Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bhubaneswar third best place for doing business in India 2009 Report unveiled

Orissa matches Punjab
Tathya.in, June 30, 2009
New Delhi:30/June/2009

Very good news for Orissa!!!

The Capital City of Orissa is found out to be third best place in the country, where doing business is easier.

A new report by IFC and the World Bank finds that it is easier to start and operate a business now than it was three years ago in many large Indian cities.

Doing Business in India 2009 Report unveiled here on 30 June reveals the fact and this compares business regulations across 17 Indian cities.

The report finds it is easiest to start and operate a business in Ludhiana, Hyderabad, and Bhubaneshwar.

Starting a business is fastest in Mumbai and Noida, at 30 days, while it takes 41 in Kochi.

Business start-up is least expensive in Patna.

Resolving a commercial dispute takes about two years in Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, and Kochi, but almost four years in Mumbai.

In presenting the case of Orissa, IPICOL, the industrial promotion institution of the state has taken the lead for which it has improved its position since 2006.

In 2006, Orissa was placed at fifth place in the country among 12 states in the Doing Business Report.

But in 2009, they compared with 17 states and Orissa came third, said a senior expert.

Leading the lot IPICOL Chairman Ashok Dalwai and Managing Director Ashok K Meena was presented the case of Orissa in a befitting manner.

Ground work done by B N Palai, General Manager of IPICOL paid excellent dividends, admitted an insider.

In 14 of the 17 locations it benchmarks, the Report records significant business reforms at the national, state, and municipal levels.

These include computerizing records, putting tax registration online, and setting up single-window systems for permit applications—all making it easier for businesses to comply with rules and regulations.

While all cities in India have a similar legal and institutional framework, local regulations and the implementation of national laws vary.

And these variations across India in the regulatory ease of doing business show the potential for cities to learn from one another.

Compared with economies worldwide, cities in India lag most in the ease of closing a business and paying taxes.

In India, where more than 90 percent of jobs are in the informal sector, regulatory reforms can help businesses operate efficiently in the formal sector.

“Reforms that cut red tape, clarify property rights, and streamline regulatory compliance can yield big payoffs for firms and workers,” said Penelope Brook, Acting Vice President of the World Bank Group’s Financial and Private Sector Development Vice Presidency.

“A greater ease of doing business as measured by the Doing Business report is associated with stronger growth, job creation, and a smaller informal sector.”

Scholarship hike for KBK students

Expressbuzz, June 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government Monday announced revised post-Matric scholarship for Plus-two students of eight upgraded higher secondary schools in the undivided KBK districts.

According to a notification of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Department, post-Matric scholarship for each male student has been increased from Rs 400 to Rs 500 while for the females it is enhanced to Rs 530 from Rs 425.

The revised scholarship will be paid with effect from April 1.

The additional fund that will be required for the revised scholarship will be met out of the KBK’s Revised Long-Term Action Plan (RLTAP).

Residential plus-two students of Malpada High School, Balangir, Lanjigarh High School, Kalahandi, Kumbhariput High School, Koraput, Gobindpalli High School, Malkangiri, Dhodipani High School, Nabarangpur, Dharmabandha High School, Nuapada, Kailashpur High School, Rayagada, and Charbhata High School, Subarnapur, will benefit.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shifting Office from Kalahandi

Dharitri, June 28, 2009

Uncertainty dogs literacy initiative

Expressbuzz, June 29, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: The literacy drive under continuing education programme of National Literacy Mission, launched in 2003-04 in Kalahandi, has lost its way due to financial crunch and lack of direction. The programme was launched for a period of five years with in an estimated cost of Rs 14 crore. But till date, the Zilla Sakshyarata Samiti has received only Rs 5.30 crore.

The initial awareness and literacy movement created has already faded away due to poor funding. Under the programme, 56 Nodal Continuing Education Centres having one prerak and one assistant prerak each and 580 Continuing Education Centres having one prerak and one assistant prerak each are functioning. However, the fund crunch has paralysed the various activities of continuing education in the district. In the process the prerak and assistant preraks of Nodal Continuing Education Centres and Continuing Education Centres have not received their honorarium for last 33 months. There are 658 preraks and 628 assistant preraks working under the project in the district. Incidentally 146 among the preraks are graduates and 19 are post-graduates while among assistant preraks 72 are graduates and 12 are post-graduates.

At a meeting organised by Prerak Sangha of Kalahandi here recently under chairmanship of its president Manoj Kumar Pradhan, participants expressed concern and demanded release of stipulated fund to reactivate the literacy campaign and disburse the outstanding honorarium dues of preraks and assistant preraks. At the meeting MP Bhakta Charan Das was appraised of the plight of the preraks and assistant preraks and urged to intervene.

Incidentally the National Literacy Mission is also confused about the literacy movement. In a letter on February 18, director of Mass Education asked to collector-cum-chairman of Zilla Sakshyarata Samiti to settle accounts of the scheme presently underway in the district stating that the project would be declared closed with effect from March 31. The director further stated in the letter that Centre would implement simultaneous programmes for each category of learners.

After receipt of the letter, the Continuing Education Programme in the district, which would have been closed in September, was wound up in March amid confusion and uncertainty. However, on May 20 and June 2, two letters reached the district authorities which asked them to continue the Continuing Education Programme till the introduction of restructured programme of National Literacy Mission or September 30 whichever is earlier. Thus the programme, which was stopped on March 31, was again revived.

Amidst this confusion, the release of backlog amount of Rs 8.50 crore to the Zilla Sakshyarata Samiti and payment of arrears, including outstanding honorarium to preraks and assistant preraks, have been pushed to the back-burner.

Plants moving from lower to higher altitudes of Kalahandi and Koraput

Plants moving from lower to higher altitudes Expressbuzz, June 29, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Europe has seen it. It’s gradually being witnessed in India. The pace of plant movement from lower to higher altitude has alarmed the ecologists worldwide.

Thanks to global warming, the aquatic plants are now being recorded at the higher altitudes suggesting their upward movement. One such plant which was recorded in plains has been found in Eastern Ghats by a research unit.

Nymphoides parvifolia, which belongs to family of Menyanthaceae is an aquatic angiosperm reported to have occurred in Malyasia, Australia, India and Sri Lanka. But plant researchers have spotted it in the higher altitudes of Koraput and Kalahandi.

The distribution of this species in India, according to `Flora of British India’ and `Flora of Madras Presidency’, is recorded in Western Deccan peninsula, Shillong, Konkon coast and in most part of Gujarat in plains, rice fields and water tanks at mean sea level.

But the plant ecologists came across the species from Krishnamali hills in Karlapat range of Kalahandi district and Maliparbat of Koraput district of Orissa. The plants were seen at an altitude of 950 metre to 1000 metre above the mean see level. Incidentally, it is the first time this species has been reported from the Eastern Ghats of India, says Prasad Kumar Dash who headed the team.

Plants move by dispersing their seeds in the wind blowing them to different locations. According to a study by ‘Science’, more than two thirds of plants in six western European mountain ranges have climbed an average of 29 meter in altitude each decade since 1905.

Plants creep to higher elevation to survive the onslaught of global warming.

Findings of the study suggest altitudes where those seeds might thrive has changed as temperature in those regions has changed.

Dash says species that cannot migrate fast enough to higher altitudes or cooler climes could face extinction due to greenhouse gas emissions which are heating the planet.

67 per cent maternal deaths occur within one week of delivery in the KBK region

High maternal, child mortality deterrent to fulfilment of MDG
The Pioneer, June 29, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

With about 7,50,000 women in the State delivering per year, around 2,500 maternal deaths every year out of which , maternal and child health issues in the State attract attention of not only the policy makers in the country but also international players.

High MMR (358/100000 LB) and IMR (65/1000 LB) puts greater challenges towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG). With only 53 point reduction in MMR within a span of seven years, to achieve the targeted MDG by 2015 seems a distant dream.

Ambitious national rural health programme launched in 2005 envisages articulated changes in the maternal and health services focusing on reduction of MMR (up to 250/100000 LB) and IMR (upto 50/1000 live births) by 2010. But, mere institutional delivery will not help in reducing MMR and IMR unless the facilities are well equipped to provide quality maternal, newborn and child health services along with a truly accountable health service delivery system.

Deliver Now for Women+Children, a global campaign piloted in 12 districts of the State, with the objective to generate community demand for quality maternal and child health services disseminating existing entitlements, create political will for a greater accountable health service delivery system and working closely with media and civil society organisations for monitoring maternal child health services. The aim of the campaign is to supplement the Government efforts for the reduction of MMR and IMR in the State. The campaign was launched on April 11, 2008 by the then Minister of Health & Family Welfare Sanatan Bisi.

The State chapter, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, India (WRAI) in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and its partners across the State organised activities like capacity building of 370 civil society organisations on advocacy and social mobilisation, public hearings in 12 districts mobilising 11,000 (approximately) women on safe motherhood, use of checklists in 204 community and subcentres and 12 district hospitals, media sensitisation in 30 districts mobilising 462 media representatives and exposure visits for two teams of media enabling them to grasp the ground realities on maternal and child health services in the State.

The State was also chosen as the site for a pilot media campaign by Development Media International with five television and 10 radio spots for broadcasting five life saving messages for mother and child care services because of its high rate of maternal and child mortality.

Irrigation department employee suspended

Expressbuzz, June 27, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: A tracer of Kalahandi division of Irrigation department, Subrat Mohanty, has been suspended for allegedly trying to grab the benefits meant for displaced persons of ongoing Ret medium irrigation project.

In the rehabilitation advisory committee meeting of the project held here on Friday, Revenue Divisional Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu annonced the suspension. Mohanty with an aim to get the benefits meant for the displaced purchased three decimals of agriculture land in the submersible area in the name of his wife and claimed to get displaced status and compensation filing fraudulent documents.

His wife is Sikhya Karmi. The matter came to light during an inquiry by Sub collector of Dharamgarh to identify genuine claimants.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vedanta most Environment friendly company in remote Kalahandi

Orissadiary.com, June 27, 2009

Bhubaneswar : VAL has managed to set up a plant in Kalahandi ,a remote district of Orissa where a few dared to reach. With Orissa poised for rapid industrial development, all major industrial houses in steel, aluminum, power, port, ancillary and down stream industries in the state are trying hard to set up their base against all odds like to adopt environmental safeguards to attain the goal of sustainable industrialization. Few are still struggling but, Vedanta has already kickstarted and adopted trendsetting environmental safeguards and employed benchmark technology with best operational practices to develop one MTPA green field alumina refinery backed with Captive Power Plant of 90 MW at Lanjigarh in remote Kalahandi district as one of the world’s premier refinery plant in the country. VAL since its commencement has been obstinately contributing its effort towards the progress in Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) arena. Its HSE arrangement systems are designed to reflect best policies and raise bar continuously in line global benchmarks.

The company has always adhered to a zero discharge rule. The solid wastes generated are carefully deposited in red ponds or disposed of by applying scientific applications. Due to this, the impact on local bio-diversity has been minimal. The company is also emphasizing on zero accident and zero fatality in the refinery plant. It has adopted world class practices in safety, environment and quality. The company was awarded ISO 9001: 2008(QMS), ISO 14001: 2004(EMS) and OSHAS 18001-2002 certificates from BSI in Jan 2009 for safeguarding environmental hazards and creating conducive atmosphere for the employees. The ISO 14001 certification is an internationally accepted standard for effective Environmental Management System (EMS) to reduce environmental impact on water, air, land etc. Similarly ISO 9001:2008(QMS) is one of the world’s best quality frameworks that set the standard of quality management system and OSHAS 18001-2002 promotes a safe and healthy working environment by identifying and controlling health and safety risks.

Along with this VAL has undertaken extensive planting of pollutant resistant and fruit bearing trees in and around the project area to make area green. This will not only serve as a pollution sink & noise barrier but also enhance the bio-diversity of the surroundings. As per the preconditions set by the apex court, VAL has deposited Rs 55 crore as net present value for afforestation and forest preservation. VAL apart from adhering to stringent norms, not only ensures safeguarding of the ecology but also initiates steps towards enhancing the productivity of the soil in and around the plant site, so that the people can maintain their livelihood on a sustainable basis.

Recently Vedanta Aluminium, Lanjigarh was selected as the winner of the prestigious 'Golden Peacock Environment Management Award - 2009’, instituted by the World Environment Foundation (WEF) for its efforts in terms of effective implementation of environment management system and setting high standards in its management. Vedanta

Alumina refinery is the first Alumina Refinery in the country to become the Zero Discharge Refinery. The award is a testimony of relentless efforts by the VAL team members by ensuring the re-cycling process, of 100% treated or untreated effluents within the plant have reduced the dependency on external source of water to a greater extent, besides eliminating the contamination related diseases completely.

Meeting on rehab in Ret project held

The Pioneer, June 28, 2009

Bhawanipatna: A review meeting for rehabilitation in Ret Irrigation Project was held here at the Conference Hall of the Collectorate in presence of Revenue Divisional Commissioner of the South Division Satyabrata Sahu here on Friday. Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das and Collector R Santhagopalan discussed on the issues of identification and provision of compensation to rehabilitated people. They also discussed to increase the compensation amount up to Rs 7 lakh for project-affected people and to provide better education facilities to the youth. Sahu informed that Subrat Mohanty, who was working as a treasurer in the Irrigation Project, was suspended as he found guilty of misleading officials by providing false documents at the time of enquiry related to land acquisition. ADM Chudamani Seth and Lanjigarh MLA Sibaji Majhi also attended the meeting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chhattisgarh and Orissa should work together to get better share in railway in the national level

Chhattisgarh CM demands more rail infra
Business Standrad, June 26, 2009

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh has demanded four new trains and survey of five new railway routes in the state.

Dr Singh wrote a letter to the Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, seeking more rail infrastructure for the state. The Chief Minister had urged the Union Minister to include the proposals of the state in the Rail Budget, proposed to be presented on July 3.

The four new trains that the state had demanded include Durg-Bilaspur-Jammu, Durg-Guwahati, Ambikapur-Bilaspur Intercity Express and a superfast train from Bilaspur to Thiruvananthapuram, state government officials said here today.

The state government had also sought new rail lines in the northern part of the state to facilitate transportation of coal from the mineral rich pocket. Besides Raigarh-Mad-Gharghora-Tamnaar, Dr Singh has urged the Railway Minister to conduct survey for laying new rail lines between Ambikapur and Barwadih (Jharkhand), Korba-Katghora-Pendra, and Dongargarh-Kawardha-Mungeli-Takhatpur.

The Chief Minister has also demanded conversion of Raipur- Dhamtari narrow-gauge line into broad gauge and to conduct survey of extending the line upto Dallirajharra-Jagdalpur line to enable easy transportation of iron-ore from the Rowghat mines.

Sources said Dr Singh wanted to hand over the proposals to the Railway Minister during his recent New Delhi visit. But since Mamata Banerjee was in Kolkata, the meeting could not take place.

The state government had pointed out that the Bilaspur zone of Railway in Chhattisgarh was generating maximum revenue for the railways. Despite this, the region remained neglected in the rail infrastructure.

Dr Singh has also urged to sanction new railway station for the proposed new capital of Chhattisgarh.
..........................................................
Copy of an email sent to CM of Chhattisgarh on July 2, 2008

To
The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Dr Singh

Copt to: The Governor of Chhattisgarh, Mr Narsimhan,
The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr Patnaik,


Dear honorable Chief-minister of Chhatisgarh, Dr Singh,

I would like to bring your kind attention to the following petition.

http://www.petitiononline.com/kbkrail/petition.html

I hope along with Orissa Government, Chhatisgarh state Government would take this issue to the central Government for declaring railway project in KBK and bordering Chhattisgarh region as National Project since the whole region is naxal prone, backward, hilly and tribal populated, so that people living in the bordering area of both the states are enormously benefited.

Thank you and kind regards

Digambara Patra
...............................................
Sub:- Declare railway projects in multi-facet backward KBK and bordering regions in Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh as National Project in the Line of North Eastern States of India

To
The President of India
The Prime Minister of India

Copy to:
The Union Railway Minister
The Chief Minister of Orissa
The Chief Minister of Chhatisgarh
Planning Commission of India
Chairman, Indian Railway Board
Media

Dear honorable President and Prime minister of India,

Kalahandi-Balangir- Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa is a multi-facet backward region due to hilly backwardness, tribal populated backwardness and backward due to natural calamities.

Similar backward regions in India like North Eastern States have received special treatment by railway board where as KBK region has been neglected since decades. Even hilly region like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand have received special package in railway by Govt. of India. Unfortunately, KBK region where backwardness is multi-facet has not yet received similar treatment.

Naxal activities are predominantly high in the border between Orissa and Chhatisgarh/ Andhra Pradesh due to poor communication and infrastructure and recently it is spreading to other bordering and backward districts like Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts.

The railway infrastructure in Orissa and Chhatisgarh is substantially low compared to national average despite both the states are in the profit making zones, where as railway infrastructure in Bihar and West Bengal are remarkably high though they are in the loss making zones.

Ref: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/maps/all_india.htm

East Coast zone and South Eastern zone (under which Orisss state comes) and South East Central zone (under which Chhatisgarh state comes) of Indian railways are among top most profit making zones and large amount profit made by Indian railway comes from the royalty by transporting coal, metals, ores, and minerals which Orissa and Chhatisgarh substantially contribute, however, Indian railway has ignored Orissa, specially KBK region, since decades.

Ref: http://www.orissalinks.com/orissagrowth/archives/489

Politically, Indian railway was being always misused by railway ministry and development in the important backward but profit making states like Orissa and Chhatisgarh was being marginalized.

For example, Khordha road – Balangir and Lanjigarh road – Junagarh railway lines in Orissa which were approved much earlier than Muzaffarpur – Sitamari and Sultangang-Deogarh railway lines in Bihar are still struggling to be accomplished, but other two lines in Bihar are completed by now.

Ref: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/

During last 15 years, more railway lines were approved in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal (all of them comes under loss making zones) than Orissa and Chhatisgarh (both are in profit making zones). The lines accomplished in Orissa are solely due to mineral transportation for railway’s own interest unlike in those above states mentioned earlier.

In last 5 years Indian railway is establishing three railway plants in Bihar (loss making zone) and one in Kerala (another loss making zone), but none of the plants including the recently proposed power plant by Indian railway, was being established in Orissa or Chhatisgarh despite profit making zones and rich in coal. Such railway plant through Govt. initiative in multi-facet backward region like KBK is imminent for social development.

Since decades, funds allotted in the railway budgets to profit making zones like East Coast railway (ECOR) and South East Central railway (SECR) is lower/comparable as/to that of loss making zones like Eastern railway, North Eastern railway and Southern railway zones. The large amount of funds allotted to ECOR is towards mineral transportation and there was very little fund towards social need of the state.

We do not have any objection towards development of railway infrastructure in Bihar, West Bengal and any other states in India rather would like to see their well being, but we are totally against the marginalization of Indian railway towards backward state and region like Orissa, Chhatisgarh and KBK.

We propose Orissa and Chhatisgarh State Governments to give land free of cost for railway development in the backward region and Central Government of India to declare all the railway projects in KBK and bordering regions in Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh as national projects in the line of North Eastern states of India as soon as possible, and

(i) Accomplish immediately Khordha road – Balangir railway line to connect the KBK region with state capital

(ii) Approve Junagarh – Ambagura line proposed under extension of Lanjigarh road – Junagarh line

(iii) Approve Bargarh – Padampur - Nuapada road - Kantabanji – Khariar- Ampani-Navarangur- Jeypore – Makangiri – Kottagudem (Andhra Pradesh) new line in the backward region, which would help to monitor naxal acitivities by bringing development in the region

(iv) Carry out new survey and approve Rajim (Chhatisgarh) – Gariaband (Chhatisgarh) – Deobhog (Chhatisgahr) – Junagarh – Lanjigarh road – Simanbadi (Kandhamal) – Asika- Berhampur – Gopalpur line to directly connect Raipur with Gopalpur port passing through one of the most backward regions of India.

(v) Carry out new survey and approve Dhamtari (Chhatisgarh) – Umarrkote (Orissa) – Nabrangpur (Orissa) line, an alternative direct access to Gopalpur and Visakhapatnam ports from Raipur and other mining region in Chhatisgarh.

(vi) Carry out new survey and approve Simanbadi -Phulbani-Angul line to benefit NALCO by further reducing the distance between Damanjodi (Asia’s largest Alumina plant) and Angul and passing through tribal backward region.


Thank you and best regards
Sincerely,

Govt tells Southco to begin power cuts

Govt tells Southco to begin power cuts
Times of India, June 25, 2009
25 Jun 2009, 2251 hrs IST, Hrusikesh Mohanty, TNN

BERHAMPUR: Faced with a sharp fall in power generation because of the curren dry spell, Orissa has asked electricity distribution company, Southco, to regulate supply and start power cuts.

"The state load dispatch centre (SLDC) has asked us to reduce power supply by about 70 per cent in peak hours from Thursday," Southco general manager (commerce) S C Choudhury said. Currently, the company has restricted power supply to 50 and 40 per cent for peak and off peak hours respectively.

The private power distribution company requires around 243 MW a day to cater to the needs of its nearly 650,000 consumers. "We have managed the situation by reducing power supply to industries by 75 per cent," he said. Despite this, three to four hours of power cut a day in urban areas and up to six hours in rural areas had to be enforced.

Southco engineers are now trying to tide over the situation and give top priority to household consumers. "At least 10 senior engineers are working to find a solution," Choudhury said. Southco, a Reliance Energy unit, is entrusted with supplying power in ten south Orissa districts Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Malkanagiri, Nabaranagapur, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Kalahandi and Nuapada.

With the average demand for power being about 2,900 MW in peak hours, the state is facing a deficit of 300 to 400 MW every day.

Orissa Rajya Bidyut Sramika Karmachari Sangha (ORBSKS) has blamed the distribution companies for the crisis. "The distribution companies have not spent a pie for the improvement of power distribution or to maintain transformers to streamline supply," ORBSKS working president Bhubaneswar Rao said. "As a result, , not only are consumers suffering, but innocent employees of the company are facing public ire as well," Rao added.

MP demands for railway development in Orissa

The Samaja, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Education in Kalahandi: Towards development

Merinews.com, June 25, 2009
CJ: Bikram Panda

Kalahandi has been neglected both by the Central and the state government many time. The Central University is a much needed platform to be set up in Kalahandi..

KALAHANDI IS in news for wrong reasons since the 80's. Lots of things have changed in this two decades. The present Kalahandi has grown in terms of education, culture, tradition, industry wise,power generation, farming, mining, etc. From the current research through internet/web a report has been prepared as below:-

1) There are more then 1000 plus software engineers working in Bangalore from Kalahandi, aged between 25 to 30

2) Kalahandi's Government Autonomous College at Bhawanipatna has a good track record. Every year, 2-3 students have made it to the top 10 in the Orissa CHSE level in all the streams like Science, Arts and Commerce.

3) Every year, 2-3 people are joining IIT / BITS from Kalahandi.

4) Kalahandi has 200 plus NRIs working at different places across the world

5) Every year more then 200 students are join courses in engineering or MBA or MCA.

This statistics shows the current development across Kalahandi, which needs to be accelerated. If the Central University is set up in Kalahandi, it would be a great source to accelerate the development amongst students of Kalahandi and the surrounding areas.

Various online news that politicians, bureaucrats and NRIs are trying their best for setting up a Central University in Kalahandi. Not much is know about how and when the request was put up and why the Government failed to execute the request. Hopefully, the state run by Navin Government and the Central UPA government can fulfill the request.

Unique Identification Number to India's citizens

Nilekani to have Cabinet minister rank as Identification project head
Times of India, June 25, 2009

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday set in motion the process of providing a Unique Identification Number to India's citizens and appointed
Infosys Technologies co-chairman Nandan Nilekani as head of an authority for this purpose.

The move to set up the UID Authority of India (UIDAI), under the aegis of the Planning Commission, is aimed at providing a unique identity to the targeted population of the flagship schemes to ensure that the benefits reach them, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters here after the Cabinet meeting.

As chairman of the body, Nilekani will have Cabinet minister rank and status, she said.

"The authority shall have the responsibilities to lay down plans and policies to implement the Unique Identification Scheme (UID), shall own and operate the Unique Identification Number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis," she said.

The authority will identify the targeted groups for various flagship programmes, she added.

The flagship schemes of the UPA include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman.

The unique identification number would ensure that any lacuna in these schemes is removed so that the benefits do not reach those they are not meant for.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Union government of India to implement in 100 days recommendations for setting up of a national commission in higher education and research

Govt might disband UGC, AICTE; to implement Yash Pal report in 100 days
Indian Express, June 24, 2009

New Delhi: Taking forward the process of reforms, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the government will try to implement in 100 days the Yash Pal committee's recommendations for setting up of a national commission in higher education and research.

"The report seeks to show a roadmap for future of education in India. The recommendations are pivotal for reforms. I believe it will be accepted by the nation," Sibal told reporters after eminent educationist Prof Yash Pal submitted the report to him at his office in New Delhi.

"Yash Pal committee has taken everybody on board in preparing the report. We will proceed with consensus and try to implement the report in 100 days," he said.

The report on 'Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education' has been prepared after much consultation with all the stakeholders, including students and teachers, Prof Pal said.

"Our education system has become compartmentalised over the years. We have tried to bridge the gap between institutions and disciplines. We have suggested setting up of National Commission for Higher Education and Research which will be an apex body in education," he said.

The 24-member panel in its report has said that existing regulatory bodies like UGC and AICTE have no business to perform the regulatory role. The universities will be made self-regulatory agencies.

The National Commission for Higher Education and Research will be a constitutional body like Election Commission. Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India will select people for the post of chairperson and members of the commission.

The Constitution will have to be amended to create the commission. The government will bring a new bill for creation of the commission. The bill will specify the role of the councils and whether the councils will continue at all.

"We have said these councils will no more decide what should be the design and structure of courses in universities. The universities themselves will decide their own course," a member of the panel said.

The thrust is to give full autonomy to universities which will function as self regulatory bodies and will be vested with all academic responsibilities. They will design the function and structure of programmes, including the medical and engineering courses, the member said.

The Commission will oversee the functioning of the universities and act as a facilitator for proper growth of higher education and research.

NOTE: Prof Yashpal has also suggested converting all IITs and IIMs as Universities which I think would be good. Indian Universities or institution should work as real university and as independent institutions. As he rightly points out many of the private engineering/medical colleges in India are diluting the quality of education though few of them are providing exceptionally good education. Quality of education should not be diluted in the name of privatisation. Orissa Government should also adopt similar policy instead of establishing Engineering or medical colleges, it should establish real universities in Kalahandi, Balangir, Keonjhar, Phulbani and Angul along with faculties of medicine & engineering within it. It should also expand NIT Rourkela, IIT Bhubaneswar, Berhampur University, Sambalpur University, Utkal University, North Orissa University, Fakir Mohan University, Ravenshwa University and VVSUT to become real universities incorporating science, arts, management, medicine & engineering in thier folds, similar to the proposed Central University of Orissa at Koraput and National University at Bhubaneswar.

Computerised ticket system has been introduced in Bhawanipatna Bus Stand

‘OSRTC earnin g pro fits its’
Express News ServiceFirst Published : 20 Jun 2009 11:05:32 AM ISTLast Updated:
Expressbuzz, June 20, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Minister of State for Commerce and Transport Sanjib Kumar Sahu today said in the Assembly that the Orissa State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) has started making profits in the last three financial years.


Replying to a question from Jitu Patnaik (Ind), the Minister said the corporation made a profit of Rs 710.74 lakh in 2008-09 while in 2007-08, the profit was Rs 266.81 lakh.

The profit of the corporation in 2006-07 was Rs 87.17 crore, he said.

The Minister said computerised ticket system has been introduced in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Jeypore, Balangir, Bhawanipatna and Visakhapatnam bus stands.

Introduction of this facility in some more bus stands are under consideration, the Minister said.

Maoists strike in Nuapada, attack Sunabeda sanctuary

The Pioneer, June 24, 2009
PNS | Nuapada/ Koraput/ Bhubaneswar

After making their presence felt in other parts of the State for the first time the Red Brigade proved that they have spread their network to the peaceful Nuapada district and are in the process of opening a new front as they targeted the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary. A group of 20 armed Left-wing guerrillas ran amok in the sanctuary on Monday night.

The Maoists reportedly abducted six forest officials, who were present in the Forest Department office inside the sanctuary when the attack took place. The rebels smashed the office doors and windows, ransacked the office and set ablaze official documents before fleeing with VHF gadgets and mobile phones.

The jittery forest officials informed that the Maoists were from Chhattisgarh and armed to the teeth with arms and ammunitions and the Red rebels had also used an ambulance with the Government of Orissa logo.

After getting the information about the attack, Nuapada Superintendent of Police rushed to the spot. But chastened by the experience in Narayanpatna the police moved in carefully to avoid any landmines or IEDs planted by the guerillas to target them.

In another Maoist related incident, the ultras kidnapped four residents of Sonpur village in Daringibadi block of Kandhamal district on Sunday night. The abducted persons are Manmohan Pradhan, Surendra Pradhan, Agadhu Nayak and Tirasinga Pradhan, sources said. Though the incident took place on Sunday night news came to light only on Monday night. However, police said they had no information about the abduction by Maoists.

Meanwhile, Naryanpatna is still cut off from other parts of the State and road communications are disrupted. Due to logistical problems the prices of essential commodities have sky rocketed. Meanwhile some food materials were airlifted by helicopter to the cut off area for the police forces who were facing shortage of rations. Speaking to The Pioneer SW Range DIG Sanjeeb Panda said the overall situation in the area was peaceful.

The Central Government has sent an advisory to the State Government that the Maoists are carrying out a lucrative ganja cultivation which is filling up their coffers and it advised the State to destroy the illegal cultivations.

Paddy procurement delayed in Bhawanipatna

The Statesman, June 24, 2009
Statesman News Service

BHAWANIPATNA, 23 JUNE: Despite the delayed monsoon this year, Kalahandi district has not yet reached its target of paddy procurement for Rabi season due to the lackadaisical attitude of Central agencies like the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
Not only the farmers, but also the district administration is worried over such apathy of the agencies, who keep on providing lame excuses like storage space crunch to cover up their poor performance in the ongoing paddy procurement process.
Predictably, with more than 50,000 Metric Tons of unsold paddy still lying with the farmers, and monsoon rain likely to lash at any time, distress sale of paddy have been alleged in many pockets of the district causing resentment among the farmers and concern for the administration.
Though the monsoon rain is delayed by about two weeks this year and may arrive at any time, harvested paddy is lying unsold in many places mainly in Indravati aycut area, sources said.
Without any other alternative, the district administration has asked the agencies of the state government to expediting procuring paddy from the farmers to save them from distress sale and fear of loss due to rain.
For the procurement of Rabi paddy, different state agencies like Orissa State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd, Orissa State Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd (Markfed), Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society, FCI, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed), Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Orissa Ltd (TDCC), National Collateral Management Service Ltd (NCMSL) and National Bulk Handling Corporation Ltd (NBHC) have been entrusted with the task of procurement of paddy from the farmers through Regional Cooperative marketing Societies with millers working as the sub-agents.
Official sources said that till date only 1,36,450 Metric Tons of paddy has been procured by three agencies namely Orissa State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd, Markfed and Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society. The first one has played a prominent role by procuring 1,04,469 Metric Tons of paddy so far.
Shockingly, the Central agencies like FCI, Nafed, TDCC, NCMSL and NBHC have not reportedly procured a single grain of paddy yet causing a major setback to the entire procurement process.
The Food Corporation of India has not participated in the procurement process and is not even willing to take delivery of rice from other state agencies on the pretext of no space in its godowns in the district.
The FCI, having 73, 500 Metric Tons capacity godowns at Kesinga, Bhawanipatna, Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna in the district claim that these are all filled-up.
FCI authorities are also not taking steps for diversion of stocks stored in the district to other states causing the present stalemate.
Even repeated request by the district administration to do the needful has so far fallen on deaf ears.
The district administration which has failed yet to utilise the services of these Central agencies, is now finding no alternative to meet the situation and has directed the civil supply corporation and NAFED to procure the balance quantities of paddy lying with the farmers within a week so that stocks will be cleared before the onset of monsoon.
"For the larger interest of the farmers, it is high time the FCI should clear its godowns by inter-state transfer and participate in procurement," said a senior district official. "Similarly space should be created in the civil supply corporation godowns by inter-district transfer of rice early, so that the corporation will be able to procure the balance paddy," he added.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inner Voice: Story of Failure by Dr. A. K. Padhi

Sambad, June 23, 2009

Orissa poised to become knowledge hub of eastern India

The Hindu Business Line, June 23, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Orissa is poised to become the knowledge and education hub of eastern India with a number of central institutions and private universities coming up in the State, the Chief Minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik, has said.

Work for setting up one engineering college each at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi and Berhampur in Ganjam district is already in progress, while one IIT, one IIIT (Indian Institute of Information Technology) and one unit of NISER has already come up, Mr Patn aik said here on Monday.

The Chief Minister, who was here to inaugurate a building of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, said an agriculture college would also come up at Bhawanipatna and the State's oldest engineering college at Burla will get the status of a deemed u niversity. - PTI

Orissa to give land deeds to tribals after vacation of stay

indopia.in, June 23, 2009

Berhampur (Orissa), June 22 The Orissa government would give land deeds to tribals settled in jungles under the Forest Rights Act as soon as a stay on it was vacated in the High Court.

Around 30,000 to 40,000 tribals in the state would be benefitted under the Act, while 20,000 would get jungle land in southern Orissa districts including Koraput, Kalahandi and Kandhamal, Orissa Revenue minister S N Patro said today.

The Act has been stayed by the HC, but as soon as it was vacated, the government was ready to provide the land deeds to tribals settled in forest areas, Patro said.

"We have settled about 33 cases and returned about 15 acres to tribals in Narayanpatna block in Koraput district by June 10," Orissa Revenue minister Patro told newsmen.

The government took the initiative at Narayanpatna after tribal body Chasi Mulia Sangh took possession of about 500 acres taken over by non-tribals there.

Two senior officers have been deputed to dispose cases of tribals in Narayanpatna by holding camp courts and efforts were on to settle the land disputes in other districts.

The government has asked those who purchased the land belonging to tribals after 1956 to submit an affidavit showing reasons under section 22 of the Orissa Land Reforms Act, Patro said.

The district administration has been asked to examine the records of post-1956 period, the minister said.

Kalahandi produces highest per capita food and its food productivity is better than the national average

From Employment Guarantee to National Food Security
Mainstream, Vol. XLVII, No 27, June 20, 2009
by Sitaram Kumbhar, 22 June 2009

The President of India Pratibha Patel, in her first address to the joint session of Parliament after 15th Lok Sabha election, said that the UPA Government would pass a legislation called the “National Food Security Act” (NFSA) which would entitle, by law, to every family below the the poverty line in rural as well as urban areas to 25 kg of rice or wheat a month at Rs 3 a kg. This is something historic. The NFSA will guarantee that cheap foodgrain is made available to those who can claim it. It is a good idea that after an assured income for the rural poor through the NREGA, the government is planning to implement the NFSA because now the poor would have money to procure foodgrains. The steps taken in recent years to alleviate poverty should have come in the 1950s itself though the government had fiscal commitments to different sectors immediately after India’s political independence in 1947. India would have reduced poverty long back provided the growth-mediated strategy to reduce poverty, which did not fit into the Indian conditions, was replaced by strategies of direct attack on rural poverty.

Nevertheless, high growth can lead to higher allocation for the social sector provided the government has the political will. The East Asian countries could reduce poverty permanently through a growth-mediated approach; they could do so because these countries had already overcome many of the social inequalities before adopting the market-mediated approach. The Government of India has started doing things now which many of these countries had done long back. However, it is always difficult to introduce radical change in democracies because in such countries building consensus on some of the national issues becomes difficult. It is difficult to discount the Opposition which is the basic tenet of democracy. Land reform in India is one such example. In authoritarian regimes radical change is possible because they do not have to build consensus, if there are differences, and can easily overcome any opposition unlike what a democratic regime can do.

Food security is central to any fight against rural poverty in India. The government has started understanding the fact that hunger and starvation deaths are not due to low per capita food production of a particular region. It is often due to the deficit of capability to get access to food. We can take the example of the “Kalahandi” district (Orissa), one of the poorest districts in India where starvation is somewhat common. It is a matter of surprise that the Kalahandi district is a food surplus district. It produces highest per capita food and its food productivity is better than the national average of per capita food production. It exports foodgrains to nearby districts. Now the question is: Can we consider low productivity of foodgrains the only reason of poverty? The planners had thought it to be the main reason of poverty in India. Thus, higher agricultural productivity is necessary but not a sufficient condition to avert any kind of food insecurity.

No doubt, India needs higher food production to ward off any unforeseen food crisis in the country, particularly due to natural calamities and drought. If food production keeps pace with the population growth, India’s dependency on the foreign countries for foodgrains can be overcome. It should be kept in mind that a large number the children, old and sick, women and poor people are malnourished due lack of access to nutritious food. The state of malnourished children needs special attention of the government. Many people in rural India go to bed without food though a huge quantity of foodgrains is rotting in the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) godown due to lack of proper management.

In the last five years India has witnessed two historic legislations, the Right to Information (RTI) Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which have enormous potential to revivify India and rural India in particular. The “National Food Security Act” is likely to be an addition to the ongoing engagement of the government with the rural poor.

In fact, the Congress Party in its manifesto pledged to “enact a Right to Food Law that guarantees access to sufficient food for all the people, particularly the most vulnerable sectors of the society”. The President, in her speech to the joint session of Parliament, said that it would be the priority of the government to immediately convert right to food into a law. The government need not make a law in haste. It needs to work with the civil society organisations and other activists who have familiarity with the functioning of the public works at the grassroots level. It should put in place legal safeguards to ward off any corruption and pilferage of foodgrains meant for the poor. However, what needs to be seen is that whether the likely legislation would be a mere modification of the existing Public Distribution System (PDS). It seems that the Right to Food will be similar to the PDS which is in operation ever since the 1960s. The PDS is not free from large scale corruption. The Congress party’s election manifesto further stated that “every family below the poverty line either in rural or urban areas will be entitled by law to 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs 3 per kg”. A similar provision already exists in the PDS though it is limited to a small segment of the population. Therefore, it can take the opportunity to learn from the PDS’ failures before implementing the NFSA.

With the passing of many anti-poverty legislations it seems likely that the government will try to temper the struggles of civil society organisations and tribals for land reforms. These legislations should not divert the people’s attention from land reform. Thousands of landless tribals and displaced farmers walked to New Delhi from Gwalior demanding land reforms which forced the Government to constitute a “Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms” with experts drawn from related specialisations and fields. (The Hindustan Times, October 30, 2007) They had to walk 340 km to register their protest in Delhi. The recommendation of the committee would be put up to the “National Land Reform Council”, headed by the Prime Minister. One of the main demands of the participants of “Janadesh 2007” was the setting up of National Land Authority to look into land and livelihood disputes. It was also to look into issues related to ceiling on landholdings, distribution of land to the eligible persons, including the landless.

In recent years land reforms have been badly neglected in India. This is unfortunate as land reform has a very important role to play in poverty alleviation, increasing productivity and bringing peace and justice to India’s villages. Providing a secure land base to landless and near landless peasants is of the greatest significance to provide them food security and to reduce their poverty. Land reforms help in farm productivity, protect land fertility, sustainable use of land and wasteland development as first generation farmers are more likely to work for soil and water conservation. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UNFAO) report Agriculture Towards 2000, in the specific context of India, said: “Redistribution of only five per cent of farm land in India, coupled with improved access to water could reduce rural poverty levels by 30 per cent under what they would be, so that in Indian conditions land and water reform would be a key approach.” Even the World Bank also supports this view that greater equality in land distribution helps in increasing productivity. The UNFAO, in one of its recent reports, says: “Food prices remained high in many developing countries and access to food by the poor continued to be threatened by loss of employment, income and other effects of the global economic crisis.” The NFSA will be helpful for the poor during this economic slump. The Tenth Plan document agrees that land distribution to poor landless peasants is important. As the document says, “ownership of even a small plot of land enables a family to raise its income, improve its nutritional status, have access to credit facilities and lead a more dignified life”. Agricultural labourers, therefore, need to be provided access to land to improve their economic and social well-being.

Another important point is: what would be the attitude of the government towards the “capability enhancing policies” which are crucial for alleviating poverty permanently. The government needs to focus on the capability enhancing policies which will go a long way in reducing the perennial dependency of the people for basic necessities by enabling them to take personal initiative themselves. This will gradually help people to move above the poverty line. Underestimation of capability enhancing policies is the main reason why the government policies have failed to reduce poverty significantly. Poverty is a relative concept. It is also a process. It is a process because while a group of people move above the poverty line as a result of the government’s policy interventions, simultaneously another group of people falls below the poverty line. Therefore, it needs different policy interventions to address the problems of different categories of poor. For example, the people on the verge of the officially drawn line.

The PDS and National Food Security Act

The President of India, Pratibha Patel, in her address to the joint session of Parliament talked about the NFSA. But the government can learn from the history of perennial failures in the PDS, before implementing the NFSA. The poor need an efficient ration system. A well-functioning PDS is critical to maintaining the price stability of food articles. There are demands from many quarters in favour of restructuring the PDS. India needs the PDS for the poor, but unless it is efficient, procures adequate quantities of foodgrains and delivers food to the poor, it could become an albatross and an opportunity for the rent seekers to enrich themselves. Some of the studies have found that the government spends Rs 3.65 to transfer Rs 1 to the poor. About 58 per cent of the subsidised grain does not reach the target group, of which a little over 36 per cent is siphoned off the supply chain.

In 2008, the PDS was in the news that it could be in for a major overhaul with the Supreme Court accepting the Justice Wadhwa Committee report, which had recommended abolition of the above poverty line (ALP) category and a revision of the BPL category to include a larger percentage of population besides door-to-door survey to weed out ghost cards. The Apex Court gave an in-principle nod to the Wadhwa Committee report which had suggested the upper income limit to hold a BPL card be more then doubled from Rs 24,000 to Rs 49,284.

The welfare gains of the PDS in terms of income transfer are very meagre and the impact on poverty and nutritional status minimal. Even the meagre transfer benefits were realised at an exorbitant cost. There are gross misappropriations of resources devoted to it for distribution through the PDS. In 2007, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) had pointed to the distortions in the system. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the foodgrains supplied are reaching the needy. The foodgrains made available to the State governments are diverted in a big way. Only a fraction of BPL families are availing food from the fair price shop. The huge diversion of foodgrains needs course correction. The NSSO report points out major lacunae in targeting social assistance through BPL ration cards in the rural areas. For instance, in the North-Eastern States, except Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, 100 per cent of wheat is diverted. (The Times of India, September 17, 2007)

The NSSO (2007) suggested that as against a desired 100 per cent coverage, only 41 per cent of the households, placed at the bottom of monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) list of rural households, possessed ration cards meant for BPL families. While, in contrast, about 11 per cent of the totally undeserving households, falling in the top five per cent of the rural household, hold ration cards meant for BPL families. Some of the studies suggest that about two-fifths of the BPL cards in India are with the non-poor households. In many States a majority of households in abject deprived groups do not possess a BPL card. The misuse of the BPL card is higher in many States. In economically weaker States like Orissa, a higher proportion of non-poor households possess a BPL card. The PDS in its present form has evolved in the wake of critical, national-level food shortage in the 1960s. The scheme has probably contributed to a containment of upward pressures of food prices and ensured access of food to the consumers. Of all the safety nets that were in operation in India, the most far-reaching in terms of coverage as well as public expenditure (on subsidy) is the PDS prior to the implementation of the NREGA.

Therefore, the PDS is no less radical than the NREGA in which highly subsidised rice is provided to people at rupees two per kilogram. The nexus between the politicians and unscrupulous bureaucrats is systematically siphoning off the food items meant for the PDS. The NHRC representatives had discovered the ration cards scandal with over 90,000 fake ration cards in operation in Nawarangpur district, of which Orissa Government had to cancel 76,164 ration cards in 2002. Mortgaging of ration cards was a strange discovery. The State elites should not get away with non-implementation or corruption because of “political weakness of the intended beneficiaries—the poor—as an organised interest group”.

Poverty and Welfare Schemes

India is not famous for its democracy alone; it is also famous as the second largest populous country with huge segment of its population under the trap of abject poverty. It is a matter of fact that anti-poverty measures in India have achieved nothing substantial to uplift a major segment of the population from the poverty trap. The Government of India has adopted many democratic poverty alleviation strategies and mechanisms with the pumping of huge financial resources. The democratic intervention in the form of redistribution and direct attack on poverty is very old. However, it is a matter of regret that chronic poverty continues to hound major segments of the rural populace in India. India is on the 94th position, as per the Global Hunger Index, out of 118 countries. All the South Asian countries have done well in poverty alleviation. India occupies the 132nd position among 179 countries in the UNDP’s 2009 Human Development Index. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), in one of its reports in 2006, had expressed despondency over the discovery of the fact that India had contributed a majority to the pool of malnourished mass of the world. It is a matter of concern that the incidence of poverty in some of the backward regions and among some specific sections of people is very high.

It is also a fact that faster economic growth has not trickled down to reduce poverty. Therefore, it is imperative to find a path to reduce poverty faster at this juncture because the growth-mediated approach to reduce poverty like the East Asian countries might not be pertinent to the Indian case. It is historic to achieve faster economic growth through democratic means and orderly rule. It is a success of Indian democracy that it has improved its mechanism to raise resources through different sources including taxation which will help India to support its deteriorating public sector, especially health, PDS, primary education etc. It is true that all sections of the Indian society are not benefiting equally from the wealth created by the reform processes in the country. India is facing manifold challenges to rapidly reduce poverty in a sustained manner and to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

India has had a slow record in reducing poverty in the last decade. This needs self-introspection on the part of the agencies which are engaged in and committed to uplifting the poor from the trap of abject poverty. The difficulties the Government of India faced immediately after the nation’s political independence in 1947 was the paucity of funds to implement different capability enhancing policies and lack of adequate food to feed the growing population. This got aggravated due to manifold internal and external exigencies. Now the situation is quite different. There is no paucity of funds and foodstocks to implement anti-poverty programmes and feed the hungry population. The former is true because the funds meant for implementing one of the radical anti-poverty schemes, the NREGS, instituted by the government, is not being implemented with vigour and dynamism by some of the State governments.

The crux of the problem today is non-implementation. The grassroots experience in the implementation of anti-poverty programmes suggests that it needs pro-people mechanism with transparency and accountability because the people are passive recipient of such schemes. There is a need to increase the capacity of the Indian Government agencies and bureaucracy to implement funds meant for the poor. The planners and policy-makers need to grapple with the difficulties associated with the implementing agencies. Once the problem of implementation is solved the problem of poverty will be very well tackled. This is imperative because the funds meant for the poor are not reaching them often questioning the relevance of many of the anti-poverty schemes. The equalising policies of the Government of India have failed to achieve the desired expectations.

The poverty alleviation schemes have not reduced poverty significantly due to the non-implementation and siphoning off of funds. Paucity of funds is not a problem to alleviate poverty. Today the problem is due to the incapacity of the policy-makers to overcome the challenges of reaching to the poor. The implementing agencies have surplus resources but do not know how to spend these so as to help the poor. There is no regular monitoring of such schemes to curb siphoning off of the funds.

Therefore, it is imperative that the concerned authorities improve the implementation mechanism to reduce poverty and put the equalising policies on the right path to empower the powerless. The NFSA will fail unless the implementation mechanism is improved, made pro-poor and vigorous. To realise the very purpose of the NFSA the implementing agencies need to reform themselves, otherwise this radical legislation for food security will face the same fate like many other schemes and fail to fulfil the purpose for which they are conceived.

The author is an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Shyamlal College, University of Delhi.

4 lakh quintals of paddy seed for farmers during kharif

Expressbuzz, June 22, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa State Seeds Corporation (OSSC) will provide four lakh quintals of paddy seed during the kharif.

Last year, 2.5 lakh quintals paddy seed was supplied. According to corporation chairman Golak Behari Nayak, so far 3.35 lakh quintal seed had been supplied to the farmers while another 65,000 quintal will be provided by month-end. The seeds are produced by the farmers and sold as certified seeds after processing them at a concessional rate of Rs 1,000 per quintal.

Besides, the corporation has already provided 10,000 quintals of groundnut seed to the farmers of Bargarh, Sundagrah, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Angul, Dhenkanal and Ganjam. Another 5,000 quintals will be supplied.

State agencies yet to lift rabi paddy

Expressbuzz, June 22, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: Farmer of Kalahandi are a harassed lot. Different state agencies are yet to procure rabi paddy and this has resulted in distress sale in various parts of the district. In many pockets of Indravati ayecut area, nearly 50,000 metric tonnes (mt ) of harvested paddy are lying unsold.

According to reports, so far Orissa Supply Corporation (OSC), Markfed and Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society have only procured 1,36,450 mt of paddy.

While the OSC has procured 1,04,469 mt , Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society 9,157 and Markfed has procured 23,023 quintals of paddy.

Whereas Food Corporation of India (FCI), Nafed, TDCC, NCMSL and NBHC are yet to begin procurement. Sources said the FCI has 73,500 mtmt capacity godowns at Kesinga, Bhawanipatna, Dharamgarh, Junagarh and Jaipatna but as these godowns are full, the agency has stopped further procurement. Similarly, the 42,717 mtmt capacity godowns of the CSC are full with kharif paddy. Besides, millers attached with the CSC have stored 1,50,000 quintals of paddy in their godowns.

Meanwhile, the district administration conducted a review meeting of paddy procurement recently and urged the FCI to empty the godowns. To combat the situation, the administration directed CSC and Nafed to procure all the remaining paddy from farmers so that the stocks are cleared before the onset of monsoon.

Kalahandi plunges into darkness

Expressbuzz, June 22, 2009

BHAWANIPATNA: Nineteen hours of power cut daily is making life difficult for the people of Kalahandi, who are already reeling under unrelenting heatwave and sultry weather conditions.

The district has been facing 19-hour-long power cut for the last five days. In Bhawanipatna and elsewhere in the district, this has affected water supply, health services, official and commercial works.

Public resentment against apathy of the district administration spilled onto the streets with the members of Kalahandi Citizen Committee and Bar Association picketing in front of the collectorate yesterday demanding an early settlement of the problem.

Incidentally, against the district’s minimum requirement of 28 mega watts (MW) power supply, it just gets 18 MW. The low supply is being attributed to absence of proper infrastructure and lack of maintenance of grids.

The Kesinga grid has not been upgraded and despite repeated reminders, a proposed grid station at Bhawanipatna is yet to be set up.

Locals alleged that both Gridco and Wesco are responsible for the harassment meted to the public.

To add to their woes, Wesco authorities instead of repairing the defects and normalising power supply, recently made a public announcement that the problem will continue indefinitely and there will be one hour of power supply followed by two hours of power cuts every day.

It informed that the problem was due to maintenance work at Thirubali.

District Collector, R.S. Gopalan said VAL is negotiating to provide two MW of power soon to compensate the short supply by Gridco to the district and Gridco has also negotiated to set up the 133 KV grid station at Bhawanipatna and upgrade the Kesinga grid at the earliest.

Govt gets ready to take a fresh look at land issues

Expressbuzz, June 22, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Government, in its urgency to push through the welfare programmes in the run up to the elections, had completely forgotten land problems in the tribal regions. Post-Narayanpatna, it seemed to have woken up to the issue.

Rightly sensing that the ongoing tribal uprising could spread to other parts of the KBK region and radicals could take advantage of it, the Government has decided upon a series of revenue-related steps which can go a long way in addressing land disputes, at the core of the uprising.

For a beginning, top brass of the Revenue Department will meet all field officers of the 10 revenue districts under the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (South) during the next four to five weeks and take stock of the situation.

Important issues like encroachment, revenue collection, displacement, land acquisition and disaster preparedness would be reviewed, and when necessary, exemplary action would be taken against the erring revenue officials.

As part of the plan, the first meeting would be held at Berhampur on Monday when status of Ganjam and Gajapati would be reviewed. Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro will directly meet the field officials.

The next meeting will be held at Koraput towards the end of the month to review the scenario of the undivided district. The subsequent phases would see the perusal at Kandhamal and Kalahandi districts.

Besides, the Government is also keen on settling rights of forest dwellers in these areas under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. For, this will pacify the restive tribals.

However, it would require leave of the Orissa High Court since the matter is sub judice.

``In the Southern Revenue Division itself, we have finalised 20,000 pattas. Once the HC allows us to settle the rights, we would go right ahead,’’ RDC (South) Satyabrata Sahu told this paper.

In fact, in Narayanpatna alone, 1,636 pattas have been finalised and waiting to be restored in favour of the tribals.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Patil, who was appointed new Sub-Collector of Koraput, joined duty today and has been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing an action plan in the next one week. The plan will comprise both revenue issues and development map for the area.

ART to be provided at regional level

Expressbuzz, June 20, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Faced with an increasing HIV and AIDS burden, the Orissa State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) has begun work on making anti-retro viral therapy (ART) available at the regional and community level.

From the present system of provision of ART medicines to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) through the designated centres at the three tertiary health institutions, the MKCG Medical College and Hospital at Berhampur, SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack and VSS Medical College and Hospital at Burla along with the district headquarter hospital at Koraput, four new ART centres are soon soing to be operationalised at DHH Balasore, DHH Angul, DHH Bolangir and Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar.

But to expand the services to the grassroots, the OSACs has planned to establish Link ART centres tagged with the main ART Centres to supply medicines to PLHAs as per the advice and recommendations of the senior medical officer of the latter. The Area Hospital Aska, DHH Gajapati, DHH Rayagada, SDH Bhanjanagar, CHC Polsara and CHC Khalikote would be linked to the MKCGMCH while the DHHs at Angul, Puri, Kendrapara, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Dhenkanal and Kalahandi would be attached to the SCBMCH. The DHHs at Kalahandi, Bargarh, Bolangir, Rourkela would be link ARTs of VSSMCH and Nabarangpur DHH to be linked with DHH Koraput.

The OSACs has also proposed to establish four new Community Care Centres (CCs) in the State during the current year. The Centres function at the community level providing low cost care to PLHAs.

They receive treatment for opportunistic infections, nutrition and counselling. Each CCC can attend to 10 PLHAs for a period of minimum five days and maximum 15 days.

Presently, five CCCs are functioning at Koraput, Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack and Balasore.

By the end of April this year, the number of HIV positive persons have been estimated to be around 13,039 with Ganjam posting the highest number at 5239 and Cuttack coming second at 1815. Of the 1085 full blown AIDS cases, 388 are from Ganjam and 112 from Cuttack.

As many as 868 people have lost their lives due to AIDS with 318 from Ganjam, 68 from Kendrapara, 65 from Puri and 41 at Koraput.

According to statistics from 2002 to April this year, 77.73 percent of HIV positive cases belong to the age group of 25-49. Parent to child transmission has been recorded in 2.73 percent of the cases.

Sexual route of transmission corners the bulk with 83 percent of the cases, with parent to child transmission accounting for nine percent and infected syringes and needles 2.6 percent.

Issues of the masses in theatre

Expressbuzz, June 20, 2009

IN a non-descript village near Pallahara town of Angul district, an old man of a tribal community was having a heated argument with a young man of his community. “Don’t blame the elephant as an enemy of the human beings, for, they enter into our territory occasionally and damage our crops or houses. Ten years ago, they were not like this. Humans and elephants were friends forever till then. Rather it is we – the humans – who destroy their habitat and render them homeless. When your neighbour illegally occupies a few inches of your land -, you revolt. Why should not animals react when you mercilessly occupy their territory – the forest.”

As Subodh Patnaik, the founder-director of the touring Natya Chetana theatre troupe, overheard the debate, he had his inspiration and the idea for his new production “Bana” (forest) that was premiered in the Capital City last week on the World Environment Day before being taken for a state-wide presentation under its familiar initiative – Antaranga Natya Jatra (intimate theatre trip) that is currently underway in Kalahandi region and will move through Kandhmal, Boudh, Sonepur, Angul and Keonjhar districts.

The play, spread over 80 minutes, poignantly portrays the issues of deforestation, forest rights, rights of the wild animals, role of the government agencies thereof, the greed of the multi-nationals to occupy forest land and resources for mining projects, the role of politicians elected from the same tribal community, the politics of religion to occupy the forest region and the crisis confronted by the tribals and animals for whom the forest is a secured home. Young theatre director and actress Sujata Priyambada has directed the play with a Midas touch too. “She has followed the principal features discovered by Natya Chetana to establish the style as a contemporary Indian theatre style that helps the audience to relate to the settings,” explained Subodh, known for his innovative approach that makes the production simpler and makes the audience more intimate to it.

The play has a variety of characters – a politician, a bureaucrat, (a forest officer, the politician’s daughter, a foreigner, a Father of the Church, a tribal girl and a tribal boy, a Hindu priest and a musician. Interestingly, the troupe members are from diverse backgrounds – from the professionally groomed troupe of Natya Chetana, an actress from The Netherlands and some from the villages where the troupe had its research on the issue before producing the play. Though these village boys were acting on stage for the first time in their life, it was incredibly natural that received appreciation from stalwarts like Bijay Mohanty and Ajit Das, both prominent actors and theatre personalities, who launched the play at the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya auditorium in Bhubaneswar.

shyamharichakra@gmail.com

Latha Jishnu: Dealing with bow and arrow

Buisnees Standard, June 19, 2009

The views of the Lalgarh siege are largely determined by what the media considers the essence of the confrontation. We have seen pictures of torched CPI(M) buildings with the trademark hammer and sickle going up in flames, Maoists (angry villagers?) on the rampage, a chilling shot of a corpse outside the party office, the paramilitary forces in action — in combat positions and clean-up operations (men being dragged out of homes and taken into custody). Fundamentally, these tell a story of an uprising that is being brought under control by the heavy hand of the security forces nearly eight months after it started, a small battle that may be won in the many insurgencies that shake India.

But there is a more striking image that merits closer attention — of a huge rally of peasant women on November 7, 2008. They are dressed in colourful saris, hair neatly pulled back in buns, their dark faces determined and unsmiling. Most of them are wielding bow and arrow, a few with arrows at the ready. Others have axes slung across their shoulders, as is the wont of tribal folk, as they march on the Lalgarh police station.

Who are these women? Yes, we know these are women from Lalgarh who were incensed when men of their village were arrested randomly after Maoists had ambushed a convoy of the West Bengal chief minister just a few days earlier. Most of the angry villagers have banded themselves under the banner of the Lalgarh People’s Committee against Police Atrocities, which seems a fairly straightforward description of their cause. But they have all been dubbed Maoists now by officialdom and the media, even if ideology is far from being the spur that drove them to take on the state.

Take the case of the Dongria Khonds who managed to make their way to the Belamba village in Kalahandi district of Orissa for a public hearing in April on Vedanta’s plans to expand their aluminum refinery to the world’s largest such facility. Most of them were not allowed to speak — the brute force of the state aligned with corporate power, managed to keep them out. The Adivasis are fighting to retain their sacred mountain, and the source of amazing natural bounty that keeps them from the hungry maws of the bulldozers seeking the rich bauxite deposits in Niyamgiri. The clashes began six years ago and are set to become more confrontational when the mining work starts. Soon, the Maoists/Naxalites will come to their aid, or the tribal people will themselves be dubbed Maoists.

The point here is, does 21st-century India, determinedly pushing for higher and higher growth rates, understand the women with the bows and arrows, or the hill people with a radically different perspective on life? Does Lalgarh provide some pointers to what fuels the Naxalite/Maoist insurgencies across 125 districts of the country? The answer is yes and no. Although such struggles are fuelled by different causes, there are some fairly well-known reasons why the extremist movement is burgeoning. They draw their support from the deprived and dispossessed. To start with, one can be fairly certain that the Lalgarh women who are said to be Maoist supporters if not Maoists themselves, are predominantly Dalit or Adivasi. As such they are likely to have faced various forms of oppression, and been denied justice along with social, legal and political rights. They are also likely to be among the poorest strata.

This is the analysis of the report of an expert group set up by the Planning Commission in 2006 which submitted its report in April 2008. ‘Development Challenges in Extremist-Affected Areas’, a 95-page report prepared by a group of administrators with experience of dealing with extremism, social scientists and human rights activists, is an excellent delineation of the causes of alienation, some well-known and others that give a fresh perspective on the issue. The report says it found some common aspects in its study of the 125 Naxal-influenced districts.

The main support for the Naxalite movement, it points out, comes from Dalits and Adivasis, who comprise about a fourth of India’s population and usually in areas where there are high levels of rural distress among SCs and STs. And predictably, the report listed land issues, internal displacement from industrialisation, the growing hordes of the project-affected, as other contributory factors. But it also touched upon the class divide that makes even the best policy prescriptions futile.

“It is a matter of common observation that the inequalities between classes, between town and country, and between the upper castes and the underprivileged communities are increasing. That this has potential for tremendous unrest is recognised by all. But somehow policy prescriptions presume otherwise. As the responsibility of the state for providing equal social rights recedes in the sphere of policymaking, we have two worlds of education, two worlds of health, two worlds of transport and two worlds of housing, with a gaping divide in between.”

It’s a stark truth that the newly-enlightened government of Manmohan Singh, which harps on inclusive growth, should not ignore. Clearly, it would be extremely difficult for the largely urban and Western-educated ruling class—the current UPA government has the largest number of MPs who studied in American and British universities — who are also among the richest in the country (300 crorepatis in the Lok Sabha, mostly businessmen) to relate to axe-wielding women who seek justice and honour in the rough backwoods of the country. And it matters little what the political persuasion of the rulers is. States ruled by parties as different from each other (or perhaps not) as the Congress, the BJP, the CPI(M) or the BJD are all struggling with the problem of alienation and extremism.

All of them ought to take the dust off the report which offers some excellent administrative suggestions for coping with the Naxalite challenge. What the report does not offer is a political solution that is at the heart of the problem. It was not the brief of the group; for the government though, it must be the guiding core. It needs to put forward a vision of development that addresses the concerns of the millions who do not feel part of the changing India. Politics has to change before anything else can.

NCC may open Naval unit at Bhawanipatna

NCC move to open 4 new units in Orissa
Times of India, June 19, 2009

BERHAMPUR: In an attempt to increase its strength, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) directorate is working on a plan to open at least four more units,
including a Naval one, in the state by this year.

Currently, there are 24 units comprising 44,000 cadets in the state. The operating units include 19 army wing, one air wing, three naval wings and one girls division.

"While the proposed naval unit will be set up at Bhabanipatan in Kalahandi district, the others will come up at Malkanagiri, Nabarangapur and Rayagada," NCC (Orissa) deputy director general L K Agrawalla said. "About 5,000 to 6,000 cadets will be deputed in the proposed units," he added. Agrawalla was here to inspect the group office here and to visit camps of cadets at Tamapara, near Chhatrapur in Ganjam district.

"The proposal for the new units was pending at the ministry of defence for approval," the DDG said. "NCC's director general has already approved the proposal to set up additional units in Orissa," he added.

"NCC cadets in the proposed units will help the government to combat the Maoist menace in the area apart from taking part in other social services," he added.

Malkanagiri, Nabarangapur and Rayagada have been identified as Naxal infested districts. Nine security personnel were killed in Koraput district on Thursday in a landmine blast.

"The new cadets will assist the government to minimize Maoist activities in the area," he said. NCC's main objective is to maintain discipline and do social service.

On the June 24 Rath Yatra, 400 NCC cadets will help manage the crowd along with the cops. On the next day, they will clean the temple. "The temple administration has requested us in this regard," Agrawalla added.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Government Medical Colleges in Orissa




State Government Medical Colleges in Orissa:
SCB Medical College Cuttack
VSS Medical College Sambalpur
MKCG Medical College Berhampur
Capital (Hospital) Medical College Bhubaneswar
Medical College in Balasore (proposed)

Medical College proposed by Central Government Ministries in Orissa:
AIIMS like institute in Bhubaneswar
ESIC Medical College Bhubaneswar (better to make it in Balangir/Rourkela)
Medical College in Talcher by MCI (Ministry of Coal)
Medical College in Balasore by Defence Department (proposed)
Medical College under Central University of Orissa at Koraput
Medical College under IGNTU branch in Phulbani (proposed)

Private Medical Colleges in Orissa
KIMS Bhubaneswar
Hi-Tech Medical College Bhubaneswar
Sum & IMS medical College Bhubaneswar

There are many other private medical college proposals in Bhubaneswar, Puri (Vedanta University, world class hospital), Balasore, Koraput, Naraja (Cuttack), Choudwar (Cuttack), Berhampur, Kalahandi (through WODC), Balangir (through WODC), Rourkela (through WODC & others) that needs to be functional.

Social Need in KBK region
Private medical colleges & hospitals rarely fulfill need of poor people in place like Kalahandi or Balangir, where geographical location can be more valuable to save life. Many lives are being lost every year in the KBK region just because of this. When state Government is establishing Government medical colleges in other parts of Orissa where similar private one is being proposed, there is also no logic why simultaneously Government should not establish Government medical college in KBK, especially where it is absolutely necessary, when private one is being encouraged through WODC.

Best things to do for the state Government of Orissa:
1. State Government medical college in Sundergarh, the ideal would be if ESIC Medical College is not possible in Balangir due to members then establish it in Sundergarh (Rourkela)
2. State Government medical college in Kalahandi
3. State Government medical college in Balangir
4. State Government medical college in Keonjhar
5. State Government medical college in Mayurbhanj
6. Pursuing to convert VSS medical college to AIIMS type institution


A Letter by Professor Chitta Baral

Dear Esteemed Prime Minister and Health Minister:

Please do not play politics on the AIIMS-like institute in Bhubaneswar.

The foundation stone of this institute in Bhubaneswar was laid in 2003. In between 5 years of UPA government rule has passed in Delhi and nothing visible (beyond a boundary wall) has happened.

For the last 5 years, people of Orissa, representatives of Orissa (both MLAs, MPs), and Orissa CM have raised this issue and of no avail. In response to various parliament questions your ministers have always given one excuse or other for the delay.

And now for the first time Mr. Azad comes to Bhubaneswar and lays blame on the state government. (http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/centre-to-setnew-aiims-branches-in-three-years/64962/on ). This is playing politics on peoples lives and their health.

While the UPA government made a lot of progress on many fields (such as starting of classes on the new IITs, RTI, NREGS etc.) it has been grossly incompetent on the AIIMS issue.

To solve a problem, one must first admit that there is a problem. Please admit that your health ministry has been grossly incompetent and start over from there.

Please don't play politics with people's lives and their health. Please start the AIIMS-like institute in Bhubaneswar as soon as possible and to compensate for the delay as well as to take care of the backward areas of Orissa please immediately upgrade one of the exisiting medical college in the backward Western or Southern Orissa (one in Behampur or Burla) to the AIIMS level.

In West Bengal your are making a new AIIMS as well as upgrading Calcutta Medical College. In UP you will have a new AIIMS and are upgrading 3 medical colleges to AIIMS level.

In Mahasrashtra, Tamil Nadu, J&K and Andhra Pradesh you are upgrading two medical colleges to the AIIMS level. All these has been compiled from your web sites and PIBs and put together at http://www.orissalinks.com/archives/2111 .

Why not in Orissa? I sincerely hope that it is not because you had or have friendly governments in West Bengal, Mahasrashtra, Tamil Nadu, J&K and Andhra Pradesh and are eyeing UP and don't really care about Orissa and its people?

Why do some other states get a new AIIMS as well as upgradation of multiple medical colleges to AIIMS level, and some get multiple upgradations to AIIMS level, while in Orissa no progress has happened for 5 years with respect to an announced AIIMS?

Sirs: Please pray tell us if this is not neglecting Orissa, what is?

Sirs: I again beg; Please do not play politics with people's lives and health. Please expedite the establishment of AIIMS in Bhubaneswar and update an exisiting medical college in the backward region of Orissa to the AIIMS level.

sincerely,

Chitta Baral
Professor, Arizona State University

Central University of Orissa at Koraput would include medical & engineering faculties, IGNTU in Phulbani may be named after Lakhman Nayak

Samaja, June 19, 2009

Corruption bedevils rural job scheme in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, June 19, 2009
Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the biggest anti-poverty scheme for rural people in the history of India, is gradually becoming less of an employment guarantee drive for them and more of an income guarantee opportunity for most of the concerned officials.

The district of Kalahandi was in wide discussion publicly last year for the failure in implementation of the NREGS Central scheme at Chancher GP under Bhawanipatna block during the time of then Collector Pramod Patnaik, when six irresponsible officials were dragged to court after their suspension for embezzlement of Government funds and recovery was made by the court.

The same thing has happened again here at Gudialipadar Gram Panchayat under Bhawanipatna Block, situated hardly 8 km away from the town where names of dead persons, physically challenged persons and migrant labourers have been included in the muster roll and their wage money has been siphoned off by the concerned officials.

Talking to The Pioneer, Gudialipadar Naib Sarpanch Dinabandhu Saha said he had complained to the Collector of Kalahandi, R Santhgopalan, on July 19, 2008 in the presence of PD, DRDA about the irregularities done by the Panchayat officers, Sarpanch and others but to no avail. When no action was taken by the District Administration, he further complained through a letter sent by courier on October 23, 2008 with all documentary evidences. After a long wait, the Naib Sarpanch again met the Collector on January 24, 2009. Besides this, he had also submitted a written complaint to the Chief Minister, Revenue Commissioner and Vigilance Department of Jeypore.

At last, the district administration served a notice to the Gudialipadar Panchayat officials for an inquiry into the matter on June 17, 2009 following which the APD, DRDA, Kalahandi reached Gudialipadar Panchayat recently.

The Naib Sarpanch alleged before the APD that the road work estimated at Rs 5 lakh under NREGS fund from Goudpada to Kurlubhata Road of Sardhapur village was constructed in two phases between March 16-29, 2007 and May 25-June 10, 2007. It was revealed that three physically challenged and mentally retarded persons namely Pandara Deep, Jaleswar Majhi and Rama Mahananda were issued job cards for 12 days and Rs 1,135, Rs 1,017, Rs 922 have been siphoned off in the muster roll by the concerned officials but neither they have done any work nor they have got any percentage from the corrupt officials. Similarly another physically challenged married women namely Rajeswari Majhi, wife of Debarchan Majhi of Upkabhata, Gananathpur has been included in the muster roll and the money has also been embezzled.

It was further alleged that two dead persons, Padu Sabar and Kala Mani Sabar, who had both died on August 9, 2006 have been shown in the muster roll and their money has also been siphoned off. The Naib Sarpanch also complained that muster rolls have been partly filled up in the name of migrant labourers. The inquiry in this regard is going on.

Antodaya cards swapped for old age pension in Nuapada

The Pioneer, June 19, 2009
Pradeep Baisakh | Bhubaneswar

The old people of Sunabeda panchayat under Komana block in Nuapada district have virtually been pushed into a state of starvation. Placed in a protected area, which is characterised by stringent forest laws that limits the livelihood options of the poor tribals, the public distribution system (PDS) seems to be serving as a lifeline for them.

But unfortunately, in this panchayat there are about sixty cases where the cards of old people — mostly from the Bhunjia community, a primitive tribal group (PTG), and from the Paharia community, a backward class but no less backward than any primitive tribal group — under Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) have been snatched away while they were given the old age pension by the panchayat office in February 2008.

“This is gross violation of the Supreme Court’s special order (interim order passed on May 2, 2003, which had directed the Government of India to place all the PTGs under the (AAY) category. It should be investigated and settled by the appropriate authorities,” said advisor to the Supreme Court Commission on Right to Food Rajkishor Mishra.

Under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAP), old people of and above 65 years of age are provided with a sum of Rs 200 per month, whereas under the Antodaya scheme the poorest of poor people get 35 kg rice per month at the rate of Rs 2 a kg. While under the rules an old person is entitled to getting both, present Panchayat Executive Officer (PEO) Kamal Singh Majhi says that as per the orders from the SDM and BDO offices the then PEO had given the option of choosing one among these two to the people.

The people then preferred the old age pension scheme as it provides hard cash and surrendered their Antodaya cards.

This has badly affected the food security of senior and vulnerable citizens. Dhansingh Majji of Junapani village in the panchayat also surrendered his Antodaya card in favour of pension, but now he does not get two-time good meal per day.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Nuapada Gurucharan Prasad admitted that there is no such rule that prevents a person to get old age pension after he has got the Antodaya card. ADM and Collector-in-charge Amarendra Rath assured to look into the matter and correct the mistakes, if done.

In the tribal areas, after marriage the sons stay in separate families. The PDS and old age pension schemes have been complementary to each other and assume a lot more significance in the protected areas. If a family of old people avails both the schemes, it can get 35 kg of rice for Rs 70 and the rest Rs 130 may very well be spent on purchasing ration and vegetables. Though both together are insufficient for a two times’ good diet a day for a full month, it may at least keep off starvation.

“This is quite injustice on part of administration to befool people in this remote area, taking advantage of their lack of awareness on the schemes. This case has gone unnoticed for last more than a year. It is only after our intervention that the matter has come to limelight,” said Sameet Panda, who works with the advisor’s office.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No let up in heatwave in Orissa, Bhawanipatna at 42.3 Degree Celsius

No let up in heatwave in Orissa, one more dead
Daily News & Analysis. June 18, 2009

Bhubaneswar: One more person succumbed to the heat wave in Orissa on Wednesday even as weather office predicted no let up in the searing conditions for two more days.

The victim died of sunstroke in Angul district, officials said adding the number of suspected heat related deaths remained at 174.

Highest number of eight deaths due to sunstroke were reported in Khurda and Dhenkanal districts, they said.

A large part of the state including the state capital on Wednesday recorded temperatures above 40 degree Celsius. The highest 45 degree Celsius was reported at Sambalpur.

The capital city was sizzling at 41.6 Degree Celsius and relative humidity touching 89 per cent.

Hirakud which recorded 44.4 Degree Celsius was followed by Jharsuguda (44.3), Bolangir (43.3), Talcher (43.2), Titlagarh (43), Malkangiri (42.4), Bhawanipatna (42.3), Angul (42.1) and Cuttack (41.1).

Though there was little bit rainfall at Paradip and Champua in Keonjhar district, most parts of the state experienced dry and hot climate, Met office sources said.