists, nine junior class-I specialists, 15 class-II specialists, 25 assistant surgeons and five posts of assistant surgeons on consolidated pay.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the large number of doctors either not joining the posts or remaining on unauthorised leave for long duration, Mrs Rajalakshmi said that the health services in the district are getting severely affected because of this negligence.
“What is even more distressing is that as many as 11 doctors went on leave the very next day after they joined and have remained on unauthorised leave since 2004 and 2007,” she said.
“Five other doctors who were posted never joined the district. There is no information with the CDMO about these erring doctors. The service books and last pay certificates remain with the directorate of health as it is the appointing authority. It seems likely that the doctors are manipulating the senior officials to regularise their unauthorised leave,” she felt.
The shortage of doctors and trained personnel to operate the equipment in the regional diagnostic centre is causing great inconvenience to the patients. “Despite the presence of proper infrastructure the diagnostic centre is not fully functional because of the shortage of manpower. The absence of doctors and paramedical staff may lead to an uncontrollable outbreak of epidemic,” she opined.
“The directorate of health has been apprised of the situation by the district health officer and the district collector. A letter was sent by the collector in June stating the present scenario. But there has been no response yet,” she rued. “I will inform the chief secretary and health secretary about the situation in the district and discuss with them to sort out the problem soon,” she added. Praising the work of paramedical staff in the absence of the doctors Mrs Rajalakshmi said: “In this situation of shortage of doctors the field level functionaries like ANM, male health workers, and midwives are doing a commendable job, however sadly they face a regular trouble of irregular payment of their salary. This problem will also be brought to the notice of senior officials.”
“To improve health service in the inaccessible areas in the periphery of Indravati project, eight power boats including one ambulance boat has been arranged from the fund received from Orissa Power Generation Corporation. The boats will soon be available,” she said.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Green Kalahandi to re-launch anti-industry stir

The Pioneer, 19th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: Following the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow mining at Niyamgiri hill, a meeting against Lanjigarh-based Vedanta Alumina Ltd was held here under the chairmanship of Green Kalahandi chief and former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das. DCC president Ras Bihari Behera said the SC's decision was not final for the people. A legal and social fight would be started soon for the sake of environment and tribal people. CPI district secretary Damodar Behera said an agitation would be launched with the gathering of 15,000 Dongaria and Jharania Kondhs. CPI (M) district secretary Naba Patnaik and ex-municipal chairman Niranjan Pradhan said the tribals would be united in the movement against the SC decision. State convener of Ekta Parishad Bharat Thakur said that the real fight for the rights of tribals had started now as the SC had not closed its door on the issue. Bhakta Das said awareness would be created among people in all tribal areas and a non-violent movement would be launched very soon

Kalahandi residents irked over location of Central varsity

The Pioneer, 19th August, 2008
Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar

Educated youth in general and intelligentsia in particular in Kalahandi district are angry with the Naveen Patnaik Government as their aspiration to have the State's first Central University at the district headquarters town of Bhawanipatna has been shattered.
The Chief Minister's recent decision to ask the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to set up the proposed Central University in Koraput instead of Kalahandi has irked the people of Kalahandi.
According to them, Bhawanipatna is more suitable for the university, but being allegedly misguided by political and bureaucratic advisors, the Chief Minister took the decision in favour of Koraput.
"The unusual behaviour of the Chief Minister indicates his loss of rationality," lamented Digambara Patra, leading voice of Kalahandi residents in the international forum. Prof Patra, in a letter to Patnaik, has charged him with political motive.
The Chief Minister has ignored the educationally backward areas of the KBK region in view of the impending elections, he has stated.
Prof Patra has said that the decision on the location of the Central University has been taken without studying the ground realities.
The decision is, therefore, hurting 'Kalahandias' most as they were lobbying hard with the MHRD for the Central University, while not a soul from Koraput ever raised a voice for it.
Prof Patra, who teaches in the American University of Beirut, has appealed to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh do justice to the people of Kalahandi by forcing the State Govt to change its decision and locate the world-class university at Bhawanipatna.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Scottish fund sells Vedanta shares, 18th August, 2008

Scottish investment fund Martin Currie Investment has sold shares worth 4.29 million dollar of London-based Vedanta Resources following objections raised by UK-based human rights NGO Survival International on the company's bauxite mining proposal in India.
Sources close to the development said the Scottish fund had decided to sell shares due to the controversy which had arisen following the signing of an agreement between Vedanta Resources and Orissa Mining Corporation for developing the latter's Lanjigarh bauxite mines in Kalahandi district for the alumina project.
The Vedanta group would operate as an agent of the government. The Lanjigarh bauxite mines has a promised reserve of 75 million tons.
According to sources, the Scottish fund decided to exit from Vedanta after the NGO raised objections as bauxite mining in the area would destroy a large portion of forest land and would lead to displacement of local people staying in the region.
The outlay for the project had been pegged at Rs 4,000 crore.

Kalahandias angry over Naveen

Tathya, 18th August, 2008

Naveen Patnaik will have tough time in Kalahandi. Educated youths of district in general and intelligentsia in particular are angry with the Chief Minister. With their aspiration to have the First Central University at Bhawanipatna being shattered, they have branded Mr. Patnaik as a ‘manipulator’. The Chief Minister’s recent controversial decision to ask the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to set up the proposed Central University at Koraput instead of Kalahandi have irked them. According to them, Bhawanipatna was more suitable for the World Class Institution, but allegedly misguided by political and bureaucratic advisors, the Chief Minister decided in favor of Koraput. “The unusual behavior by the Chief Minister indicates his lose of rationality”, lamented Digambara Patra, leading voice of Kalahandias in the international forum. Professor Patra in a scathing letter has charged Mr.Patnaik being politically motivated and a leader of myopic vision. The budding educationist has alleged that Mr.Patnaik has ignored the educationally backward areas of KBK in view of the impending general and state elections. A politically motivated Chief Minister has done more damage to the areas of Kalahandi than any body else, lamented Prof.Patra. Prof.Patra has said that without studying the ground realities, the decision to establish the Central University was taken. This decision is hurting Kalahandias most as they were lobbying hard with the MHRD for the Central University, while not a soul from Koraput ever raised a voice for the same. He has appealed the President Mrs. Pratibha Patil to look into the matter and give justice to the most backward areas of KBK. An appeal letter to the Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh has also been made to provide justice to the millions of people of Kalahandi by forcing the State Government to change its decision and place the World Class Central University at Bhawanipatna, said Dr.Patra.

VHP protests J&K Govt decision on Amarnath land

The Pioneer, 18th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: VHP activists and Amarnath Yatri Sangharsh Samiti blocked the road at Ghodaghat Chowk demanding restoration of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board and protesting the decision of the J&K Government on the issue. The police arrested the agitators and later released them on PR bonds. A public meeting was also held at Gandhi Chowk, which was addressed, among others, by former BJP district president Bhabendra Panda, Shankar Garg and Sudarshan Pradhan.

KBK lecturers protest being called 'criminals'

The Pioneer, 18th August, 2008

Bhubaneswar: Lecturers of eight colleges of the KBK districts on Sunday threatened to cease work and resort to agitation before the Assembly from the Teachers' Day on September 5 protesting the alleged remark by the Secretary of the SC and ST Development Department Tara Dutta that they are "criminals." President of the All Orissa Government Higher Secondary Teachers' and Employees' Association Dilip Mohapatra said about 104 teachers and employees of the colleges met SC and ST Development Minister Chaitanya Prasad Majhi to discuss their problems. Majhi called Dutta to the discussion, but the latter insulted them by calling them "criminals."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tiger skin seized in Bhawanipatna, three held

The Pioneer, 17th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: The Forest Department personnel arrested three persons - Kshyamanidhi Rout (32), Trinath Patra (31) and Pitamber Kharsel (40)- on Friday after skin of a tiger was seized in Budulimbandla village of Kanpur block. The skin was rescued by Forester Fakir Mohan Majhi and his staff from Kharsel's house.

Youth Cong demands Central varsity in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, 17th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: District Youth Congress members took out a mashal yatra on Thursday demanding establishment of a Central university in Kalahandi. The DYC members marched from the College Chowk to the district Collectorate shouting slogans like 'Naveen Patnaik down, down.' Notably, the State Government has decided to set up a Central university in Koraput. The procession was organised under the leadership of DYC president Abdul Sazid. Ras Bihari Behera, Chinmay Behera, Bharat Bhusan Bemal and Kumarmani Sabar were also present.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Delegation calls on CM

The New Indian Express, Aug 14, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The Central University Action Committee of Kalahandi district has threatened to launch an agitation if the central university (CU) is not established in the district. It has also called upon all the local ministers and MLAs to resign in protest.

A delegation of the panel along with ministers, MLAs and senior citizens of the district met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to discuss the demand.

They countered the impression that land will be a problem if the varsity is set up in the district.

They told the Chief Minister that establishment of a CU in the district is a long standing demand and a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister in this connection on January 14, 2002. Besides, several memoranda have been submitted to the Centre during the last few years.

Sources said, the Chief Minister said that he had already announced establishment of the central varsity in Koraput which cannot be changed now. However, he promised that he would announce a similar thing for the district after the model code of conduct is lifted.

Central varsity in Kalahandi demanded

The Hindu, Aug 13, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: A delegation comprising legislators, academicians and other elected representatives from Kalahandi district met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Tuesday and demanded that the proposed Central University should be established in their district.

Many of the leaders in the delegation, who belonged to the ruling Biju Janata Dal alliance.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

SASB Land row: Saffron outfits shut down Orissa for 2 hours; road, train services paralyzed

Odishatoday, 13th August, 2008
By Anurjay Dhal

Bhubaneswar ( Orissa) : Hundreds of workers of RSS, VHP, Bajarang Dal, BJP, ABVP, Bhartiya Kissan Sangh and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangha under the banner of Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsha Samiti on Wednesday virtually shut down Orissa for two hours demanding restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. The workers of the Saffron outfits blocked all National Highways passing through Orissa including the State capital Bhubaneswar. The protesters have blocked roads at all strategic points of the State capital including Master Canteen Square, ashulgarh Square, Palasuni Square, CRPF Square, Damana Square and Power House Square by burning tires to register their anger. "We would continue our protest till lands return back to the Shrine Board," said national co-convener of Bajarang Dal Subash Chouhan, who led a demonstration at Master Canteen Square. Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for minority appeasement policy to satisfy the separatists in the Kashmir Valley. The firebrand Sangh leader Chouhan further demanded immediate resignation Governor NN Vora. "We have conducted road blockade in entire State while our workers held demonstration in their respective district headquarters," Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsha Samiti State convener Dr Pramod Acharya said. The agitation would continue in Orissa as the Congress-led UPA Government is doing vote-bank politics to appease minorities including the separatists, he alleged. Meanwhile, according to the reports reaching here, protesters have also blocked roads in Cuttack, Sambalpur, Puri, Nayagarh, Ganjam, Berhampur, Phulabani, Koraput, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Rourkela, Balangir, Sundargarh, Khurda, Kalahandi, Angul, Dhenkanal and several other places. Train services were also affected due to the Chaka Jam.

Next Nandigram? Orissa tribes fight mining giant, 13th August, 2008
Bahar Dutt & Akanksha Banerji,CNN-IBN.

The Dongriya Kondhs a primitive tribal group in Orissa are up in arms. They have alleged they are being harassed in an attempt to evict them from their land and forests to give way to a Rs 4,000 crore project to mine bauxite by UK-based mining company, Vedanta.
The apex court has finally given permissions for the forests to be cleared for mining.
The Niyamgiri forests is home to tigers, leopards and over 100 species of plants. But with mining, over 1.2 lakh trees will be destroyed and 32 streams which originate in the Niyamgiri hills will dry up.
For the Kondhs who live off the forests the losses will be many. For these people, it is a daily trek of four kms to the forest. With the forests of Niyamgiri gone, the trek will increase to 10 kms daily.
The protests against the mining project have now spread from Kalahandi to the streets of London.
Tribal leaders travelled to London to highlight that mining the Niyamgiri forest - which they consider sacred - would be like demolishing the St Paul's Cathedral, a landmark for London city.
Campaigners want Vedanta shareholders to put pressure on the company to withdraw its mining plans in the Niyamgiri mountains.
Back in Orissa, the battlelines are squarely drawn. Vedanta claims it will bring development to a backward region, but with the cutting down of massive forests, the Dongriya Kondhs are asking whose development is this anyway? And who will it really benefit?

State orders recovery of money

The Statesman, 13th August, 2008

The state government has ordered recovery of Rs 12.57 lakh from four engineers of water resources department following submission of vigilance report against them. The four engineers are Mr Girish Prasad Mishra, ex-assistant engineer, Anandapur barrage sub-division, Keonjhar, Mr Abhimanyu Giri, ex-JE of the same sub-division, Mr Mukundadev Upadhyaya, ex- JE, section-III, irrigation section, Agarpada and Mr Prasanna Kumar Das, ex- JE, water resources canal project division, Akhuapada. For alleged show of undue official favour to the contractor in execution of substandard work, recording of inflated measurement during execution of Soso branch Canal Road, a vigilance enquiry was initiated against them. During the vigilance enquiry, it was observed damage to the above road had occured within a span of two years of work. On the report of the anti-corruption wing, departmental proceeding was drawn up against the erring four and recovery of Rs 12.57 lakh was directed. Vigilance sources also informed that Mr Nirod Kumar Sethy, executive engineer, ret irrigation division, Bhawanipatna has been placed under suspension. During suspension period his headquarters has been fixed to office of the chief engineer, Rusikulya, Bansadhara and Nagabali Basin, Berhampur. Various establishments connected with Mr Sethy were searched by the vigilance sleuths following allegation of accumulation and possession of disproportionate assets. Properties worth more than Rs 50 lakh were detected.

Central varsity in Kalahandi demanded

The Kalingatimes, 13th August, 2008
KalingaTimes CorrespondentBhubaneswar, Aug 13:
A large delegation of elected people's representatives, senior citizens and academicians from backward Kalahandi on Tuesday urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to facilitate establishment of the proposed Central University in their district.
At a meeting with Patnaik at the State Secretariat here, the delegation, which comprised leaders from different political parties, demanded that the proposed Central University should be established in Kalahandi instead of Koraput.
The members of the recently formed Central University Coordination Committee of Kalahandi told media persons that the Chief Minister should take necessary initiative to set up the proposed university in the district as it had remained one of the most backward regions of the state all these years.
It may be recalled that Patnaik had recently written to Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh requesting him to establish the Central University at Koraput.
Patnaik has said in his letter to Singh that establishment of the Central University at Koraput would reduce the existing regional imbalance with regard to higher educational institutions in the state.
Patnaik had also said that 500 acres of land and other facilities were available in Koraput for the proposed varsity.
What is interesting is that Patnaik had urged the Centre to set up the proposed university at Koraput despite giving an assurance to a delegation from Kalahandi in May this year that he would write to the Centre for establishment of the institution in their district.

Vedanta supports plantation programme at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, 13th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: A plantation programme was organised by the Government Autonomous College here on Saturday. Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), Lanjigarh, supported the programme, called Baula, and planted 120 trees in the first phase and would plant 200 trees in the second phase. The students and the lecturers planted trees and committed to nurture the plantation. Following the plantation programme, a meeting was held which Kalahandi Collector R Santhagopalan attended as the chief guest and encouraged the students for planting trees. Kalahandi SP Bibek Rath and HR head of VAL Dr Sailendra Singh also spoke on the occasion.

Engineer suspended

The Pioneer, 13th August, 2008

Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar
On the allegation of accumulation and possession of disproportionate assets by Nirod Kumar Sethy, Executive Engineer, Ret Irrigation Division, Bhawanipatna, his Government quarter and office chamber at Bhawanipatna, residential three-storied building at Old Town, Bhubaneswar, another quarter D/9 at Sector-3, Rourkela, houses of his relatives and residential house of contractor Pabitra Swain at Bhawanipatna were simultaneously searched on June 4 by vigilance officers. After the search, on perusal of different documents, the movable and immovable assets worth Rs 50,33,666 were found in Sethy's possession and in the name of his family members. Sethy had entered into Government services as an Assistant Engineer in the Irrigation Department in the year 1984 and was promoted to the rank of Assistant Executive Engineer in 1997 and Executive Engineer in 2004.
After getting the report from the State Vigilance, the Government has placed Sethy under suspension with immediate effect, pending drawal of disciplinary proceedings. During the suspension period his headquarters has been fixed to office of the Chief Engineer, Rusikulya, Bansadhara and Nagabali Basin, Berhampur.

Talks fail; Central varsity to be set up in Koraput

The Pioneer, 13th August, 2008

Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar
The KBK Central University Action Committee's talks with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik regarding setting up a Central university in Kalahandi on Tuesday failed. In response to the failure of talks, the Action Committee has given a call to all people's representatives from the district to tender resignation from their posts.
A 40-member delegation of the Action Committee met the Chief Minister at the State Secretariat and held talks regarding setting up a university. They argued that as the Centre put emphasis on establishment of a Central university in KBK, it should be set up in Kalahandi as it is centrally located. They reportedly told to the Chief Minister that it was unfortunate on behalf of the Government to set up the university in Koraput. "We have given a memorandum to the State Government in 2002 and our interest was ignored," they said.
Later, the Chief Minister said a decision regarding setting up the university at Koraput was already taken. "We have intimated it to the Centre on this issue and the university would come up near Koraput town," he said, adding that the Government would soon take up steps to set up education centres in Kalahandi. Sources said the Chief Minister also assured the delegation in this regard. As the model code of conduct has already been announced, the Government could not make any announcement to this effect.
After the meeting, convener of the Action Committee Lambodar Sahu, former professor Gopabandhu Behera and Jagannath Mund said the Government had tried to deceive the people of the district. "The people of Kalahandi will oppose any Government move in this regard," they said.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Heavy rainfall alert for state

The Telegraph, 11th August, 2008

Three persons died in the past 24 hours in rain-related causes, as heavy showers triggered by a low pressure area continued in the state.
The Indian Meteorological Department today issued a warning of the possibility of “heavy” rains in parts of the state. Most river basins in Orissa have received substantial rainfall in the past 24 hours causing them to swell close to the danger level.
Today, the depression over coastal Orissa moved in a north-west direction and lay over the north interior of Orissa, close to Keonjhar.
The system is likely to move further in a north-westerly direction, as an official release from the Met department stated. Heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places in the state is expected in the next 24 hours.
Two women, belonging to Kesinga block of Kalahandi, died today after they were struck by lightning in the afternoon.
Another woman from Rayagada, identified as Urmila Goud, lost her life last night after the bus she was travelling in was swept away by the floodwaters of the Badanala river, a tributary of the Bansadhara.
Water-levels in rivers including the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani and Subernarekha continued to show a rising trend today.
The situation is more acute in western and southern parts of Orissa, as smaller rivers such as the Hati, Tel and Jhandavati are swelling. Reports coming in from the special relief commissioner’s office have stated the possibility of impending disaster if the trend continues.
For the next 24 hours, the Met office has predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall over the upper Mahanadi, Rusikulya and Bansadhara with heavy fall at a few places over lower Mahanadi catchment areas.
Madanpur-Rampur in Kalahandi recorded the highest rainfall of 22cm in the past 12 hours.
Wind speed reaching 45-55kmph from south-easterly direction over north Orissa and north-westerly direction over south Orissa is likely to prevail along and off the coast, the release further said.
Fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea. Local Cautionary Signal Number Three (LC-III) has been lowered at Chandbali, Puri, Paradeep and Gopalpur Ports.
Intermittent rains in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have also affected normal life. Bhubaneswar received 105.8mm rainfall, the highest today, followed by Balasore that received 43mm rain and Bolangir district that recorded 30.4mm of rain.

‘Agitation will continue’

The Statesman, 11th August, 2008

In the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court clearance to mining and forest diversion proposal of Sterlite and Posco projects, leaders of peoples resistance movements held a ‘Public Hearing’ here today and resolved to continue with their struggle against displacement. The verdict pronounced by the ‘jury’ comprising of Dr BD Sharma of Bharat Jan Andolan, Professor KR Choudhury an agriculture scientist of Hyderabad, Miss Ratnamala, a civil liberty activist and trade union leader Mr KN Pandit called upon the government to give up repressive measures and adopt a path of development with equity giving due respect to constitutional provisions. Activists leading movements in Koraput, Kalinga Nagar, Jagatsinghpur, Kalahandi, Jajpur, Sundergarh and Keonjhar presented their case. They narrated instances of police repression and of how hired goons of multinational companies were intimidating villagers. Most of the allegations hurled were one sided in the sense that the public hearing conducted today was held without any counter presentation from any of the industrial groups or government representatives. It is said that at many places in Orissa, the government seems to have virtually washed off its hands allowing companies to rule the roost, decried Dr BD Sharma. He pointed out that the government was duty bound and it was a constitutional obligation to stand by the people. "We have heard the travails of the people and how in the name of development their constitutional right to life with dignity is being robbed," he noted. "The protector cannot turn a predator," observed the ‘jury’ and warned that such mindless land and resources grab will “inevitably lead to social disorganisation, economic destitution and the very demise of the people”. "Displacement as a concept is unacceptable," said the ‘jury’. "People are not against development as long as it assures command of the community in its habitate is not compromised." The concerned people must be assured a place of honour in terms of equality and it is only with prior information and consent that any such developmental activity can be initiated, they said. "Affected people narrated instances of use of money and muscle power, deception and state repression," noted the social activists. All types of repressive measures, violation of human rights must be stopped and a more democratic way, taking people into confidence, should be adopted, they observed. Activists of the Visthapan Virodhi Janamanch spearheading the agitation in Kalinga Nagar, Nimayamgiri Suraksha Manch of Kalahandi, Krushak Sangh of Keonjhar, Naba Nirman Samiti of Jagatsinghpur , Vedanta Varsity Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, Puri and several others participated in the ‘public hearing’.

Row over location of proposed varsity in Koraput

The Statesman, 11th August, 2008

Chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik’s suggestion to locate the proposed Central University at Koraput has evoked strong protests here. The Kalahandi Kriyanusthan Committee which was canvassing for the varsity has described Mr Patnaik’s decision as 'whimsical.' Denouncing the CM for having gone back on his earlier promise, the organisation threatened to launch an agitation in the district. Convenor of the Kalahandi Kriyanusthan Committee Dr Lambodar Sahu said: "Since two decades people of Kalahandi have been demanding a central university." Terming the CM’sdecision as an act of betrayal, the organisation said on 6 April 2008 an all party delegation from Kalahandi had met the chief minister and apprised him about the demand. The chief minister agreed and instructed the Kalahandi district collector to locate suitable land for the proposed varsity. A suitable and feasible site was identified near Karlapada. The site had all the pre-requsites ~ an air strip at a distance of just 9 km, the World Bank financed super high way passing through the site and its distance from the district headquarter was barely 20 km. The land details along with the map was submitted to the CM through the collector on 8 July. After all this the CM suddenly shot off a request letter to the Central government asking it to locate the proposed central university in Koraput district, decried Dr Sahu. "Kalahandi is perpetually neglected and despite being rich in natural and human resources it continues to remain in the poverty zone. Citing another instance of neglect, he said the KBK headquarter ought to have been in Bhawanipatna but for some strange reasons it was not done. Similarly there is no effort to locate the headquarter of the Western Orissa Development Council, at Kalahandi, he noted. Mr Sahu informed that a delegation will once again call on the CM and try to impress upon him that the central varsity should be established in Kalahandi district. Meanwhile the Kriyanusthan Committee has drawn up plans to launch a mass movement from next week.

Hati, Tel in spate in Kalahandi

Newindpress, 11th August, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Incessant rains in the district during the last 72 hours have resulted in floods in Hati and Tel rivers. Hati has been flooded in some pockets of Kalahampur block submerging areas near Karmelli, Biripur, Balichhada, Bankapala.Vehicular traffic on NH-201 near Junagarh has been disrupted as flood water inundated the Hati river bridge. This evening, water was flowing four feet above the Hati bridge.Flood water in Tel river has submerged paddy fields in Massigaon, Atigaon, Bandhagaon and Baghdungri areas. Similarly, due to flood in Sandol river, approach road of the river at Narla and Bamak has been breached. Due to the breach near Narla, which is over 10 metres wide, traffic on Bhubaneswar-Bhawanipatna state highway has been disrupted. At Samarkata, above 50 metre-long RD road has been washed away.Around 250 houses under Narla, Aurmel, Balsingha, Tulapada and Bagpur have been damaged, of which, 30 houses have been washed away completely.The district administration has provided polythene sheets and rice to the victims. Release of water from Indravati project into Hati river has been stopped for last two days to control the flood situation. During last 72 hours, 867 mm rainfall has been ecorded in Thuamul Rampur, 479 in Kalampur, 224 in Junagarh, 465 in Narla and 330 mm in Lanjigarh.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

3 killed as rain lashes Orissa

The Hindu, 10th August, 2008

Bhubaneswar: With heavy rains pounding southern and western Orissa due to a low pressure over north-west Bay and adjoining central area of Orissa and Gangetic West Bengal, at least three women were killed and another went missing, sources said on Saturday.
They said that Urmila Goud (53) of Jagadalpur village of Rayagada district died as the bus in which she was travelling was swept away by floods in the Badanala river on Friday night. The bus carrying 20 passengers slipped into the river. While 18 persons were rescued, Padmini Bibhar (33) of Mallagaon village of Bisam Katak area of Rayagada could not be traced.
Two other women identified as Debaki Majhi and Renuka Majhi of Mathapalla village of Kesinga block in Kalahandi district, died when they were struck by lightning on Saturday. The Special Relief Commissioner’s office control room said water levels in the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani and Subarnarekha were rising. The situation in western and southern Orissa became acute as small rivers such as the Hati, Tel and Jhandavati were also rising. More floods likely
The possibility of another spell of floods was looming large as the Met office predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over upper Mahanadi, the Rusikulya and the Bansadhara rivers with heavy fall at a few places over lower Mahanadi catchment areas in the next 24 hours.
“Friday’s low pressure was gradually taking the shape of a depression under which influence the entire Orissa could receive heavy rainfall,” said local IMD Director Sarat Sahu.
Predicting a flow of wind at a speed of 50 kmph, the Cyclone Warning Centre had cautioned fishermen not to venture into the sea, Mr. Sahu said.

Rain plays havoc in Odisha, triggers floods

Kalingatimes, 10th August, 2008

With southwest monsoon active of Odisha most parts of the state have been receiving heavy rains during the past few days.
Heavy rainfall has also triggered flash floods in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts with Vamsadhara, Hati and other rivers flowing over the danger level on Saturday.
The rains and the resultant floods have affected normal life in the interior areas of Kalahandi, Bolangir and Rayagada district.
In Rayagada district, one person died and another went missing when a passenger bus was swept away by rainwater during the day.
According to the Water Resources Department of the state government, heavy to very heavy rainfall was likely to occur at isolated places over Upper Mahanadi, Rushikulya and Vamsadhara with heavy falls at a few places over lower Mahanadi catchment during next 24 hours.
The situation was unlikely to improve as a low pressure over Bay of Bengal was likely to concentrate in to a depression, according to the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.

Heavy rain kills one in Orissa, disrupts normal life

Sindh Today, 10th August, 2008

Heavy rain over the past two days has disrupted life in the state killing at least one person in Rayagada district, official said Saturday.
The incessant rain has also affected road and railway traffic and triggered flash floods in two districts, officer on special duty in the state emergency control room Rajashree Singh told IANS.
Rain above 34.5 mm is considered heavy and above 124.5 mm is considered very heavy. Over the last two days Kalahandi district has witnessed very heavy rain, Rajashree explained.
Road communication in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts has been disrupted in many places. All the rivers have swelled with Hati River in Kalahandi flowing above the danger level, the official added.
The situation may worsen as the meteorological office has predicted more rain in the next 24 hours in most places in the state.
The met office has warned fishermen not to venture out to sea.

Mixed reactions to SC verdict

The Statesman, 10th August, 2008

The clearance accorded to Sterlite Industries and Posco-India projects by the Supreme Court today evoked reactions on expected lines here today.Both the companies welcomed the verdict while organisations and environmental activists were dismayed as far as clearance to mine Niyamgiri hill for Sterlite Industries was concerned.The mega projects were hanging fire for almost three years, caught in a web of litigations and clearances related controversies. Posco project was held up due to forest clearance related problems while the Sterlite project was mired in controversies over bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills.We are very pleased with the apex court verdict today. It is a vital clearance for us to achieve progress on our project, observed Posco India sources whose forest clearance of over 2598 acres was approved today. Now, with this verdict we can expedite work on the land acquisition front as 90 per cent of the required land is belongs to the government and a major chunk of it is forest land.We will develop this dream project hand in hand with the people of Orissa , especially by involving local community, said the sources while asserting that it will an exemplary steel plant.Mr CV Krishnan, head-business development, Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd expressed happiness over the apex court decision to approve the proposed bauxite mining project in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi districts. "We are committed to implementing the project in accordance with the guidelines and safeguards laid down by the Supreme Court," he said."The bauxite mining project along with the alumina refinery in Kalahandi will bring significant employment and economic livelihood for the local people and overall development for the region," he claimed.Dismayed at the verdict, ‘Green Kalahandi’ leader and former Union minister Mr Bhakta Charan Das said: "It was ‘unfortunate’. It is a defeat of environmental activists and the innocent tribals of Niyamgiri. He iterated that the primitive Dongaria tribe which lives in Niyamgiri forests ought to have been heard".The verdict comes as a set back to the movement initiated by Mr Das in the region. In fact the movement had received a major boost a few months ago when Mr Rahul Gandhi, MP visited Lanjigarh and consented to the views of tribals. Mr Gandhi had supported their movement and opined that Niyamgiri was highly sensitive both in terms of ecological and primitive tribal culture.

Gold of Rs 10 lakh looted from jewellery shop

The Pioneer, 10th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: Miscreants broke a jewellery shop here on Friday and looted gold worth over Rs 10 lakh. During incessant rains the thieves got the chance and broke all seven locks of the shop near the Town Hall. A case was registered at the police station and investigation is on.

Lightning kills 2 women in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, 10th August, 2008

Bhawanipatna: Two women labourers of Mahakalpada village under Kesinga police station died as lightning struck them while they were working in a paddy field on Friday. Debaki Majhi (35), wife of Tuna Majhi, and Rohini Majhi (32), wife of Sesha Majhi, were seriously injured after lightning hit them and both were immediately rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital here where they died later. Village ward member Tuna Ranjan Karuan, who had brought them to the hospital, demanded compensation for the families of the deceased from the district administration.

Rahul should no more oppose Vedanta project: BJD MLAs

The Pioneer, 10th August, 2008
Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar

BJD MLAs Balbhadra Majhi and Puspendra Singh Deo on Saturday came down heavily on AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi for opposing the Vedanta project at Lanjigarha in Kalahandi. Both the MLAs belong to Kalahandi district.
Addressing a Press conference here in the wake of Supreme Court's judgement on allowing the Vedanta to go for mining in Niyamgiri, Majhi said Rahul Gandhi had tried to gain cheap mileage from this issue. "After the apex court gave its clearance, we expect, Rahul and his colleagues would no more raise any hue and cry on Vedanta issue," he said.
During his Orissa visit in March, Gandhi had visited the tribals and assured that he would fight for their cause. The young leader had also gone to the extent of declaring him as a "soldier" of tribals in Delhi.
Majhi said with the establishment of Vedanta project, people of the local area would largely be benefited. "We would urge the Government to provide protection to Vedanta and ensure smooth supply of ores to the plant," he said, adding that priority should be given on employment to local people.
However, Green Kalahandi, a body of agitating tribals, said it would ensure that the Anil Agarwal promoted company did not get the mining lease.
"The interests of Dongaria Kondhs and ecology are ignored while considering Sterilite's application for forest land diversion for mining purpose," Green Kalahandi chairman and former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das said, adding that they would knock the door of Janata Adalat on this issue.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

SC approves Vedanta mining in Orissa, 9th August, 2008

New Delhi : The Supreme Court allowed Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc on Friday to mine bauxite in sacred hills in Orissa where tribal people and voluntary groups strongly oppose it.
"The application of Vedanta is allowed," the Supreme Court bench said in a statement.
Vedanta wants to dig open-cast mines in the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa to feed an alumina refinery it has already built in the area, as part of an $800 million project.
The local Dongria Kondh tribe says the mine will destroy hills they consider sacred, force them from their homes and destroy their forest-dependent livelihoods.
"We will not allow the company to mine our land, our sacred place," Jitu Jakaka, a tribal activist of the Dongria Kondh tribe, told Reuters outside the court after hearing the ruling.

After protests, the Supreme Court temporarily barred Vedanta in November from mining bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills.
But it left a window ajar for the project by asking Vedanta's Indian unit, Sterlite Industries, to come back with a fresh proposal on safeguarding the rights of local tribal people through a new investment firm.
Environmentalists say the open-cast mine would also wreck the rich biodiversity of the remote hills and disrupt key water sources that supply springs and streams in the area and feed two rivers that irrigate large areas of farmland.
Vedanta has been running its refinery with bauxite brought from other Indian states.
The state and central government both back the mining plan, as part of efforts to industrialize and exploit the mineral resources of underdeveloped eastern India.

Nursing students' stir continues

Odishatoday, 9th August, 2008
By Santanu Barad

The stir by the students of Berhampur Nursing College here continues even on Friday following the missing of girl and for the fulfilment of a five point charter demand. It may be noted that the students launched the stir on Thursday following the missing of a girl from the college after declaration of results on Wednesday. Iti rekha Mallik left the college alleging a teaching staff of reducing her practical mark in the exam owing to which she had failed in the exam. As per sources, the girl has been to her home at Bhawanipatna and it was confirmed by her mother that she had already reached at the home. Despite that the students had been continuing their stir as they doubt and wanted to see Iti rekha at their college in stead of at the home. Besides, the students were placing their long standing demands before the authorities to fulfil as soon as possible and they did not believe the assurances of the authorities as they felt charted in the past. Few years back after such a stir by the students, the then district Collector Sanjay Singh had assured to fulfil the demands but afterwards nothing happened, alleged the students stating that would continue the stir till declaration to fulfil the demands. The five charter demand contains; specific placement procedure for the nursing students, hike of stipend to 5,000, filling of vacant teaching positions in the college, enhancement of remuneration of the guest faculties and provision for aid to the college in order to develop infrastructure including modern science laboratory, computerized laboratory and well equipped library in the college. Berhampur University vice chancellor had assured the students to discuss the matter on Saturday with the principal. The missing girl is being expected to arrive in the college on Saturday that would give a twist to the ongoing stir by the students.

Primitive tribes in Niyamgiri to continue fight against Vedanta Group

Odishatoday, 9th August, 2008
By Anurjay Dhal

The Dongria and Jharnia Kondh tribes of Kalahandi on Saturday announced to continue their protest against the London based Vedanta Group despite Supreme Court's green signal to the Company to go ahead with its project worth $800 million and mine bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills. Disappointed at the verdict, Former Union Minister and Green Kalahandi chief Bhakta Charan Das termed the Apex Court's verdict as unfortunate. "I shocked over the Apex Court's verdict. The verdict has also disappointed innocent tribals of Niyamgiri," the former Union Minister told to our Correspondent. Das further said that the apprehensions and concerns of the primitive tribes should not overlook. Though the verdict came as a major set back for Das but sources said that the senior Congress leader may further intensify agitation in the region. It may be noted the anti-Vedanta protest had received a major boost few months back, when AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited Lanjigarh and declared that he is their Sepoy and fight for them in National Capital. Rahul had supported their movement and opined that Niyamgiri was highly sensitive both in terms of ecological and primitive tribal culture. "We will not allow the company to mine our land, our sacred place. Any compensation they offer is worthless to us," a tribal leader of Kalahandi said. He also said that the tribals depend on the fertile forest and rivers of Niyamgiri for their food, water and livelihoods in an otherwise drought prone area. Cutting trees is a religious taboo for the members of Kondh tribal community. Their lifestyle and beliefs have protected the local environment for centuries. Bratindi Jena, an activist from Action Aid, told London based Financial Times that they are going to continue to assert their rights within the democratic framework as Vedanta is all set to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri to meet the raw material requirement of the alumina refinery. He also said that they are going to explore legal options, and will continue mobilising people and civil society.

Apex court clears Posco, Vedanta projects; villagers protest

Sindh Today, 9th August, 2008

The Supreme Court Friday cleared the diversion of forest land in Orissa for South Korean major Posco’s steel plant and a mining project by Britain’s Vedanta Resources, angering villagers and tribals in the region.
The apex court gave its nod for the diversion of 3,097 acres of forest land for the $12 billion Posco steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district, Priyabrata Satpathy, a Supreme Court lawyer, told IANS.
The court also allowed Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hill in Kalahandi district to build an alumina refinery, he said.
‘We are hopeful that we can now expedite the whole work of land acquisition,’ said Avinashg Tiwari, a Posco spokesperson.
But people opposing the projects said they are determined to continue their protests, despite the Supreme Court ruling.
‘Our protest will continue as usual. We will not allow the company to enter into our area,’ said Prasant Paikray, an anti-Posco agitation leader.
Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government in June 2005 to build the plant near Paradeep port by 2016.
But there has been little progress on the ground as activists have launched agitations and united villagers against the project.
Those opposed to the project say it will displace over 20,000 people from around 15 villages and ruin their betel-leaf farming. Supporters say the plant will bring prosperity and employment. Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs.
The court’s decision brought cheer to Vedanta Resources as well.
‘Now with today’s judgment we hope to raise bauxite from Niyamgiri hill for our plant at Lanjigarh,’ a Vedanta official said here.
The Kalahandi project will bring significant employment and economic growth, he said.
Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, is building an $800 million alumina refinery in Kalahandi and an aluminium smelter project costing Rs.70 billion in Jharsuguda district.
The company wants to mine the Niyamgiri hill for bauxite to feed its plant. The hill in Lanjigarh block is inhabited by Dongaria Kondhs, a tribal group.
Tribals of Kalahandi as well as from Gajapati and Rayagada districts have been protesting after Vedanta signed an agreement with the state government to set up a refinery and mine bauxite four years ago.
The tribals claim that mining would pollute their rivers, destroy jungles and displace them from their land and culture.
‘We are not going to vacate the land at any cost,’ said Mali Puseka, a tribal leader.

Heavy rain disrupts normal life in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, 9th August, 2008
Pioneer News Service Bhawanipatna

Following incessant rains in Kalahandi since Thursday midnight, the Hati River near Junagarh is flowing six feet above normal. Traffic on National Highway-201 from Junagarh to Jeypore has been affected. Hundreds of vehicles and their passengers have been stranded on both sides of the Hati bridge.
According to the emergency office report, till 8.30 pm on Friday, the rainfall received at Bhawanipatna was 75mm, Kesinga 87 mm, Narla 240mm, Rampur 387 mm, Lanjigarh 131mm, Madanpur 20mm, Junagarh 135 mm, Kalampur 188mm, Jaipatna 109mm, Koksara 65mm and Golamunda 70mm.
The people of Jeypore, Nabarangpur, Koksara, Kalampur and its adjoining areas would face communication problems due to the heavy rains.

Apex court allows Vedanta to undertake mining in Niyamgiri

The Pioneer, 9th August, 2008
Pioneer News Service Bhubaneswar

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Vedanta Resources to take up mining works and extract bauxite from the ecologically fragile Niyamgiri hills for its Rs 4,000-crore alumina project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district. The judgment came as a respite for the Vedanta Group as it had faced stiff opposition from the voluntary groups to undertake mining. The NGOs had also motivated a section of the local people to oppose the project tooth and nail.
Vedanta wants to dig open-cast mines in the Niyamgiri hills located in Kalahandi district near its project area. "The application of Vedanta is allowed," the Supreme Court bench said in a statement. Vedanta promoted Sterlite Industries had sought clearance for diversion of 660.749 hectares of forest land for mining purposes to provide required raw material for its plant.
The special forest bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and SH Kapadia cleared all the hurdles and allowed Sterlite to go ahead with bauxite mining. But, it asked the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest to proceed in accordance with law.
The local Dongria Kondh tribe is of the view that mining will destroy the hills they consider sacred, force them from their homes and destroy their forest-dependent livelihood.
Earlier, the Supreme Court temporarily barred Vedanta in November from mining bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills. But it asked Vedanta's Indian unit, Sterlite Industries, to come back with a fresh proposal on safeguarding the rights of local tribal people through a new investment firm.
Sterlite Industries, in a statement, said that it was happy that the project had been approved. "We are committed to implementing the project in accordance with the guidelines and safeguards laid down by the court. The bauxite mining project along with the alumina refinery in Kalahandi will bring significant employment and economic livelihood for the local people, the statement added.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Centre approves nine road projects in Odisha

Kalinga Times, 6th August, 2008

Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu has approved nine road improvement and widening works in Odisha at a cost of Rs 76.58 crore under the Central Road Fund (CRF) Scheme.
According to an official release issued by the Press Information Bureau on Tuesday, an amount of Rs 1094.51 lakh has been approved for improvement of Sambalpur-Sonepur road in Bolangir district.
Further an amount of Rs 656.62 lakh has been approved for improvement to Nayagarh-Jagannathprasad-Bhojanagar road in Ganjam district.
An amount of Rs 810.35 lakh has also been approved for improvement of Nayagarh-Odogaon-Laukhal road in Sundargarh district.
A sum of Rs 1271.09 lakh has been approved for widening and improvement to Kalugaon-Bonai road for a length of 11 km in Sundargarh district.
Besides, an amount of Rs 3825.46 lakh has been approved for improvement of various stretches in Jagannathpur-Berhampur-Phulbani road and Chharichhak to Phulbani in Ganjam and Phulbani districts in the Vijayawada–Ranchi corridor.
This road which passes through the tribal belt of the district and also connects the sub-divisional headquarter town of Bhanjanagar , district headquarter town Chhatrapur, state Capital Bhubaneswar and other districts such as Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Boudh, Bolangir etc.
The road also serves as a major communication link between different villages and gram Panchayat of Bhanjanagar and Belaguntha Blocks. It also connects the historical and tourist places like Odagaon (Lord Raghunath), Sarankula (Lord Ladubaba), Buguda (Lord Biranchi Narayan), ancient monuments like Budha Khola and sanctuary of Black Buck.
Due to heavy traffic and heavy rain in subsequent years, the road has been severely damaged with depressions at a number of places and potholes.

Naveen betrayed Kalahandias

Tathya, 6th August, 2008

The people of Kalahandi feel betrayed and are anguished over the sincerity of Naveen Patnaik. The decision of the Government of Orissa to ask the Centre to set up the Central University at Koraput has naturally irked the people of Kalahandi. So the leading Non Resident Oriya(NRO) Digambara Patra has sent a missive to Man Mohan Singh, the Prime Minister asking him to intervene. Dr.Patra alleged that Orissa Government has been serious in ill treating certain backward region like Kalahandi and bringing more regional rivalry among various region in KBK region. Mr Patnaik’s Government has repeatedly ignored requirement of KBK region by not providing any support in higher educational institutes. He has established similar institute in his home district like Berhampur (a new engineering college, and IIIT) where there are already State Government funded medical college, university, diploma college and many private engineering institutes. On the other hand Kalahandi which is in actual epicenter of KBK region (NIC data shows it) does not possess any Government or private engineering college or university. Dr.Patra has alleged that Chief Minister is playing with emotion of people of Kalahandi and western Orissa region. Initially he promised to establish the Central University in Kalahandi. Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik has assured a delegation from Kalahandi district that he will pressurize the Centre to set up a Central University in Kalahandi district. A 25-member delegation led by Minister of State for Law and Employment Pradipta Kumar Nayak met the Chief Minister at the Secretariat on 7 May. The delegation impressed upon the Chief Minister about the need for establishment of a central university in Kalahandi district as it is educationally backward. The district has all infrastructure facilities for establishment of a Central University and the demand has been pending since 1988. The delegation comprising former ministers Balabhadra Majhi, Himansu Sekhar Meher and legislator Pushpendra Singhdeo impressed upon Mr.Patnaik for the University. After hearing from the delegation, Mr.Patnaik assured that he will write a letter to Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry about setting up the varsity in Kalahandi.However, now he has changed his mind and shifted the Central University to Koraput as reported in the media. Mr Patnaik was often criticized by his rival politicians as 'betrayer'. In this case, unfortunately, the CM has played the betrayal game in regional basis to rule Orissa state. Mr Patanik is playing divide and rule among various regions in KBK region to rule Orissa state, which would severely cost to the integrity of the state/nation, he alleged. As suggested earlier Orissa would get another central university such as “Indira Gandhi National Tribal University” for which Koraput would have been the ideal choice due to predominant tribal population there. The ground level problems in Koraput is not well being studied (since there are many industries in Koraput region compared to other parts of the state but still local tribal people are backward and suffering), so such educational institute based on life of tribal people is imminent in this region. By shifting the Central University from Kalahandi to Koraput, the Government is betraying Kalahandi and its people and whole of the western Orissa region. Dr.Patra has hoped that being the Prime minister of India Dr.Singh will correct the politically motivated steps taken by Mr.Patnaik. He urged upon the Prime Minister to establish the Central University in Kalahandi and branch of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Koraput.
Sanjib Kumar Karmee, another leading NRO have also requested the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter and give justice to Kalahandi.
Dr.Karmee, who stays in Germany has sent the missive to Dr. Singh.
Now protest letters are pouring in, because for last many years enlightened Kalahandias were seriously lobbying for the educational and social development of the worst backward area of the country.
And with Naveen's decision they feel totally betrayed, alleged another leading voice Madhusmita Panda.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kalahandi rice scheme to benefit 3.14 lakh

The Pioneer, 4th August, 2008

Labour and Employment Minister Pradeep Naik launched the Rs 2-per-kg rice scheme in Kalahandi district by symbolically distributing 25-kg rice bags each to five Below Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders in Deypur gram panchayat of Sadar block here on Sunday.
At the meeting held on the occasion, ADM Chudamani Sethi said that the scheme would be implemented in 13 blocks and all NACs of the district. The rice would be provided at 286 centres in 273 GPs.
Besides, the rice would also be supplied through 741 SHGs, three Cooperative Centres and a voluntary organisation to the Below Poverty Line cardholders, he said.
ADM Chudamani Sethi also said that 3,14,124 cardholders would be benefited under the scheme in Kalahandi district.
As per the survey in 1997, in Kalahandi district there are 1,53,358 Below Poverty Line cardholders, who would get 25 kg of rice each, 55,122 cardholders in Antyodaya scheme, who would get 35 kg of rice each, 1,03,299 Above Poverty Line cardholders, who would get 25 kg each and 2,315 holders in Annapurna scheme, who are entitled to 15 kg each.
Narla MLA Balabhadra Majhi welcomed the decision of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to introduce the pro-poor scheme and stated that thousands of poor families would be benefited under it.
Kalahandi MP Bikram Keshari Deo condemned the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre for its failure in checking the price rise.
Chief Minister Patnaik took a good decision to provide rice to the poor families at Rs 2, he said.
Asked what would happen to the people who have not been provided the Below Poverty Line cards, Minister Naik said that very soon the cards would be provided to them.
Civil Supplies Officer Priya Nath Sethi, sarpanch of Deypur and panchayat samiti members were also present on the occasion

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Patnaik govt launches rice at Rs 2 per kg

Howrah News Service, 3rd August, 2008

In what appears to be a pre-poll sop to the poor of Orissa, the Naveen Patnaik government on Saturday launched rice at Rs 2 a kg scheme for the BPL families.
Around 55.79 lakh families living below poverty line will be covered under the scheme. Besides 5.40 lakh families living above poverty line in the backward region of Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput will also benefit from the programme. "Rs 2 a kg rice is the most important programme of our government," said chief minister Naveen Patnaik, while inaugurating the scheme here.
The launch of the much-trumpeted scheme was deferred by a day as the solar eclipse, considered inauspicious, fell on Friday.

Rice at two rupee per kg for the poor in Orissa, 2nd August, 2008

Bhubaneswar, Aug 2 (IANS) The Orissa government Saturday launched a food scheme for poor in the state who will get rice at a subsidised price of two rupees per kilogram. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a function here said his government was providing the rice to the poor at subsidised rates because of the recent hike in prices.
The price rise, Patnaik alleged, was the outcome of bad governance of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the centre.
His ministers and leaders of the ruling Biju Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party coalition launched the scheme in other parts of the state.
As per the scheme each family is entitled to get 25 kg of rice every month at the lower rate. The benefit was also extended to people living above the poverty line (APL) in Kalahandi, Koraput and Bolangir districts that often face famine.
The decision, the government said, will benefit at least 5.7 million people in the Below Poverty Line category and about 500,000 people in the APL category in these three districts.
The subsidised rice will be given on the 5th, 6th and 7th of every month and again on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of the month to those who have not been able to avail it on any of the first three dates.
The opposition Congress party has said the announcement was to woo voters.
“It is nothing but a gimmick because the state will go to poll next year,” state Congress president Jayadev Jena told IANS.