Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rs. 31,202.5614 crore released for 257Major & Medium Irrigation Projects

Press Information Bureau,31st December, 2008

257 major and medium irrigation projects have been included under AIBP since its inception till 15th December 2008 for which total central assistance in the form of Loan/Grant amounting to Rs. 31,202.5614 crore has been released. The grant released during 2008-09 is Rs. 4017.0004 crore so far. This also includes Central Assistance of Rs. 401.9 crore released to North Eastern States. Out of the 257 projects included so far under AIBP, a total of 100 projects have been completed till date. Of the ultimate irrigation potential of 109.21 lakh ha envisaged under AIBP assisted major and medium projects, irrigation potential created up to March 2008 is 49.32 lakh ha which is about 45% of the ultimate potential of these projects. During 2007-08, irrigation potential created under AIBP from major/medium/minor irrigation projects/schemes was 6.50 lakh ha against targeted potential of 15 lakh ha. 8999 Surface Water minor irrigation schemes were provided assistance under AIBP of which 5535 schemes have been completed till 15th December’08. The ultimate irrigation potential of minor irrigation schemes included in AIBP was 8.262 lakh ha of which irrigation potential of 3.158 lakh ha has been created up to March 2008. The performance of completion of projects under AIBP has been consistently improving during last several years. So far, 36 projects of the 65 projects of the Prime Minister’s Relief Package for agrarian distress districts in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala have been provided Central Assistance under AIBP. The grant released to PM Package projects during 2007-08 is Rs.1415.425 crore and for 2008-09, the grant released till 15th December 2008 is Rs.1163.926 crore. Under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), the Centre is providing central assistance to the irrigation projects as an incentive to the States for creating irrigation infrastructure in the country. The AIBP is also meeting the demands of the Bharat Nirman programme under which a major thrust is on irrigation. The projects included in the Prime Minister’s relief package for agrarian distressed districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra are also receiving financial assistance under the programme. The AIBP was conceived in the year 1996 in order to provide financial assistance to States to complete various ongoing irrigation projects in the country so that creation of envisaged irrigation potential of the project could be accelerated. The terms of the programme have been widened and liberalized over time. As on date, major, medium and Extension, Renovation and Modernization (ERM) projects are eligible for Central Assistance under AIBP. The surface water minor irrigation schemes of Special Category States as well as schemes in drought prone and tribal area in Non-Special Category States are also eligible for Central Assistance under AIBP. The Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) was launched during 1996-97 to give loan assistance to the states to help them complete some of the incomplete major/medium irrigation projects, which were in an advanced stage of completion and create additional irrigation potential in the country. The surface minor irrigation Schemes of North-Eastern states, Hilly States of Sikkim, Uttaranchal, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi (KBK) districts of Orissa have also been provided Central Loan Assistance (CLA) under this programme since 1999-2000. Grant component has been introduced in the programme from April 2004 like other Central sector schemes. As per the existing AIBP criteria effective from December 2006, grant equal to 25 per cent of the project cost for major and medium irrigation projects in non-special category states and 90 per cent grant of the project cost for major/medium/minor irrigation projects in special category states (including Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi districts of Orissa) are provided to the selected projects. The minor irrigation schemes of non-special category states falling in drought prone/tribal areas are treated at par with special category states and are released 90 per cent of the project cost. Major and medium projects providing irrigation benefits to drought prone/tribal/flood prone areas are eligible for upto 90 per cent of the project cost.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Demand for separate state advocated

The Statesman, Dec 30, 2008
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Dec. 29: The legal cell of the Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD) has urged the advocates of the western part of the state to demand for the establishment of a separate state and hence for a separate high court.
Addressing a Press meet, KKD president Mr Pramod Mishra said that the demand for a high court ‘anywhere in western Orissa’ is conceptually confusing and therefore the advocates should instead demand for a separate state.
“With the materialisation of a separate state in the western part of Orissa, a high court will automatically come up there, fulfilling the demand,” he said. Alleging that the state government is avoiding the decision to set up a high court in the western part of the state by not selecting a particular place for its establishment, Mr Mishra said that the formation of a separate state will solve the problem.
KKD general secretary Mr Baidyanath Mishra, legal cell convener Mr Jagannath Mund, district president Mr Gobinda Rath and professor Mr Gopabandhu Behera also spoke on the occasion.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bhawanipatna couple give shelter to 30 kids

Expressbuzz, Dec 29, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: With 31 children, Hemant Mund and his wife Sunanda Mishra are managing a big family. But except their daughter, the rest of the 30 children are adopted.

To bring up SC/ST kids in distress being his mission, Hemant started Bal Gopal Seva Niketan from their home in Irrigation Colony here in 2001. The children were picked up by him from inaccessible tribal villages of the district and taken as family members.

They get fatherly affection from Hemanta and motherly care from Sunanda. While Hemant is a high school teacher, his wife teaches in a primary school.

“Every child has a right to be blessed with childhood and it is the duty of the society to ensure that,” says Hemanta.

He says children are supposed to be incarnation of Bal Gopal (baby Krishna) and hence he named the home Bal Gopal Seva Niketan.

Emphasis is being laid on academic pursuit of the children and all are doing well in different schools. The couple are also taking special care to impart spiritual education to them. All the children have become experts in reciting Gita and Vedic hymns. They have slo displayed their skills in New Delhi, Mumbai, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar and won accolades.

Besides this ,they are also learning music and folk dances. For their all-round development, yoga and pranayam are also taught to them. They dine and sleep together with Hemant and call the couple father and mother.

Hemanta is meeting the expenses of the children from his own pocket.

However, he accepts ‘shramadan’ from dedicated souls who volunteer to teach the children and take care of their health. Now people from different areas and abroad are coming forward to sponsor the education of some children.

“My ambition to help the children overcome the odds and get their legitimate place in the society will be fulfilled with support from different quarters,” Hemanta exudes optimism.

Colleges in poverty belt

The Telegraph (Kolkata), Dec 29, 2008

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 28: The Orissa government has decided to set up engineering and agriculture colleges in Kalahandi — once known as a part of the poverty belt.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the secretariat.

The construction for both the proposed colleges would start from this fiscal and Rs 5 crore each would be released for preliminary work.

Naveen directed the officials to start the construction of the two schools expeditiously, apparently keeping in mind the coming general elections.

There are no government-run engineering and agriculture colleges in the economically backward region — giving the government a perfect opportunity to make its pre-poll move.

Both colleges are expected to be located at Bhawanipatna, the Kalahandi headquarters.

Approval of the All India Council for Technical Education has been accorded to the proposed engineering college that is to have 240 seats. Admission for the college will start from the coming academic session through the Joint Entrance Examination.

Similarly, the agriculture college would be the third one in the state after those in Bhubaneswar and Chiplima near Sambalpur.

The admission for the proposed 48-seat technical school is set to begin from the coming session, sources said.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Double bonaza for Kalahandi, Dec 27, 2008

Naveen Patnaik did a balancing act.

The Chief Minister decided to assuage the hurt feelings of the people of Kalahandi by announcing two professional colleges in the district.

Mr.Patnaik chairing the high level meeting here on 27 December announced to set up an engineering and a new agriculture college at Bhawanipatna.

People of Kalahandi were hurt due to the decision of the Chief Minister to set up Central University in Koraput instead of Kalahandi.

Sensing the popular demand for more educational facilities in the district, Mr.Patnaik declared that “there will be an agriculture and engineering college at Bhawanipatna”.

Funds will be located from Special Problem Fund (SPF) for both these institutions.

Both the colleges were provided Rs.5 crore each to take up preliminary works.

The engineering college will have 240 seats, where as the agriculture college will accommodate 48 students, revealed an official.

There are 63 engineering colleges, where as this will be the third agriculture college in the state, said he.

Two agriculture colleges exist at Bhubaneswar in Khurda district and Chiplima in Sambalpur district.

The College of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna will be under the Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT).

The Government Engineering College, Bhawanipatna will be constituent college of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT).

Chief Minister directed Ashok Dalwai, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Industries department to file application to AICTE for the engineering college before 31 December, so that the new institution will enroll students from the education year 2009-10.

Dr.Dalwai informed the meeting that he has already initiated the legwork for the new institution.

Mr.Patnaik also asked Dr.Arabinda Padhee, Director Agriculture to take up the matter with VC OUAT for facilitating the students to enroll them in 2009-10.

Dr.Padhee gave out details on the planning process on establishing the new institution.

Tarun Kanti Mishra, Development Commissioner who attended the meeting will co-ordinate the land alienation and construction work in a faster manner.

Ajit Kumar Tripathy, Chief Secretary, Satya Prakash Nanda, APC, Bijaya Kumar Patnaik, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Rabi Narayan Senapati, Principal Secretary Finance and other officials were present in the meeting.

Two technical colleges to come up in Kalahandi

Kalingatimes, 28th December, 2008

In an attempt to satisfy the people of Kalahandi district, the state government on Saturday decided to set up an engineering college and an agriculture college at Bhawanipatna town.
The decision was taken at a high level meeting that was chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Among others who attended the meeting were Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, Development Commissioner Tarun Kanti Mishra, and Director of Agriculture Arabinda Kumar Padhi.
As per the decision taken at the meeting, both colleges will commence their academic activity from the coming academic session.
The engineering college will have 240 seats and the agriculture college will have 48 seats.
The state government will give five crore rupees each to both the proposed colleges.
The Chief Minister has issued necessary directions to the authorities concerned to take immediate steps for establishment of both the colleges, according to an official release.

Naveen's pre-poll gift to Kalahandi, 28th December, 2008

The State Government has decided to open an engineering college and an agriculture college in Kalahandi district. This was decided at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here today. Naveen has directed the authorities concerned to start the construction of the two colleges immediately.
Work on the two colleges will start during the current financial year. A provision of Rs 5 cr each will be made for this. The engineering college will be established at Bhawanipatna with 240 seats. The seats will be filled up through joint entrance examination and admissions will start from the next academic year. The proposed college has got the approval of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The new agriculture college, with 48 seats, will function from the next academic year in the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) at Bhawanipatna. This will be the third agriculture college in the State after Bhubaneswar and Chiplima.
The Chief Minister said establishment of these two colleges in Kalahandi will help in the economic growth of the district. Among others, Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, Development Commissioner TK Mishra and senior officials attended the meeting.
Spokesperson of Kalahandi Central University Kriyanustan Committee Akshaya Kumar Nanda welcomed the decision and said in Bhawanipatna that the move will boost higher education in technical field in the district having no technical college.
However, the proposed two colleges are no alternative for Central university for which the people are fighting. Similarly, president of Sikshya Vikash Committee Gopabandhu Behera said setting up of a Central university is the prime demand of the people

Tech, Agri Colleges for Kalahandi, 28th December, 2008

Bhubaneswar (Orissa): Orissa Government on Saturday announced few packages for KBK districts of Kalahandi. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who chaired a high level meeting here, announced to set up engineering and a new agriculture college at Bhawanipatna. Funds will be located from Special Problem Fund (SPF) for both these institutions. Both the colleges were provided Rs.5 crore each to take up preliminary works. The engineering college will have 240 seats, where as the agriculture college will accommodate 48 students, revealed an official. There are 63 engineering colleges, where as this will be the third agriculture college in the state, said he. Two agriculture colleges exist at Bhubaneswar in Khurda district and Chiplima in Sambalpur district. The College of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna will be under the Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT). The Government Engineering College, Bhawanipatna will be constituent college of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT). Chief Minister directed Ashok Dalwai, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Industry’s department to file application to AICTE for the engineering college before 31 December, so that the new institution will enroll students from the education year 2009-10. Patnaik also asked Arabinda Padhi, Director Agriculture to take up the matter with VC OUAT for facilitating the students to enroll them in 2009-10. Tarun Kanti Mishra, Development Commissioner who attended the meeting will co-ordinate the land alienation and construction work in a faster manner.

Double bonanza: Kalahandi to get 2 professional colleges

The Pioneer, 28th December, 2008

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has decided to assuage the hurt feelings of the people of Kalahandi by announcing two professional colleges in the district. Chairing a high-level meeting here on Saturday, he announced to set up an engineering college and an agriculture college at Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters town. People of Kalahandi were hurt due to the earlier decision to set up a Central University in Koraput instead at Kalahandi. Sensing the popular demand for more educational facilities in Kalahandi, Patnaik decided to establish the two professional colleges at Bhawanipatna. Funds for the two institutions will be made available from the Special Problem Fund (SPF). Both the colleges will be provided Rs 5 crore each to undertake preliminary works. The engineering college would have 240 seats, while the agriculture college would accommodate 48 students, revealed an official. While there are 63 engineering colleges in the State, the new agriculture college would be the third one, said he. Two agriculture colleges exist at Bhubaneswar and Chiplima (Sambalpur district). The College of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna will be under the Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT). The Government Engineering College, Bhawanipatna will be a constituent of the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT). The Chief Minister directed Industries Secretary Ashok Dalwai to file an application to the AICTE for the engineering college before December 31 so that the new institution is able to enroll students from the education year 2009-10. Dalwai informed the meeting that he has already initiated the legwork for the new institution. Patnaik also asked Director of Agriculture Arabinda Padhee to take up the matter of facilitating students’ enrolment in the agriculture college in 2009-10 with the OUAT Vice-Chancellor. Development Commissioner Tarun Kanti Mishra will coordinate the land alienation and construction works in a faster manner.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

NROs seek varsity status for Bhawanipatna college

The Pioneer, Dec 27, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik generously awarding the Unitary University status to various educational institutions, non-resident Oriyas (NROs) demand similar upgradation of the Government Autonomous College at Bhawanipatna, the headquarters of Kalahandi district.

Prof Digambara Patra, a leading voice of NROs, has sent an e-mail to the Chief Minister urging him to declare the college a Unitary University.

Prof Patra has argued that a Unitary University provides many additional advantages to an autonomous college in introducing new courses depending on local needs at the graduate and postgraduate levels. This status helps improve substantially research activities and facilitates employment of permanent faculties who can support research and education in the long-term development of the institution. And most importantly, it ushers in more funds from the Government and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to improve infrastructure, teaching programmes and research facilities, said Prof Patra, who teaches in a top class university in Beirut.

He has welcomed the recent decision of the State Government to convert Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, and UCE Burla into Unitary Universities and the move to accord the same status to the Khallikote College, Berhampur.

Echoing Prof Patra’s views, another active NRO, Madhusmita Panda, has also justified the cause of the Bhawanipatna college. She pointed out that this college, being one of the prides of the KBK as well as western Orissa regions, has been catering to the need of higher learning for about last 50 years. It is enjoying the status of “College with Potential for Excellence” (CPE) since September 2004 being one among the first 47 colleges of the whole nation. It is among the first three colleges and the only one in the KBK region to receive the CPE honour.

The NROs argue that despite being located in an underdeveloped region, this college has established itself as one in maintaining high quality in education in this part of the State. Students of the college have been securing top ranks at the university level as well as the State level in various fields. On the other hand, there is no State University in Kalahandi or the KBK region to meet local requirements.

The Bhawanipatna college now has limited flexibility to introduce new courses. There is demand for courses like nursing, pharmacy, optometrist, agriculture, horticulture, banking and services, metal processing, information processing, computer science and medicine at the diploma, bachelor and postgraduate courses. This would serve greater purpose in the KBK region once the college receives the Unitary University status, the NROs further argue.

Friday, December 26, 2008

NROs demand more Unitary varsity, Dec 26, 2008

With Naveen Patnaik generously awarding Unitary University status to various educational institutions, Non Resident Oriyas(NRO)s have demanded equal status for the Government Autonomous College at Bhawanipatna.

When the elected representatives and political leaders have failed to raise the issue, NROs have taken up the job of impressing upon the Chief Minister on this issue.

Leading the lot Digambara Patra, a leading voice of NROs has sent e-mail to Mr.Patnaik urging him to declare the college a Unitary University.

Professor Patra has said that Unitary University provides many additional advantages to autonomous college to design/introduce new courses depending on local need in the graduate and post graduate level.

This status helps in to improve substantially research activities, to employ permanent faculties who can support in research and education in the long term development of the institution.

And most importantly ushers in more funds from the state and UGC to improve infrastructure, teaching programs, and research facilities, said Professor Patra, who teaches in a top class university in Beirut.

He has welcomed recent decision by the state Government to convert Ravenshaw College, UCE Burla and the move of the government Khallikote College the Unitary University status.

Echoing his views Madhusmita Panda, an active NRO has also justified the cause of the college for Unitary Univeristy.

She said that the Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna, being one of the prides of the KBK as well as Western Orissa regions, caters to the flame of learning since about last 50 years.

It is enjoying the status of “College with Potential for Excellence” (CPE) since September 2004 being one among the first 47 colleges of the whole nation.

It is among the first 3 colleges and only College in KBK region to receive CPE honor.

Despite being located in a backward and underdeveloped region, Government (Autonomous) College Bhawanipatna has established itself for maintaining high quality in education in this part of the state.

Students of this College have been securing top ranks at the University level as well as state level in various fields of education.
On the other hand, there is no state University in Kalahandi or KBK region to meet local requirements.

Being an autonomous college, Government Autonomous College, Bhawanipatna has limited flexibility to introduce new courses.

There is demand for courses on nursing, pharmacy, optometrist, agriculture, horticulture, banking and services, metal processing, information processing, computer science, medicine etc in the diploma, bachelor as well as postgraduate level course.

So this will serve greater purpose in KBK region once the college receives Unitary University status.

Scribe gets Bharat Darsan award

The Pioneer, Dec 26, 2008

Bhawanipatna: Young journalist Rajanikanta Mishra of an Oriya daily was conferred with the 2008 Bharat Darsan Award by Assembly Speaker Kishore Mohanty at the second annual function of Oriya daily Bharat Darsan at Sambalpur recently.

Govt assures to repair roads in Kalahandi within month

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

Senior lawyer and Bar Council member Daitary Pradhan called off his fast-unto-death on Tuesday following the assurance of the ADM Kalahandi that the roads would be repaired within a month.

The lawyers and Congress leaders had blocked the National Highway-201 from December 20 demanding repair of roads. Following the stir Pradhan and two Congress leaders were sent to jail on December 21 when they refused to go on bail. The lawyers of Kalahandi Bar Association had also boycotted the court on Tuesday following their arrests.

Reports said that the State Government has asked the authorities of National Highway Authority of India, Public Works and Rural Development Department to submit the total estimate of repairing the roads in the district. Besides, the Government has ordered the executive engineers of the concerned departments and district administration to repair roads within a month.

Meanwhile, Pradhan after his release from jail on Wednesday said to The Pioneer that if the Government fails in its assurance by January 26, he will call for a Kalahandi bandh on January 30.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Public outcry over poor NH

Expressbuzz, Dec 25, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Public resentment is brewing in Kalahandi over poor condition of roads particularly of NH and State Highways.
Peeved over the inaction of authorities, some youths led by social activist and advocate Daitari Pradhan started road blockade on NH-201 at Bhawanipatna on December 20. Demanding immediate steps to improve the condition of the road, the agitators alleged that the condition of the highway is deteriorating due to movement of overloaded multi-axle vehicles. They demanded that plying of multi-axle heavy vehicles be stopped on the road till it is paved. Later on the day, police arrested Pradhan and three others. The arrested persons refused to avail bail and were sent to jail custody. However, from the next day Pradhan resorted to a hunger strike inside the jail. Yesterday Kalahandi Bar Association expressing solidarity with Pradhan and demanding improvement of the road, boycotted courts and picketed the collectorate. Today Pradhan was released on bail.

No curb on Gyanendra's India visit: Nepalese govt

Times of India, 25th December, 2008

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said the government would not prevent former king Gyanendra from visiting India if he wanted to as
the former ruler was now a commoner who did not require any protocol or special measures. Suresh Prasad Pradhan, spokesman of the ministry, told TNN that if the former monarch was free to travel as he liked and had made no move to seek the approval of the ministry. The spokesperson’s comment came after media reports that Gyanendra, who had visited Orissa in 2003 as the all-powerful king of Nepal, now wanted to visit Kalahandi to attend a family wedding. The impoverished district, often called South Asia’s Kalahandi, will see a spectacular wedding in February as a daughter of the former royal family of Kalahandi marries into a former royal family of Bhopal. King Tribhuvan, Gyanendra’s grandfather, had two queens who bore him three sons and four daughters. One of them, Princess Bharati, married the former king of Mayurbhanj, Pradeep Chandra Bhanj Deo. One of their granddaughters, who is also Gyanendra’s cousin, is getting married in a bash to be held from Feb 28-March 1. Earlier this month, Gyanendra held a low-key meeting with the Indian ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, reportedly to sound him on the proposed trip. Though the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu remained evasive about the meeting, the cat was let out of the bag by prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who informed a group of Nepali journalists. There were unflattering media reports about the meeting with a leading Nepali daily reporting foreign minister Upendra Yadav as saying that the Indian envoy had breached diplomatic norms. The furore forced the ministry to issue a denial. It said Yadav had not made any such comment and was not aware of any meeting between the former king and Sood.

Kalahandi: Cursed with Industries...!!!, 25th December, 2008

"Kalahandi has got many declarations and promises. The land couldn’t see any change although 1000 crores of rupees have been poured into the State of Orissa in its name. Looking at the development during last years, former Agriculture Minister Chaturanan Mishra once questioned about where the money was spent and in whose pocket this huge money found its ultimate destination leaving Kalahandi as it is?."
Basudev Mahapatra : June 3, 2007

Kalahandi - the word itself brings in mind a state of drought, starvation death leding to incidents like Child Selling and such other frustrating features that have attracted PM Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia - currently UPA Chairman to Kalahandi. Kalahandi has heard many declarations and promises. The land couldn’t see any change although 1000 crores of rupees have been poured into the State of Orissa in its name. Looking at the development during last years, former Agriculture Minister Chaturanan Mishra had once raised a question about how the money were spent and where (in whose pocket) this huge money found their ultimate destination leaving Kalahandi as it is?
After long years of negligence by the administration and leadership, Kalahandi has been chosen by Naveen Pattnaik led Orissa Government as the safest ground for development game. The Sterlite Group is allotted with the Niyamgiri Hill range in Lanjigarh to start its Vedanta Alumina Refinery. The other corporate player BHP Billiton has also set its eyes on Kalahandi for a 1.5 MT alumina plant.
Niyamgiri hill range is home to Jarene community, a tribe with lots of similarities with the Dongria Kondhs. The community is one of the most distinctive primitive tribes living in 90 villages scattered across the hill range since many generations. These sons of the soil are now under tremendous pressure to vacate their homeland and all community cultural elements connected to their lifestyle. The only option open to them is to shift to the economy type industrial colonies. So, instead of being cheerful with the development initiatives lately taken by the government, these tribal folks living as a part of the serene natural surrounding are now aggrieved.
At such a point when Orissa government should adopt a sympathetic approach prefers to have a reactive stand towards the tribal agitators. As a practice, State police has always been harassing the tribal people who oppose anti-people industrialization on their land. Many are arrested in false accusation; police and followers of ruling political parties have beaten up many tribal agitators on many occasions to safe guard the interests of Sterlite.
Kalahandi district, undivided, is very well known as the hot pot of Orissa where atmospheric temperature crosses 50 Degree Celsius during usual summer. Social activists and environmentalists claim large-scale deforestation to be the major factor behind this. Further deforestation in the name of industrialization will, no doubt, lead Kalahandi to further burning, ecological devastation and death of people due to high atmospheric temperature and heat wave.
Illegal deforestation by Sterlite for its Vedanta Alumina project has drawn attention of everyone including the Supreme Court of India that has expressed grave concern over such activities. But, ironically, Orissa government is least bothered about it.
Excited to set the Plant that would cause environmental disaster, Orissa Government is still overlooking the agricultural potential of Kalahandi and Nuapada (the new District after division of Kalahandi) districts, which would bring true development for people.
As ground water is available 4-5 feet below the surface and the plain is full of black cotton soil, farmers can be motivated to go for horticulture and alternate crop farming for more benefit at low investment. However, some social activists are doing a lot in this regard. Use of organic fertilizers like cow-dung and compost in farming is becoming popular in these districts after sincere efforts by Jagdish Pradhan, who is heading SVA or Sahabhagi Vikash Aviyan. As the crops grown with organic manures only have more nutritional value and a greater export potential, government and non-government agencies should promote this.
Frequent intervention by the NGOs has mobilized many farmers to opt for onion cultivation instead of usual paddy cultivation to fetch more profit. Involvement of farmers in onion cultivation and other cash crop farming like pulses, ground nut and vegetables is growing gradually which has minimized migration of people in many villages. “More than 400 people used to migrate from our village earlier. Now most of us are into vegetable and onion farming during the Ravi season. We are making a profit of 10,000 rupees in three months by investing 300 rupees only. So what is the need to migrate to distant places in search of jobs?” says Ravi Nag, an onion cultivator of Kotamal Village.
Instead of refineries by profit hankering MNCs, large number of agro-based industries should be planned in these districts to enable the farmer and the local youth earn a better livelihood. To facilitate agriculture and horticulture, extension of irrigation facilities across the plains of these districts should be the major focus of various government programmes.
If peoples’ development is the goal, large-scale mining and metallurgical plants can hardly serve as the effective means. The government, leaders and representatives at the grass-root level should work for people and come up with plans to provide employment opportunities to all. Instead of industries leading to large-sale displacement, Agriculture and local resource-based industries would be the best preference in this regard.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bar Council member, Cong leaders held in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, 23rd December, 2008

State Bar Council member Daitary Pradhan along with two Congress leaders, Rajkishore Majhi and Chandra Naik, were arrested here for blocking National Highway-201 near Sadar Police Station demanding renovation of all the main roads in Kalahandi. They were arrested under Sections 143, 283, 149 and 34 of the IPC.It is to be noted that on November 1, the district administration assured the senior lawyer-cum-State Bar Council member Daitary Pradhan to repair the potholes on the roads within a month. But as no step has been taken in this regard, Pradhan was compelled to block the heavy-loaded vehicles, which go to industries, and all the vehicles of the MLAs and MPs by staging dharna on Saturday for indefinite period. He had invited all the senior citizens, political leaders, students and public to join the stir. Some Congress members joined with the lawyers during the stir. The agitation was also supported by the BJP and the BJD members. Talking to The Pioneer, Pradhan accused the indifferent attitude of the ruling and Opposition leaders towards the damaged roads. According to him, the nexus between the Ministers, engineers and contractors are the reason behind the deteriorated conditions of roads, which needs peoples’ voice for improvement. The heavy-loaded trucks are damaging the roads by making these pothole-ridden, he said, adding the small bridges on the roads from Kesinga to Bhawanipatna have completely been damaged. He rued the ban of transportation of heavy vehicles on October 17 by Kalahandi Collector R Santhagopalan was withdrawn after some days due to Government pressure.The arrested people were allowed to go on PR bond, but they refused it. On Sunday, they were forwarded to the court and then sent to jail. Pradhan said he would resort to fast-unto-death inside the jail till the Government does not assure him to fulfil his demands.

Monday, December 22, 2008

RSB Metaltech plans Rs 6800cr project

Business Standard, Dec 22, 2008

RSB Metaltech Private Ltd., a leading automotive component and system manufacturer, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Orissa government for setting up a greenfield integrated aluminium project in the state.

The project encompasses 0.7 million tonne per annum (MTPA) alumina refinery, 0.2 mtpa special grade alumina plant, 0.175 mtpa aluminium smelter, 450 Mw captive power plant (CPP) and 0.09 mtpa downstream facilities. The downstream facilities will include aluminium die casting, extrusion, rolling and forging. The combined investment for all these projects is estimated at Rs 6800 crore in the first phase.

Ashok Dalwai, secretary, steel and mines department, Orissa government and S K Behera, managing director, RSB Metaltech signed the documents in the presence of the chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the state secretariat.

The land requirement for the downstream industries, smelter and CPP is about 4000 acres and the company will require about 1500 to 2000 acres for the alumina refinery in Raygada.

The project will be implemented over a period of 5 years and is proposed to be financed through a mix of 40 percent equity and 60 percent debt. RSB is hopeful of achieving financial closure in next 15 to 18 months. Interestingly, this will be the first end to end project in the state based on aluminium.

R K Behera, chairman, RSB Metaltech said, the auto component manufacturing complex at Mania in Cuttack district was originally planned for manufacturing forged and cast components. It is being expanded to take up manufacturing of construction equipment aggregates for exports to Terex, Europe.

The first phase of the project will be completed within 24 months from the date of signing the MoU and the company will take care of environment, set up technical institutions and will develop integrated housing project. This project will generate direct employment for 11,000 persons and indirectly employ another 11,000 persons.

Speaking on the occasion the chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, “The upcoming port at Gopalpur and RSB alumina refinery at Raygada will together strengthen the industrial corridor in the southern parts of Orissa. This will further get integrated with the alumina hinterland in Kalahandi, Koraput and Raygada district.”

Staff crunch hits sanitation work

Expressbuzz. Dec 22, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Sanitation has taken a backseat in areas under Bhawanipatna municipality due to acute staff crunch. The existing staff strength is grossly inadequate to manage roads measuring 233 km and drains measuring 220 km in the town inhabited by one lakh people.

At present, the Municipality is having 55 regular and 19 DLR scavenger staff apart from 22 temporary staff against the requirement of 292 employees. To add to the woes, the temporary staff are set to be retrenched in January as per a government order.

While about 70 percent of the posts are lying vacant and fresh recruitment has been stalled due to a ban imposed by Urban Development Department.

Out of 20 wards in the municipality, sanitation work has been privatised in six wards for which an agreement has been inked with Sulabh International. For the purpose Rs 1.8 lakh is being paid to the agency per month. However, there is hardly any improvement in the state of affairs after outsourcing of sanitation works. Non-monitoring by the municipality authorities has made the matter even worse. As a result, heaps of garbage are lying on roadsides and drains chocked. Repeated reminders by residents have gone unheeded.

The state of affairs is equally poor in 14 other wards where the sanitation work is being managed directly by the municipality. Particularly the banks of water bodies like Purusottam Sagar, Nuabandh and Asha Sagar are littered with garbage. In the absence of a dumping yard, the garbage collected from the town are also dumped along the Bhawanipatna-Raipur road polluting the environs.

Instead of taking measures to improve the situation in the six wards where sanitation has been privatised, the municipality is now planning to outsource sanitation in five other wards with a monthly payment of Rs 1.2 lakh

CM gives nod to engineering college in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Dec 22, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Finally, the KBK region will have a Government-sponsored engineering college, which will be established at Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters town of Kalahandi. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given the green signal to this effect.

The Industries Department has moved the files so that the institution receives approval of the AICTE. The authorities are planning to enroll students for the session of 2009-10 in four streams after the AICTE’s approval is available.

The Kalahandi Collector has been asked to locate 30 acres of land near Bhawanipatna. At least 10 acres of land is required for an engineering college, but keeping its future expansion in mind, the Government has asked the Collector to do the needful.

The Chief Minister has asked the Finance Department to provide Rs 4 crore for the college from the Orissa Contingency Fund (OCF). Recently, the OCF has been allowed to enlarge its kitty to Rs 400 crore.

The State now has 63 engineering colleges, mostly private, including two in the KBK area. As many as 34 of these colleges are located in Khurda district that includes the capital city of Bhubaneswar.

There are no Government engineering colleges in KBK. The Kalahandi college will be a constituent of the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kalahandi engg college offing, 21st December, 2008

Finally KBK region will have a Government sponsored engineering college. And this will be established here in the district Headquarters of Kalahandi. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given green signal to this effect. The Industries department has moved the files so that the institution receives approval of AICTE. The authorities are eying to enroll students in 2009-10 in four streams, once the AICTE approval is availed. The Collector has been asked to locate 30 acres of land near Bhawanipatna. At least 10 acres of land is required for an engineering college but keeping in future expansion, the State Government has asked the Collector Kalahandi to do the needful. Chief Minister has asked the Finance department to provide Rs.4 crore from the Orissa Contingency Fund (OCF). Recently the OCF has been allowed to enlarge its kitty to Rs.400 crore. There are 63 engineering colleges in the state and 2 in KBK. Most of the engineering colleges are in Khurda district, which houses 34. There are no government engineering colleges in KBK and keeping this in view the Chief Minister has approved the Kalahandi Engineering College in this part of KBK, said an official. This engineering college will be constituent college of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT).

2008 flood : Govt turns the tide on Centre

Expressbuzz, 21st December, 2008

Strongly rebutting the Opposition charge that the unprecedented flood in 2008 was man-made, Urban Development Minister KV Singhdeo asserted that there was no violation of rule curve of the Hirakud reservoir.
Replying to the debate on the flood situation, the Minister said that as per the rule curve, the minimum and maximum water level in the reservoir on September 1 should be 619 ft and 127 ft respectively. The level in the reservoir was 624.81 ft on that day, he said.
The Minister observed that pre-depletion of water from the reservoir would have been irrational and affected power generation and irrigation. Stating that a number of steps have been initiated by the State Government to check floods, he said 29 dams have been proposed on the tributaries and downstream of the Mahanadi while six dams will be constructed upstream.
The Opposition, however, walked out dissatisfied with the reply of the Minister.
Criticising the double standard of the Centre in releasing flood assistance for the State, the Minister said that the then home minister Shivraj Patil announced Rs 500 crore for relief and reconstruction after making an aerial of the flood affected areas. However, only Rs 98 cr has been released.
But in the case of Bihar and Assam, the Centre promptly released Rs 1,000 cr and Rs 300 cr. In 2007, no assistance was provided by the Centre while in 2006 only Rs 25 cr was provided even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced assistance of Rs 200 cr. He announced that Central team led by O. Ravi, joint secretary in the Ministry of Home would visit the State shortly to take stock of the damage due to the flood.
However, criticising the State Government for its inept handling of the flood situation, deputy leader of Congress Legislature Party Narasingh Mishra demanded a Vigilance inquiry into the mishandling of funds meant for flood.
Referring to the State Government demand for more flood assistance money, Mishra said it is not able to spend the existing fund of CRF. Alleging that the Government has neglected Western Orissa districts which also had flood, he wanted to know the funds released for Boudh, Sonepur, Balangir, Kalahandi and Bargarh districts.
Mishra alleged that at many places flood protection embankments were washed away because of sub-standard work.
Addressing mediapersons, Leader of Opposition JB Patnaik said that the Minister did not mention anything on flood protection measures in Baitarani, Ib and Subarnarekha rivers. He observed that the Government’s allegation that the Centre discriminated against Orissa is politically motivated.

Commission points at Maoist links with drug mafias

The Statesman, 21st December, 2008

The frontal organisations of the Maoists support extensive cultivation of ganja in remote inaccessible hilly terrains of the state while the illegal drug trafficking is to some extent patronised by a few politicians, according to the report of a commission of inquiry instituted by the state government.Though materials available to the Justice PK Mohanty Commission of Inquiry on activities and operation of drug mafias since 2000-02, shows that there are large scale drug trafficking in Orissa, there was no clinching material to conclusively establish the involvement of any external agency or people in position.The report of the commission placed in the Assembly today does note that illicit drug trade is flourishing day by day and it almost goes unabated in the absence of effective trained personnel, efficient and well equipped government machinery.The commission report refers to top cop Mr Amarananda Pattnaik’s probe on drug mafias in the state. The senior IPS officer had provided a vivid view of the transaction of narcotic drugs and the transport routes as well as the Maoist link.Ganja is cultivated with active support and backing by frontal outfits of Peoples War in Gajapati district.Apana Naidu, a native of Andhra Pradesh is said to be the kingpin in transport of ganja. FM Patel of Bargarh district who had been booked earlier had given up the clandestine business and joined a political party while some of his associates are still in the business noted the report.The illegal ganja is transported from Chitrakonda-Gobindpali-Ramgiri to Raipur in Chhatisgarh. The second route for such consignments is via Kalimela-Malkangiri-Jeypore, Kalahandi, Bargarh to Raipur of Chhatisgarh while the third route is from Koraput to Bhawanipatna to Bargarh.The probe revealed that Azad Parvez, an alleged drug lord who has been arrested used to donate money to political parties during elections but there was no material evident to corroborate this.The commission recommended gearing up of local enforcement agencies, proper training, periodical coordination meetings between enforcement agencies including the Narcotic Control Bureau, separate police units, special public prosecutors for NDPS cases and that a state Narcotic Control Cell should be set up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Santa delivers complaint against mining in Niyamgiri

Kalingatimes, 20th December, 2008

Santa Claus on Friday made a special delivery to the Mayfair home of Anil Agarwal, the billionaire chairman of UK mining giant Vedanta Resources, according to a press release issued by Survival International.
Agarwal received a gift-wrapped copy of a complaint to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), submitted by Survival, slamming his company's plans to mine Niyamgiri hills in Odisha that was home to the Dongria Kondh tribals.
“Vedanta plans to turn the Dongria Kondh's sacred mountain into a vast open cast bauxite mine, which will destroy a swathe of untouched forest and pollute rivers and streams crucial to their survival. The tribe has never been consulted about the mine,” Survival International said.
The 8,000 Dongria Kondh, one of India 's most isolated tribes, vehemently oppose the mine, saying it will end their way of life forever. One Kondh elder said, 'We cannot live without our land. How can a fish live without water?'
Hundreds of other Kondh people have already been displaced to make way for the alumina refinery that Vedanta Aluminium has built to process bauxite ore at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
The OECD provides a set of basic standards for good corporate behaviour to UK-based companies.
“The only Christmas present the Dongria Kondhs want is for Vedanta to abandon its plans. They are in no doubt that the mine will destroy them,” Survival's director Stephen Corry said.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Concern over procurement of paddy in district

The Statesman, Dec 19, 2008
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Dec. 18: The alleged failure of state agencies to achieve the targetted amount of paddy procurement, is raising concerns among the district administration and is reportedly leading to distress sales among farmers.
In an emergency review meeting held here recently, the collector of Kalahandi Mr R Santh Gopalan expressed his displeasure over the performance of several state agencies. The collector cautioned the agencies particularly the Food Corporation of India (FCI) that action will be taken against them if they do not speed-up the procurement.
The targetted amount of procurement for the current year in the district is 2.60 lakh MT of rice which corresponds to 3.83 lakh MT of paddy. The Orissa State Civil Supply Corporation (OSCSC), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), Primary Agriculture Societies, FCI, National Collateral Management Services Limited (NCMSL), Markfed and NBFC started the procurement on 5 November. However, only 42 per cent of the targetted paddy procurement has been achieved so far.
According to official reviews the FCI has procured only 0.55 per cent of its target so far. Although it was allocated to procure 88,235 MT of paddy it has procured only 489 MT. Similarly Markfed has procured 12.14 per cent of its target while NAFED has procured 26.78 per cent of its target.
On the other hand OSCSC has already achieved 97 per cent of its target. As against target given to OSCSC to procure 1,32,352 MT of paddy it has already procured 1,28,388 MT.
During the meeting it was decided that procurement will be concentrated in 53 Regulated Market Committee (RMC) yards. It was also decided that the performance of custom millers attached to different procurement agencies will be judges and good performance will be felicitated.
Meanwhile farmers in the district opine that if some agencies are unable to meet the procurement targets the administration should engage other agencies for the work.

Mica reserves found in 5 districts

Business Standard, 19th December, 2008

Scanty and scattered reserves of mica have been traced in five districts of Orissa like Kalahandi, Koraput, Phulbani, Bolangir and Sundergarh.
Though the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has traced some scattered reserves of mica in these districts, detailed investigations are yet to be taken to assess the actual reserves in these areas, the steel and mines minister Pradeep Amat said.
He said, only two leases were granted for mining mica in two locations namely Sandubuli and Haradali in Koraput district. While the lease for Sandubuli mica mines remained in force from March 1981 to March 2001, the lease for Haradali mica mines was in force from August 1986 to August 2006.
Regarding the reserves of other minerals in the state, the minister said, as per the information made available by the directorate of geology, the state has a total reserve of 5371 million tonne of iron ore, 121 million tonne of manganese and 1798 million tonne of bauxite.
While the reserves of iron ore in the freehold areas in the districts of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh and Jajpur was estimated at 1164 million tonne, reserves in the retrieved areas in Keonjhar and Sundergarh district was estimated at 197 million tonne. About 277.837 hectares have been reserved in Thakurani-A iron ore block in Keonjhar district for the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), the Central public sector undertaking (CPSU).
Similarly, Malangtoli area having a reserve of 434 million tonne has been earmarked for the proposed joint venture (JV) of Orissa Mining Development Corporation (OMC) with Rio Tinto Mineral Development and National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). Besides, the areas, for which mining lease has been granted but not executed till date, is estimated to have a reserve of about 428 million tonne.
The reserves in the leasehold areas is about 3065 million tonne, taking the total known iron ore reserves in Orissa to 5371 million tonne. Similarly, manganese reserves in the freehold areas in the Raygada, Bolangir and Sundergarh district were estimated at 31.30 million tonne. The reserves in the leasehold areas were estimated at 89.7 million tonnes, taking the total to 121 million tonne.
Regarding the bauxite reserves, the minister said, the total bauxite reserves in the freehold areas in the districts of Koraput, Raygada, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Keonjhar district were estimated at 1033 million tonne. Potangi bauxite mines which is reserved for Nalco, is estimated to have a reserve of 76 million tonne.
Besides, the reserves in the leasehold areas and the areas decided for grant of mining lease are estimated to have a bauxite reserve of 688.8 million tonne, taking the total known bauxite reserve in the state to 1798 million tonne, Amat said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Status of special category states under AIBP

Press Information Bereau, 17th December, 2008


North Eastern States, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir are classfied as special category states under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP). In addition, undivided Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi districts of Orissa are also treated at par with special category states under AIBP. The Government of India has made provisions in the AIBP guidelines amended in December 2006 in order to give a boost to irrigation development in the drought prone area of the country. In accordance with the existing guidelines, irrigation projects benefiting drought prone area are eligible for receiving 90% grant of the project cost which is at par with the special category states. Further, in normal cases, a new project could be included in AIBP only on completion of an ongoing project of the state under AIBP i.e. on one to one basis. However, the project benefiting drought prone area could be considered for inclusion in AIBP in relaxation to one to one criteria. This information was given by the Minister of State for Water Resources, Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav in response to a question by Shri Ramdas Agarwal in the Rajya Sabha today. SK/BS

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SIDBI to give Rs300cr to MFIs

Business Standard, 16th December, 2008

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is aiming a credit flow of around Rs 300 crore to the micro-finance institutions in Orissa by the end of 2010.
“SIDBI’s cumulative disbursement to the micro-finance institutions (MFIs) in Orissa has been Rs 250 crore so far and we are aiming at a disbursement figure of around Rs 300 crore by the end of 2010. Our outstanding loan amount currently stands at about Rs 100 crore and it is expected to reach Rs 120 crore by March next year”, said Kirpal Singh, general manager, SIDBI. SIDBI has also identified two MFIs in Kalahandi district-
Sangini and Maa Shakti Foundation and credit for these two institutions is expected to be sanctioned by March next year.
At present SIDBI is supporting 20 MFIs in Orissa. “SIDBI plans to enhance its presence in underserved regions for MFIs in the country and the bank intends to set up incubation centres for 50 new MFIs in the next two years.
Plans are also afoot to set up specialised branches of the bank for MFIs in seven locations of the country. Moreover, SIDBI’s thrust will be on equity or quasi equity funding and also syndication of loans for MFIs”, informed Singh.
He was speaking at the Orissa State Policy Conclave on Synergy between microfinance and livelihood organised here at the Xavier Institute of Management.
The conclave was jointly organised by the New Delhi-based Sa-Dhan, the association of community development finance institutions and Mission Shakti of the Orissa government.
Talking on the concerns of the MFIs in India, Sing said, “The MFIs in the country are by and large concentrated in the southern states with the eastern region showing trends of growth. The northern and western states as well as the North-Eastern region are underserved as far as MFIs are concerned.” Speaking on the occasion, RK Mukherjee, general manager, UCO bank and convener, State Level Bankers’ Committee said, “Among the 30 districts in Orissa, Anugul has achieved almost 100 per cent financial inclusion followed by Balasore at about 98 per cent. There are states like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh which have achieved 100 per cent financial inclusion.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rs 3 lakh stolen from bike in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Dec 14, 2008
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Despite notices displayed in all banks not to take cash in the motorcycle box, people still repeat the same mistakes and make the police busy to nab the thieves.

In an incident, Rs 3 lakh was stolen from a motorcycle box by some unidentified miscreants within a distance of 100 metre from Town police station here on Thursday.

The Forest Ranger of South Division, Junagarh, withdrew the money from the SBI branch here and went to a jewellery shop keeping his bike on the main roadside. Some miscreant broke the box and took the money, according to the Ranger. An FIR has been lodged with the Town PS and investigation is on.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

AIDS scare looms large

Expressbuzz, 14th December, 2008

With four districts categorised in A group and an equal number under scanner for high levels of migration and industrialisation, the scare of HIV/AIDS looms large over Orissa.
According to latest estimates, total number of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the State is 46,000.
However, the real threat is from the 11 districts which have been put in A and B categories including the four where migration and new industries have made the districts extremely vulnerable.
In a bid to tackle the menace, Orissa State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) is readying a plan to launch rigorous awareness campaigns through IEC in the 11 districts.
Currently, Ganjam, Angul, Balangir and Bhadrak are A category districts, while Kendrapara, Keonjhar, Kalahandi and Jharsuguda face a serious threat due to migration and industrialisation.
S ources in the OSACS said plans are afoot to launch what it calls ‘Intensive District Campaigns’ from January for three months. The campaign would include extensive multimedia shows.
‘‘In Ganjam alone - the most affected district - as many as 200 shows would be held. In all other districts, 100 shows each are planned,’’ sources said.
T he campaign is titled ‘Jeevan Zindabad’ and would include peer educators and PLHIs besides volunteers and Health officials.
The shows would travel to the interior parts of the districts where very little in terms of awareness has reached.
Hosts of IEC materials are being readied for this purpose by OSACS.
M eanwhile, a team from National AIDS Control Organisation is carrying out a review of the programme in the State at present.

Unaided colleges in KBK to get block grants

The Pioneer, 13th December, 2008

All the unaided colleges in the KBK districts would be given block grants, announced Higher Education Minister Samir Dey in the State Assembly on Friday.In response to a motion moved by Congress member Nimai Sarkar on providing grants to the colleges, Dey said those colleges which have not got a single pie would be included under the block grant scheme on a priority basis. “A notification to this effect would soon be issued this month,” he said, adding that no college exists in five blocks of Kalahandhi.He further said that steps are being taken by the SC and ST Development Department to open colleges in these blocks.Earlier participating in the discussion, members Brundaban Majhi, Joghendra Behera. Bir Sipka, Sananda Marandi, Parameswar Sethi, N Naryan Reddy, Draupadi Murmu and others urged the Government to provide block grants to all the unaided colleges of KBK., 13th December, 2008

SHRIYA MOHAN unveils the rationale behind the ancient method of shifting cultivation of the tribals

It feels strange to reach Palami. If you were to be transported there this instant, you would probably think you reached J.M Barrie’s ‘Neverland.’ You are surrounded by densely forested hills as exotic insects and birds battle for your attention. Then you breathe, and a rush of pure oxygen fills your lungs, making you almost dizzy with freshness. After a few initial moments of ‘environmental shock’, the first thing that catches your eye is the unmistaken poverty and hunger in the eyes of the on lookers.
Nobody has ever heard of Palami, a small village located in Kandhamal district of Western Orissa. The districts of Kandhamal and Kalahandi in Orissa are known as the worst poverty inflicted areas of the country, with a staggering 78% of the population living below the poverty line. Palami has a population of approximately 200 people (40 families), with an average population density of 10 people per square kilometre. The ‘Kandha tribes’, one of the sects of the Adivasis, form the majority of Kandhamal, and all of Palami.
Ever since India started getting conscious about forest conservation in the 1980’s, these tribes have been blamed for deforestation in the surrounding jungles. They have faced the wrath of the government, forest conservation bodies and society at large; they have been maligned and termed forest destroyers by the state machinery. The 8th grade Geography NCERT textbook mentions shifting agriculture in page 43 in the chapter on agriculture:
Shifting cultivation is practiced in the thickly forested areas of Amazon basin, tropical Africa, parts of Southeast Asia and Northeast India. These are the areas of heavy rainfall and quick regeneration of vegetation. A plot of land is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. The ashes are then mixed with the soil and crops like maize, yam, potatoes and cassava are grown. After the soil loses its fertility, the land is abandoned and the cultivator moves to a new plot. Shifting cultivation is also known as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
And every 8th grader is expected to know the answer to the question “What are the disadvantages of Shifting Agriculture?” without knowing that “Shifting cultivation” was not meant to be destructive in the least.
An interesting study on the Adivasis found at the centre for education and documentation ( reads as follows:Adivasis have been very much credited for conserving forests is an established fact in most parts of the country. Hunting and food gathering by Adivasis has been governed by certain rules of conservation. For instance Pregnant or nursing animals cannot be hunted, plucking fruit from trees is restricted and only picking them off the ground is allowed in some cases etc. However in some cases Adivasis have been responsible for cutting trees but this has been due to sheer penury and starvation. Even in shifting agriculture the earlier forest, which was slashed and burnt, regenerates itself. In previous times Adivasis used to return to the used up forest land after a gap of 30 years thereby allowing the forest in the area to become rich in nutrients. Further, it has been noticed and even proved in numerous cases that it is the Indian forest machinery, which has been responsible for destroying forests rather than the Adivasis. Indian society has put undue faith in the bureaucratic machinery to protect forests, and not involving the Adivasis officially (repeat officially, because unofficially they are anyway involved in protecting the ecosystem).
Ashok Behra, forest ranger of Belgaur, a small town in Kandhamal, says the Adivasis are a nomadic community and so burn patches of the forests to grow crops. “They don’t understand the value of the forests. We try to explain to this to them but they have been doing this for generations, and now it’s difficult to make them stop,” he says.
Lakshmi, a key Siali leaf plate seller (Women make leaf plates using Siali leaves that grow in the forests) in Berhampur, agrees, saying the Siali produce has reduced greatly. “Earlier, the forests were saturated with Siali creepers. The Adivasis burn forests and the creeper cannot grow without the support of trees. By burning, they not only destroy the Siali, but make it impossible for it to grow in those areas again,” she says.
According to 'State of Forest Report-2005', released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests on February 13, India has lost 728 sq km of forest cover since 2003. Director General of the Forest Survey of India, Devendra Pandey blamed the continuing practice of shifting cultivation in the northeast, natural disasters like the December 2002 tsunami that destroyed large tracts of forests in the Andamans, and forest fires for losses in forest cover.
The northeastern states have a quarter of the country's forests though they constitute less than 7% of India 's geographical area. The country's 188 districts with tribal majorities too have done better, with 36.81% of the areas under forest cover. These districts account for around 60% of India 's forests. Still, tribal areas lost 635 sq km of forests. Nagaland and Manipur saw the maximum loss in forest cover; these hill areas lost 255 sq km mainly due to shifting cultivation. [Indian express, Feb 14th 2008]
But the fact is that the Adivasis are entirely dependant on forest resources. Palami resident Ranga Mallick says they depend on the forest for everything: sal wood and seeds, amla, harida, bahada, dhoop, bhimbread, shikakai, mahua flowers and their seeds, pathaal garud, honey, til, turmeric, mustard and siali leaves. From building thatched roofs for their houses to meeting their entire food needs and, hopefully, to give them a little extra produce to barter for necessities they cannot cultivate - the Palami families have been living this way for generations.
So why fell trees? Mullick points out that they had no land to grow crops, because it was completely covered by forests. When they tried to cultivate the small patches of non-forest land that existed, either their crops wouldn’t flourish because the soil lacked nutrients (or they would have been wooded too) or because animals from the forest destroyed their crops.
The fact that there is very little land around is eminently visible—the forest starts within a few hundred metres. One can see the patches of cleared forest that have various crops – black dal, paddy, green gram,etc. Of these crops, black dal is the most important, because it fetches the highest price: Rs 30 per kg. “By selling Siali leaf plates and a bit of our produce, each family earns around 100 rupees a month. We use it to buy extra rice and oil. We try to grow everything else,” says Ashok, A palami resident.Why can’t they grow black dal without clearing forests? Or grow cash crops? What’s the real reason behind their reluctance to cultivate on non-forest land? Ranga responds with several reasons: for one, there’s no irrigation facility, no well. Second, there’s never been electricity, so no motorised pump. Finally, they have no money to buy fertilizers. “We are barely surviving. Cultivating in the forest is easy because it requires no fertilizers and no water. The soil is rich and it rains on time.”
Is it surprising then, that when NGOs come calling, trying to teach them to conserve forests, these tribals listen, but remain fundamentally unconvinced? PRADAN, a Delhi based NGO working on rural livelihood initiatives, has recently taken Palami as a project intervention area. “We started an initiative called the forest conservation society a year ago in Palami. We try to make the Adivasis understand why the burning of forests is disastrous for the environment and eventually for their own livelihood. They depend 100 percent on the forest to fulfil most of their survival needs. By burning forests, they are depleting resources for themselves,” says Satish an executive with PRADAN.
Coaxed by PRADAN, these tribals have formed a forest conservation society, vowing not to destroy any more forests, but their problems remain unresolved. “We are both happy and sad about this committee. Happy, because the forest is within reach now and will always be. And sad because these grains and grams are so important to us, and we just cannot grow enough of it. Our families are growing, and so is our food requirement”, says the newly appointed society’s president, Shiva.
The real problem has, however, not been addressed: these tribes are disconnected in every sense from society. They live in total seclusion, in absolute poverty, with no electricity, no water system, no irrigation and no cultivable land. No development reaches them; neither do they have access to any NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme). Neither do they have their BPL (Below poverty line) or ration cards. They live without an identity, in the long shadow cast by social ignorance and government apathy.
And it is these marginalised people that society wants to place in the vanguard of conservation The Adivasis are not people who do not value forests: in fact, they know their value better than anyone else, because their survival depends on them. If the government and civil society wants to conserve forests, they need to work together to provide water supply, irrigation facilities and fertiliser subsidies to these tribes. A forest conservation society with a board of clueless, unconvinced, directors is hardly a solution.

Friday, December 12, 2008

State Governments to open State Monitoring Cell for Implementing MI Projects

Press Information Bureau, 11 th Dec, 2008

Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) was launched by Government during 1996-97 to provide Central Loan Assistance (CLA) to the States to expedite completion of Surface Major and Medium Irrigation projects. Since 1999-2000, its scope was extended to include Surface Minor Irrigation (MI) Schemes in special category states i.e. North-Eastern States, Hilly States, namely Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttrakhand and Koraput, Bolangir & Kalahandi (KBK) districts of Orissa. Under this Programme, the Surface MI schemes having potential of at least 20 ha. or group of schemes within an radius of 5 km with irrigation potential of 50 ha. or eligible for funding. From April 2005, CLA was extended to include non-special category states also for development of surface MI Scheme with potential more than 50 ha. serving drought prone and tribal areas. From December 2006 CLA is provided in the form of grant, which is 90% of the total cost of the project. Since inception of AIBP for minor projects 8791 MI schemes with a combined total estimated cost of Rs. 5032.63 crore have been taken up in the states upto September 2008, of which 5517 MI Schemes have been completed. An irrigation potential of 2.92 lakh ha. has been achieved against a total financial assistance (Loan/grants) of Rs.2707.37 crore released by Government of India upto September 2008. A study on AIBP has been carried out by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on some of the North-Eastern regions. The noticeable findings are irrigation coverage increased, cropping pattern changed, multi-cropping introduced, irrigation benefits have flown to far-flung areas, improvement in socio-economic condition, decrease in Jhum cultivation day by day and adoption of wet cultivation by farmers. Besides, farmers have developed confidence regarding availability of assured irrigation and going for right crops. Central Water Commission (CWC) monitors major and medium irrigation projects under AIBP by making field visits to each of the AIBP Projects. MI projects being large in numbers are required to be monitored by the State Governments implementing this project. CWC is only monitoring MI projects on sample basis. The State Governments implementing MI projects have been requested to open the “State Monitoring Cell” to make the field visits and review the performance of AIBP schemes on regular basis. The Ministry of Water Resources had requested to concerned State Governments to furnish highlights of MI development under AIBP in their States. In response to Centre’s request, five States namely Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Uttrakhand have already sent the required information along with the necessary inputs. The reports on highlights of MI development in these States have been prepared and circulated to Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and concerned State Governments. The required information of MI Schemes funded under AIBP in the States namely Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Orissa (KBK districts) have been collected and a report on highlights on MI development in these States have been prepared for circulation. The similar report from the remaining States implementing MI Schemes under AIBP is also being prepared after collecting the data/information from these States.

Kalahandi contractors allege e-tendering irregularity

The Pioneer, Dec 12, 2008

PNS | Bhawanipatna
Even as the Government has started e-procurement in the tender filing systems, in which a contractor or a firm can submit the bid through online, chances of irregularities are still prevalent on the part of the Government officials. The recent instance has come to the fore after a high level enquiry in the e-tendering of crores of rupees funded by Asian Development Bank for road constructions.

The Contractors of Kalahandi district have written an objection letter on Wednesday to the Superintending Engineer, Rural Works Circle, Bhawanipatna demanding disqualification of the tender issued to Atharba Infrastructure.

The firm has not produced its PAN card and details of Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) to the bidder during e-procurement of the tender, the contractors alleged. Though the last date of receiving the application was December 4 by 3 pm, the firm has applied on December 5, they alleged further.

They demanded a thorough scrutiny of the irregularity made in the process of tendering.

When contacted, superintending engineer of Bhawanipatna Rural Works Circle said necessary procedures have been followed by him and the contractors' allegation has been forwarded to the chief engineer in Bhubaneswar.

The contractors have also submitted copies of their objection letter to the Chief Minister, the Secretary of Rural Works Department, the Chief Engineer and the Vigilance Cell in Cuttack.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arrest of Kandhamal book author sparks protests, 10th Dec, 2008

Bhubaneswar: Rights activists, authors and others have come together in Orissa to oppose the arrest of a journalist for writing a book on violence in Kandhamal that police say is provocative and intended to disturb communal harmony.
Lenin, the editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, was arrested on Monday for his book "Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya" (Flood of blood in Kandhamal in the name of religion). Two others who helped him to print and circulate the book are also under arrest and jailed in Bhubaneswar after their bail pleas were rejected.
"Police have tortured my husband, violating all basic human rights," his wife Rumita Kundu said as protests were organised in Bhabanipatna town in Kalahandi district on Tuesday.

Prohibitory orders imposed in Kandhamal district

On Thursday, eminent citizens in the state capital are planning a protest outside the governor's residence Raj Bhavan.
"Everybody has the right to express his thoughts. It is an attempt by the government to suppress writers who have independent voices," eminent writer and columnist Bibhuti Patnaik said.
Added civil rights activist Sudhir Patnaik: "It is a move to curb free, frank and fearless speech of writers and journalists."

8 houses set on fire in Kandhamal

The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), journalist associations and writers associations across the state have also issued a statement condemning the arrest of Lenin.
Police has claimed it has seized at least 700 copies of the book from the printing press.
Kandhamal district, which is about 200 km, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on Augugust 23.
While the police blamed Maoists for the killings, some Hindu organisations held Christians responsible for the crime and launched attacks on the community.
Thousands of Christians were forced to flee from their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. About 8,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Health camp held

The Statesman, Dec 9, 2008

Statesman News Service
BHAWANIPATNA, Dec. 8: About 10,000 patients participated in the four-day mega health camp at Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district, which was jointly organised by the zilla swasthya samiti (ZSS) and Dharamgarh rogi kalyan samiti (RKS).
During the camp, different types of treatment like allopathic, homoeopathic, ayurvedic, Magnetic, acupressure and yogic were provided to the patients. On this occasion, tri-cycles, artificial limbs and hearing aids were also provided to the differently-able people.
Various organisations like Red Cross, district health department, Visakhapatnam-based Indus hospital, Burla-based VSS Medical College and Hospital, Chetana International, Gurukul of Amsena, Ayurvedic Anusthan, Marwadi Yuba Mancha, Lepra India and Vedanta extended helping hands.
Inaugurating the camp, Lok Sabha member Mr Bikram Keshari Deo, whose contribution from the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund was used for organising the camp, said that it is one of the first and foremost duty of the government to look after the health of the citizens. Unless doctors, as per requirement, are posted in interior backward districts like Kalahandi, the goal of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) can not be achieved, he noted, while lamenting that majority population of the district are deprived of minimum and quality health service for acute shortage of medical practitioners.
For all those, who can not afford to go to distant places for treatment, these sorts of health camp come as a solace, he pointed out. Attending the valedictory function as chief guest today, chairman of Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) Dr Niranjan Panda felicitated three noted medical experts ~ gynaecologist Dr Suresh Kumar, heart specialist Dr Kabi Prasad Mishra and surgical specialist Dr Dingar Meher.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Still no succour for Phanus Punjis

Expressbuzz, Dec 5, 2008

BALANGIR: In 1984, Phanus Punji sold her sister-in-law for Rs 40 and a saree.

In 1992, Nokila Suna sold her six-year-old son for Rs 100 and two saris. In 1996, Nora Gahir sold her six-year-old daughter for Rs 200 and a bag of grain. And the latest, in 2001, Shyamlal Tandi sold his three-year-old daughter Hema for Rs 5000.

These are the stories of child sale in western part of Orissa, particularly in undivided Balangir and Kalahandi districts still known as the ‘Ethiopia of India’. All of them, who sold their children, made headlines with politicians making a beeline for their houses.

Yet with passage of time there is hardly any improvement in their condition.

Nobody even remembers them.

Tandi of Kundaputla village under Bangomunda block in Balangir, who sold his daughter Hema to one Ramprasad Mangaraj when he could not look after her, is still reeling under abject poverty. A House committee had then visited the area after the news spread. Hema was swiftly restored to her family, but sadly she died in her home as she did not get the medical attention when she fell ill. Soon everybody forgot her parents. At present, two children of Tandi are being looked after by a teacher of the village. ‘‘Employment in the village is irregular. Most of the time we get to work only 10 days in a month,’’ said Hema’s mother Lalita.

Similarly, Phanus of Amlapali village sold Banita and came to limelight. Moved by her plight, even Rajiv Gandhi visited her. Now Phanus is running from pillar to post to get a house under Indira Awas Yojana.

Banita, who later married Bidyadhar Podh, a blind man, became mother of five. When some mediapersons came to meet her in Khatimunda, a hamlet in Balangir district, she wept inconsolably and said, ‘‘I too will sell my youngest child. I have no other option.

My husband is blind and I have to work alone to feed my husband and children.’’ The tale of other persons, who sold their wards, is hardly different. With no proper attention being paid except occasional visits by politicians, they are still fighting a grim battle against poverty.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

OMC-Vedanta JV agreement to be modified soon

Business Standard, Dec 4, 2008

The joint venture (JV) agreement signed between the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Vedanta group for mining of bauxite at Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi district will be modified soon.

The steel and mines department has sent the modified agreement to the law department for vetting and once cleared, it will be sent for the approval of the chief minister.

The modified agreement will be signed after the approval by the government, official sources said.

“The draft agreement has been sent to the law department for vetting and the modified agreement is likely to be signed soon”, a senior official of the state steel and mines department told Business Standard.

Vedanta Alumina Ltd. (VAL) had signed a joint venture agreement with OMC on 5 October 2004, for developing bauxite mines at the Niyamgiri Hill near Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district and the Khambasi hill in adjoining Rayagada district.

The bauxite was to be used in the company’s one-million-tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh. As per the agreement, VAL held 74 per cent stake in the joint venture with the rest 26 per cent vested with OMC. Vedanta Alumina, through its majority holding, was supposed to control and oversee the day-to-day operations of bauxite mining.

However, the Supreme Court, in its judgement on November 23, 2007, directed that since Vedanta Resources Plc is not an Indian company, OMC should better enter into a joint venture agreement with an Indian subsidiary of Vedanta. In pursuant to this direction, it was decided to replace Vedanta with Sterlite Industries India Ltd (SIIL) in the JV agreement with OMC.

Accordingly, SIIL, OMC and the Orissa government filed affidavits accepting the directive of the Supreme Court, which among other things related to formulation of a rehabilitation package, payment of Rs 55 crore for wildlife management plan and Rs 12.20 crore towards tribal development and establishment of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for peripheral development with annual contribution of Rs 10 crore or 5 per cent of the profit by SIIL.

After compliance of these conditions laid down by the Supreme Court, the court finally gave its approval for mining of bauxite by SIIL-OMC JV in Niyamgiri Hills on August 8, this year.

All provisions of the Supreme Court judgement have been incorporated in the modified agreement to be signed soon, sources added.

Meanwhile, the process for formation of the SPV by the Orissa government with OMC and SIIL as partners to take care of scheduled area development is on, says P. K Panda, vice-president (mines), Vedanta Aluminium Limited.

He said, the SPV will be chaired by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) of the Southern Division and will have collectors of Kalahandi and Raygada as members. SIIL will have 4 members in the SPV which among others will have Conservator of Forests (CoF), Bhawanipatna and one nominee from OMC as members.

It will look after the development of the scheduled areas in 50 kilometre radius and will work for the development of health, education and agriculture sector of the locality. The SPV will be incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956.

The accounts of the SPV will be prepared by the statutory auditors of OMC and will be audited by the Auditor General of Orissa every year. Besides, the SPV will be in control of the total mines management.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vedanta to open counselling, training centre for AIDS

The Pioneer, Dec 3, 2008

Vedanta Aluminium, Lanjigarh has become the first private-sector industrial house in the State to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Orissa State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) to combat HIV/AIDS. As per the MoU, the dispensary at the Vedanta Nagar Rehabilitation Colony at Niyamgiri will act as an Integrated Counselling and Training Centre (ICTC) under a public-private partnership arrangement between the company and the OSACS.

The ICTC will deliver quality counselling and testing support to those coming to the centre voluntarily, according to Chief Medical Officer, Vedanta Aluminium, Dr Sabita Swain. The OSACS will provide test kits for testing and training to doctors and paramedical staff for delivering counselling and testing services to all stakeholders as per guidelines of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

“This will set a new trend in Orissa’s fight against the global epidemic. The community members in our periphery, truckers and migrant workers shall be benefited by the ICTC,” said Vedanta Aluminium CEO Dr Mukesh Kumar.

16 die of AIDS, 92 HIV positive in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Nov 3, 2008

Bhawanipatna: In the current year, 92 persons have been found HIV positive by the blood samples taken whereas 16 persons died of AIDS in Kalahandi. On the World AIDS Day on Monday, Collector R Santhagopalan spoke about the disease at a meeting attended by representatives of NGOs and Anganwadi workers at Kalyan Mandap here. CDMO Sushil Kumar Rath said that from January blood samples of 4,985 persons in the district were collected for tests. In Dharmagarh block, 38 males and 17 females were found to be HIV positive, while eight, including a six-year-old child, died of AIDS.

Student ire over govt negligence

The Statesman, Dec 3, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA, Dec. 2: Protesting the alleged negligence meted out to the government autonomous college here, hundreds of students led by union president Mr Abinash Thakur resorted to agitation today. With the main demand of filling up the vacant posts of the teaching staff and slew of other demands, the students boycotted classes and picketed in front of the main gate.
The agitators alleged that against the sectioned 59 teaching staff posts in the degree college, there are only 32 leaving as many as 27 posts vacant. Similarly, in the junior college, there are 21 teaching staff members against a sanctioned strength of 26.
The students charged that despite large number of vacancies of teaching staff posts, the lecturers are transferred without any arrangement of substitutes.
They also demanded to issue library cards and make all necessary books available in the library. They also sought the revival of the defunct cooperative consumer store of the college, issue of bus connection in government and private buses and early release of post-matric scholarship for SC/ST students for the year 2006.
Later, they went in a procession and called on the collector airing their grievances. The collector was handed over a memorandum listing the charter of demands addressed to the state higher education minister.

Shortage of staff plagues govt college

The Statesman, Dec 3, 2008

Statesman News Service
BHAWANIPATNA, Dec 2: The development council of the Bhawanipatna Government College recently expressed deep concern over the acute shortage of staff in the college, its weak infrastructure and large scale encroachment of the college premises by outsiders.
The college, which was granted autonomous status by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2002, and is also dubbed as having "potential for excellence", functions with only 32 teaching staff for the degree classes as against the sanctioned strength of 59. Similarly in the junior college section out of the sanctioned 26 posts, only 21 have been filled up. Besides, out of 78 non-teaching staff posts, 28 are lying vacant. Out of the sanctioned 11 lab assistants' posts, eight are vacant. No store-keepers have been appointed as yet. The college has been functioning without a physical training instructor for the last 20 years.
The staff crunch is affecting the day-to-day functioning of the college particularly the science laboratories where many classes are reportedly kept suspended due to the staff shortage, it was decided at the special meeting to generate funds to bring in guest teachers to fill up the posts. But the fund constraints are turning out to be hurdles in bringing adequate number of guest teachers causing the teaching faculty here to be overburdened. Hence the development council has urged the government to appoint teaching staff as per the requirement of the college.
During the meeting discussions were held about the rampant encroachment of the college campus. Out of the 54 acres of land belonging to the college, more than three acres have reportedly been encroached by more than 120 families who have constructed dwelling houses on the college premises. This apart the sale and purchase of college land is reportedly continuing unabashed. Although the district administration attempted to evict the encroachers last year, the families have returned and occupied the land again. Incidentally, according to local residents the encroachers include 10 college employees.
Chairman of the council Prof. Gopabandhu Behera, principal of the college Dr GRG Rao, collector Kalahandi Mr R Santha Gopalan and Lok Sabha member Mr Bikram Keshari Deo attended the council meeting.

‘Migration pushing up number of AIDS cases’

Expressbuzz, Dec 2, 2008

BHAWANIPATNA: Increasing number of detection of HIV Positive cases in Kalahandi has raised concerns in different quarters. According to reports from ‘Voluntary Confidence Counselling and Testing Centre’ 170 postitve cases have been detected so far in the district resulting in 17 deaths.

This despite awareness campaigns and counseling sessions taken up by NGOs as well as Health department staff. The trend is attributed to migration of labour class and changing social values.

The participants were speaking at the district-level function on World AIDS Day organised by district Health Department and Nehru Yuva Kendra.

Chief District Medical Officer Dr. Susil Kumar Rath and Project Director Sarba Shikshya Abhiyan Dr. Nruparaj Sahu spoke.

AIDS awareness rally was taken out by Asha Karmis, ANM Nursing students and general students.

A camp was organised by Watershed Mission in Pokhrighat village and by NGO Antodaya at Junagarh.

OSCB fails to achieve crop loan target

Business Standard, 3rd December, 2008

The Orissa State Cooperative Bank (OSCB) has failed to achieve its crop loan target during the kharif-2008 in the state.
The OSCB through its 17 Central Cooperative Banks (CCB) provided only Rs 546.29 crore crop loan to 4,65,251 farmers during this period, which is about 46 percent of the target fixed by the government.
The state government had set a target to disburse Rs 1200 crore crop loan in the cooperative sector during the Kharif 2008. The kharif agricultural season ended on September 30 last. The disbursement of crop loan during the kharif 2008 was the lowest in the last five years by the bank, the sources said. In the last kharif season, the OSCB through its CCBs had provided about Rs 889.24 crore to 7, 20, 510 farmers. In the 2006-07 season, Rs 837.47 crore crop loan was provided to 7.30 lakh farmers, while in 2005-06, Rs 764.35 crore was disbursed to 7.51 lakh farmers.
The CCBs could not achieve the target to finance the crop loan during this year because the farmers were not coming forward to take loans due to the Central government's announcement of debt waiver and relief scheme, the sources said. It may be noted that the Short Term Cooperative Credit Structure (STCCS) provides around 65-70 percent of the total crop loan disbursed in the state.
Regional Rural Banks (RRB) and Commercial Banks also sanction crop loans to the farmers. Despite not being able to achieve the kharif 2008 loan target, the OSCB has fixed the rabi 2008-09 loan target at a higher side and asked the CCBs to achieve it. The rabi target is fixed at Rs 1454 crore, the sources said.
In the last kharif season, while the Central Cooperative Bank at Aska achieved only 12 percent of cent of the target and lent Rs 7.24 crore to 6318 farmers, Berhampur CCB achieved only 19 percent of its target by financing Rs 13.82 crore to 12,552 farmers.
Boudh, Sambalpur, Bhawanipatna and Mayurbhanj CCBs, however, have achieved over 70 percent of the target, the sources said. While Sambalpur CCB has provided about Rs 87.76 crore to 47,490 farmers, the Boudh and Bhawanipatna CCBs have provided Rs 19.36 crore and Rs 22.15 crore respectively during the last kharif season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

‘Maoist’ posters warn against Parivar in Orissa

Indian Express, Dec 1, 2008

Bhubaneswar: The Orissa police on Sunday lodged two different cases after unsigned printed posters threatening the BJP, VHP and RSS from going ahead with their proposed December 25 Orissa bandh were pasted around Bhubaneswar and a handwritten postcard was sent to former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das threatening him over his opposition to Vedanta Alumina. Both — the posters and the letter — were purportedly from the Maoists.

In Bhubaneswar, around half-a-dozen posters warning people against supporting the proposed December 25 Orissa bandh by the RSS, VHP and BJP were found plastered on public walls. Unlike the usual Maoist posters which carry some sign of the Maoist office-bearers, the posters that were discovered in Nayapalli were unsigned and warned people against joining groups that were allegedly involved in religious violence. The posters described the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal as rioters.

The police have registered a case and sent the posters for forensic examination.

However, Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police Himanshu Lal said the posters could be "pure mischief". "Prima facie it seems like that. But we are investigating it," he said.

In a separate incident, Congressman and former Union minister of state for railways, Bhakta Charan Das lodged an FIR with the Bhawanipatna police station after he received a postcard which threatened to send a bullet through his chest if he continued to oppose Vedanta Alumina.

Das, whose outfit Green Kalahandi is leading the Dongaria Kandh tribal agitation against the bauxite mining of Niyamgiri mountain in Kalahandi district, has planned a massive protest through human chain in the last week of December.

In the last three years, Das has staged 25 protests against Vedanta Alumina that is building the 1.4 million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh. The project, which was stuck in litigation in the Supreme Court, cleared all the hurdles in August after the apex court said the company can go ahead with mining of the mountain for bauxite.

The postcard purportedly from Maoists sent to Das at his Bhawanipatna residence in Kahandi district said they tried to contact him on November 18, but failed. "If you oppose Vedanta you would be hit by bullet in any rally you organise in future," the letter said. But the postcard did not bear the names of any Maoist functionary.

The letter which castigates Das for opposing the project accused the Congressman of trying to hoodwink the tribals. "However hard you may try, you will never win an election, because you are from Congress that looted the state for 40 years," the letter said.

Das said the letter can never be from Maoists and seems to be handiwork of Vedanta. "First they tried to bribe me and when they failed they resorted to the cheap tactics.

The letter seems to have been written by people who know me. They want to create confusion among tribals who are coming for the December gherao of Niyamgiri. My presence in the agitation would prove to be difficult for the company," Das told The Indian Express.

He added that he has sent copy of the FIR to the Kalahandi SP, Director General of Police and state Home Secretary. "I have not been given security. I have never asked for it. I am not bothered about the threats as I have always been a revolutionary throughout my life," he said.

Vedanta Alumina officials could not be contacted for their response to the allegation of Das.

Taskforce suggests no more power projects in three districts

Pragativadi, Dec 1, 2008

Bhubaneswar: The taskforce on power projects formed by the state government has suggested no more power projects in Jharsuguda, Angul and Dhenkanal districts.

The taskforce led by its chairman and the development commissioner has suggested the state government that except these three aforesaid districts the venue for the 10 new proposals for setting up power projects should be decided in other districts.

The taskforce, in the meanwhile, has sent the project proposals to Nayagarh, Boudh, Phulbani, Kalahandi, Balangir, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak and Keonjhar districts.

Justifying its suggestions, the taskforce has stated that the environment pollution in Jharsuguda, Angul and Dhenkanal districts have become acute as a number of power projects have been set up.

Besides, the water level of river Brahmani has drastically gone down, it said, and added that if more such projects come up in the vicinity of the river, it would be impossible to provide required water from the river.

Moreover, the pollution level in these districts would go beyond limits that would be extremely difficult to contain, it pointed out.

The 10 project proposals that the taskforce has sent to the other districts are from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (1000 MW), Action Ispat and Power Ltd (600 MW), Sahara India Power Corporation (1320 MW), Era Power India (1320 MW), Centia Thermal Power (2640 MW), Hindustan Thermal Power (3000 MW), L&T Ltd (1320 MW), Orissa Integrated Power Ltd (4000 MW), BGR Energy Ltd (1200 MW) and Kalinga Power Corporation (500 MW).