Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lakhs witness Chhatra Yatra of Manikeswari

The Pioneer, Sept 30, 2009
Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

The famous Chhatra Yatra of Goddess Manikeswari of Bhawanipatna here, a very famous and popular ceremony, was held on Saturday amidst traditional rites and rituals.

More than two lakh devotees from the district as well as from other parts of the State congregated here to take part in the celebrations.

After performing the traditional sandhi puja on mahastami night at the Manikeswari temple, rituals were performed on mahanavami morning at Jenakhal.

The ceremonial Chhatra of goddess Manikeswari was taken from Jenakhal to Manikeswari temple covering about three kilometres which took five hours to reach the temple.

The deity was accompanied with dancers performing Ghumura and other tribal dances. Devotees followed the deity and sacrificed around 20,000 goats and hens to fulfill their wishes.

However, devotees were upset as police failed to check severe traffic congestion during the procession.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sign the online petition for development of Western Odisha in higher education

Kindly sign the online petition as given in below link for development of Western Odisha in higher education.

Distribute national institution first in every undivided district‏

Dear honornale chief minister, Mr. Patanik,
Both Samablpur and Berhampur were considered as regional centers along with Bhubaneswar/Cuttack region. There are already many national institutions coming around Bhubaneswar-Cuttack region recently whereas there was a single proposal for IIIT in Berhampur and Sambalpur-Burla has not got any national institution so far.

I think it would be benefical for the whole state if NID and IIFT are established in Berhampur along with IIIT. Similarly, the proposed National University (world class University) in Orissa (at this moment in Bhubaneswar) could be establiashed in Samablpur by specially requesting Human Resource Development Minister as there is already a new airport coming up in Jharsuguda. In fact as per Yash Pal committe all the proposed IIT would be like National University, so there is no point keeping two in one location, rather encouraging in other part of the satate such as in Sambalpur. Even I do not mind if central Govt. do not pursue for the airport in such National University establishment and National University is established in Kalahandi, Western Orissa region, (as local people have been working hard since 1988 for a central University there and you did not keep your promise to establish a similar one last time, people are more frustarted over this development and it should be corrected). In addition a new demand for an IIM could be made for Sambalpur. And it should not be the case that it is raised in the name of Odisha and finally IIM gets establish again in Bhubaneswar.

Similalry, Orissa Govt should pursue for a medical college by defence Department in Balasore, ESI medical college in Rourkela, Medical college by Coal ministry in Angul, off campus of IGNTU in Kalahandi by MHRD, a Tribal University in Kandhamal by ministry of Tribal affairs, an Indian school of mining in Keonjhar and a central Govt. technical institution in Balangir.

I hope you will take this issue to make sure each undivided district of Orissa gets one national institution before concentrating only in one location, so that every region would be economically and educationally benefited with regards to establishment of National Institution in Orissa.

Thank you

With best regards

Letter to CM: Tribal Univ in Kandhamal and IGNTU off campus in Kalahandi

Sept 25, 2009

Dear honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
I appreciate and welcome your demand for a Tribal University for Kandhamal to the ministry of Union Minister for Tribal Affairs (The Pioneer, Sept 25, 2009).

Kandhamal is like other KBK districts which need equal attention like KBK region in infrastructure, railways and higher education, especially Lanjigarh road – Phulbani – Angul railway connection is more important towards local development of the region. Similarly, a direct state highway connecting Lanjigarh road – Simanbadi - Bhanjanagar would be beneficial.

On the other hand as reported by the media (Central Chronicle, Sept 14, 2009),

there would be 7 campuses of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University Amarkantak across India. Out of them two, one at Amarkantak and other one in Manipur, have started functioning recently. Orissa should not lag behind in this regard.

We have received a letter from Mr. R D Sahay, Director of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) that “ it had already been decided by this Ministry that the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University could consider establishment of one of its off-campuses in Kalahandi district during the 11th Plan Period, subject to availability of resources”

Earlier Orissa state Government had proposed a similar branch in Phulbani after the unfortunate Kandhamal riots. But from the letter it is clear that MHRD had decided for an off campus of IGNTU branch in Kalahandi much before Orissa state Government had proposed for a similar branch in Phulbani. The time line is given in the following link.

Therefore, unlike the case of recent controversy on proposed ESI medical college in Orissa, state Government sould not encourage politics to play in the development of backward regions, Kalahandi and Kandhamal, as both of them need more concentration in development.

There is no reason wahy Orissa state Government should discourage IGNTU off campus in Kalahandi only due to the decision taken by central Government because always state Government has a greater role to play to select location and alloting land for such establishment.

Rather I urge you take the personal initiaitive to speed up the process for establishing IGNTU branch in Kalahandi with the MHRD, Govt. of India and seriously pursue for a completely new tribal University in Kandhamal under ministry of tribal affairs, Govt. of India by making each and every Orissa people proud of you without geographical boundary.

Earlier, state – centre politics had put Orissa much backward in higher education, being a highly qualified and knowledgeable Chief Minister, I wish you will make sure politics would have less space over development of both Kalahandi and Kandhamal in higher education.

I anticipate state Government will immediately pursue for IGNTU off campus in Kalahandi under MHRD to start in the coming year and for a tribal University in Kandhamal under ministry of tribal affairs.

Thank you and best regards

Digambara Patra


Dear all,
Wish you all a very happy Dussehra!

My heartiest congratulation to all the group members in taking initiatives for development of Kalahandi. Now, I am sharing about the functioning of one charitable hospital namely MAA SANTOSHI JANAKALYAN FOUNDATION HOSPITAL (Regd. No. 318/ 2004) in a remote village Bankakudru of Lanjigarh block.

The hospital is established during 2002 by "1008-Mahamandalesw ar MAA SANTOSHI" Haridwar, Uttaranchal at a cost of Rs.25 lakhs in one acre of land donated by Sri Bhagaban Goud and his brother of Bankakudru, after an unexpected visit of Thy Holy Maa to Bankakundru during the year 2000 with an objective to extend medical aid to the tribals and the down trodden who were deprived of getting medical assistance from any other source.

This 10-beded hospital is serving the deprived communities from 6 GPs of Lanjigarh block, 2 GPs of Th. Rampur block and 1 GP of Kalyansingpur block of Rayagada district. Manned with 2 doctors, 2 Pharmacists and 2 other supporting staffs, the hospital has already rendered its services to 59,398 nos. of outdoor patients and 1087 nos. of indoor patients up to May, 2009.

With a limited monthly provision of Rs. 25,000/- from the trust, the doctors and the staffs are managing their livelihoods. Free medicines for both indoor and outdoor patients and free fooding for indoor patients costing a minimum average of Rs. 10,000/- per month is used to be borne by the convener Sri Maturam Agrawal of Bhawanipatna.
In spite of all odds like scarcity of funds, staff quarters, ambulance, electricity and other basic infrastructure facilities, the doctors and staffs of the hospital are rendering their services dedicatedly, which is hard to believe. The functioning of the hospital was more or less known to local leaders and district administration but not much is done so far for its improvement. Recently after the outbreak of diarrhea/ cholera and admitting the initiatives taken by the Maa Santoshi Janakalyan Foundation Hospital in combating the situation, District Collector, Kalahandi has requested vide his letter no. 173/Dev. dated 7th September,09 to Health Deptt, Orissa to establish a PHC at Bijepur of Lanjigarh block and entrust it to Maa Santoshi Janakalyan Foundation under PPP mode.

Now for a noble cause, can we think how to materialize this welcoming step initiated by the district administration or any type of personal contribution or spread a message round the world about the hospital for its improvement?

For more information please contact:
Maa Santoshi Janakalyan Foundation Hospital, Bankakundru
C/O Neha Furnitures, Bhawanipatna- 766001
Phone- 06670-232404, Mob- 09437140567

With regards,

Monday, September 28, 2009

A clarification on National University in undivided Sambalpur district vs in Kalahandi

The Samaja, Sept 26, 2009 (Sambalpur edition)

NROs demand National University in undivided Sambalpur district

Clarification: Reading memorandum by KDDF and news reported in SAMAJA (Sept 26, 2009, Sambalpur edition), we received many mails from Bhawanipatna and in Kalahandi region including our well wishers in last two days, saying “they are already continuing to demand a National / international University in Kalahandi since past year and have already met leader of opposition who has raised this issue with central and state Government and pursuing the same with local leaders to convince central Government for a national or international University in Kalahandi after losing the central University. Now suggesting BSJ region for National University is confusing."

We contiune to support their demand for a national / central/ international University in Kalahandi, however, this time we had asked for National University of Orissa in BSJ instead of Bhubaneswar (original memoradum is given below). Our concern was if airport is a major criteria for the National University to be established in Bhubaneswar then BSJ region can also fulfill the same criteria. Politically similar criteria is always used by state Government against Western Orissa region like the case it happened for IIT in Burla, Central University in Kalahandi and very recently ESIC medical college in Balangir despite the fact that the site location and land indentification are largely with the state Government and not with the central Government.

We think Bhubaneswar is already having NISER, IIT, AIIMS etc which seems to be like national university, apart from railway medical college and many national level research institutions. Among 14 states selected for National University, Bhubaneswar is the only location in India where IIT, NISER (similar to IISER/IISc) and National University are coming in one place. So like it is happening in other states such as in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, Rajasthan, UP etc National University proposed in Orissa by MHRD should also go to a city other than state capital. In fact as per Yashpal committee, all the proposed IIT could be like National University in coming future, so there is no point keeping two national Universities in one location, rather encouraging in other part of the state such as in Kalahandi or Sambalpur region. If central Government insist requirement of Airport for the proposed 14 national universities across India then the proposed National University at Bhubaneswar should be established in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda (BSJ) region as there is second airport of the state coming in this region and it is well connected by railways to all the major locations in the nation.

In this case equal importance should also be given to establish a new national / central/ international University in Kalahandi as it lost the opportunity to get a central University earlier. Local people and KSVP have been demanding a central University in Kalahandi since 1988 and Orissa Chief Minister did not keep his promise to establish a similar one last time, people are more frustrated over this development and it should be corrected by the Government. After losing the central University recently they have asked for a National or International University in Kalahandi, which we do support them.

Memorandum by Koshal Disucssion and Development Forum:

Dr. Manmohan Singh, honourable Prime Minister of India

Smt. Partibha Patil, honourable President of India
Smt. Sonia Gandhi, honourable UPA chairperson
Mr. L. K. Advani, honourable leader of opposition
Mr. Kapil Sibal, honourable union minister of Human Resource Development
Mr. Naveen Patnaik, honourable Chief Minister of Orissa
Members of Parliament from Orissa

Dear honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Singh,

In the past few years MHRD and other central Govt. ministries have established many centrally funded institutions in Orissa keeping backwardness in mind. We appreciate the efforts of your govt. towards the developments of higher education in Orissa.

Among all the centrally funded institution National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), railway medical college and the proposed national University (World Class Central University) are located in Bhubaneswar. The state govt has chosen two such centrally funded institutes out side Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri region viz. Central University Koraput (South Orissa) and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) (proposed) in Berhampur (South Orissa). Please have a look on the links for the distribution of educational institutions in Orissa (Appendix 1).

Ten districts of Koshal region viz. Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Subarnapur, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Sudergarh, Jharsuguda, and Nuapada have been demanding the establishment of centrally funded institutes in Koshal region. Orissa state Govt. has earlier betrayed demand of IIT in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda region and Central University in Kalahandi.

The current Orissa govt. is continuing to be Bhubaneswar-centric by proposing new central governments institutes in Bhubaneswar. Recently the CM has announced that National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) will be established in Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar is already having NISER, IIT, AIIMS etc which are like national university apart from railway medical college and many national level research institutions. So like it is happening in other states such as in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, etc National University in Orissa should also go to a city other than the state capital.

We urge you to oppose this capital-centric approach of the state govt and please allow the proposed National University (World Class Central University) to be established in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area. We are not against development of Bhubaneswar region but it should not be the case that Koshal region would be always at the receiving end like it happened for the demand of IIT in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda region and Central University in Kalahandi.

Further, National University (World Class Central University) in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda region would serve the broader interest of the state. Beside that Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area has the following advantages for a National University:

1. Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area is well connected to most of the regions in the state and emerging as a central location for on going industrial activities in the region such as Sambalpur – Angul – Cuttack – Bhubaneswar belt, Sambalpur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela belt, Jharsuguda – Sambalpur – Lanjigarh – Rayagada – Koraput belt, and Sambalpur - Jharsuguda – Korba – Bilaspur-Raipur belt.

2. Sambalpur and its neighbouring city Rourkela area are two major metropolitan areas of the state. Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda is more acessible for students from all the districts of Koshal region.

3. Recently, the AAI is taking initiatives to establish an airport in Jharsuguda ( This area is well connected to Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Vishakhapatnam, Raipur, Nagpur, Ranchi, and Mumbai by rail.

4. The Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area has all the necessary amenities like road connectivity, hotels, malls, restaurants, bookshops and parks. So, there will be no problem for attracting faculties for this University.

5. Currently this area has two universities (viz. Sambalpur University and VSS University of Technology), a government medical college, and few private engineering colleges. Rourkela city which is close to Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area has a National Institute of Technology. Once it will have a National University it can be an important knowledge centre of the country.

6. Even though the Koshal region is one of the least developed regions in Orissa, all the centrally funded educational institutes are located in Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri region (please follow the earlier links). There should be equitable distribution of resources in order to guarantee educational and economical development of the poor and empowerment of the women.

7. The health facility in Koshal region is one of the worst in the nation. Not only there is a serious shortage of health professionals but also the infrastructures in the hospitals of this region are insufficient and under equipped. This year when 100 people died from Swine Flue it caused panic in the nation but hundreds of lives are lost every year in Koshal region from common disease, for which the nation rarely thinks. A good example was when 40 lives were lost due to common disease like diarrhoea in Koshal region in last one month but nobody in the nation cared about the sensitivity of this issue.

Therefore, we request you to kindly establish the proposed National University in Orissa in Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda region instead of Bhubaneswar.

Thank you and best regards,

Members of Koshal Discussion and Development Forum (KDDF) & well wishers

Appendix 1:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In the first phase, ESIC to set up 11 Medical Colleges and 12 Post Graduate Medical Sciences and Research Institutes

ESIC to construct Medical College in Patna foundation stone ceremony held today
PIB release, Sept 27, 2009

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) will complete Rs. 600 crore project of constructing the ESIC Medical College at Bihta, Patna within two years and first academic session will start in 2013 in a time bound manner.

This was announced by the Union Minister of Labour & Employment Minister, Shri Malliarjun Kharge at Bihta near Patna today. He also said the ESI Corporation would keep on improving its services to the Insured Persons under ESI Scheme.

While laying the foundation stone of ESIC Medical College at the Ceremony, Smt. Meira Kumar, Speaker, Lok Sabha applauded the services being rendered by the ESI Corporation to the working class of the country. The Ceremony was presided by Shri Mallikarjun Kharge and the Bihar Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar was the Chief Guest at the function.

As a part of initiative for overcoming the shortage of medical manpower and improving the services in ESI Hospitals, ESI Corporation has undertaken a project for starting Medical Colleges, Nursing Colleges, Dental Colleges and training school for other para-medical staff in ESIC/ESI Hospitals. In the first phase, it is proposed to set up 11 Medical Colleges and 12 Post Graduate Medical Sciences and Research Institutes in the existing ESI Hospitals by ESIC.

The establishment of the Medical College at Bihta has great importance because this is the first Medical College Project of ESIC in Bihar. For this project, about 25 acres of land has been allotted to ESIC by the State Government. This Medical College will have the state of art design and facilities comparable to any modern Medical College in the country.

The Employees State Insurance Corporation has the largest team of medical and para-medical personnel in India and also has one of the largest medical infrastructures in the world. It has huge infrastructure of 144 Hospitals, 42 Hospitals Annexes, 1397 ESI Dispensaries, 1753 Panel Clinics, 795 Branch/Pay Offices and 51 Regional/Sub-Regional/Divisional Offices.

The ESI Corporation has also approved formation of Hospital Development Committee for each hospital, which will look after up-gradation of hospital facilities and its attached dispensaries. The financial powers have also been delegated to these committees.

NOTE: Orissa should start asking for Post Graduate Medical Sciences and Research Institutes in Rourkela/Jharsuguda region, Nursing college in Keonjhar, Dental college in Rayagada and training institute for paramedical staff in the state by ESIC.

1 killed in mishap on NH-201

The Pioneer, Sept 27, 2009
Bhawanipatna: One Bharati Majhi (45) was killed on Friday at Khajuripada en route Utkela to Kesinga when a VAL vehicle hit him on NH-201. Majhi was returning home by his bicycle when the accident occurred. Kesinga PS IIC Manoj Kumar Behera reached the spot immediately and sent the dead body for autopsy. Red Cross fund of Rs 10,000 was paid to Majhi’s wife

Bhai Juintia: Day for sisters in Kalahandi and Western Orissa

Bhai Juintia: Day for sisters in W Orissa
The Pioneer, Sept 27, 2009
PNS | Balangir

If Rakshya Bandhan is a day for sisters in north India, sisters in western Orissa observe Bhai Juintia on the Astami day of the Durga Puja.

The sisters observe a total fast on this day wishing for long life and success of their brothers. In the evening, they visit the Juntia worship place and Durga deity. Their fast continues till next morning, on the Nabami.

Getting up early on the wee hours of Nabami, they take their bath and offer worship and while returning, collect Duba Chhuan, which they offer to their brothers.

In western Orissa, with the commencement of Durga Puja, every house is crowded with sisters and brothers, who arrive to observe the Bhai Juntia which is an annual occasion for a family get-together.

The main function, Juintia Puja is held in the evening, when sisters prepare Jugar, a typical item made from Lia, in the shape of a temple, with 108 duba grass, rice and many varieties of flowers, mostly locally grown.

This festival is observed with all its rituals, irrespective of caste and class.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

K’handi scribes demand colleague’s release

The Pioneer, Sept 26, 2009

Bhawanipatna: The Kalahandi Working Journalists’ Association on Friday submitted a memorandum to the Collector of Kalahandi protesting the arrest of Gajapati journalist Laxman Choudhury. The memorandum strongly condemned the police action and demanded immediate release of Choudhury.

1st CSR-led PPP in healthcare launched in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Sept 26, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Reaffirming its commitment to provide improved health care services to the people of Lanjigarh, Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) signed an MoU with the Zilla Swasthya Samiti of Kalahandi to upgrade the infrastructure, management and delivery of health service of Lanjigarh Area Hospital, catering to the health needs of the populace of Biswanathpur block under the public-private participation (PPP) mode.

This is the first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under the PPP mode in Orissa’s health sector. The MoU has been signed with the concurrence of the Government of Orissa and under the guidance of Kalahandi Collector RS Gopalan, Chief Operating Officer VAL Dr Mukesh Kumar, and Kalahandi CDMO Dr Sushil Rath signed the MoU on September 23, at Bhawanipatna.

As per the terms, the ownership of the hospital will remain with the Government and the management, operation, medical and outreach service will be taken up by VAL.

Signing the MoU Kumar said, “This has been a long-standing commitment to people of Lanjigarh and Vedanta will ensure quality-oriented healthcare service.” The hospital will deliver specialised services in general medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, anesthesia, radiology, dermatology, dental and AYUSH. In addition, ambulance service would be provided by the hospital.

The hospital will operate as a part of the Government health service network and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The CDMO and Zilla Swasthya Samiti (ZSS) will monitor the functioning of the hospital.

GM (CSR) PK Hota, CMO Dr Sabita Swain, Associate Manager (CSR) Alka Minj, , NRHM Chief Program Coordinator Prasanta Acharya, NRHM District Program Manager Santosh Nayak were present at the MoU ceremony.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book by Dr.Basudev Sunani entitled "Dalit Sanskrutira Itihaas" is going to be released on 4 Oct 2009

Our heartiest congratulation to Dr Sunani on this ocassion, during this ceremony a conference on "Dalit Sankhurti-Sahitya" Sampratika Stithi" on 4th Oct 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Panthanibasa, Bhubaneswar.

We encourage all of your participation.

9:00 - 9:30: Registration (Panjikarana)
9:30 - 10:00: Dalit Sankruti through "Sing Baja"
10:00: Release of Book
10:15 - 1:45: Discussion on "Dalit Sankhurti-Sahitya" Sampratika Stithi"
1:45 - 2:30: Lunch
2:30 - 4:30: Discussion on "ODisha ra Dalita Sahitya: Atita, Bartaman o Bhabisyata" by invited speakers
4:30-5:00: Summary of discussion
5:00 - 6:00: Social drama

Naveen demands Tribal University for Kandhamal

The Pioneer, Sept 25, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday met Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kanti Lal Bhuria in New Delhi and urged him to take steps for setting up a Tribal University in Kandhamal.

Patnaik also requested for grant of Rs 5 crore for modernisation of the existing small tribal museum at Bhubaneswar and separate fund for opening of tribal museums in all the 17 micro project areas in the State. He highlighted the need for increase in the amount of post matric scholarship for ST/SC Students and discussed about issues relating to tribal welfare in Orissa.

He asked for an early release of Central assistance for undertaking various tribal welfare activities for which a proposal was submitted by the State Government and the Union Minister acceded to the request of the Chief Minister for grant of Rs 64.26 crore.

Patnaik also highlighted the action being taken by the State Govt. for issue of land rights (pattas) to tribal community in Orissa and informed that it will be concluded in a time bound manner.

Patnaik further emphasized for inclusion of more eligible communities from Orissa in the SC/ST List so that the deserving people could benefit from government programmes. He informed that 167 such proposals have been sent by the State to the Centre for inclusion in the list. “The Centre should release of Rs.140 crores during 2009-2010 for construction of 400 new 100 bedded ST Girls Hostels in the State,” he said.

Recalling his recent letter written to the Union Minister, the Chief Minister asked for sanction of more Ekalabya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in the 4 uncovered KBK districts i.e., Nuapada, Malkangiri, Sonepur and Bolangir in the current academic session.

Patnaik also informed the minister that the DFID assisted Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project has been well accepted by the tribal communities in the State and requested the Union Tribal Affairs Minister for augmentation of the DFID assistance to the tune of US $ 40 Million.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vedanta Aluminium to upgrade health service in Orissa's Kalahandi, Sept 24, 2009

Bhawanipatna: Renewing its commitment to provide improved health care service to people of Lanjigarh, Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zilla Swasthya Samiti, Kalahandi to upgrade the infrastructure, management and delivery of health service of Lanjigarh Area Hospital, catering to the health needs of the populace of Biswanathpur block under PPP mode. This is the first ever Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) led Public Private Partnership in Orissa Health sector. The MOU has been signed based on the concurrence of Govt of Orissa and under the guidance of Mr. RS Gopalan, District Collector Kalahandi. Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Vedanta Aluminium Limited and Dr. Sushil Rath, Chief District Medical Officer, Kalahandi signed the MoU on September 23, 2009 at Bhawanipatna.

The MoU will facilitate Vedanta Aluminium Limited to upgrade the available infrastructure, quality of management, outreach program and indoor and outdoor facility for the benefit of local people. As per the arrangement, the ownership of the hospital will continue to remain with the Government and the management, operation, medical and outreach service will be taken up by VAL. The Company will provide comprehensive secondary health care, both referral and specialist, to the community through the hospital.

Signing the MoU Dr. Mukesh Kumar, COO, VAL said, “this has been a long-standing commitment to people of Lanjigarh and Vedanta will ensure that quality oriented healthcare service is delivered at the Hospital”. The Hospital will deliver specialized services in General medicine, general surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, anesthesia, Radiology, dermatology, dental and AYUSH. In addition, Ambulance service will be provided by the Hospital.

The hospital will operate as a part of the Government health service network and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Chief District Medical Officer, Kalahandi and Zilla Swasthya Samiti (ZSS) will monitor the functioning of the Hospital.

Mr. PK Hota, GM (CSR), Dr. Sabita Swain, Chief Medical Officer, Ms. Alka Minj, Associate Manager (CSR) of VAL; Mr. Prasanta Acharya, Chief Program Coordinator, NRHM, Bhubaneswar; Mr. Santosh Nayak, District Program Manager, NRHM, Kalahandi were present in the MoU signing ceremony.

Looks like Central Government had decided to open seven Indira Gandhi National Tribal Universities in tribal populated areas in the country

Allot land for Indira Gandhi Tribal Varsity: Jamuna Devi
Central Chronicle, Sept 14, 2009
By Our Staff Reporter, Bhopal, Sept 14

Leader of Opposition in Assembly Ms Jamuna Devi expressed serious concern over not allotting necessary land to Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak (Anuppur District) which started last year. She said that at the time of establishing this university the state government had assured to allot land to it. But so far the government did not allot land. This show the 'love' of BJP towards the tribals, she said.

She said that the Central Government had decided to open such seven universities in tribal populated areas in the country to protect their cultural traditions and to provide them modern and technical education. This university opened in Madhya Pradesh is the second in the series. It is sad that the amount sanctioned for the university last year could not be utilized fully and this year too no progress was seen so far in this direction.

Ms Jamuna Devi said that the BJP proclaimed their love for tribals. It was expected that the government would take initiative to do everything including necessary land allotment for the university. But it is surprising that the government gave the responsibility of land allotment to the district collector. The district collector sent a letter to Seeds Development Corporation and the matter ended there. The Seed Development Corporation has to allot its land to the university.
The Congress leader appealed the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to take initiative in allotting of land to the university.

NRO demands setting up of Central varsity in W Orissa

The Pioneer, Sept 24, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

The spate of letters written by the NROs is on the rise, highlighting Orissa’s infrastructural shortcomings vis-à-vis other States in the country. One such letter written to the Prime Minister, President and other top political leaders of the country including one to the Chief Minister of Orissa and members of Parliament, by Dr Sanjib Kumar Karmee of Bio-catalysis and Organic Chemistry group of the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, has made a fervent appeal to the powers that be to open a Central University in the Koshal region.

He has appreciated the efforts of Ministry of Human Resources and other Central Government ministries in the establishment of many centrally funded institutions in Orissa keeping the backwardness of the State in mind.

He has cited that the current Government of the State is adopting a capital centric approach, clustering Bhubaneswar with National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and Railway Medical College.

The State Government has chosen only two such centrally funded institutes outside Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri region of having a Central University at Koraput in south Orissa and a proposal to set-up the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Berhampur which is also in south Orissa.

Koshal region he writes is one of the most backward regions in Orissa, and has demanded the establishment of centrally funded institutes in Koshal region. At the same time he writes about the connectivity and amenities of the region which has infrastructural readiness to have a Central University, besides he says the region has two universities - Sambalpur University and VSS University of Technology - a Government Medical College, and a few private engineering colleges. Rourkela city which is close to Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area has a National Institute of Technology at Rourkela. On connectivity he writes there is a proposal by the Government of India to have an airport at Jharsuguda and further that Jharsuguda is well connected by rail to the various States in India. Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area is emerging as a central location for on going industrial activities in the region.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Possibility of drought in Kalahandi

Dharitri, Sept 23, 2009

Unemployment rate increases in Kalahandi

Dharitri, Sept 20, 2009

Manganese ore in enemy hands

Expressbuzz, Sept 23, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Upping the ante against the State Government over the multi-crore mining scam, president of the Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) KP Singhdeo has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram demanding a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the matter.

Addressing a news conference here today, Singhdeo said that manganese ore illegally mined and transported from the State has landed in the hands of enemies and this should be probed by the NIA. It is a strategic matter, Singhdeo said, adding that illegal mining from Keonjhar is only the tip of the iceberg.

The OPCC president said that officials from the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) had come to the State to probe the matter after the issue was taken up with the Centre and it has found largescale irregularities. Stating that Congress has all along raised the issue in the Assembly and outside, Singhdeo said that it was Congress MLAs who raised the issue in the Assembly. Former Union minister and Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das also raised the issue at the national level, he said.

The OPCC president had yesterday written to Union Minister for Mines BK Handique demanding a probe by the NIA into the matter. But what has surprised political observers here is that despite repeated demands from the State Congress leaders, the Centre has so far not acted tough on the State Government.

After repeated demands, a team from the IBM was despatched to the State to inquire into the matter. Sources, however, maintained that the IBM does not have jurisdiction over such matters.

Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Harendra Mirdha, who is here to assess the progress of membership drive of the party, blamed the State Government for its lack of commitment to implement the welfare measures launched by the Centre.

Mirdha said that the Centre has provided sufficient funds in the health, education and infrastructure sectors. But the State Government has failed to utilise the funds, he said.

The Congress leaders also criticised the State Government for the arrest of Lakshman Choudhury, a journalist of Parlakhemundi, on the grounds of his having links with the Naxalites.

Progress on Remote Village Electrification Programme was bad in Kalahandi, Nuapada and Koraput districts

200 remote villages to get electricity
Business Standard, Sept 22, 2009

About 200 villages in Gajapati, Ganjam, Nayagarh and Angul districts in Orissa, which are located in dense forests and inaccessible areas, will be electrified through alternative sources of power.

This includes 100 villages in Gajapati district, 35 villages in Ganjam, 35 villages in Nayagarh and 33 villages in Angul district which can’t be electrified under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY).

These villages will be included in the Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP) being implemented by Orissa Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) and other schemes of the Union government.

This was decided at a review meeting of rural electrification attended by Kapil Mohan, director (rural electrification), P. K. Jena, state energy secretary, and senior officials of National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Power Grid Corporation Of India Ltd. (PGCIL).

Though the complete electrification of Gajapati, Ganjam, Nayagarh and Angul district was targeted to be over by 30th September this year, it couldn’t be achieved by this deadline. Now it is expected to be completed in all respects, including the required documentation, by the end of November 2009, sources said.

About 12,000 villages in 26 districts were targeted to be electrified under RGGVY by the end of this fiscal. Since this is unlikely to be achieved, the Orissa government has already communicated its displeasure over the delay.

Sources said, Maytas infrastructure, vested with the work in Jajpur, Sundergarh and Khurda districts, has not yet started the work. There were some problems pertaining to main contractor in Boudh district, causing the delay.

While the progress of work in Puri, Balasore, Keonjhar, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Baragarh is satisfactory, the progress was bad in Kalahandi, Nuapada and Koraput districts.

Similarly, in Phulbani district, there were some problems pertaining to package-B sub-contracted by the Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC).

Farmers protest shortage of seeds in Kalahandi dist

The Pioneer, Sept 23, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Resentment has been brewing among the farmers of Kalahandi district owing to short supply of seeds for grain and vegetable cultivation, which is resulting in low productivity.

The plight of the farmers was explained at a meeting held on Sunday by the Kalahandi Krusijibi Kalyan Sangh headed by president Hemant Chauhan at Balrampur village under Sadar block in Bhawanipatna.

Farmers suffer a lot as the department of horticulture fails to provide vegetable seeds in the appropriate time. Irregularities in rainfall this year have already created havoc among the distressed farmers, the Sangh observed.

It was also reported in the meeting that there were serious flaws in the supply of pesticides by the State Government as a result of which these were being sold at an exorbitant prices in the open market.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shirdi Sai temple to come up at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, Sept 22, 2009

Bhawanipatna: Trustees of Shirdi Sai Sansthan, Bhawanipatna, announced at a Press conference that Shirdi Sai Baba temple would be constructed on the outskirts of the town on the way to Kesinga where a two acre land has been donated by an anonymous woman. Bhoomi Pooja, followed by construction works would start after Vijaya Dashami. The trust proposes to bring the Sai movement to this part of Odisha, to spread universal brotherhood, spiritual progress and development, and spread the message of peace and love from the life of Sai Baba of Shirdi.

RGGVY to light up 2.16 lakh households

The Pioneer, Sept 22, 2009

Bhawanipatna: Under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), free electricity connections would be provided to 2.16 lakh families in all villages by March, 2010, said Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das on Saturday while inaugurating the first phase of power supply in the village of Bakatpur and Mohanguda under Lanjigarh block. Das said that despite Vedanta’s establishment in Lanjigarh block, the villages are undeveloped in every field, like education, health and roads. People of this block died of diarrhoea. The villagers hoped that power supply would help their children’s education.

Child artists felicitated at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, Sept 22, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Four artists of Kalahandi who have been awarded scholarships and fellowships were felicitated here on Saturday in a programme organised by Prativa, at Kalahandi Lekhak Kala Parishad.

Scholarships to young artists in different fields of culture are awarded every year by the Government of India, Ministry of Culture. This scheme seeks to give assistance to young artists for advanced training within India in the field of Indian classical music and dance, theatre, visual art, mime folk, traditional and indigenous arts and light classical music.

Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das, who was chief guest of the occasion, felicitated Chintu Prasad Nayak with junior fellowship in the field of folk dance, Sarbeswar Bhoi and Nilanchala Pan in folk songs and Namita Mishra in folk dance.

MP Das extended his cooperation to all the artists. Bhanuprakash Rath presided over the meeting and president of Prativa Dhyananda Panda gave the vote of thanks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Winning the Cashew Battle in Orissa, Sept 21, 2009
By Pradeep Baisakh

To avoid siltation of the newly constructed dams caused by traditional forms of agriculture, the tribals of the Koraput district of Orissa were persuaded to shift to cultivation of cashew and other trees and promised ownership of the land. But when the government reneged on its promise and started reaping the benefits itself, a people's movement began that has just ended in victory after 10 long years cashew plantations

It took ten years of struggle by the people of Koraput district to get the government of Orissa to pass an order that ensured that usufructuary rights over cashew plantations would be handed over to the tribals who have traditional rights over such natural resources in areas under the Fifth Schedule. The spirit of women like Chandrama Honatal, a tribal woman from Koraput district kept the issue alive through the years. "Maribu sina daribu nain, dangar jami chhadibu nain" (We will die but not fear; but we will not leave our land) Chandrama Honatal had declared at a meeting in June 2007 with Orissa's chief minister, Naveen Patnaik.

The chief minister had assured the delegation of villagers then that the government would soon hand over the usufructuary rights over cashew plantations to the tribals but it took more than a year to officially pass the order to that effect.

"Cashew plantation taken up as soil conservation measure in the catchment area of the reservoirs and those taken up under anti-poverty programmes like ERRP, RLEGP, JRY, EAS, anti-podu schemes etc would be distributed to the poor ST/SC families in the Schedule Area and MADA/cluster areas" read the minutes of a meeting chaired by the chief minister on July 31, 2008. Defayati rights would be conferred on the landless, small and marginal families belonging to scheduled tribes and scheduled castes to the extent of 2 acres per family and the beneficiary selection entitlements shall be decided in the Palli Sabha (the general body of adult members in a revenue village).

By this order, mostly tribal people from 20 out of 30 districts of the state will benefit and about 63,000 acres of land will be distributed among them. In Koraput district alone, cashew plantation on about 16,700 acres will be handed over to the people.

This order came after ten years of struggle waged by the people, particularly those from the Machhkund area (Lamtaput, Nandapur and Machhkund blocks) of Koraput district.

The issue

In the early-1950s it was realised that podu cultivation, which causes soil erosion, must stop if dams like the Machhkund and Kolab in Koraput district, Chitrakonda in undivided Koraput district, Rengali in undivided Dhenkanal district etc, are to be saved from siltation.

The Soil Conservation Department of the state government was created in 1956 with the objective of undertaking massive plantations of cashew, silver oak, and coffee among others, in the catchment areas of the dams. The local people who were doing podu cultivation on these lands were persuaded to plant the trees instead under various wage employment schemes. They were assured that such plantations would eventually be handed over to them and would give them a sustainable income. The Koraput District Gazette reiterates this promise of the government.

However, the government soon forgot its promise to hand over the plantation rights to the people, and itself sold the cashew and made good profits.

The survey settlement process, which was conducted at the same time, was faulty and did not record the rights of tribals over agricultural land that they had been traditionally cultivating. So the land stayed under the control of the government both de facto and de jure.

In 1979, the Orissa State Cashew Development Corporation (OSCDC) was created to carry on the cashew business on commercial lines by issuing annual tenders. Huge chunks of land were transferred to the corporation for the purpose, and the traditional owners were treated as encroachers on their own lands.

Guruchalan (now about 75) of Litiput village in Koraput district recalls an incident in his young days: "Once some cows strayed onto the kaju dangar (cashew land)while grazing nearby, and I went to take them back. On my way back I picked up one kaju seed. The watchman noticed it and slapped and beat me."

Data on different divisions and areas under control of OSCDC

Sl. No. Name of the Division Transferred Area from Soil Conservation dept
(in Acs.) Area of plantation raised by OSCDC
(in Acs.) Total area
(in Acs.)
1 Baripada 3849.150 1000.000 4849.150
2 Chandikhol 5065.850 4725.420 9791.270
3 Dhenkanal 6191.540 2816.140 9007.680
4 Jeypore 17459.310 715.000 18174.310
5 Khurda 14778.072 3159.176 17937.248
6 Sundergarh 16077.940 16077.940
TOTAL 63421.862 12415.736 75837.598
Source: OSCDC website

Origins of the struggle

The peoples' struggle to right this injustice began from Enugu village in the Lamtaput block of Koraput district in 1994-95 when a Vana Surakshya Samiti (VSS) was formed with the help of the forest department, by which the people of the village were given the responsibility to protect the adjacent forest and enjoy its fruits. However, due to the faulty survey and settlement process, it was not clear which parts of the forest land were under the forest department and which was revenue land. The Cashew Development Corporation, which had been issuing tenders on the forest land, refused to give up its claim. This led to a clash between the people on the one hand and the corporation and revenue and police administration on the other.

The people working as wage labourers collecting the cashew thwarted any attempt of the tender holder to employ outside labourers. A compromise was finally arrived at which allowed the people to collect the cashew and share some part of it with the tender holder to cover his investment. The people won because in this case a VSS was formed and they were united. But in other villages no such VSS was formed and the land fell under the revenue category.

However, the success of Enugu inspired people from other villages to also start taking control of their cashew dangars (land). This evoked a backlash from the corporation and tender holders who filed civil and criminal cases against people and had them arrested by the police. In 2000-01 the Dangar Surakshya Samiti was formed which was later named Dangar Adhikar Samiti (DAS) to lead a more organised struggle.

The affected people are mostly from tribal communities such as Gadva and Paraja but whole villages stood united, with dalits, backward class and other castes joining in. The DAS at village level and area level held regular meetings and collected funds to fight the battle. Gupta Panigrahi, a lawyer who was fighting cases of people in the courts, was the moving spirit behind the formation of DAS. Two other organisations, the Machhkund Basachyuta Mahasangha(a people's forum fighting for the families displaced by the Machhkund dam) and Mahila Mahasanghas (a women's federation of SHGs at gram panchayat level) also allied with DAS in the struggle. The Society for Promoting Rural Education and Development (SPREAD), a local NGO, played a vital role in facilitating the people's movement.

The struggle yielded some results and in 2005, about 1500 tree pattas were issued by the Machhkund tehsildar to the people. However, these pattas were declared illegal by the government later.

Multi-pronged advocacy

Rallies and dharnas were held in front of the tehsil office, the collectorate and even the state assembly (in June 2007). Memoranda were submitted to the respective authorities demanding that the cashew plantations be handed over to the people as promised. As Bidyut Mohanty of SPREAD says, "In the tendering process, a handful of traders from Jeypore, Bilaput and Machhkund, in connivance with the officials of the corporation, are taking the whole benefit, but people are not getting anything."

The Right to Information was used by the people, which revealed that proper procedure was not followed by the soil conservation and revenue departments when leasing the land to the cashew corporation. This meant that the corporation did not have any legal right to issue tenders. This revelation strengthened the case of the people against the corporation.

Awareness drives were undertaken by the social activists of SPREAD and the young cadres of DAS to make people aware about their legitimate claim over the plantation. This helped people wage an informed, and not just emotional, struggle. "According to PESA (Panchayat Extension of Schedule Areas) Act, the people have a right over jal, jungle and jamin (water, forest and land) in Schedule Five areas," asserts Rama Badnaik, a young woman from the Mali community who led the movement in her village of Matamput.

Women, in fact, played a leading role in the struggle. Dasu Krisani, Chandrama Hontal and Rama Badnaik, all office-bearers of SHGs at village or panchayat level, were actively involved. The local MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati was persuaded to raise the matter in the assembly and seek response from the minister.

Revenue generated from tendering process of Cashew Corporation

Year Jeypore Division State-level income of OSCDC
2004-05 85 lakh 408 lakh
2005-06 72 lakh 403 lakh
206-07 45 lakh 365 lakh
2007-08 20 lakh Not available
Source: OSCDC, Jeypore division, Jeypore and OSCDC, Bhubaneswar

The state hits back

As the people gradually took physical control of the cashew lands, the corporation and others who benefitted immensely from the tendering process (see box) did all they could to protect their interests.

Civil and criminal cases were filed indiscriminately against the people and many of them were arrested. In 2002, about 12 people, including Samara Sisa, Basudev Sisa, and Ravi Bisoi from Logum village, were arrested and put behind bars for a couple of days. Court orders were obtained to impose Section 144 of the CrPC to bar the entry of people into the plantations. On different occasions people were threatened by the superintendent of police, sub-collector and tehsildar to refrain or face dire consequences.

In order to create divisions within the struggle, dalits and other castes were given tenders of the plantations forcibly taken over by the tribals. SHGs were also offered tenders at very low cost (Rs 5,000-10,000 instead of Rs 100,000-125,000). Leaders of the agitation were offered bribes to back down. Even the local MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati, who helped facilitate meetings with the chief minister and other important ministers/leaders alleged that the corporation had tried to "influence" him.

Goons were hired by the tender holders to attack the villagers who had taken physical possession of the plantations. This led to bloody confrontations at times. In Litiput village, in 2007, Pratima Khara, aged about 65, was hit on her head with a tangi (a local weapon).

The winning strategy

Ultimately, what compelled the government to change its policy was the people taking physical control of the plantations and stopping the tender holders from reaping the cashew crop. This led to a huge loss of income for the corporation. In the last four years (2005-2008) in the Jeypore division (Koraput, Kalahandi, Rayagada and Nawrangpur districts) the income from the tendering process has gone down from Rs 85 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Jeypore division constitutes about one-third of the total land under plantation and about one-fifth of the total income of the corporation (2004-05 data).

The loss in revenue brought the Agriculture Production Commissioner S P Nanda to Koraput in August 2007, which eventually led to the current decision of the government. With elections in the state scheduled for April-May 2009, the government found it expedient to come up with the formal order in November 2008.

On January 20, 2009 about 2,000 people gathered at Kujamba village in the Lamptaput block to celebrate the victory after the chief minister finally issued the order granting tree pattas to people.

But Ramchandra Badnaik, the current president of DAS, says "it's a battle half won". Now, the real challenge is how to reconcile the interests of the OBCs or general caste people in the villages who have been a part of the struggle, but who, under the current order, are not identified as beneficiaries. An even greater challenge is to renovate the plantations which have become old with new plantations and constantly maintain them and prevent deforestation.

Cashew economics

Cashew production is a lucrative business. According to Sadanand Behera, assistant manager, accounts, of OSCDC, Bhubaneswar, "In each hectare, there are at least 200 trees as per the government standard of maintaining seven metres distance between two trees. Each tree would yield at least 8 kg of cashew in the worst case."

The market price of raw cashew varies from Rs 30-45 per kg. So, cashew from one hectare of land would fetch Rs 48,000 a year. Jeypore division has 6,796 hectares of transferred area (transferred from Soil Conservation department) alone. By this calculation, it should give an income of Rs 32 crore.

Says Dusmant Padhi of the NGO, SPREAD: "Since the trees in Jeypore division have become old, by most conservative estimates if the minimum income from a hectare of cashew land is Rs 10,000, the total income from the land under the cashew corporation in Jeypore division would amount to Rs 6.7 crore annually."

The income of the corporation from the tendering process was Rs 85 lakh in 2004-05 - the highest in the last four years. So the beneficiaries of the rest of the money of about Rs 5.5 crore are, it would seem, all those who are involved in the tendering process of cashew plantation. The officials who sit in on the tendering process are the sub-collector, respective tehsildars, and the Cashew Corporation's divisional manager.

The state level figure may suggest that while the official income of the corporation from tendering is Rs 4 crore, the potential income would vary somewhere between Rs 30-40 crore by most conservative estimates, and a more realistic estimate may put it somewhere around Rs 100 crore! MLA Bahinipati rightly says "A great lobby exists on the cashew issue."

Those people who have control of their plantations are getting a good return. This serves as a great motivation for villagers in the Machhkund area, many of whom have been displaced by the Machhkund dam and have very limited sources of livelihood. For example, in Hanumal village under Lamtaput block, people have earned Rs 12 lakh in last four years (2005-08).

(Writer Pradeep Baisakh is a development journalist based in Bhubaneswar, Orissa)

Minor girl rescued in Orissa

Press Trust of India, Sept 21, 2009

Bhubaneswar, Sept 21 (PTI) A minor girl, who was allegedly sold off to a man in Orissa's Rayagada district, has been rescued.

"We have rescued the girl from her village in Kalahandi district. She will be kept at a government-run short-stay home at Bhawanipatna," Kalahandi district magistrate-cum-collector R S Gopalan told PTI here.

Describing it as a case of "child marriage" and not sale of the girl, Gopalan said the officials had been asked to register a case under the provision of the "Child Marriage Prevention Act".

Meanwhile, sub-collector N K Sethi along with other government officials visited the village in Biswanthpur block and spoke to the local people to inquire into the case.

"Preliminary inquiry indicates that a 15-year-old girl was forcibly married off to an elderly person by her parents," Sethi said.

The girl's parents were poor and unable to maintain their five children, including three daughters.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Under control in Kalahandi

Expressbuzz, Sept 20, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Cholera may have been controlled in Kalahandi but it is still fully on with its dreaded hybrid variant threatening to break loose. A surveillance study suggests that this killer bacteria is present in at least 13 districts of the State.

While Rayagada witnessed the scourge of cholera in 2007, Kalahandi recorded over two dozen fatalities last month. An ongoing study by Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) says it is endemic in Puri with the disease present round the year.

While RMRC has been carrying out surveillance on diarrhoea in Puri for the last 10 years, its study outcome says that the cholera bacteria has been found in most parts of the district. ‘‘Between 2002 and 2008, cholera incidence was detected each year,’’ said a senior scientist of RMRC while making a presentation at a consultation on ‘Water-borne diseases scenario in Orissa,’ here today.

While cholera incidence was based on reports collected from the ID Hospital in Puri, the RMRC also collected water samples from Pipili, Dandamukundapur, Mangalpur, Teisipur, Samajpur, Sakhigopal, Bira Harekrishnapur and Puri town, said the scientist.

Samples collected from various water sources led to presence of the cholera organism in a range of 14 per cent to 30 per cent. In most cases, the organism was found round the year, peaking during August, September and October.

Even as Puri is an endemic region, the bacteria travelled to other parts of the State in the meantime so much that it is now present in 13 districts, says the study. What’s alarming is the hybrid organism -- Vibrio Cholerae 01 Ogawa El Tor, responsible for the epidemic-like situation in Kashipur two years back, -- has been detected in many places.

While the cholera outbreak in tribal districts of Rayagada, Koraput and Kalahandi can be attributed to migration, the huge difference in fatalities caused by the killer organism is best explained by health services delivery system.

‘‘While villagers in Puri could seek medical attention as soon as diarhhoeal symptoms are noticed, the same cannot be said about tribal inhabitants of Kashipur or Thuamul Rampur,’’ said a health analyst.

Director of Health Services Dr Gopinath Mohalik said the Government had been able to arrest the disease in Kalahandi in a short period but the challenge is in the inaccessible and hard-to-reach pockets of the tribal districts.

VAL Lanjigarh among 3 mega projects have gone into production out of 14 mega industries signed MoU with Orissa Government

Orissa asks mega projects to file progress milestones
Business Standrad, Sept 18, 2009

The Orissa government today asked the mega industries, which had signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with it for setting up of projects, to submit reports on milestones achieved by them regarding the progress of their projects.

It also asked all the industries to set up at least one ITI in their areas of operations and promote ancillary and downstream industries. At the same time, the government assured to provide the required support to the companies for land acquisition, water allotment and resolving the resettlement and rehabilitation issues.

This followed a high level review meeting of the 14 mega industries which signed MoU with the state government between 2002 and 2006. Out of these, only 3 projects have gone into production.

These are alumina refinery and smelter project of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), steel project of Bhushan Steels Ltd and Bhushan Power and Steels.

Vedanta’s one million tonne per annum (mtpa) alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and 0.5 mtpa smelter at Jharsuguda have gone into production. Similarly, the steel project of Bhushan Steels Ltd (BSL) has attained 0.5 mtpa steel production and set up a one mtpa sponge iron and 110 Mw captive power plant (CPP) near Dhenkanal.

On the other hand, Bhushan Power and Steel’s steel project located at Lapanga in Sambalpur has attained 0.6 mtpa sponge iron, 0.8 mtpa blast furnace, and 1.5 mtpa steel making and 0.90 mtpa HR coil capacity along with establishment of 116 Mw CPP.

The mega projects, which were able to make some headway in land acquisition included 1320 Mw thermal power project of Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd (JITPL), 6 mtpa steel project of Tata Steel, alumina refinery and smelter project of Aditya Aluminium Ltd and 6 mtpa steel plant of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL).

However, the 12 million tonne greenfield steel project of Posco India and the 12 mtpa steel plant project of Arcelor-Mittal are yet to take off.

While Posco has been handed over 506 acres out of the required 6000 acres, Arcelor-Mittal couldn’t start the land acquisition process due to opposition of the local people. Sterlite Iron and Steel Ltd, proposing to set up a 5 mtpa steel plant at Palaspanga in Keonjhar district, has also not been able to acquire any land for its project. The meeting also took note of the issues like land acquisition, availability of water and electricity and rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected persons.

Talking to the media after the meeting, state steel and mines minister, Raghunath Mohanty said, all the companies have been asked to provide milestones on their project and take steps to start the construction work at the earliest. While the companies will expedite the land acquisition process, the state government will extend the required co-operation. Posco and Arcelor-Mittal projects have not taken off due to land issues.

He said, these 14 mega units, envisaging an aggregate investment of Rs 2,06,481 crore and 61.8 mtpa of steel capacity, have invested about Rs 27,031 crore so far. While they required 47,607 acres of land, they were handed over about 15,814 acres which is about 33 percent of the total requirement. About 26,725 persons were employed by these industries, he added.

Sources said, the minister expressed his unhappiness over the lack of progress of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project of Tata Steel at Gopalpur and non-use of the land given to the company at Nayagarh in Keonjhar district. It was asked to give milestones on its Kalinganagar project, the work on which is yet to start.

Similarly, Uttam Galva Steels, which signed MoU with the Orissa government in 2006 for setting up of a 3 mtpa steel plant at Palaspanga in Keonjhar, was pulled up for slow progress. The company has acquired only 27.81 acres out of the required 2150 acres of land.

Out of the proposed investment of Rs 8987 crore, the company has so far invested only Rs 55.06 crore. The progress of the 3 mtpa steel project of Welspun Power and Steel was also found to be unsatisfactory. On the other hand, Posco was advised to talk to the local people to expedite the land acquisition process, sources added.

ESI dispensary in Lanjigarh: Seems like ESI medical college would be established at Bhubaneswar and not Rourkela?

ESI dispensaries in new industrial hubs
Express Buzz, Sept 20, 2009

The Government has submitted a proposal to the Centre for opening six dispensaries under the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme.

After a meeting with Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadei on several issues having financial implications, Minister of State for labour and Employment Puspendra Singhdeo told mediapersons that 11 of the 50 ESI dispensaries had been closed due to shut down of industries.

However, proposals have been submitted for establishment of ESI dispensaries at new industrial hubs.

The possible locations identified for the new dispensaries are Kanhia, Lapanga or Badamal, Damanjodi, Lanjigarh and Khuntuni. These places are going to have either thermal power stations, steel or aluminium projects.

The Minister said the Centre had approved Rs 62 crore for upgradation of the ESI hospital in the city while renovation of Choudwar hospital has been taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 68 crore.

The State Government had already provided 25 acres of land for the proposed medical college and hospital to be set up by the ESI Corporation. The corporation had requested for another 15 acres for future expansion of the medical college and the Government has given its assurance.

Presently, over 1.48 lakh persons are insured under ESI scheme and over 5.56 lakh people are provided medical facilities by the ESIC. The State has submitted a proposal to the ESI Corporation to extend the medical benefit to another 2.04 lakh people working in industrial areas.

The Labour and Employment Department proposal to fill up 16 assistant labour officer, nine regional labour inspector, five junior stenographer posts was approved by the Finance Minister.

The Minister said financial concurrence has been obtained for use of hired vehicles by the district labour officers (DLOs) who are not provided with official vehicles.

The Finance Minister also approved the department proposal for construction of buildings for district labour office and assistant labour office which are operating from rented buildings.

Presently, 24 assistant labour offices and district labour offices are functioning in rented buildings.

NOTE: Dharitri has also an extended report where it says ESI medical would be established at Bhubaneswar.

NROs welcome Bhakta’s bid for VAL in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Sept 20, 2009
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

From Lebanon to the Netherlands, non-residential Oriyas (NROs) on Saturday come out in support of Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das’ proposed package of Rs 1,000 crore for Vedanta Aluminum Ltd (VAL) for overall development of the people of the district, particularly in the fields of technical education.

They also urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal and other national and regional political leaders to take appropriate steps to convince VAL to establish a national standard university in Kalahandi similar to the setting up of a world-class institution proposed in Puri.

The NROs pledged their support through emails after a report appeared in The Pioneer on Saturday on the MP’s proposal to VAL.

Digambara Patra, Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut, in copy of his email to The Pioneer, mentioned, “When a company along with its sister organisation, Anil Agrawal Foundation, is willing to invest a mammoth amount of Rs 15,000 crore to establish a world-class institution somewhere else in the State, it is not going be difficult for the same company to invest Rs 1,000 crore to establish a national-standard university under the UGC Act in Kalahandi.”

Tanmaya K Panda from Los Angeles, USA, reiterated the demand and said, “We had earlier proposed to the state Government that a State-level university ought to be established by Vedanta, but we are yet to receive any reply on the matter. However, the draft proposal can be modified if the MP and the State and Central Governments are willing to pursue a completely new national-standard university to be set up by VAL in Kalahandi.”

Madhusmita Panda from Lebanon offered a liberal approach to the proposal in her email, saying, “A national-standard university in Kalahandi can be set up in collaboration with the UGC in the PPP mode.”

“The five technical colleges as proposed by Das, along with other courses in science, management, law, arts and pharmacy, will be a vital factor as it will contribute towards the educational and economic development of backward regions like Kalahandi and Nuapada,” said Dr Sanjib Kumar Karmee of the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, while welcoming the MP’s proposal.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Appreciating demand for 5 technical colleges by Vedanata in Kalahandi

Shri Bhakta Charan Das, Member of Parliament

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Honorable Prime Minister of India
Smt. Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson
Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Honorable chief minister of Odisha
Congress Party Leaders
MPs from Orissa

Dear Shri Das,
I really appreciate for your demand to establish five technical colleges in Kalahandi by Vedanta as reported in the Pioneer dated 19 Sept 2009.

http://kalahandia. blogspot. com/2009/ 09/good-initiati ve-bhakta- babu-mp-demands. html

In fact comprising five technical colleges in medicine, engineering, polytechnique, ITI etc that your have rightly demanded and few other courses in science, law, arts, management, pharmacy etc a real national standard University could be estalished by Vedanta in Kalahandi towards local development program.

When a company along with its sister organization, Anil Agrawal Foundation, is willing to invest Rs 15,000 to establish a world class institution somewhere else, it should not be difficult for the same company to invest Rs 1,000 crore to establish a national standard University under UGC act of Govt. of India in a locality, especially where it has mining and business interest, towards local development program. It is also giving wrong message to common people of India when Vedanta is unable to establish a national standard institution in Kalahandi, the region where it is mining and bringing environmental and tribal rehabilitation issues and particualrly the same region is well known for backwardness in the nation, but planning for a world class institution in another place. Though we welcome Vedanta's industrialization in the region, it would be good for Vedanta to prove its social responsiblity in higher education in a backward place like Kalahandi towards local development program before starting a world class institution somewhere else.

We had proposed a state University by Vedanta earlier as attached file to the state Govt and not received any thing from them. However, the draft proposal can be modified if you along with state and central Governments are willing to pursue a complete new national standard real Univesity by Vedanta in Kalahandi comprising five technical colleges that you have suggested and adding few other courses in science, management, law, arts, pharmacy etc, those are important for development of backward Kalahandi and Nuapada region.

We also urge honorable Prime Minister Dr. Singh, Smt Sonia Gandhi, Chief minister of Orissa Mr. Patnaik, union minister of human resource development Mr. Sibal and other political leaders to take appropriate steps to convience Vedanta or VAL to establish a national standard University in Kalahandi by collaborating with UGC in PPP mode before establising a world class institution somewhere else.

Again we and many other people strongly extend our support and appreciate your initiative in this regard.

Thank you and best regards

A Good Initiative by Shri Bhakta Charan Das: MP demands Rs 1,000-cr VAL package for local development

MP demands Rs 1,000-cr VAL package for local development
The Pioneer, Sept 19, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das on Friday said the unit of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district would be ‘sealed’ if the company did not declare a package of Rs 1,000 crore immediately for welfare of the people of the district. The date for sealing the industry would be decided at a meeting of the Green Kalahandi here on October 11, he said.

Das said the package should include direct employment of 5,000 locals in technical fields and indirect employment of 10,000 locals in non-technical fields, establishment of five technical colleges like medical, engineering, polytechnic and ITI and five central schools in the district.

Asked whether he would consider supporting extraction of bauxite in the Niyamgiri hill if VAL declares such a package, Das replied that a decision in this regard would be taken with consent of all citizens at a meeting where the industry would sign an agreement before the public.

Development of healthcare, roads, education and irrigation, connection of electricity to all villages, social activities, plantation, peripheral development and permanent income source for displaced people and tribals with lifetime free education to their children are also part of the package, he said. The industry would ensure that the flow of waters of rivers and streams in the Niyamgiri hill would not be affected. Consent of the tribals would have to be taken before handing over the hill, he said.

Das threatened that dumping of bauxite at all railway sidings, supply of water and electricity and transportation of all materials would be stopped forcibly if the company does not declare the proposed package.

Asked about media reports that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has given clearance for mining in the Niyamgiri hill, Das said regarding this matter he talked to the concerned Minister Jairam Ramesh, who clearly denied such reports, saying no such clearance has yet been given to VAL.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Cheer For The Austere, 18th September, 2009

Cynicism is a national pastime, especially towards our politicians

RAHUL GANDHI is not known to be a big eater. But when he visited Kalahandi and tribal hamlets in Orissa and Karnataka, sharing their austere food, meeting suicide-widows and sleeping in a farmer’s hovel, there was mocking laughter in Parliament. Cynicism is our national pastime. Especially towards our politicians. When Sonia, heeding her ‘inner voice’ refused to become the prime minister, in spite of the furious baying of dismayed sycophants, age-old cynicism winked at the generic memory of our democracy. But a little faith can go a long way. When Sonia travels economy class and Rahul takes a train let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. The Gandhis aren’t flashy people, their pedigree doesn’t include Vijay Mallya-like habits. When they go on an austerity drive, they mean to set an example. Perhaps, it is time to show faith.
In post-recession India, massive layoffs and defaults are the norm. Output of automobiles and commercial vehicles, steel, textiles, petrochemicals, infrastructure and real estate, finance and retail is down. According to noted economist Shankar Acharya, official financial data may show a serious slowdown in the second half of 2009, its gravity decelerating the full year’s growth to below 7 percent. India from flying first class and business class until late last year has been bumped down to economy.
Like Gandhi’s fasting, it’s not the politician who is important but what he draws our attention to
And it has taken an economy seat on an airline to remind our high-flying politicians that it is time to deal with the status of their carbon footprint. Predictably, now, they will scurry to fly economy in true sycophantic tradition. Unless of course, they have commandeered the private airplane of some businessman. And like all other symbolic acts of self-denial, this too will degenerate into a trend. Until the next Political Fashion Week. In politics, the Leader and his charisma are the fount of a party’s symbolism. His life and actions form the subtext of its political narrative. But between the small print, the countless followers take refuge. It was crusading Congressman Mohandas Gandhi who first effectively deployed the symbolism of austerity. The Congress Party’s 1971 slogan was “Garibi Hatao”. Indira Gandhi once drove through Delhi in a bullock cart, all the way from 1 Safdarjung Road to Parliament. Powerful gestures of political leaders are not to be taken literally. They are the result of some deeply personal baptism by public experience. Like Gandhi’s fasting, or Chandra Shekhar’s padayatras. It’s not the politician who is important, but what he draws our attention to. But in a short while, business class seats will be full of white khadi again. Political caravans will be led by Prados and Tuaregs. It is not a failure of leadership. It is the triumph of cynicism. But at least, it’s a start.

Block officials caught taking bribe

The Pioneer, 18th September, 2009


A Vigilance case was registered against Bansidhar Bhol of Sahigaon in Balasore district working as the Cluster Research Coordinator (CRC) in Kalampur block in Kalahandi district for demanding an illegal gratification of Rs 1,200 from Jagatram Sabar of village Badakurla presently working as Headmaster of Kenduguda UP School for recommending approval of an amount of Rs 8,000 towards repair and maintenance of the school building.In course of the investigation, a trap was laid on Thursday in the office room of Bhol by Vigilance officers and he was caught red-handed by while accepting bribe of Rs 1,000 from Sabar. The bribe money was recovered from the working table drawer of Bhol, who was then arrested.

In another instance, a Vigilance case was registered against Benudhar Chanchan, Head Clerk, Kirimira block, Jharsuguda district, for demand of an illegal gratification of Rs 500 from Subasini Munda of Mundapada village for issue of the final cheques of Rs 7,000 in connection with construction of an Indira Awas allotted to her. A trap was laid on Thursday in the block office premises by Vigilance officers. Chanchan directed Munda to keep the bribe amount of Rs 500 in his working table drawer. Thereafter, he was caught red-handed by Vigilance officers. Chanchan was arrested and forwarded to court.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Remote dists to get mobile health units

Expressbuzz, Sept 17, 2009

BHUBANESHWAR: As malaria is staging a comeback stealthily in inaccessible tribal-dominated districts of the State, the Government has decided to reach out to the affected persons through mobile health units.

Two of the backward districts, Kandhamal and Kalahandi, are under the scanner of the State Government because of their inaccessibility and general lack of health services.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Kumar Acharya announced that more mobile health units will be pressed into service in these two backward districts to cater to needs of the people in interior areas.

Arrangements for this will be made by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), he said.

Diarrhoea had killed more than 50 persons in Kalahandi this year while Lanjigarh area of the district is known to be prone to malaria.

Many people in inaccessible pockets of Kandhamal also fall prey to malaria every year.

While 15 mobile health units are already working in Kandhamal under the NRHM, seven more will be provided for the district. Similarly, three mobile health units will be pressed into service in Kalahandi.

One of the units will be specifically earmarked for the Lanjigarh block.

Experts expressed concern at the recently held three-day workshop organised here by the NRHM over the increasing number of deaths due to malaria.

It has been estimated that more than 25 per cent deaths due to malaria take place in Orissa.

Sources said that malaria has spread in all the tribal- dominated districts of the State despite steps taken by the State Government to bring it under control.

Orissa now tops the list of cerebral malaria affliction which is 44 per cent of the all-India figure of over 7 lakh cases per annum.

Orissa also tops the fatality rate due to plasmodium falciparum at 18 per cent followed by 15 per cent in Maharashtra, 11 per cent in Chhattisgarh and north-eastern states, nine per cent in West Bengal, five per cent in Gujarat, four per cent in Rajasthan and two per cent in Karnataka.

Acharya said that out of the 191 mobile

health units in the State, 96 have been engaged in the KBK (un-divided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput) districts.

He said that 81 units had been deployed in the non-KBK tribal districts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some Kalahandi related books by Parameswar Mund

1. Kalahandi Loka Annsthana(Folk & Tribal Festival of Kalahandi), An edited book published by M.S.A., Bhawanipatna in 1998.

2. Sandhi Bichheda (A collection of Oriya Poetry) ,Paschima Prakasani, Bhubaneswar, 1999

3. Bhuaneswar Beheranka Shrestha Galpa An edited book, published by Pragnya Prakashani, Bhawanipatna, Orissa.

4. Kalahandira Loka Nrutya (Folk & tribal dance of Kalahandi), An edited book,
published by MSA, Bhawanipatna in 2001, (Reference in P.G. Syllabus of Govt.
Autonomous College Bhawani Patna)

5. Lokanrutya Ghumra (Ghumra folk dance) An edited book, published by MSA ,
Bhawanipatna in 2002 (Reference in P.G. Syllabus)

6. Kalahandira Lokasahitya (Folk literature of Kalahandi) An edited book,
published by MSA, Bhawanipatna in 2003. (Reference in P.G. Syllabus of Govt. College, Bhawanipatna)

7. Kalahandira Deva Devi (Deity of Kalahandi) An edited book,

Kalahandi's `Habaspuri’s textile craft, designs to be patented

Orissa’s textile craft, designs to be patented
Expressbuzz, Sept 16, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The famous traditional textiles craft and designs of Sambalpuri tie and dye, Nuapatna `Khandua’ designs, Kalahandi `Habaspuri’, `Bomkai’, Sambalpuri `Pasapalli’ design, Nuapatna tie and dye, Berhampur `Kumbha’ design and silk sarees and Banki Dhalapathar temple design fabrics would soon be patented.

The Department of Textiles and Handloom has begun taking steps to register the traditional designs under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, Textiles and Handlooms Commissioner Arti Ahuja has said.

A team of experts on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) led by Prof S Tripathy has already conducted a field survey on these textile art and designs. The team is also conducting training and sensitisation programmes for weavers and artisans in Khurda, Banki, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Nuapatna, Sonepur and other parts of the State to educate them on IPR and how to protect their ancestral craft. Award winning weavers, master weavers and all stakeholders are being trained on geographical indication, copyrights and design patent.

Orissa has got around 250 traditional textiles designs and craft, which would all be patented gradually, she said.

In 2006-07, the department has already got patents for the Kotpad Dyye and Orissan Ikat.

Trend reversal in tribal-dominated districts

Times of India, Sept 15, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Contrary to popular perception that education can uproot superstition, the sex ratio in Orissa's coastal district is much lesser
compared to the under-developed tribal areas. According to the 2001 census, tribal-dominated Gajapati district has the highest sex ratio of 1,031 followed by Rayagada with 1,029. Nabarangpur, another tribal district, has the highest child sex ratio with 1,002 girls per 1,000 boys.

"Most tribal societies are female-dominated and they consider more children as assets. Thus their sex ratio is better than the coastal districts," said faculty of women studies in Utkal University Amrita Patel. Also, these districts are less developed. So people do not have access to sex determination tests and cases of female foeticide are remarkably less.

Similarly, the sex ratio is quite encouraging in Kandhamal with 1,008, Nuapada 1,006, Kalahandi 1,000, Koraput 998, Malkangiri 996 against the state average of 972 per 1,000 boys.

Ironically, districts like Khurda, Nayagarh, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur which are leading in literacy rate have recorded lowest sex ratio of 901, 939, 938 and 962 respectively.

"Sex ratio has declined in areas where people are better off because they can afford medical intervention. Contrary is the situation in tribal-dominated districts," said Dr Diptee Patnaik, a social activist working in the health sector.

In case of child sex ratio (population between 0 and 6 years), only Nabarangpur district has more number of girls than boys as there are 1002 girls per 1000 boys in the district. "It points to the fact that the society discriminates against the female child," Patel said.

Patnaik said, "The state government needs to take up a sustained awareness drive similar to that of the pulse polio campaign to put an end to female foeticide."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Juhaar celebrates Nuakhai in Delhi

The Pioneer, Sept 15, 2009

Bhubaneswar: Juhaar, a socio-cultural organisation of the Oriya community in New Delhi, celebrated the traditional western Orissa festival of Nuakhai with great fervour at the Mavalankar Auditorium of the Vittal Bhai Patel House on Rafi Marg, on Saturday. The ceremonial puja of deities was followed by a colourful cultural programme in the function, Nuakhai Bhetghat, which was attended by more than 1,000 Oriya and non-Oriya people of Delhi. The Hirakud Kala Parishad performed a traditional dance programme that brought about a feeling of déjà vu and nostalgia for the Oriya community. A souvenir, Surta, was released by Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das. The Juhaar family, which started with a small group of western Orissa students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, has been organising the Nuakhai festival for the last 15 years. Tapas Nayak of the Juhaar family said the festival would be organised in an ever bigger manner next year by hosting it at the Talkatora Stadium.

The Silent Genocide, Sept 15, 2009

By Umi Daniel
“Cholera's reputation as a killer has been earned over the centuries, but modern advances mean we now have the scientific and public health solutions. However, the conditions which enable cholera to be spread - lack of knowledge, poverty and social inequity - also need to be challenged” Ronald Waldman WHO,

One very important issue which Dr. Waldman and any medical practitioner may tend to agree that, cholera or diarrhea is a sheer outcome of poverty, inequity and a state of denial of access to basic services. The 40 recently reported diarrheal deaths in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi or hundreds of death in the past in Kashipur, Thuamularampur and Dasmantpur have been the result of several known factors and conditions like contaminated water and food made of toxic mango kernel and consumption of dead animal meat etc,. Part of KBK region becomes famous for gastro, Anthrax, cholera and malaria deaths which are bit less political and controversial for the administration to handle than the starvation deaths which used to make national news sometime back. However, simply one can’t rule out the invisible Hunger which I feel is the single most factor for all human-made spates of cholera, diarrhea and other epidemic in the region. Those who know the region well will agree-normally rainy days are the lean interlude in the food and employment seasonality of tribals creating a crisis like situation. During rainy days, tribal living in hilly terrains don’t have access to gainful employment to meet his/her food and other basic requirements nor find any traditional forest food e.g. tubers and wild roots which is essential ingredient of tribal food security. Mango kernel as food supplement of tribal has been in practice since ages to cope up the rainy day hunger in most part of undivided Koraput and Kalahandi and in the past has lead to gastro related complications and deaths. The health workers who generally stays at the panchayat headquarters finds difficult to move to the remote villages or arrange emergency medical health. While the ill-equipped administration stays busy in countering and fire-fighting the diarrhea and cholera deaths, the post monsoon season brings in malaria as killer epidemic to the region. Even a cursory observation of the situation may suggest that diarrhea and malaria are the major contributory factors of deaths in the tribal area, which mainly occurs during the pre and post monsoon season.

Predominantly, outbreak of cholera has been customarily reported from Dasmanthpur, kashipur, Laxmipur, Thuamulrampur, Lanjigarh blocks which are contiguously located. Within these blocks there are well identified villages and Panchayats which are inaccessible, remote and mostly get cut off during rain. In the past ten years, cyclic diarrheal deaths have been reported from one or other villages located in these districts.

Generally, the district administrations of these districts hold natural calamity meeting prior to the onset of monsoon. The meeting prepares usual contingency plan to tackle untimely and heavy rain which creates havoc in the districts. However, I am not sure whether the calamity meeting also discuss, identify, map and spot the most vulnerable panchayats not having potable drinking water, road communication, make a reality check on referral services available Anganwadis, PHCs, CHCs and district hospital. The district administration are supposed to have records, cases, data, mapping of the area and frequency of such disaster occurred in past. The water resource and PWD wings at the district should be having the list of villages which lack potable water sources, or information on the number of workable and defunct tube wells in every villages etc. Needless to say that the tribal welfare department, Civil supplies department and DRDA should know the status of implementation wage employment and food scheme during rainy day or should be having some plan and strategy to implement and continue employment generation and food schemes in monsoon to curtail hunger and destitutions. Similarly, the state under its disaster management or relief wings should have proactive measures, adequate preventive action and timely intervention to address these situations for which precious lives can be protected.

I remember, few years back when the starvation deaths were reported from these regions, the state government issued an official communiqué making the Sarpanch of the panchayat accountable for any kind of starvation death reported from its jurisdiction. (It’s in fact easy to get Sarpach being accountable for everything as s/he is the softest target!) But, despite hundreds of people dying due to diarrhea and cholera; none has been held accountable for the utter apathy and in-efficiency at the official level leading to such deaths. Moreover, one of key focus of the KBK LTAP (KBK Long Term Action Plan) is to improve the basic health delivery system in the region. However, preparedness of the administration in terms of effective implementation of food and employment generation schemes, drinking water, health services is conspicuously missing in addressing hunger and diseases in KBK regions.

In the 21st century when the human-kind boost modern scientific innovation on health and disaster management, the people in (rather infamous) KBK region are dying preventable deaths. This is a great shame for the modern civilization to witness the genocide of tribal which is going on silently in this underdeveloped region.

[Umi Daniel is Head of Migration theme at South Asia level, Aide et Action. He can be contacted though e mail:]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kalahandi battles malnutrition woes

Expressbuzz, Sep 14, 2009
Uma Shankar Kar
First Published : 14 Sep 2009 04:36:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 14 Sep 2009 08:37:52 AM IST

BHAWANIPATNA: Tribals are more prone to infectious diseases due to malnutrition. An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) bulletin said this in October 2003. In 2009 too this holds good in some of the tribal pockets of Kalahandi which are witnessing gastroenteritis and malaria in epidemic proportions.

A senior doctor working in the field of epidemic control in the district preferring anonymity asked, ‘‘Can a patient sustain only by administration of IV-Fluid without supportive nutritional diet?’’ No is the answer as at least 20 patients died of infectious diseases after treatment.

The food habit and cultivation pattern are such that tribals are deprived of nutritional diets. It is usually observed that here people’s food habit is quite different from coastal plains due to over dependence on forest and shifting cultivation in the absence of other sources of earning. They grow 13 different varieties of crops including ragi, kandul, kating, koshla and judunga through shifting cultivation which sustain them for three to four months after repaying debts to money-lenders. They also collect various tubers like keukanda, pitakanda, bhatkanda, kargikanda and mundikanda from the nearby forests. As during this period of the season, crops grown through shifting cultivation are not harvested, the food consumption is usually restricted to gruel made of ragi mixed with little rice and salt. This situation improves during winter as harvesting is completed by then.

Against this background, introduction of NREGS held out hope with the expectation that the age-old food insecurity will be minimized.

However, the scheme has failed depriving people of their purchasing power. Jobs to registered people in the district is poor and it’s abysmally poor in the inaccessible tribal pockets, according to data of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). According to statistics, in the financial year 2008-2009, job cards were issued to 2,64,862 persons of which employment could be provided only to 82,051 persons generating 136,1818 mandays in the district. Only 736 families could get 100 days of mandatory work in the district. The scenario has not improved in current financial year too. According to the report, in 2009-10, 2,64,862 persons have registered themselves and among them so far 1,50.653 persons have been provided jobs generating 1,50,653 mandays. But only eight families have completed 100 days of work. The scenario is worse in inaccessible tribal pockets.

The status of NREGS in the epidemic-hit tribal panchayats under Lanjigarh and Bhawanipatna blocks present a sorry picture. Jugsaipatna, Chancher and Sagada gram panchayats in Bhawanipatna block and Malijuang, Pahadpadar, Lakhbahali and Bengaon gram panchayats in Lanjigarh block are worst affected by the epidemic outbreak. According to DRDA statistics, in last fiscal job cards were issued to 818, 664, and 1439 persons in Jugsaipatna, Chancher and Sagada gram panchayats in Bhawanipatna block respectively of which 521, 136, and 931 persons were provided jobs in the respective gram panchayats. And among them only eight, zero and three families could get 100 days of work. During current financial year same numbers of job cards were issued and employment was offered to 118 persons of 67 households in Jugsaipatna gram panchayat generating 1517 mandays while 37 persons of 27 households of Chancher got employment generating 480 mandays and 159 persons of 101 households of Sagada gram panchayat got jobs generating 1389 mandays. Similarly in Malijuang, Pahadpadar and Lakhbahali Bengaon gram panchayats, which are epidemic affected, in Lanjigarh block persons provided work and mandays generated are very poor in current financial year. In the epidemic pockets of Bhawanipatna and Lanjigarh blocks the work availability under NREGS is hardly 10 to 15 days so far during current financial year. In several places workers engaged are not getting their wages for months for different reasons.

In this context Bharat Thakur, chief executive of NGO Janakalyan Sanstha who is working in inaccessible pockets, expressing anguish said as the people are deprived of employment they have no purchasing power. In the absence of work, they have no way out but to entirely depend on forests giving rise to malnutrition problems, he reasoned.