Saturday, January 31, 2009

NRI seeks rail infrastructure in Orissa’s backward region, Jan 31, 2009
January 31st, 2009 - 4:05 pm ICT by IANS - Send to a friend:

Bhubaneswar, Jan 31 (IANS) An Oriya NRI based in Lebanon has urged the government to develop railway infrastructure in Orissa’s most backward districts to ensure the economic prosperity of the region.The Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region, known for its economic backwardness, has been neglected by the central government for years, Digambara Patra, an Oriya academic based in Beirut, told IANS in an email.

Patra said he had Friday written letters to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stressing the need for developing a railway network in the region.

“Railway infrastructure development is one of the keys to success and can bring economic prosperity to such a backward region,” Patra, who works as an assistant professor at the department of chemistry in the American University in Beirut, wrote in the email.

“Unfortunately, in railway development, the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region is being neglected…In the last couple of years, Indian Railways has committed Rs.50,000 crore (Rs.500 billion) investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects, but it has neglected Orissa, especially the KBK areas,” Patra said.

He pointed out that the central government had in the past has established a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) project in Sunabeda, Koraput and an ordinance factory in Balangir and both had increased the employment potential in the regions. But the neighbouring Kalahandi region has not been considered for any major industrial project, Patra said.

He added that “setting up a new East Coast railway division in the region would help speed up railway projects in the impoverished western and southern Orissa, which are poorly connected by railways”.

NRO reminder on KBK rail, Jan 31, 2009

Critical infrastructure like national highway, railway line and telecommunication is poorest in Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa.

And Naxalism takes advantage of the backward region due to hilly and forest terrain.

However, infrastructure owes in general and rail connectivity in particular in KBK is being neglected severely and has not yet been considered by the Centre.

It is clearly evident from struggling ongoing projects since decades in KBK region such as Lanjigarh road – Junagarh and Balangir – Khordha road lines.

In last couple of years Indian Railway has committed Rs.50,000 crore investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects where as Orissa, especially KBK, is being continuously neglected since decades by Indian railway.

Politicians have often used backwardness of KBK in general and Kalahandi in particular to show case their eagerness towards the poor people in the society though they fail to scrutinize high rate of unemployment rate among semi-skilled and skilled laborer in the region.

While Indian Railway has proposed to establish new factory in UP, Bihar and Kerala, it has coolly forgotten Orissa, alleged Digamabara Patra in a memorandum to Dr. Man Mohan Singh.

Lanjigarh road is located in the border of Kandhamal, Rayagada and Kalahandi.

A factory based at Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna will enormously benefit Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur and Malkangiri equally as it is centrally located to all the districts, feel Dr. Patra.

A leading Non Resident Oriya (NRO) argues for a new East Coast railway division in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna.

This will help to speed up the railway projects in Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur and Malkangiri districts many of which are poorly connected by Indian railway.

Completion of Lanjigarh road – Jungarh line completely in 2009-10 , conneting Khordha road – Balangir line in Eleventh Plan has been urged.

Immediate approval of the projects like Lanjigarh road – Phulbani – Angul line Junagarh – Nabarangpur – Jeypur – Malkangiri – Balachandar road line and Kantabanji – Khariar – Dharamgarh – Ampani – Nabarangpur – Jeypur line has been urged by Dr.Patra, who teaches in American University of Beirut.

Friday, January 30, 2009

BSI certifies Vedanta

The Statesman, Jan 31, 2009
Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, Jan. 29: The Vedanta Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district has been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 (QMS), ISO 14001:2004 (EMS) and OHSAS 18001:2007 certificates by the British Standard Institute Management Systems, a company statement claimed.
The British Standards Institution, which is a multinational business services provider whose principal activity is the production of standards and the supply of standards-related services, it added.
The ISO 14001 is an internationally accepted standard for an effective Environmental Management System (EMS) to reduce environmental impact on water, air and land. The ISO 9001 is one of the world's best quality frameworks that set the standard for quality management systems, the release mentioned.
Similarly, the OHSAS 18001 promotes a safe and healthy working environment by identifying and controlling health and safety risks. The certificates were awarded after a five-day audit in December by BSI, covering quality, environment and safety standards.
“The audit team appreciated the zero discharge, zero accident and zero fatality in the refinery,” the statement read adding that the report also found the quality of the product at par with global standard.
“This is indeed a great moment for us as such certification shows our continuous pursuit on organisational excellence by maximising plant effectiveness, accomplishing stakeholder satisfaction and adopting world best practices in safety, environment and quality,” said Dr Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer of Vedanta Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh.
It can be noted that Vedanta Aluminium Limited has set up a one MTPA Greenfield alumina refinery with captive power plant at Lanjigarh.

Progress: Western Orissa fate unchanged

Expressbuzz, Jan 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: A council formed to root out the regional imbalances, particularly in western Orissa, remains bogged down over the shifting of its headquarters. Everyone wants the office to be located in areas of their choice and the issue drags on pending a semblance of collective decision. Yet again today, the contentious issue of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) headquarters remained unresolved in the absence of unanimity among legislators and members of Parliament from the constituent districts.

A meeting of the WODC held here today under the presidentship of chairman Niranjan Panda failed to resolve the issue. It seems neither the council nor the State Government is prepared to take a decision in an election year. With hardly a month before election date is out, announcement of a location of the headquarters does not seem possible. A sub-committee headed by Panda had been formed to take a decision. Sources maintained the sub-committee has not met even once since its formation.

Former Planning and Coordination Minister Padmanabha Behera had announced the sub-committee in the Assembly on November 20, 2007. Putting the ball in the government’s court, sources today maintained that the State Government can take a decision on the headquarters in consultation with the council.

The sub-committee was mandated to suggest a place after taking into account parameters like administrative convenience and location advantages. The Government had further promised in the House that a decision will be taken by September 30. More than a year has elapsed but things have not moved.

As expected, legislators from Kalahandi, Bargarh, Balangir and Sambalpur districts wanted the headquarters in their areas. WODC comprises Angul, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Sundargarh districts and Athamallik sub-division.

Tribals create human wall to save Niyamagiri

The Pioneer, Jan 30, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Over 20,000 tribal men and women including their children from the Niyamgiri area marched through the dense forest to create a 17-km-long human wall across their god-mountain Niyamagiri, believed to be the incarnation of Niyan Raja, which faces destruction due to mining activities.

The people from over 200 villages converged at the place covering a 17-km stretch along the Niyamgiri foothills on Tuesday. The chain traversed from Ijirupa across Jaganathpur, Lanjigarh and Kansari up to Balabhadrapur.

"How could I not come, it is our life," says a 45-year-old Dongaria Kondh. She walked 70-km from Khambehi village in Rayagarha to take part in the protest.

Vedanta Alumina gets ISO certification

The Pioneer, Jan 30, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

The Vedanta Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 (QMS), ISO 14001:2004 (EMS) and OHSAS 18001-2007 certificates from British Standard Institute (BSI) Management Systems, a leading global provider of management systems assessment and certification solutions.

The certificates were awarded after a five-day audit in December by BSI, covering quality, environment and safety standards. The audit team appreciated zero discharge, zero accident and zero fatality in the refinery unit. The audit report also found the quality of the product at par with global standard.

“This is indeed a great moment for us as such certification shows our continuous pursuit on organisational excellence by maximising plant effectiveness,” said Mukesh Kumar, Chief Operating Officer.

Rs 324 crore to be spent in 19 districts

The Pioneer, Jan 30, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

The State Government on Thursday earmarked Rs 324 crore under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) which can be spent in 19 districts of the State. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the chief secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy.

The Centre will provide the necessary funds under the BRGF. A sum of Rs 19 crore would be spent to strengthen the district planning committee and effectively implementing the different projects. On behalf of the Central Government, additional secretary Rajbant Sandu attended the meeting. During the review, Sandu reportedly expressed his happiness over the State Government's effort to spend the money in a meaningful way. Panchayati Raj Secretary RN Das said Bolangir, Sonepur, Koraput, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Gajapati, Ganjam, Sambalpur, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Deogarh, Mayurbhanj, Kandhamal and Anugul have been included in the programme. Money would be spent on community development, improvement of the economic condition and enhancing sustainability livelihood of the poor and backward people.

No decision yet on WODC’s headquarters

The Pioneer, Jan 30, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

The MPs and MLAs of Western Orissa on Thursday again failed to reach a consensus on the establishment of the headquarters of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC).

While people's representatives from Sambalpur demanded that the headquarters should be set up in Sambalpur, members from Balangir wanted that it should be set up in their district. Representatives from Kalahandi argued for their district. Sundargarh leaders demanded that the HQs of WODC should be set up at Rourkela. The meeting was held two years after.

In order to usher development in Western Orissa, the State Government set up the Western Orissa Development Council in 2000. As no decision has yet been taken regarding site selection for the establishment of the headquarters, the main office of the Western Orissa Development Council is functioning from the State capital itself.

In order to reach a consensus on the selection of the site, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of the State Planning and Co-ordination Minister Duryodhan Majhi.

In order to remain free from public accusation, the MLAs and MPs from western Orissa said they would abide by the Government's decision on the establishment of the WODC’s Headquarters.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vedanta Alumina at Lanjigarh gets ISO certification, Jan 29, 2009

Commodity Online
KALAHANDI (ORISSA): Vedanta Alumina Refinery belonging to Vedanta Group has received ISO certification for its refinery at Lanjigarh.

It has been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 (QMS), ISO 14001:2004 (EMS) and OHSAS 18001 - 2007 certificates from British Standard Institute (BSI) Management Systems, BSI is a leading global provider of management systems assessment and certification solutions, with more than 60,000 certified clients and over 100 locations in worldwide.

ISO 14001 is an internationally accepted standard for an effective Environmental Management System (EMS) to reduce environmental impact on water, air, land etc. The ISO 9001 is one of the world’s best quality frameworks that set the standard for quality management systems. Similarly, the OHSAS 18001 promotes a safe and healthy working environment by identifying and controlling health and safety risks. The Certificates were awarded after a five-day audit in December by BSI, covering Quality, Environment and Safety Standards. The audit team appreciated the zero Discharge, zero accident and zero fatality in the refinery. The audit report also found the quality of the product at par with global standard, according to a press release.

“This is indeed a great moment for us as such certification shows our continuous pursuit on organizational excellence by maximizing plant effectiveness, accomplishing stakeholder satisfaction and adopting world best practices in safety, environment and quality,” said Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Chief Operating Officer. The adoption of the ISO management framework by VAL will further reduce the environmental impact, improve the quality of the product and create a better working condition for employees.

Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) has set up a 1 MTPA Greenfield Alumina Refinery with Captive Power Plant at Lanjigarh. It has employed benchmarked technology with best operational practices and superior environment management practices in order to develop the Alumina Refinery as one of the world’s premier Alumina refining complex, the press release added. (Courtesy:IndiaPRWire)

Politicising Niyamgiri issue

The Statesman, Jan 29, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA, Jan. 28: The human chain formed to protest against the proposed mining of Niyamgiri hills yesterday turned out to be political show with Congress leader Mr Bhakta Charan Das addressing the gathering on political lines.
Till date the anti-mining activists had taken pride in being a non-political outfit. The Sachetan Nagarik Manch, Nyamgiri Surakshya Parishad and Green Kalahandi were all considered to be above petty politics.
Mr Das had been a late entrant to the movement and even on a political front it was others like Mr Lalatendu Bidhyadhar Mohapatra and Mr Debasis Mohanty (Congress MLAs) who had initiated the activism.
Sensing an opportunity, Mr Das who has lost the Kalahandi LS elections on three successive occasions, jumped into the band wagon to ostensibly to revive his sagging political fortunes.
He managed to rope in Mr Srikant Jena another Congress leader whose political future was as bleak as that of Mr Das.
Mr Das managed to carry the Dogria tribe of Niyamgiri and present them before Mr Rahul Gandhi and other AICC leaders.
Yesterday, Mr Das was at the centre stage of the protest meeting. He hurled accusations at the state government and VAL and alleged that the duo were out to destroy Niyamgiri hills.
Most of the people were taken by surprise when Mr Das reportedly exhorted the gathering to favour the Congress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Villagers form human chain against mining in Orissa, Jan 27, 2009

Bhubaneswar, Jan 27 (IANS) Thousands of people, including tribal men and women, formed a human chain Tuesday to protect a sacred hill from mining in Orissa’s Kalahandi district.The protestors, who were armed with bows and arrows, formed a 17-km-long human chain around the Niyamgiri hills and shouted slogans against British firm Vedanta which plans to mine bauxite. They said they were determined to protect the hills at any cost.

“We formed the human chain from Asurpada village to Ijurupa covering Vedanta plant site as well as seven villages,” a leader of the protest Bhakta Charan Das told IANS on telephone.

Das, also a senior congress leader, said a meeting was held after the protest.

“The protest was peaceful. It did not affect the plant,” a Vedanta official from the plant site told IANS.

Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, has built a $800 million alumina refinery project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi, about 600 km from here. The refinery is on a trial run and the company wants to mine the Niyamgiri hill to feed its plant.

The hill in Lanjigarh block is inhabited by Dongaria Kondhs, a tribal group. The group claims that mining would pollute the rivers, destroy jungles, dry up streams and displace them from their land and culture.

“Hills are our God. We cannot live without them. We are not going to allow the company to mine the hills,” said Jitu Jakaka, a tribal leader.

The Supreme Court allowed Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hill in August last year despite opposition from tribal and anti-displacement groups.

“Vedanta is committed to the sustainable development of the locality. We are committed to make the life better in the areas,” head of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery and mining project Mukesh Kumar said.

“It is a rumour spread around that the mining project will dry up streams. It is also a rumour that the mining project will displace people. The mining will help recharge ground water and will not displace anybody,” Kumar told IANS.

K P Singhdeo new president of Cong Orissa unit

Times of India, Jan 27, 2009

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, K P Singhdeo was on Tuesday appointed president of the Orissa unit of Congress.

Singhdeo replaces Jaideb Jena, who had tendered his resignation three days ago, party sources said.

In a complete overhauling of the state of unit of the party before the parliamentary polls, three working presidents have been appointed to assist Singhdeo. They are Chandrasekhar Sahu, L B Mahapatra and Bhakta Charan Das.

Senior leader Srikant Jena would be the chairman of the campaign committee.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bhutan and Dhaka teams attraction in Kalinga Cup, Jan 26, 2009

Kolkata , Jan 25 Bhutan XI and Dhaka XI of Bangladesh would be the two foreign teams to watch out for in the All-India Kalinga Cup football tournament to be held in Orissa from Feburary 2-11.

The knock-out event would see participation of 16 teams, including the two foreign teams.

The participating teams include Peerles SC and Calcutta Customs from Kolkata ; Western Railway from Mumbai; Army United from Haryana and Army XI from Delhi among others.

Host, Orissa, will have participation from six teams - East Coast Railway, Bhubaneswar, Rising Star, Cuttack, Samaleswari Club, Sambalpur, Sunrise Club, Cuttack, Sports Hostel, Cuttack and Kishore Club, Bhubaneswar.

The teams have been divided into two zones - Jharsuguda and Bhawanipatna in the tournament to be organised by Orissa&aposs Department of Sports and Youth Services and Orissa Football Association.

Matches would be held simultaneously in both the zones, while the final would be a day-night match at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, a release said.

Green Kalahandi protest rally on January 27

The Pioneer, Jan 27, 2009

Bhawanipatna: As a symbolic protest against mining at Niyamgiri hill and to safeguard its natural beauty at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, the Green Kalahandi, led by Bhakta Charan Das, has decided to form a chain among the locals from Ijurpa village to Daikhal village under Trilochanpur gram panchayat, covering 240 square kilometer of the forest on January 27. Das told reporters here that 1,340 families have lost their lands and houses for establishment of Vedanta Aluminum Ltd on the promise of rehabilitation, but they are yet to be rehabilitated properly. He, however, cleared that he is not against the plant, but he wants that the rights of the tribals should be protected and their demands should be met by the company.

4 B’patna DD programmes nominated for national award

The Pioneer, Jan 26, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Four tele programmes of Doordarsan Kendra at Bhawanipatna have been nominated for national award in 2008. Addressing a Press conference here, Kendra director Rabindra Nath Mishra told mediapersons that despite shortage of staffs, poor supply of electricity and lack of sophisticated equipment, the Kendra has gained popularity in the national level. Earlier, the Kendra was awarded for two programmes in 2005, he said, that it has also received one award in 2006 and 3 in 2007.

Drama based on folk culture of western Orissa ‘Banaguda’ has been nominated in the category of serial and soap opera. It has been produced by Bijan Das, directed by late Jatindra Nath Behera and script by Pradeep Dhanga Majhi.

In sports category, ‘Lupta Krida Badigadni’ has been nominated first position. Written and directed by Bijan Das. Drama ‘Kuili Kuili Kie Raja’ has been nominated for art direction and set design costume. Directed by Akshya Kumar Pattnaik. ‘Krusi Darsan’ bagged first position and it has been produced by Bijan Das, Mishra informed.

Odisha Government must revisit R&R policy to avert further unrest in Orissa, Jan 15, 2009
By K. Anuradha Mohanty & Bidyut Mohanty

After the introduction of the new economic policy in 1991, the trend of acquiring land, as an integral part of the liberalisation policy, is evident in Odisha. The overall effort of the state government was to acquire more land for the different private ventures including Posco and Vedanta.

Once again, Odisha is much in news but for the different reasons. In the 1980's, Odisha got the attention of the world when media exposed the incidences of large-scale starvation deaths and selling of children in Kalahandi and other districts. Although such incidents are also still taking place but the attention has now shifted from these human stories to the financial matters. In Odisha, "foreign investments", "export promotion" and "privatization" are the new buzz word.

In 1990s, the state announced new power, infrastructure and mining policies to woo foreign and domestic private investments. During 1995-96, Orissa received the largest amount of private investments in India, both foreign and domestic. In the post-liberalisation period, Odisha ranks sixth in foreign investment in the country. Between 1992 to 1997, Odisha has attracted Rs. 97,300 crore of investments. Majority of investments are in heavy industries consisting of steel, alumina and power projects.

All the new projects are solely attracted due to the natural resources of Odisha. The big business houses are eying at the mineral resources as Odisha has 90 percent of India's chrome ore and nickle reserves, 70 percent of bauxite and 24 percent of coal reserves. Besides, the state government is offering exceptionally huge subsidies to investors and there is abundance of cheap labour further makes it investor-friendly state.

Role of International Finance
The new investments are backed by a number of loans and aided projects by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and G-7 countries to facilitate the entry of international capital in Odisha. According to IPS study, the World Bank is providing loan guarantees and low-interest loans to a number of projects in Odisha. The World Bank's financed projects include coal sector rehabilitation project, power sector restructuring, Ib valley coal-fired plants, and Talcher coal-fired power project. The World Bank is expected to finance super-highway between Talcher and Gopalpur and four-lane road from Rourkela to Sambalpur. The Balasore-Kharagpur highway is also financed by the World Bank. The ADB is supporting Paradeep port expansion, Orissa power sector restructuring and AES/Ib valley power project. These investments are between 1992 to 1997 in the state. After that many more international finance institutions and MNCs came forward with new investment plan in the state. All the investments and the proposals are solely attracted by the mineral resource wealth of Odisha and offering of huge subsidies to investors by the state Govt.

Odisha government has promptly and proactively taken several steps for the investment, industries and land acquisition but very slow and inactive towards problem of displacement and R & R.

Odisha R and R of projects – affected person policy 1994

In 1994, the department of water resources, GOO, in consultation with NGOs and the world bank, came up with the Odisha R and R of projects- affected persons policy vide the dept resolution no 25296 dated august 27 1994.

Certain guidelines were prepared by the revenue and excise dept, GOO. ( GOO. 1989). Nalco is the first ever-industrial projects in the state to formulate a policy for rehabilitating both locally displaced persons and substantially affected persons. Between 1994 to till to the year 2005 the govt just ignored the issues of displacement and R & R of the people.

During the draft period of 2005, many suggestions from different Civil Society Organizations were brought into the notice of UNDP. Among them CSOs Displace People's Forum of Koraput suggested many important points in the draft policy. They had also demonstration and rally before the state assembly in March 2005 and submitted a memorandum with suggestions to the Honourable Governor, Chief Minister and other higher officials for action.

However, some of the suggestions were included in the final draft of 2005 which was submitted by the UNDP to Odisha government on June 4, 2005.But due to the pressure from the industrial houses and companies the government sat over the policy and did not place before the assembly.

The Kalinga Nagar massacre happened in the January 2, 2006. The police gunned down 12 of them who opposed the construction of a boundary wall for the proposed steel plant of Tata Steel. After the tragic incidence and subsequent blockade of road by the tribals, the government woke up from the deep slumber and announced that a committee headed by revenue minister Biswabhushan Harichandan will study the R & R draft policy that was pending with it since August last. The committee was formed with a group of ministers. Instead of consulting the displaced people and the civil society members the government send some of the ministers to other states like, AP and Karnataka to study their R & R Policy.

The committee drafted a policy ignoring the previous positive points from the R & R draft of UNDP. In a hurry, the R & R policy was finalised and got the cabinet approval and gazetted on May 14, 2006, by passing the Assembly. The policy was also not placed for comments in the public domain. The said R & R policy is made in favour of industries and before finalization the industrial houses were consulted and they dictated it. Delivering the valedictory address at a two-days seminar on " corporate sector responsibility in 21st century" at the Business Administration Department of Sambalpur University, Odisha's former Minister for Revenue, food and Civil Supplies, Mr. Manmohan Samal said that " The ministers were deliberating on the possible changes in R & R policy of Odisha and industries would soon be invited for their views before the policy was given a final shape" But the consultation with the Industrial houses was done in closed door and it was never done public.

R & R policy of the 2006 : Contradictions and pseudo-ism

As mentioned earlier that the government is very fast and enlightened to help and support the foreign investment and the big companies. In this light, it is also facing many tragic incidents like Kalinganagar, Maikanch, lower Suktel and several unrests and protests in the recent past. So, it has created a myth, that there is a strong desire of the government to develop the displace people as a result of which policy has taken birth. And it is claiming its policy to be the best in the country.

The principles on which R & R Policy should be based

In search of a good R & R policy many researchers, affected & displaced people and the civil society members have raised many fundamental questions and suggested alternatives from time to time. The first task in this search is to identify the principle. The basic thinking in this approach was that every citizen of the country has a right to a life with dignity. Some cannot be deprived of their livelihood without their consent, to the benefit of another class, even in the name of national development. The following principles are

1. The consent of the people affected on the nature of public interest.
The land acquisition act 1894 allows people to be displaced without their consent, in the name of public purpose which is yet undefined. Thus it abrogates the democratic rights of the people. The first principle of a law or principle has to be recognition of this right. A developmental process should be based on the rational choice of the people.

2. The need to minimize displacement.
Its first step is to search for non-displacing alternatives while planning the project. The second is while selecting the site, and the third is on various components of the project. Minimization of displacement requires rethinking on many aspects on the LAAct. In attempting the land alienation easy the LAAct does not show much respect to the affected people. The only alternative is to ensure that displacement is avoided and when it is exceptional cases, to ensure that the smallest possible number is deprived of its livelihood.

3. Replacement value for compensation
Even a small number of people deprived of their livelihood have a fundamental right to begin life a new. In more than one case the Supreme court has interpreted article 21 of the constitution as right to life with dignity. None can be deprived of it in the name of common good if it involves sacrificing their livelihood for the good or profit of another class.

4. Rehabilitation as a right.
The principle based on justice that none be displaced without rehabilitation which has to be viewed as a right of those who are paying the price of development. As such it is the integral to the life with dignity under article 21, not a concession from the state or project authorities.

5. Transition to a new life
The project authorities need to ensure that the DPs\PAPs are prepared to face the new life they are pushed into often without their consent. They have to be helped with cultural, economic, psychological and social preparation to adapt themselves to the new life.

6. A caste /tribe and gender perspective.
The tribals, dalits and other service castes are its worst sufferers. Even among them women feel the most negative impact. So special attention has to be paid to the needs of these groups. In other words the policy should have caste\ tribe\gender biasness in looking into special and specific attention.

Recently, the Odisha government is attempting to lift the regulation on tribal land alienation provision to facilitate the easy process for business house to acquire land. Liberalization and globalization demands more land than in past, so greater displacement is likely to result as its impact. When the government is guided by the big business houses, forgetting its constitutional obligations the situation will be worse in next decade.

The very approach of the state government in the whole issue of displacement and R & R is questionable. When it is very active towards declaring many policies for the establishment of industries but have apathetic attitude towards the R & R issues. The earlier development oppressed the poor, tribals, dalits the present one excludes them. It can be inferred from the present R & R policy that the state of Odisha has given a little thought to the rehabilitation of the people. Whenever there is some echo of the tragic incidents, it is coming with a policy starting from the Rengali till to the Kalinga nagar incident. Majority of the displaced and project affected people have rejected the present policy in the state, still government is trying to offer more sops in term cash which is evident in the Kalinga nagar and POSCO area. Unless until the R & R policy is not based on the set of discussed principles people will reject it. At present the trend shows that the Big business houses are pulling the string and the state government is just a puppet.

In the age of globalisation, the national and multinational capitalist companies are eyeing for the land and other resources in the hands of the people. This, in collaboration with the state and bureaucracy, is sought to be achieved through the changes in relevant laws and policies. The Union government has recently introduced changes in Land Acquisition Act, has prepared number of Draft Policies for Resettlement and Rehabilitation.The Union Water Resources Ministry and National Thermal Power Corporation have also proposed different drafts of rehabilitation. Suddenly, these agencies have felt the need to talk about the resettlement that to in their term. The large-scale displacement, therefore, is in offing which needs to be debated at length.

[K. Anuradha Mohanty is a research scholar in Utkal University and Bidyut Mohanty works with the land related issues in Odisha.]

BALCO to cut 1/4 th of capacity: Sterlite Industries

Moneycontrol, Jan 24, 2009
Sterlite Industries has announced its third quarter results. The company's Q3 consolidated net profit was at Rs 514 crore versus Rs 855.3 crore.

Consolidated net sales went down at Rs 4,445 crore versus Rs 5,233 crore and EBITDA was at Rs 1,151 crore as against Rs 1,172 crore.

Key takeaways from Sterlite Industries concall:

It has started a temporary ramp down of production in BALCO plant I.

Decrease in revenue from BALCO was primarily on account of lower LME prices.

The 325,000 tpa smelter project at BALCO is progressing well and will be commissioning as per schedule.

Work on the 500,000 tpa aluminium smelter and associated captive power plant at Jharsuguda, Orissa is progressing well.

The first stream of the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh is fully operational.

Consolidated cash and cash equivalents on 31 December 2008 was closer to Rs.19,000 crores.

Boxite project is been approved by the court.

Captive plants will be commissioning as per schedule.

Rs 300 crore benefit because of rise in volume.

Rs 300 crore benefit because of rupee depreciation.

Highest ever quarterly zinc production.

BALCO to cut 1/4 th capacity.

Expansion project on track to make HZL the world’s largest integrated zinc - lead producer.

The other income is from surplus power sell, sale of scrap, Mark to Market gain.

Interest cost has increased due to increase in borrowing and borrowing cost.

Company has entered in an agreement with Sarco, a US based company for copper production which has mining life of 40 years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Orissa: New general state university needed

Merinews, Jan 22, 2009

UNESCO's report on higher education, economic growth using poverty and human development indicators shows that higher education enhances individual's earning and economic development as well. It also helps to broaden an individual's outlook..

A CURRENT in-depth cross national investigation that has also been lauded by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) report on higher education, economic growth and development using poverty and human development indicators shows that:
higher education enhances the earnings of individuals and contributes to economic development;
higher education makes a significant contribution to reduction in absolute as well as relative poverty;
higher education is related to human development indicators which reflect other dimensions of human poverty, as it significantly reduces infant mortality and increases life expectancy.
On the other hand, our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru always wanted the establishment of institutes of higher education in rural areas so that, the rural children need not to go to cities for higher or technical education. Taking note of this, Uttar Pradesh government has earlier proposed Nehru Gram Bharati Vishwavidyalaya at Dubawal, which has been inaugurated recently.

Recently, many states such as Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh etc in India have been establishing new universities to boost higher education in coming years at the regional level. Since the establishment of North Orissa and Fakir Mohan Universities, in northern part of the state, no new general state university has been established.

Orissa is a state of which a large part comes under rural area. Especially, KBK which consists of one-third of the state’s total area, comes under the rural belt. Demand of a state university in KBK region, since the establishment of North Orissa University, has not been met as yet.

Number of affiliated colleges in various general state universities as data collected are:

Utkal University (UU): 330
Sambalpur University (SU): 177
Berhampur University (BU): 91
North Orissa University (NOU): 69 (plus 12 technical colleges)
Fakir Mohan University (FMU): 63
Some of the technical colleges, listed under state universities as affiliated colleges, might already have been redistributed to Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) by now or made unitary universities. Most of these technical colleges are from Utkal University and set up in the capital region of the state.

Districts affiliated with these state universities are as follows:

UU: Khordha, Puri, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Jagatsingpur, Kendrapada, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Anugul.
SU: Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Balangir, Sonepur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, and Boudh.
BU: Ganjam, Gajpati, Kandhamal, Rayagada. Malkangir, Koraput and Nabarangpur.
NOU: Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar.
FMU: Balasore and Bhadark.
On regional basis, two separate state universities (North Orissa and Fakir Mohan) have already been established, separating from Utkal University in the past, but no separate university has been yet established from Sambalpur and Berhampur.

Considering inaccessibility, location wise, some universities are inconvenient to serve local districts, such as Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur under BU, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Boudh under SU, due to long distance and poor road connectivity, whereas it is marginally acceptable for most of the districts under UU, FMU and NOU.

Based on administration of number of affiliated colleges, there should be at least another two universities other than Utkal and Sambalpur Universities. For Orissa, on an average, 100 affiliated colleges in one university looks acceptable at this point of time similar to BU, NOU and FMU.

Model 1: Eight new state universities

One possibility is to establish one university each in Rourkela (Sundergarh), Keonjhargarh (Keonjhar), Anugul (Dhenkanal-Angul), Jajpur road/Kalinga Nagar (for undivided Cuttack dist), Bhawanipatna (Kalahandi-Nuapada), Balangir (Balangir-Sonepur), Phulbani (Boudh-Kandhamal) and Koraput (undivided Koraput dist) in future.

Model 2: Four new state universities

Second possibility is to establish four state universities based on number of affiliated colleges, inaccessibility and regional requirements, one in Kalahandi region (redistributing four districts from SU), second one in Koraput region (redistributing four districts from BU), third in Jajpur, Jagatsingpur, Kendrapada and Dhenkanal region and fourth one in Sundergarh (Rourkela) - Anugul-Deogarh region.

Model 3: One new state university

The last possibility, which looks economical and practical at this point, is to establish a state university in KBK taking colleges from each four affiliated districts from BU and SU based on region, inaccessibility and redistributing number of affiliated colleges as below.

SU will have colleges in Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Bargarh, Sonepur, and Anugul (all colleges redistributed from UU).

BU will have colleges in Ganjam, Gajpati, Kandhamal, Nayagarh (redistributed from UU) and Khordha district except capital region, Jatni and Khordha town (redistributed from UU).

UU will have colleges in capital region, Khordha town, Jatni, Puri, Cuttack, Kedrapada, Jagatsingpur and Dhenkanal.

FMU will have colleges in Balasore, Bhadrak and Jajpur (redistributed from UU).

NOU will have colleges in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar.

Proposed new state university in KBK will have colleges in Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir and Boudh.

Location wise, Kalahandi is centrally located from all KBK districts and is well connected by state and national highway in KBK. Therefore, there should be an immediate consideration to establish a new general state university in KBK region, either in Kalahandi or Korput to boost education in rural part of the state as well as KBK region specially.

Kosal Dal to launch Kranti Yatra from January 23

The Pioneer, Jan 22, 2009
PNS | Balangir

Encouraged by the response of the Kosal Mukti Jatha undertaken earlier, the Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) is going to launch its month-long Kosal Kranti Yatra from the birthday of freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai on Friday in six Parliamentary constituencies, Balangir, Bargarh, Phulbani, Sundargarh, Kalahandi and Sambalpur to sensitise people about the neglect of this region by successive State Governments and the need to form a separate Kosal State.

Announcing this at a news conference here on Tuesday, KKD president Pramod Mishra said the Kosal Kranti Yatra is scheduled to be flagged off from Harishanakr on Friday and it would cover at least 1,000 villages in the six Parliamentary constituencies in course of a month.

Mishra alleged that the main reasons for the backwardness of this region are total neglect by successive administrations in Bhubneshwar and a strange “follower attitude” of the political representatives of the region, who after being elected, sub-serve the interests of their political parties and bosses more than the interests of the region.

The KKD, which is the only party fighting for the cause of the area, believes that only creation of a separate Kosal State is the answer to the problems of the region as it would help preserve the dignity, language and culture of the area, Mishra said. District-level committees have been formed to make the Yarta successful and Baidyanath Mishra has been given the charge of Balangir district, he said. Baidyanath Mishra said he would endeavour to discharge the responsibilities given by the party to him.

It may be noted that the Kosal Kranti Dal has proposed to contest in the six aforesaid Lok Sabha constituencies and 47 Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vedanta terminates Maytas contract in Orissa

Economic Times, 20th January, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Maytas Infra, the infrastructure company linked to scam-tainted Satyam Computer Services, has lost a contract from Vedanta Alumina to
develop an integrated township in Orissa, Vedanta said here Monday. "We have terminated the contract. A final settlement with the company will be done in a day or two," Vedanta spokesperson Shashanka Pattnaik said. Maytas Infra, promoted by a son of Satyam's disgraced founder B. Ramalinga Raju, was awarded the contract in 2007 to develop the township in Jharsuguda district in western Orissa on an investment of about Rs.233 crore (Rs.2.33 billion). The integrated township is proposed to be spread over about 70 acres and accommodate about 700 families. After the Satyam scam broke out, banks froze all accounts of Maytas, which is now unable to pay its contractors and suppliers. Vedanta has taken note of the financial mess Maytas finds itself in. "We found it (Maytas) is not in a position to pump in money," Pattnaik said, adding that the project was also behind schedule. There is more trouble brewing for Maytas Infra, with the Orissa government announcing it would review all government projects awarded to the beleaguered company in the state. Maytas had bagged several irrigation and port projects, which include construction of an earthen dam, a concrete dam and the headrace tunnel for the Upper Indravati Hydro Electric Project in Kalahandi district.

Strawberry Comes in Kalahandi - The Journey Begins, 20th January, 2009

By : Pavan Kaushik

Who had thought that in the middle of Kalahandi District in Orissa, India, farmers would cultivate Strawberry that would increase their income and their profit multi-fold. The project came from Vedanta Group company – Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL). The Pilot Project costing about Rs. 3.00 Lacs came as a boon to the farmers who had never imagined of cultivating a cash crop, that would enhance their earning multi-fold. It was quite new to them and instant reaction as expected was that of surprise and dismay. The CSR team of VAL had a daunting task to convince farmers on one hand and put-together all technical aspects to yield better results. Regular interaction with farmers and experts gave results and 13 farmers instantly came forward from villages like Rengopali, Tangankana, Balbhadrapur, Parvatipur and Banegaon to cultivate this cash rich crop – Strawberry. The crop is so rich that it would increase the net profit of farmers from Rs. 50,000 – Rs. 75,000 per acre in a span of 6 months, i.e. first season.
Besides organizing training programmes in the villages, the Vedanta team was also involved in providing the strawberry runners, manure and the basic techniques of cultivation. The high quality, high yielding runners were procured from Solan. Around 70,000 runners were planted in 3.5 acres of land. Regular monitoring and supervision of the field was carried out for better yield and production. The farmers and VAL team worked hand in hand.
The runners developed by the end of November and around the first week of December it started bearing flowers. In no time the sweet fruit of the hard labour of the farmers bore and ripened in shape of STRAWBERRY!!.
Strawberry Cultivation has become an example in the villages of Lanjigarh area. The farmers never believed that they could cultivate a rich crop like strawberry. It was always a thought of cultivating regular pattern of crops.
Kalahandi District is known to be one of the most backward, hunger and poverty stricken areas in India. The project brought a shift in the lives of the farmers in the District.
Up-came a high degree of mutual trust and understanding amongst the farmers and VAL. The farmers of the neighboring villages come to see the fields and are planning to take up the same cultivation in their land..
Its is true, Strawberry has come in Kalahandi - The Journey has just begun.

Curtains down on Ghumra Utsav

Expressbuzz, Jan 19, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: The Kalahandi Utsav Ghumra-2009, organised by District Council of Culture at Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh, concluded. Although the cultural functions concluded yesterday, the exhibitions ended.

Artistes from various districts of the state and other states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Assam participated. Sources said the traders and SHGs, who had put up stalls at the Utsav venue, made brisk business.

SEMINAR: A seminar on ‘Education, a gateway to development in Kalahandi’ was organised as part of the Ghumra Utsav on Thursday at the Town Hall here. Vice-Chancellor of Sambalpur University Arun Ppujari and Kalahandi Collector R. Santhgopalan attended. Meritorious students of different schools were provided Gyanadarshan awards, laptops and cash prizes of Rs 5,000.

Kalahandi Baraputra Ssamman was bestowed on Uma Shankar Kar for his contribution to the field of literature and cultural activities while Ppurushhotam Behera was felicitated for his contribution to drama, Nabin Ppatra for Sports and Chakradhar Raiguru for agriculture.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Farmers grow strawberry

Expressbuzz, Jan 17, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: For the first time in the State, tribal farmers of Kalahandi have grown strawberries at Lanjigarh. They have another reason to cheer. Two decades back, the Lanjigarh area soil was favourable for horticulture but with continuous shifting cultivation, the quality of soil deteriorated. However, this time farmers through improved agricultural techniques managed to cultivate strawberries.

Three months back, 13 farmers on an experimental basis planted 70,000 strawberry runners in 3.5 acres of land. The runners grew by November-end and during the first week of December, they started flowering. At present, the fruits have ripened. ‘‘Now farmers from outside are visiting our farms to see the way in which the strawberries have been cultivated.’’ said one of the farmers, Khataru Majhi of Rangopali village. Strawberry being a cash crop, the profits earned from it are much higher compared to any other fruit. It has increased earning of the farmers by Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 per acre.

The cultivation was taken up as a pilot project under VAL’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). The 13 farmers were given technical training on strawberry cultivation and agricultural inputs like seeds and organic manure.

‘‘After success of the project, strawberry cultivation will be extended to other villages,’’ said VAL Chief Operating Officer Mukesh Kumar

Mining by NRI-owned British firm triggers protests in Orissa

Econimic Times, Jan 17, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Hundreds of tribals armed with bows and arrows on Saturday marched in an Orissa district protesting against mining in a hilly area by a British firm owned by an NRI.

The tribals assembled at Semelbhata village in Kalahandi district and marched some five km shouting slogans against Britain's Vedanta Resources and the state and central governments, police said. The firm's chairman is NRI Anil Agarwal.

The company has been allowed to mine at Niyamgiri hills in the area.

The protesters marched near the company's alumina refinery as well as in Lanjigarh town shouting slogans "Vedanta Go Back" "Niyamgiri is our god.. We will not allow its mining".

"They were armed with bows and arrows and walked peacefully," L.D. Bisi, a police officer, said.

Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, is building an $800 million alumina refinery project at Lanjigarh in the impoverished district of Kalahandi, some 600 km from here.

The company wants to mine the Niyamgiri hill for bauxite for its already built plant. The hill in Lanjigarh block is inhabited by Dongaria Kondhs, a tribal group.

The tribals claim that mining would pollute their rivers, destroy jungles and displace them from their land and culture.

"Hills are our god. We cannot live without it. We are not going to allow the company to mine the hills," said Jitu Jakaka, a tribal leader.

The Supreme Court allowed Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hill in August last year despite opposition from tribal and anti-displacement groups.

"Vedanta is committed to the sustainable development of the locality. We are committed to make the life better in the areas," said Shashanka Pattnaik, a company official.

Villagers intensify protest against Vedanta

Reuters, Jan 17, 2009
By Jatindra Dash

BHUBANESWAR (Reuters) - Hundreds of tribespeople, many carrying bows and arrows, marched in protest against a bauxite mine planned by Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc, police and eyewitnesses said.

The protesters, including hundreds of women, danced and shouted slogans as they marched several kilometres in Senelbhata on the foothills of the Niyamgiri hills that they say they want to protect from being mined.

Police kept a watch over the protest they said was peaceful.

The villagers held banners that said "Vedanta Quit Niyamgiri" and "Vedanta Go Back", illustrating the growing opposition to giving up land for industry in a country where two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for a living.

"Without Niyamgiri we cannot think of life," said Jitu Jakaka, a tribal leader.

"We will protect it at any cost. We will not allow the company to mine," he said.

Frequent violent protests in mineral-rich Orissa state had held up the Vedanta plant for months until last August, when the company received the greenlight from India's Supreme Court to mine bauxite in hills held sacred by an ancient tribe.

Vedanta wants to dig open-cast mines in the Niyamgiri hills to feed the refinery it has already built there as part of an $800 million project.

A Vedanta spokesman said the company is coordinating with the government and the tribal leaders on building new roads and to provide employment to the local people.

But the indigenous Kondha tribal groups who have lived in the lush forests of the Niyamgari hills for generations say the project threatens their very existence, and that mining in the hills was a sacrilege.

"We will launch more protests in the coming days," said Sidhartha Nayak, a lawyer and activist.

Villagers last week stopped vehicles carrying construction material to the site and have since erected a wooden gate to prevent the movement of vehicles up the hills.

Acquisitions of large tracts of land by foreign and local companies have proved controversial in several states in India recently, with the country's courts needing to step in resolve disputes involving big projects, including South Korea's POSCO's proposed $12 billion steel plant, also in Orissa.

Political opposition and demonstrations by farmers also forced Tata Motors to move a factory for its low-cost Nano car out of West Bengal in October.

Friday, January 16, 2009

CAPART Gramshree Mela opened at Sunabeda, Jan 16, 2009

Sunabeda: The Gramshree Mela of Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) was inaugurated by Union rural development minister Chandrasekhar Sahu here at the NAC Ground on Wednesday.

The Mela, organized by Orupa, a non-government organization, aims at promoting rural handicraft and to strengthen the economic status of the rural artisans, Sahu said.

Besides, the amounts of money collected from the exhibition-cum-sale of the mela will distributed among the Self-Help Group members for their economic development, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, state unit convener of CAPART Vijay Kumar Ray said that a similar type of mela would be organized in Kalahandi district in the coming days.

Among others, DRDA project director Vivekananda Mohapatra was present. Representatives of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar participated in the mela.

Kosala Kranti Dal to contest LS, Assembly polls Jan 16, 2009

By Ambika Das; Rourkela: A new party Kosala Kranti Dal, formed with the aim to form a separate state comprising 10 districts of western Orissa, will contest 41 Assembly and six Lok Sabha seats in the area in the polls this year.

Announcing this here on Thursday, party secretary general Baidyanath Mishra said that the party will also oppose any move to construct Manibhadra dam, protect land and forest, provide water for irrigation from Hirakud reservoir and demand establishment of a bench of Orissa High Court in the region to protect the interest of the farmers and working class.

The party has been demanding a separate state comprising Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Sonepur, Boudh, Bolangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts and Athmallick sub-division of Angul district.

Mishra said that the party would contest Lok Sabha seats of Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Boudh, Phulbani, Bargarh, Bolangir and Kalahandi and the names of the candidates will be announced shortly.

Lack of rail network in K’mal may have led to violence

The Pioneer, Jan 16, 2009
Er Lalit Patnaik | Bhubaneswar

For last few months Orissa has been in the news globally but for all wrong reasons. National and international media gave wide coverage to the recent violence in Kandhamal. But there was hardly any report that focussed on the causes that led to such a situation. Interestingly, most of the people missed out the fact that the lack of railways connectivity to this backward region could have been one of the reasons for violence in Kandhamal.

Poor tribals and other deprived sections of Kandhamal have been isolated from mainstream Orissa because of lack of railways connectivity. The district is a hilly region and does not have proper communication with neighbouring cities.

Interestingly, Railways have always played an important role in economic development and rapid social transformation across the globe, as it is a cheap mode to transport. Unfortunately, in a poor and backward State like Orissa, development of rail network has received very less attention of the Union Government ever since Independence. This is one of the main reason for the backwardness of tribals’ and other areas of the State.

The poor railway connectivity continues to keep them backward and deprive them of catching up with the mainstream. Due to lack of connectivity, the tribals cannot intermingle with the outside world and hence, their social transformation failed to take place. Also, their products cannot be transported easily to city markets and they are forced to dispose goods at throwaway prices in the local markets. As a result, traders come to Kandhamal and take away things at very less price.

In Kandhamal, the populations of tribals and SCs are 51.51 per cent and 18.21 per cent, respectively. Therefore, the demand for railway line connecting Lanjigarah, Phulbani and Angul that would bisect Kandhamal region and also the upcoming Khurda-Balangir rail link to serve as a bypass between Bhubaneswar and Koraput region is gaining momentum. People in Kandhamal are eagerly waiting for the proposed rail links. The rate of return (RoR) from this rail link will be more than 14 per cent, which is required by the Railway Board to sanction a new line. The rail link will shorten the distance between the coalmines in Angul district and bauxite mines in Koraput district by more than 100 km.

Aluminum major Nalco at Angul transports coal to its refinery plant in Koraput and brings back alumina to Angul. So, this reduction in distance will also save time in transportation and enhance the rate of return. Other aluminum companies like RSB, Vedanta and Hindalco will follow suit and the new line via Kandhamal will earn more than 20 per cent RoR.

Besides transportation by major industries, other commodities to Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts will also pass through this line via Khurda as it will be shorter by more than 200 km vis-a-vis the existing rail link passing through Andhra Pradesh.

As for a blueprint on railway network expansion in Orissa, Prof Chitta Baral of the US-based Arizona University has done an extensive as well as intensive study on the subject. He has been educating policy makers and public in general on the importance of a good railway network. He has documented the current railway scenario in the State for preparing the blueprint for its expansion. According to him, the country's transport map clearly shows that Orissa has a very low rail density vis-a-vis other States and a majority of this low density region in the State is located in KBK and Kandhamal districts.

The question arises why rail connectivity is important for any region. The Planning Commission addresses this as follows: Railways have always played an important role in economic development and rapid social transformation all over the globe. It is one of the key economic infrastructures. However, it is most unfortunate that in a poor and backward State like Orissa, there is very less development of rail networks due to apathy of the Central Government since Independence. There are as many as seven districts, Boudh, Kandhamal, Deogarh, Nayagarh, Kendrapara, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur, which do not have a railway line passing through them. In 1998-99, the density of railway line length per 1,000 sq km of area in Orissa was only 15.03 km as against 42.66 km in West Bengal and an average of 19.11 km in the whole country.

Consistent with the above report, the KBK and Kandhamal districts are among the most backward districts of the country. They are also Maoist-infested, have high tribal populations and lack proper connectivity. In essence, they are another frontier of India like Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East. It is very unfortunate. So why the Indian Railways is still apathetic in establishing connectivity to KBK and Kandhamal even after knowing the above facts is difficult to understand. The railway authorities often cite the profitability issue. But if it can lay unprofitable lines in J&K and the North-East and plan to convert gauges of over 12,000 km of loss-making routes, why is it turning a deaf ear to persistent pleas of the people of Orissa for establishing rail links in this backward region?

It is a well-known fact that the Indian Railways is making huge profit from its cargo operations in Orissa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ghumra Utsav-2009 on

Expressbuzz, Jan 15, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: The 13th edition of Kalahandi Utsav Ghumra-2009, showcasing the culture and heritage of Kalahandi, was inaugurated today.

The utsav organised by District Council of Culture here as well as Dharmagarh will continue till January 17 with a marathon performance of martial and folk dance. As many as 24 teams from different parts of the state participated in this event. Besides Ghumura, teams performing Dandari, Madili, Banabadi, Ghudka, Ghadeli, Kutia dance and Dhaanpa are part of the event. An exhibition with 240 stalls have been put up.

The inaugural ‘Jatha’ was brought from Manikeswar temple to the utsav spot today which was inaugurated by BJD Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mahapatra. Among others, Lok Sabha member Bikram Keshari Deo, Labour Minister Pradipta Kumar Nayak, legislators Balabhadra Majhi, Puspendra Singh Deo and Bira Sipka, Himanshu Meher attended.

Close circuit cameras in sensitive booths in Orissa: EC

The Hindu, Jan 15, 2009

Berhampur (Orissa)(PTI): Close circuit cameras would be installed in sensitive booths of Orissa during the coming general elections, Election Commissioner Navin B Chawla said here on Wednesday.

"The election commission will take all possible measures to ensure a trouble-free voting in the coming elections," Chawla told reporters after reviewing situation in ten districts of southern parts of the state.

Stating that a peaceful election was recently held in Jammu and Kashmir, Chawla said that the Election Commission was always prepared for the polls.

Claiming that India was the first country in the world to issue photo identity cards (PICs) to electorates, he said that so far about 480 million people or 75 per cent of the voters had been provided with the PICs. In Orissa, the ratio was 85 per cent, he said.

The revised electoral roll in the state, he said, would be published on Thursday, sources said.

Chawla said the Election Commission was aware of the Naxalite problems in several districts of Orissa. "Not only Orissa, some other states are also facing the similar situation. Voting will take place in tight security," he said adding that election was incident free in another worst Naxal-affected state like Chhatishgarh.

The district collectors of Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Boudh, Malkangiri, Nawrangpur and Koraput attended the review meeting of Chawla.

Mohapatra in inauguration spree

The Statesman, Jan 15, 2009

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, Jan. 14: Rajya Sabha members Mr Pyari Mohan Mohapatra inaugurated the public utility infrastructures developed by Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, which include a road from Pokharibandha to Lanjigarh and a high level bridge as well as concrete road at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district today.
Vedanta has constructed the 25 Km road from Pokharibandha to Lanjigarh. The bitumen road is expected to improve communications between Pokharibandha and Lanjigarh, via Biswanathpur. The company has also constructed a high level concrete bridge at Lanjigarh and one-km concrete road at Lanjigarh market, the company sources said.
He lauded the various corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by the company for the development of the tribal in the locality.
“The roads and bridges in the area would not only improve the communication facilities of the local people of Kalahandi district, but also demonstrate the progress and prosperity brought about through industrialisation,” Mr Mohapatra pointed out.
Mr Mohapatra later paid visits to the mining and refinery area of the company.
MLAs Mr Balabhadra Majhi, Mr Pushpendra Singhdeo, Mr Bira Sipka, Mr Kiran Chandra Singhdeo, the president of Orissa State Cooperative Bank Mr Jangyeswar Babu and company COO Dr Mukesh Kumar accompanied Mr Mohapatra.
The company has established a one MTPA alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and is expanding its alumina production capacity to five MTPA.

Pyari inaugurates Vedanta infrastructure projects at Lanjigarh

The Pioneer, Jan 15, 2009

MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra on Wednesday visited the mining and refinery area of Vedanta Aluminium at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district and inaugurated the public utility infrastructures developed by the company under its Sustainable Development Programme, which include a 25-km road from Pokharibandha to Lanjigarh and a high-level bridge and a concrete road at Lanjigarh.

Mohapatra was accompanied by local MLA Balabhadra Majhi, Kokasara MLA Pushpendra Singh Deo, Dharmagarh MLA Bir Sipka and former Minister Kiran Chandra Singh Deo.

Mohapatra said the roads and bridges in the area would not only improve the communication facilities of the local people but would also demonstrate the progress and prosperity brought about through industrialisation.

The visit by Mohapatra and other political leaders boosted the confidence the company, which has established a 1-MTPA alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and is expanding its alumina production capacity to 5-MTPA. Vedanta Aluminium COO Dr Mukesh Kumar said the company is committed to the sustainable development of the locality.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Government to set up new courts

The Statesman, 14th January, 2009

The state government has decided to set up four new courts ~ a family court at Bhubaneswar, additional district sessions judge courts at Champua of Keonjhar district and Dharamgarh of Kalahandi district and a second JMFC Court at Jharsuguda.It has also decided to hike the retainer fee and daily fee of all government advocates.The Advocate General entitled to Rs 5000 as retainer fee and a daily fee of Rs 800 will henceforth get Rs 10,000 and Rs 1600.Right from the district level to the high court and tribunals the retainer and daily fee of all government advocates has been doubled.The government advocate category at the High Court level will get Rs 6000 as retainer fee and Rs 1400 as daily fee, the additional government advocates will get Rs 5000 as retainer fee and Rs 1200 as daily fee, the standing counsel will now be entitled to Rs 5000 as retainer fee and Rs 1000 as daily fee while the additional standing counsel will avail Rs 4000 as retainer fee and Rs 900 as daily fee.

KBK block officials set ablaze own office

The Pioneer,14th January, 2009

PNS Kantabanjhi : Corruption seems to have taken deep roots in the Kantabanjhi area of Balangir district despite Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s assurance to the people in the KBK region of a transparent and responsible Government. It has reached such a stage that the block officials in Tureikela block allegedly dared to torch their own block premises to destroy evidences of all allegations of corruption and misappropriation in awarding various works. As such a serious incident took place in the remote area of KBK, no one from the State administration has got a hint of it. The block staff used to operate the computers by taking electricity to a room in the office illegally by using a hook. With the burning of the room, the computer-stored documents are also destroyed. “When corruption charges were levelled against them, the block officials tried to destroy the records by torching the house,” alleged former MLA of Kantabanjhi Santosh Singh Saluja, adding that the Rs 2-per-kg rice is no more available to the people. The people of the Kandei panchayat have not got the rice for the last three months, he added. Sources further said the NREGS work is a total failure. The block authorities give work order to candidates recommended by the local ruling MLAs. Both the ruling party members and the block officials are hands in glove and nobody dares to oppose it. As a result, the innocents are the worst sufferers. Despite sufficient number of Government quarters in the block office, most of staff prefer to stay in Kantabanjhi, 15 km away from the block. Neither the BDO nor other officials reach the office in time. Frustrated over the apathetic attitude of the block officials, about 5,000 people led by Saluja gheraoed the block office on Monday. After the local police officials urged Saluja to help the administration restore peace, normalcy returned in the area.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

State to get four WB, ADB-assisted projects

Business Standard, Jan 13, 2009

The Orissa government will soon sign agreement with the Government of India (GoI) and the donor agencies for 4 important World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted projects in the state.

The agreement is likely to be signed in next one month, official sources said.

The projects to be implemented are Rs 1432 crore Orissa State Road Project (OSRP), Rs 546 crore Orissa Community Tanks Management Project (OCTMP), Rs 315 crore Targeted Rural Initiative for Poverty Termination and Infrastructure (TRIPTI) and Rs 1250 crore Orissa Integrated Irrigated Agriculture and Water Management Project (OIIAWMP).

The agreement will be tripartite in nature with the state government, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), GoI and the respective donor agencies namely the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) being the signatories. The negotiations for these loans have been completed.

The World Bank has agreed to provide loans for OSRP, OCTMP and TRIPTI programmes and ADB has agreed to provide loan for OIIAWMP being implemented by the water resources department of the Orissa government.

A team of senior officials of the Orissa government headed by the Development Commissioner recently held discussion on these Externally Aided Projects (EAPs) with senior Planning Commission (PC) officials in New Delhi. The Planning Commission is reported to have given the green signal for signing of the agreement, official sources said.

The Orissa government is seeking approximately 250 million dollar from the World Bank for the Orissa State Road Project being implemented by the works department.

Under the project, 461 kms of road are proposed to be improved to two lane-road with paved shoulder and reconstruction of a bridge on Bansadhara near Gumuda. The project includes development of Anandapur-Bhadrakh-Chandbali, Chandbali-Pattamundai-Kendarapada-Jagatpur, Berhampur-TaptapaniRaipanga-JK Pur and Bhawanipatna-Khariar patches. The agreement may be signed this week, sources added. Similarly, under the Orissa Community Tanks Management Project being implemented by the water resources department, the World Bank will provide loan assistance of Rs 358.5 crore while Rs 119.5 crore is expected to come as grant from the Union government. Sources said, the state government’s share in the project will be Rs 49crore with the beneficiary contribution pegged at Rs 19crore.

Meanwhile, the World Bank loan for TRIPTI implemented by the panchayatiraj department has been finalized. The discussions for ADB loan for Orissa Integrated Irrigated Agriculture and Water Management Project has also been completed. These four projects will be added to the list of EAPs during 2009-10.

Price of education

Zeenews, Jan 13, 2009

An incident in a village of overhyped Kalahandi district in Orissa is a manifestation of the traditional blindness that still plagues literacy among the tribals.

Three girls from the Chakutia Bhunjia community have been ostracized for pursuing their studies upto the Matriculation level. One of them has given in to the pressure, but the other two, in a rare show of guts have pulled up their sleeves to carry on against the odds. They are now teachers in the Chhatri Shiksha Anusthan run by the Chakutia Bhunjia Development Agency (CBDA). They were not only the first to become Matriculates but were the first to wear chappals.

But the ordeal is not over yet. The families of both the girls still suffer from the scorch of ostracization, and are having to live literally cut-off from the social mainstream. In the whole area there is nobody who can confront this kind of terror created by the tribals. In the Chakutia tribe, any girl going to school is viewed as a stigma on its social image.

However, against all odds, four girls from the community had appeared for the Class X examination in 2006.

Their actions are still viewed as being repugnant to traditional values. Does that mean that no other girl from this tribe should dare to go to the school?

That brings the role of the government into question; is it fit that the authorities should remain a mute spectator to such ills perpetrated by a handful of people?

Orissa Govt. announces to set up four courts, Jan 13, 2009

By Orissadiary correspondent; Bhubaneswar: The State Government has decided to set up a family court in Bhubaneswar, one additional district civil judge court each at Champua in Keonjhar and Dhramagada in Kalahandi and a first class judicial magistrate court at Jharsuguda. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Law Minister Biswabhusan Harichandan at the State Secretariat on Monday.
In another significant decision, the State Government has also decided to increase the monthly allowances of all the Government advocates. The allowance of the standing council, Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP), and Advocate General would be enhanced. For the last eight years, the advocates are demanding enhancement of their fees and daily allowances. However, the State Government is yet to take a decision from when it would implement its decision.
As per the decision, the Advocate General would get a daily allowance of Rs 800 to Rs 1,600 and monthly allowances of Rs 10,000. The daily-allowances of the Government advocate would be increased to Rs 1,400 from Rs 700. They would get a monthly allowance of Rs 6,000.
The Additional Government advocate would get daily allowances of Rs 1,200 and get a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000. The member of the Standing Council would get Rs 1,000 as daily allowances and a monthly remuneration of Rs 4,000. The Additional standing council member would get Rs 900 daily allowance and monthly allowances of Rs 4,000. The APP would get a daily allowance of Rs 400 and a monthly remuneration of Rs 2,000.The Association Lawyer will get a daily allowance of Rs 300 and a monthly allowance of Rs 2,500.

Annual report doesn’t reflect ground reality, says Gamang

Expressbuzz, Jan 13, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The annual report of the administration of scheduled areas approved by the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) has become an issue for debate with a former chief minister suggesting that it should also reflect the law and order situation in those areas.

There is unrest among the tribals for various reasons in recent times and the TAC should discuss this, former chief minister and Congress MP from Koraput Giridhar Gamang said. The TAC approved the report on Friday. He said that now the report only deals with developmental activities initiated by the State Government. This does not reflect the real situation, he said. The socio-economic indicators remain deficient in scheduled areas. The infant mortality rate (IMR) remains high in tribal districts of Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Phulbani, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Keonjhar and Gajapati.

The IMR now is 73 per 1,000 live births in Orissa and the State Government is implementing several schemes to bring it down to 50. The maternal mortality is as high as 358 per one lakh live births in the State. Official sources maintained that in tribal districts, the IMR and MMR are even more.

Low literacy rate among the Scheduled Tribes is also one of the major concerns of the State. The Orissa child census conducted by the Orissa Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) reveals that there are 11,479 schools in the State with at least 20 plus children with linguistic diversities.

According to the annual report, about 56,000 Santal children face severe linguistic disabilities in the school due to the gap in home language and school language. The result is poor achievement in education of ethnic and linguistic minorities in the State.

The report maintained that tribal literacy in the State is alarming at 37.37 per cent. The tribal female literacy is abysmal at 23.41 per cent. Official sources maintained that this is a major challenge in achieving equitable quality education in the State.

Development plan for primitive tribal groups

Expressbuzz, Jan 13, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government launched a five-year conservation-cum-development (CCD) plan during the last financial year for 13 primitive tribal groups (PTGs) estimated at Rs 84.25 crore.

Out of this, Rs 64.66 crore has been posed to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for financial assistance over a period of five years. The remaining Rs 19.8 crore will be spent by various other line departments. The Centre has already released Rs 10 crore towards the CCD in 2007-08.

The CCD was launched as the population of PGTs located in 17 micro projects dwindled. The population of PGTs based on a survey conducted in 2007 is 78,519. They reside in parts of 20 blocks spread over 12 districts — Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Angul, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Ganjam. Out of the micro projects 13 are in scheduled areas and 4 elsewhere.

The State Government has launched several income generating schemes for the PGTs. These include promotion of horticulture, agriculture, land development, small business, processing and marketing of minor forest produce, goatery and irrigation projects. Village roads, market yard and community irrigation projects are covered under the infrastructure development projects.

The CCD for PGTs in Orissa prioritised activities in areas like education, stress on pre-primary education by strengthening the existing gyan mandirs and establishment of an educational complex for improvement of girls’ education, housing, connectivity, safe drinking water and improvement of agriculture.

UAIL resumes work on Rs 4000cr alumina project

Business Standard, Jan 13, 2009

The work on the beleaguered Rs 4000 crore alumina project of the Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) at Kashipur in Orissa's Rayagada district has resumed with the agitating project affected people agreeing to discuss their demands with the authorities.

A high level meeting, under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary Ajit Tripathy, will be held in Bhubaneswar next month to discuss various issues raised by the project affected persons.

Following the assurance of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Southern division), Satyabrata Sahu to this effect at the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) meeting held at Rayagada recently, the agitating locals have allowed the company to resume work. The work was stopped for about 20 days. “The construction work is going on in full swing from the last week", said a senior company officer. The company aimed to start its production from the next year.

Over 500 families of 24 villages in five grampanchayat of Kashipur block in Rayagada district are affected by this alumina project. The company has already acquired about 2000 acreas of land in the area. The project work had started during the 90's. However, it was marred by the stiff opposition from the local villagers and the environmentalists.

The work was stopped for about four years following police firing at Maikancha village, near the project site, in December 2000 in which three tribal agitators had died. When the company restarted work in 2005, the affected people demanded higher compensation for their land and employment to at least one person from each affected family.

The land-losers wanted the compensation package structured in the same line as the one prepared by Vedanta Resources Limited (VRL) for the latter’s project affected people for its Lanjigarh project in Kalahandi. The other demands included withdrawal of cases registered by the police against the villagers. As the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) work for the project was already over, the company agreed to pay an ex-gratia to make up for the difference in the compensation amount, the sources said. The company, meanwhile, has paid around Rs 14 crore out of the projected Rs 19 crore ex-gratia to be paid to the land-losers.

However, the project affected people had started the latest round of agitations from December 16 to press for fulfillment of some more pending demands and sat on dharna in front of the main gate of the company at Doraguda and locked it. They did not allow the company officials to enter the construction site.

Four Courts to Come up in State

The Pioneer, Jan 13, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

The State Government has decided to set up a family court in Bhubaneswar, one additional district civil judge court each at Champua in Keonjhar and Dhramagada in Kalahandi and a first class judicial magistrate court at Jharsuguda. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Law Minister Biswabhusan Harichandan at the State Secretariat on Monday.

In another significant decision, the State Government has also decided to increase the monthly allowances of all the Government advocates. The allowance of the standing council, Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP), and Advocate General would be enhanced. For the last eight years, the advocates are demanding enhancement of their fees and daily allowances. However, the State Government is yet to take a decision from when it would implement its decision.

As per the decision, the Advocate General would get a daily allowance of Rs 800 to Rs 1,600 and monthly allowances of Rs 10,000. The daily-allowances of the Government advocate would be increased to Rs 1,400 from Rs 700. They would get a monthly allowance of Rs 6,000.

The Additional Government advocate would get daily allowances of Rs 1,200 and get a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000. The member of the Standing Council would get Rs 1,000 as daily allowances and a monthly remuneration of Rs 4,000. The Additional standing council member would get Rs 900 daily allowance and monthly allowances of Rs 4,000. The APP would get a daily allowance of Rs 400 and a monthly remuneration of Rs 2,000.The Association Lawyer will get a daily allowance of Rs 300 and a monthly allowance of Rs 2,500.

Govt committed to KBK development, says Naveen

The Pioneer, Jan 13, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

While prioritising road, agriculture and irrigation for ushering in a new development of the KBK region, Chief Minister Naveeen Patnaik on Monday said the Government is committed to the development of the KBK which was neglected by the Congress Government. He was addressing public meetings at Khariar and Nuapada. He said that that he had written letters to the Centre to open another 10 cotton marketing yards in the interest of large number of cotton farmers of this backward district.

Patnaik reached Nupada at 12 noon and went ahead to lay the foundation stones for different projects. First, he laid a foundation stone for the Bhera –-Kuliabandha road. Later, he laid another foundation stone for a bridge over Kharkhara "nullah". Patnaik also laid the foundation stone of establishment of 132 power grid at Nuapada. These areas are facing acute voltage problem. The whole area would get relief once the 132 power grid becomes operational.

In Khariar, he also laid the foundation stone of Rs 105 crore World-Bank assisted road projects from Khariar to Bhawanipatna. He also inaugurated a newly constructed jail in Nuapada district journey. However, the people demanded a 60 bedded hospital for Khariar.

Works Minister A U Singh Deo said the Khariar – Bhawanipatna road is the first of the World Bank assisted loan project for road development of Orissa.

Local MLA and Minister Duryodhan Majhi also spoke on the occasion. Energy Minister Surjya Naryan Patro said the government is committed to light up homes of 18,000 BPL families under the Biju KBK Yojana.

MP Bikram Deo, MLAs Bira Sipka and Yogendra Behera also spoke on the occasion.

Monday, January 12, 2009

BJP president Rajnath Singh to kick off poll campaign from Kalahandi, Jan 12, 2009

By Orissadiary correspondent; Bhubaneswar: The BJP national president Rajnath Singh is all set to blow the party poll campaign from Kalahandi.
The poll campaign by the BJP president has come at a time when there has been no poll understanding between the ruling BJD and BJP in Orissa.
While BJD supremo and chief minister along with BJD Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra have taken the leadership of the party poll campaign in the state, the BJP on the other hand, has decided to kick off its poll campaign.
While the BJP has convened a three-day national session in Nagpur starting from February 6, the party president is scheduled to attend a party meeting at Bhawanipatna on February 5.
Among others, senior BJP leader and in-charge of Orissa Binay Katiyar, Orissa BJP president Suresh Pujari and party’s national vice president Jual Oram would remain present at the meeting.
Prior to this meeting, Katiyar would preside over a party meeting in Keonjhar.
The saffron party will have a last meeting on poll preparation on January 16 at its headquarters office here in which all the party office bearers, MLAs, MPs, all defeated candidates, zilla parishad and Block chairmen and vice chairmen, all party morcha leaders, district party presidents and general secretaries will remain present.
Meanwhile, the BJD has already kicked off its party poll campaign.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who had a whirlwind tour to Ganjam district on Saturday, toured Mahanga and Salepur in Cuttack district on Sunday.
He is scheduled to tour Nuapada district on Monday. Similarly, the BJD Rajya Sabha member after presiding over a party meeting at Mahanga, went to Chandikhol in Jajpur district on Saturday.
He is scheduled to tour the KBK district from Monday and preside over the party meetings at Titlagarh, Narla and other areas of the district.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Orissa to review Maytas run projects

Econimic Times, Jan 11, 2009

BHUBNESWAR: Orissa on Saturday announced it would review all the projects carried out in the state by Maytas Infra Private Limited (MIPL), promoted
by the sons of disgraced Satyam Computer Services chairman B. Ramalinga Raju.

"We will review the projects done by Maytas Infra," Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, secretary of the state water resources department, told reporters.

The company was involved in several irrigation and port projects in the state such as construction of earthen dam, concrete dam and head race tunnel for Upper Indravati Hydro Electric Project in Kalahandi district.

The company was also been involved in ports and construction projects in the state. While some works have been completed, some works are still on, officials sources said.

"They have been given work after they qualified in bids. Now we will keep a close watch on their works," Mohapatra said.

The Orissa government had Friday announced that it would re-examine the application for land that the scam-tainted IT major Satyam Computer Services wants for setting up a new unit in the state.

The company had sought land to set up a business process outsourcing unit, information technology department official P.K. Mohapatra told IANS.

"But we have not yet taken any decision on the matter. We will keep the latest developments in mind," P.K. Mohapatra added.

Satyam's branch in Orissa capital Bhubaneswar has a 440-workforce, a company official said.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Strawberry brings smile, Jan 9, 2009

Farmers around Lanjigarh have another reason to smile.

They are not ordinary farmers producing traditional crops.

Along with Vedanta they have sweetened up their lives by producing strawberries in their fields, probably for the first time in Orissa.

A total of 13 farmers have successfully grown strawberries in Lanjigarh area.

Vedanta Aluminium, under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives provided technical assistance, training, guidance and agricultural inputs like seeds, organic manure, training etc.

Around 70,000 runners were planted in 3.5 acres of land.

The CSR team of Vedanta carried out regular monitoring and supervision of the field for better yield and production.

This not only helped in producing a good harvest but also built confidence among the farmers.

Dr.Mukesh Kumar Chief Operating Officer (COO), Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), feels that “this will help in enhancing the economic condition of farmers in our peripheral villages and fulfilling our commitment to improve the quality of life at Lanjigarh”.

“After the success of the pilot project, strawberry cultivation shall be extended to other villages, covering more number of farmers”, Dr. Kumar added.

The runners developed by the end of November and during the first week of December, it started bearing flowers.

In no time the sweet fruit of hard labor of the farmers bore and ripened in the shape of strawberry by the end of December.

However, it took great time to convince farmers to grow strawberry in a state like Orissa.

The first reaction on hearing the project proposal was completely negative and the farmers showed their unwillingness to take up the project.

The CSR team organized training and awareness sessions to convince and educate the farmers about the benefits and feasibility of the project in this area.

“We had never thought about producing Strawberry. With the support of Vedanta we started cultivating strawberry in our field, said Kataru Majhi.

We are really astonished on seeing the fruits of Strawberry grown by us.

Majhi of Rengopali villages said that still we cannot believe our own eyes.

Now, other farmers are coming to see our fields and the sweet fruit.

We are very happy for having taken up strawberry cultivation”, bemoned he.

Strawberry, being a cash crop, the profit earned from it is much higher than that of their regular produce.

The red fleshy fruit also has a huge commercial viability, based on its demand in the market.

It has increased the present earnings of farmers by Rs. 50000 – 75000 per acre.

“The farmers could see the shift in their production and earning pattern, said Dr.Kumar.

Vedanta is linking up the products with different markets that are commercially viable.

It is in the process of negotiation with some of the leading super markets and hotels to sell the produce.

The first harvest created curiosity among the farmers in the area.

More and more number of farmers are now showing interest to grow this cash crop.

Besides strawberry cultivation, VAL is promoting cultivation of different commercial vegetables under its Sashya Shilpa Abhijan Project.

The project has been successful in introducing new cash crops in the area, besides the traditional cropping pattern.

It has also increased the household income of the farmers and has become a new means to livelihood for the people in this area.

New hope for failing sheep, goat owners

The Statesman, Jan 9, 2009
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, Jan 8: Even though the meat from the district is famous for its special flavour and quality, the production and marketing of livestock in Bhawanipatna has reportedly been below standard due to several factors, including lack of infrastructure, an improper marketing network, irregular vaccination and treatment of livestock, as well as a shortage of available quality breeding centres.
The district has a sizeable livestock population with 86,946 sheep and 223,723 goats, according to a survey by the Veterinary Department. However, sheep and goat owners, traditionally from the economically weaker sections of society, are unable to raise adequate profit despite several schemes launched in the past by the district authorities to promote the sale of meat from the region.
In order to support and encourage sheep rearing, the National Ram and Buck Production Programme was launched in the district in 1992-93, and a sheep rearing farm was started at Jaring soon after, sources said. However in the year 2002 the Directorate of Animal Husbandry ordered the closure of the farm in Jaring, citing high mortality in the sheep as his reason to relocate the farm to Chipilima.
Attempts are now being made to revive the Jaring farm once again, raising the hopes of the animal farmers in the district. An investment of Rs 52 lakhs has been put aside by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, with plans to set up the farm for SGSY beneficiaries. This time, efforts are being made to rear goats instead of sheep in an effort to improve the genetic make-up of the local stock and induce higher growth rate and production. Besides, the climatic condition of the region is better suited to goat rearing, sources said.

Strawberry initiative bears fruit

The Statesman, Jan 9, 2009

BHUBANESWAR, Jan. 8: Thirteen farmers have successfully grown strawberries in Lanjigarh area in Kalahandi district, in an achievement which may change their fellow farmers’ attitude towards cash crop cultivation, as well as to their own fate.
This may be the first such instance for the state, claimed Vedanta Aluminium, who played an instrumental role in the cultivation.
The company provided technical assistance, training, guidance and agricultural support in the form of seeds, organic manure and training, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Around 70,000 runners were planted in 3.5 acres of land. Vedanta's CSR team carried out regular monitoring and supervision of the field to induce better yield and production. The runners developed by the end of November, and during the first week of December they started bearing flowers. The farmers hard work fructified by the end of the month in the form of ripe strawberries.
Company sources confided that it had taken a great deal of time to convince farmers to grow strawberries. Initial reactions on hearing the project proposal were negative, with the majority unwilling to take up the project. In response, the CSR team organised training and awareness sessions to convince and educate the farmers about the benefits and feasibility of the project in this area. “We had never thought about producing strawberries. We are now truly astonished to see the fruits of strawberries grown by us,” said Mr Kataru Majhi of Rengopali Village.
Strawberry, being a cash crop, potentially has a much higher profit margin than regular produce. The red fleshy fruit is extremely lucrative, judging by the high demand in the market. So far, the growth of strawberries has bolstered the earnings of the farmers by Rs. 50,000 to 75,000 per acre. Vedanta Aluminium is now sounding out commercially viable markets for setting up new relationships, and is negotiating with some of the leading supermarkets and hotels in its bid to sell the produce.

Banks adopt 48 industrial clusters to improve credit flow

Business Standard, 9th January, 2009

To improve the flow of credit to industrial clusters and facilitate their all round development, 15 banks operating in Orissa including the public sector State Bank of India (SBI) and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) have adopted 48 clusters.
These clusters are in the sectors like engineering tools, foundry, handloom, food processing, weaving, rice mill, cashew processing, pharmaceuticals, bell metals and carpentry among others.
While SBI has adopted 7 clusters, highest among all the banks, SIDBI, Allahabad Bank and Utkal Gramya Bank have adopted 5 clusters each. Andhra Bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB), United Bank of India and Bank of Baroda have adopted 4 clusters each, officials sources said.
SBI has adopted brass and bell metal clusters ( in Rengali, Balakati, Baidyarajpur and Jajpur town), weaving (Siminai), rice mill (Kalahandi and Nuapara), handloom cluster (Nuapatna and Rajsunakhala), Opera dress (Haripur hat and Jajpur town), palm leaf art work and silver filigree works ( Danda sahi and Raghurajpur).
Similarly, SIDBI has adopted foundry and machinery cluster (Khurda), pharmaceuticals (Cuttack and Bhubaneswar), appliqué (Pipli), handloom and stone carving (Khurda). Public sector Punjab National Bank (PNB) has adopted engineering cluster (Cuttack), plastic and polymer cluster (Balasore and the adjoining areas), foundry (Rourkela) and food processing (Khurda).
While Uco Bank has adopted the engineering and tools cluster (Bhubaneswar and the adjoining areas) and Handloom clusters located at Baragarh, Dhenkanal and Athamallik, Bank of India has adopted pharmaceutical clusters at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Bank of Baroda has adopted clusters at Rourkela (foundry), Angul (aluminium), Berhampur (automobile) and Sambalpur (brass and bell metal).
Similarly, United Bank of India has adopted cashew processing cluster (Ganjam), rice mill (Balasore, Sundergarh, Baragarh and Sambalpur), handloom (Nuapatna in Cuttack district) and engineering cluster at Rourkela.
Sources said, Andhra Bank has adopted the pharmaceutical cluster (in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack), cashew processing (Koraput and Ganjam), kewda processing (Ganjam district), rice mill (Baragarh, Sambalpur, Bolangir and Bhawanipatna) and ayurvedic medicine cluster in Ganjam district.
Besides, Utkal Gramya Bank has adopted small retail trade clusters (in Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur,Baragarh, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Phulbank, Nawarangpur and Koraput), bell metal (Sonepur), bio-sourcing (Baliguda) and Handloom cluster (Baripada).

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