Monday, November 30, 2009

Memorandum for Establishing ESIC Medical college & Hospital in Rourkela, Odisha and not Bhubaneshwar, Odisha


Her Excellency
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan , New Delhi

Her Excellency ,
We the undersigned draw your kind attention to the fact that Employees State Insurance Corporation under the Government of India, Ministry of Labour has taken a decision in principle to establish 12 ESI Super Specialty Hospital & Medical colleges in different states of India. Incidentally Odisha which is a backward state particularly in health sector has got one for which entire funding will be made by ESI Corporation . The said fund is the accumulation of surplus and unutilized money of Insured Persons (IPs) working in different industries and establishments in the country. It is therefore necessary that such medical College and Hospital ought to be established in such a place where more number of IPs and poor working class people of unorganized sector are living & to facilitate them for health care .

So far Odisha is concerned , there are about 2.70 lakhs of IPs in the state and more are in the line to be added. Out of the said figure of IPs more than 65% are from tribal dominated area of Sundargarh , Jharsuguda , Keonjhar and Part of Sambalpur district where more than 50% of total population are tribal of which Rourkela is the nerve centre . Rourkela is also well connected by Rail and Road communication from different parts of the said districts and our state.

After the decision in this regard was announced , we are representing all concerned and have already requested & submitted a memorandum to establish the said Hospital and Medical college at Rourkela to different Central and State Government authorities earlier. In the mean time Non Resident Odias living in different part of globe had represented memorandum to different Central and State Government authorities.

Unfortunately a decision is taken to open the said institution at Bhubaneswar, the state Head Quarter where there are about 10 Medical College ad Hospitals are operating with many other medical establishments ( About 7 Medical Colleges and Hospitals in and aound ) where only 25% of the IPs of ESIC are living . We learnt that Your Excellency is invited for the foundation stone laid ceremony on 9th of December at Bhubaneswar for the said purpose.

We sincerely condemn the decision of the concerned authority as Whimsical , partisan and inappropriate contrary to the justification of the said establishment because this is unjustified and unable to full fill the very cause of interest of IPs of ESI Corporation.

Your Excellency is the head of the Welfare Democratic Country of India. Your intervention is highly solicited in the said matter . You are requested not to attend the foundation laid ceremony at Bhubaneswar since the mass public resentment and agitation against the said decision is going on in the western part of Odisha and also for the greater interest of IPs of ESIC.

Thanking you

Best regards


Prashant K Sahoo

OdiSA Development Team ,
Members of Odia Samaja & Well Wishers of Odisha

Two New Softwares to Write in Odia

Software-I on Nov 10, 2009
New software to write in Odia

The Pioneer, Nov 10, 2009
Biswajit Padhi , Bhubaneswar

Now, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik can write his speech in Odia, thanks to a software platform developed by an Odia software engineer, Suchit Das, and his team.

Mo Odisha Mahan (My Odisha is Great), is what were the first lines that Kumudini Das, a non-resident Odia (NRO) wrote to her grandson Suchit Das in Bhubaneswar. This is the best birthday gift that I ever got, said Kumudini, the iron lady, now in her eighties, said.

Coming from a traditional well-to-do family, she stays outside the country with her elder son. Odia is the only language she is conversant with. “My grandchildren are into English medium schools and my son and daughter-in-law have very little time after a strenuous day in office. I was not able to exchange my thoughts with my children and grandchildren until Suchit solved my problem,” she added.

“When my grandmother expressed her sorrow for her inablility to catch up with us here in Bhubaneswar, I could sense the sadness in her voice. She didn't know English alphabets and the alien country didn't allow her grandchildren to learn anything other than English. Knowing that there are many like my grandmother, I set into motion to develop a software platform which is compatible with Orkut,” said 33-year-old Suchit Das.

Though efforts are on, the Unicode font is not developed properly yet. So it is not possible to write in Odia in different browsers with Unicode font support. I along with my six-member team developed an alternative by converting Odia text into images on-the-fly, said a beaming Suchit. Since images can be shown in a browser in an independent manner easily, we chose this format said, Biswajit Panda. Since Java is trustworthy, people won't hesitate to download it and this is the reason why he chose to hoist it in Java, informed Niranjan Patra. The fonts have been uploaded on our website, informed Sagar Panda. You just have to install Java from the site, added Padmalochan Pradhan.

It took almost three months to complete, added Gitesh Mallick. This can not only revolutionise the way Odias interact with each other but can also make life easier for many who find it hard to type Odia alphabets using the keyboard, said Monalisa Dash, another team member. We are working on 'sending e-mails in Odia' module and suppose to launch it in a couple of days, informed Suchit.

With Naveen Patnaik's penchant for Odia speech nowadays, this is the perfect solution for him, opined, Pradeep Mohanty, a city-based journalist. I don't like the way he mispronounces Odia words which is because he uses Roman scripts to write his Odia speeches.

Now he can himself type his own speech in perfect Odia, all by clicking on the tabs on the screen and what is more, he can send it across to friends and even journalists through Orkut by copy-pasting the dynamically generated HTML codes, added fellow journalist Ashutosh. Netizens can now popularise the Odia language globally by using this tool.

Software-II on Nov 27, 2009
Dear All,

It is my pleasure to let you know that Best Free Odia Editor , Aprant Odia Sampadaka/ Keboard Manager is now available.

Due to some of its unique and great features I am sure this amazing product will surely revolutionize Odia language not only on computers but also heavily on Web.

It is available both as Free and Commercial version.

Please visit the product page

Uniqueness of Aprant Odia Sampadaka

1. Type Phonetically on any Windows based Editor ( So far upto Windows XP is supported . Vista and Windows 7 version will be released soon. ) . Inscript typing mode is also available. Type directly on Notepad, Wordpad, MS Word, Power Point, MS Excel , Pagemakers etc.
2. Availaible in FREE version ( for personal use only ).
3. Fully compatible on Web with old and new browsers including IE/Firefox/Safari etc.
4. Now you can forget building READ-ONLY Odia websites but make it interactive and have visitor's participation. It means you can build Odia Blogs, Odia Forums and what not very easily ?
5. Commercial version is the cheapest Odia Software on the earth.
6. Create PDF files and distribute to anyone without worrying the viewer for the fonts to view it.

Version Comparison

Phonetic Typing Guidelines

Aprant in Action : Screenshots

Quick Start Guide

Download Page

Aprant Sampadaka & Fonts are copyright to AP Arts International LLC, NJ USA. Please read license agreement for details.

My sincere thanks to Debu Rath , USA for gifting Odias the so far great free editor Odiphone in the past which was based on CDAC's free font Sarala . I also appreciate Shri Biswajit Khandei's ( USA ) effort in extending Debu Rath's work by making it Java based Editor "Pandulipi".

Prashant K Sahoo
AP Arts releases free Odia keyboard manager

The Pioneer, Nov 30, 2009
Aurobinda Das, Rourkela

A US-based organisation for Odias has released a free Odia keyboard manager for easy use. According to chief executive of AP Arts International LLC, USA and director of AP Info Arts Pvt Ltd, Rourkela, Prashant K Sahoo, the world's best free Odia keyboard manager and editor has been named 'Aprant Odia Sampadaka'.

As of today though efforts are on, Unicode Odia fonts have not been developed properly and standardised due to which there have been a lot of flaws in the usage of maatras and juktakshyaras in Unicode Odia making it impossible to write flawlessly in Odia in different browsers with Unicode font support.

While Indian languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, etc are marching ahead with its rich features and sophistication of usage on computers and World Wide Web (WWW), Odia language has been far behind.

The current version of Aprant Keyboard Manager is based on ASCII characters with an aim for Unicode support in its next version. It is user-friendly in many ways particularly in terms of its dual keyboard typing mode, phonetic and inscript.

While the first one is addressed to laymen and who don't have much speed on keyboard, the latter one is for professional computer operators and DTP professionals.

Sahoo is confident that the user-friendly keyboard manager will not only revolutionise the way Odia is being used on computers and internet but it can also make life easier for many who find it hard to type Odia alphabets using the keyboard.

And its absolutely free version will surely reach throughout the world easily. As it is a keyboard manager, one can easily type Odia on any Windows-based editor or application like MS Word, WordPad, Notepad, PageMaker, Quark Express, etc. exactly the way one types English flawlessly. It's so easy and convenient that just open your favourite text processor, select the font and start typing Odia like never before, reiterates Sahoo.

The power of this technology is the way it is compatible with the web for both viewing and writing on different browsers.

Its dynamic font known as Aprant Dynamic Font is supported not only by old versions but also new versions of popular web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Aprant Odia Sampadaka is available both in free and commercial license versions, informed Sahoo.

510 crore provided under BKY, WODC

Expressbuzz, Nov 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has provided Rs 510 crore under the Biju KBK Yojana (BKY) and to the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) since 2005-06.

Out of this, Rs 260 crore has been provided under the BKY while Rs 250 crore was allocated for the WODC. However, funds from BKY were not distributed equally among all the districts.

While the lowest allocation of Rs 17 crore has gone to the Nuapada district during the last three years, the highest provision of Rs 45 crore each was made for Koraput and Balangir districts.

Official sources, however, dismissed this discrepancy saying that the size of the district and projects approved by the district planning committees are taken into account while finalising the allocations.

Provisions for other districts under BKY include: Malkangiri-Rs 23 crore, Nabarangpur-Rs 32.5 crore, Rayagada-Rs 35.5 crore, Subarnapur-Rs 20 crore and Kalahandi-Rs 42 crore.

The State Government has made a provision of Rs 28.5 crore for two similar programmes, the Biju Kandhamal and Biju Gajapati Yojanas in the supplementary budgets.

The allocation for the WODC has, however, increased over the years. While it was Rs 50 crore in 2006-07, this has increased to Rs 100 crore in 2008-09.

Stringent rules for private health institutions

Expressbuzz, Nov 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government is contemplating to amend the Orissa Clinical Establishment (Control and Regulation) Act, 1990, in view of the increasing number of private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in a bid to strengthen the existing medical system.

Sources said that review of the Act and rules has already started and these will be amended, if necessary. The number of such clinical establishments in 2008-09 was 1,020 and it has increased to 1,089 by April, 2009. Presently, all these establishments are guided by the provisions of the Act.

The criteria for granting licences to the private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are likely to become more stringent. The prevailing Act does not specify any fee structure to be charged from patients by the private clinical establishments.

But there is instruction in the registration and renewal certificate of the registration that the fees to be charged for various medical treatments, laboratory tests, X-ray and use of other equipment should be displayed on the premises for information of public and satisfaction of the supervising authority.

However, sources maintained that there is no proposal to enact any law prescribing fee structure to be charged from the patients by the private clinical establishments.

There are 161 private hospitals, 357 nursing homes, 249 diagnostic centres and 322 pathology centres in the State. Of these, the highest number of 27 private hospitals are in Cuttack followed by 24 in Bhubaneswar. Subarnapur, Nayagarh, Malkangiri and Boudh do not have any private hospitals.

The highest number of 73 nursing homes are in Cuttack followed by 46 in Bhubaneswar. Berhampur town has 32 nursing homes. Nuapada and Malkangiri have no nursing homes while Kalahandi has five.

Cuttack has 51 diagnostic centres, followed by 24 in Bhubaneswar.

Surprisingly, Kalahandi district has 22 diagnostic centres, according to the Health and Family Welfare Department.

Nabarangpur, Kandhamal and Boudh districts have no diagnostic centres.

Health insurance scheme for BPL families under cloud

Business Standard, Nov 30, 2009
The implementation of the Rashtriya Swasthya Vima Yojana (RSVY) meant for the families living below the poverty line (BPL) in 12 districts of Orissa is now under a cloud due to the lack of initiative from the district collectors in issuing smart cards for the scheme.

Besides, the non-issue of the smart cards by March 2010 would also mean that the financial assistance of Rs 120 crore already released by the Centre for the scheme, for 2009-10, would lapse.

The 12 districts where RSVY is being implemented are Puri, Nayagarh, Kalahandi, Nuapara, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Ganjam, Raygada, Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Khurda.

Though the Union ministry of labour has agreed to include the 19 lakh odd BPL (below poverty line) families under RSVY as per the 2002 BPL survey, the district collectors are steadfast in their demand for issue of cards as per the BPL survey list of 2009 which is yet to be prepared.

The Union labour ministry has even agreed to accommodate additional BPL families under the scheme in these 12 districts who have not been included in the BPL survey list for 2002.

Interestingly, the insistence of the district collectors on the 2009 BPL survey list for issue of the smart cards is as per a circular issued last month by the Orissa government.

According to the circular, the district collectors were instructed to adhere to the 2009 BPL survey list for issue of the smart cards. So far, 40,000 families in Kalhandi district and 30,000 families in Nayagarh district have been issued the smart cards to facilitate the implementation of RSVY. However, uncertainty over the issue of smart cards for the remaining families has cast doubts on the implementation of the scheme.

As per the original plan, the implementation of RSVY in Orissa was scheduled to commence from 2008-09 and get completed in 2012-13.

The New India Assurance Company has been selected by the state government through an open tender, to implement the scheme.

Under this scheme, the BPL families in 12 districts of Orissa will be eligible for health insurance cover up to Rs 30,000 per annum. Such families will have to contribute Rs 30 as registration charge every year.

Smart cards will be issued to the beneficiaries, which can be used for availing the treatment in large number of listed government and private hospitals. Besides, Rs 100 will be provided as transport cost to the beneficiaries who leave hospitals after treatment.

The insurance premium will be shared between the Union government and the state government in the ratio of 75: 25, sources said

NRI activist bats for coach factory, auto hub in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Nov 30, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

Noted Odia NRI activist Digambara Patra has written an e-mail to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee expressing his anguish over the exclusion of Odisha from the list of the 15 auto hubs proposed by the Indian Railways across the country.

Patra, who is an Assistant Professor in Chemistry at American University of Beirut, has also sent copies of the e-mail to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, MPs from Odisha and mediapersons requesting to establish a coach factory as well as an auto hub in Bhawanipatna region in view of its great potential in industrialisation, mainly in metal sector which is important for auto industries.

He lamented that while Indian Railways is establishing new railway industries in backward pockets of West Bengal, it is neglecting similar pockets in Odisha. Out of the proposed 15 auto hubs, at least two are located in West Bengal, and out of 15 proposed railway medical colleges across the country, four are proposed in West Bengal and only one is proposed in Odisha, he pointed out.

He said that in the last couple of years Indian Railways has committed investment of Rs 50,000 crore only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects where as the Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh rail project is struggling for completion since the past 20 years. The Central Government established HAL project in Sunabeda and Ordinance factory in Balangir, both of which brought employment potential in the local level. However, Kalahandi region was never considered by the Government for any major industrial development and rather has been marginalised since independence due to political negligence, he said.

He has alleged that national politicians often use backwardness of Kalahandi to showcase their eagerness towards the poor people though they fail to scrutinize high rate of unemployment in the region.

He said a new East Coast Railway division in Kalahandi will help to speed up railway projects in Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur, Bargarh and Malkangiri districts, many of which are poorly connected by Indian Railways. He has proposed extension of Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express, Bhubaneswar-Balangir Express, Raipur-Kesinga Passenger, Waltair-Rayagada Passenger, Vijaywada-Rayagada Passenger and Jharsuguda-Titlagarh Passenger to Bhawanipatna and introduction of a new train from Bhawanipatna to Visakhapatnam.

He has further urged for speedy completion of Bhawanipatna-Junagarh railway line with extension to Dharamgarh, approval of new Kantabanji-Khariar Road-Dharamgarh-Ampani-Nabarangpur-Jeypore railway line, establishment of a rail coach factory in Bhawanipatna region and a new East Coast Railway division in Lanjigarh Road or Bhawanipatna.

Kalahandi region is considered along with special category States by the Centre when it comes to irrigation project. But infrastructure development is the key to success for such a backward region and Kalahandi is being neglected severely in railway development, he lamented.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black market of Gem Stone in Western Odisha

Samaja, Nov 29, 2009

Cold wave intensifies in Orissa

PTI, Nov 29, 2009
Bhubaneswar, Nov 29 (PTI) Cold wave intensified in Orissa today taking the mercury level to the state's lowest at 5.8 degree Celsius at Daringbadi in Kandhamal district, MeT officials said.

The chilly condition would continue in some interior areas during the next two days, they said.

Elsewhere, Sambalpur recorded minimum temperature of 9.1 degree Celsius followed by Bhawanipatna at 10 degree Celsius and Angul at 10.6 degree Celsius.

State capital Bhubaneswar recorded the season's lowest at 13.5 today, they said.

Orissa to investigate alleged violations by Vedanta, Nov 29, 2009

Orissa will look into charges that metals and mining major Vedanta had starting work on a mining project in the state in violation of a government guideline, a senior official said Sunday.
'I have asked the district administration to see if there has been any violation,' said state Steel and Mines Secretary Ashok Mohadeo Rao Dalwai.

'I am expecting a report by tomorrow (Monday),' Dalwai told IANS.

The move by the state government comes two days after the union environment ministry asked the Orissa government why the controversial bauxite mining project by the firm had been allowed to start work in violation of a ministry guideline.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had Friday said a probe had found construction work had started on land that belonged to the revenue department, though the project had not yet been cleared by his ministry.

The minister said in a statement that his ministry would send an inspection team to verify allegations of violations of the terms.

However, Dalwai said the state government has not received any communication from the central government yet.

'We have not received any communication from the central government. I saw some news items appeared in the press. I have asked the local team to go and verify if it is true,' he said.

The project to mine bauxite at the Niyamgiri hills -- sacred to the locals -- has been vehemently opposed. It envisages mining in protected forest area too.

Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, has built an alumina refinery with an investment of $800 million in the area in Kalahandi district, where production has already started.

The firm, which is currently sourcing bauxite from other states at market rates, said mining permission in the hills was essential for it to reduce cost of production.

Orissa verifying truth behind illegal mining by Vedanta
PTI, Nov 29, 2009

Bhubaneswar, Nov 29 (PTI) With the Centre hinting at alleged illegal bauxite mining at Niyamagiri hills by Vedanta, the Orissa government has asked the Kalahandi district administration to verify the truth behind it.

"We have asked the district collector of Kalahandi to verify the truth behind alleged illegal bauxite mining at Niyamgiri hills by Vedanta yesterday," steel and mines secretary A K Dalwai told PTI today.

The verification report is expected by tomorrow, he said adding officials of Orissa Mining Corporation would also make an on-the-spot enquiry.

The state government's action came in the wake of Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh's statement on November 27 that a Central team would visit the site to verify allegations of violations of the terms of the in-principle approval under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the project proponent.

The central team was expected to submit its report within a week, Dalwai said.

Poor Procurment of Rice Continue in Kalahandi

Dharitri, Nov 30, 2009

Health infrastructure lacks in basics in Odisha

 Health infrastructure lacks in basics
Expressbuzz, Nov 29, 2009
Sanjeev Kumar Patro

BHUBANESWAR: Can a health centre function without supply of water, electricity and, most importantly, lab technicians? Well, it is in Orissa.Consider this. As high as 35 per cent of health sub-centres that form the backbone of village health care delivery apparatus function without regular supply of water and around 24 per cent without power connection. The PHCs stand little better at 9 per cent without regular water supply and electricity.Over 90 per cent of the PHCs function without lab technicians though diagnosis of malaria, dysentery, cholera etc. depends on tests.Of a total of 1,279 PHCs, only 9.4 per cent have round-the-clock delivery service and only 9 per cent have telephones.While a PHC caters to 24,462 people or 15 villages only around 9 per cent of them have between four and six beds.In the 10th Plan period the Government had set the target of opening up 447 health sub-centres but they have been on the papers only.None has come up even though the required subcentres are at least 7,283 and the State currently has only 6,688.Thus, around two per cent of the villages are still out of the basic health care loop.Against the target of opening up 108 CHCs, the actual achievement stood at 74. A glance at the subsequent plan periods further shows how the State administration has failed to open up a single sub-centre since the Eighth Plan period with only the 11th Plan period seeing around 700 new sub- centres. Also, with around 20 per cent shortfall in CHC requirement, Ninth and 11th Plan periods did not have a single addition.There are no referral units at CHC level and only two exist at the sub-district level against 120 and 78 respectively in Andhra Pradesh. This when a World Health Organisation report has cautioned that lack of referral units contribute largely to high maternal mortality rates in Orissa. The human resource deployment in rural areas stands very poor as over 80 per cent PHCs are manned by a lone doctor.The CHCs are no better with 496 against the requirement of 924 specialists.Specialists like paediatricians and gynaecologists are not positioned in CHCs when the State tops in MMR and IMR. The huge shortfall of around 2,260 nurse-midwives in PHCs and CHCs coupled with only around 9 per cent PHCs having a labour room cast a shadow on the NRHM’s drive to improve institutional deliveries in rural areas.Against the norm of one radiographer per CHC, there is a huge shortfall of over 220.

Maoists call the shots in Sunabeda sanctuary

Expressbuzz, Nov 28, 2009
NUAPADA: The Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary spread over 600 square km in Nuapada district seems to have turned into a safe haven for Maoists.The claim of combing operation by the security forces has fallen flat with the Maoists striking at will. And the attempt of the district and police administration to underplay the Maoists’ presence is all set to compound the problem in times to come, said experts.The sanctuary comprises 15 revenue villages and is home to about 15,000 ethnic tribal communities, including Chakutia, Paharias and Bhunjiyas.With development nonexistent, the inhabitants living inside the sanctuary continue to languish in abject poverty. Even Nuapada has hardly seen any development even after it was carved out of Kalahandi as a separate district. Cashing in on the underdevelopment, the Naxals have spread their tentacles in the region. Reports said at least 40 armed Maoists, including 13 women cadres, are stalking the area time and again. The Maoists struck twice in succession killing member of anti-poaching squad Kirish Rout in Kutrabeda on the night of November 15 and former ward member of Sunabeda GP Chandar Singh Barge between Sunabeda and Gatibeda on the night of November 17. After the strikes, the Naxals warned the forest personnel not to erect the gate at Cherechuan which had been razed by them.Again on June 22 night, the Maoists broke down the forest gate and assaulted forest guard Nuapan Majhi and anti-poaching staffer Mansingh Sabaria before melting into the forest. They also burnt down all official documents kept at the gate.In a complaint lodged with Komna police on November 20, forest guards Golak Bihari Mallick and Chattrapati Mahanand besides member of anti-poaching squad Barandu Sagaria alleged that four unidentified armed persons landed at Cherechaun gate and warned them against replacing the broken gate. The armed persons also threatened them with dire consequences if they dared to restrict entry into the sanctuary or collect revenue from outsiders.Similar report has also been received from the forest gate located on the southern side of the sanctuary at Bharuanmunda with forest guard Jhasketan Seth receiving threats from suspected Maoists. Since then forest personnel are in a state of panic and have left the place for safer locations which has been corroborated by senior forest officials. Meanwhile, it is also learnt that a sevashram school located close to forest IB inside the sanctuary has also been closed down. District Social Welfare Officer was not available for comments.

Odisha handicrafts lure Delhites, Nov 28, 2009
New Delhi:28/November/2009
The Odisha Handicraft Fair is attracting Delhites in a big way.

Prafulla Samal, Minister for Information & Public Relations, and Panchyati Raj, inaugurated Odisha Handicraft Fair here at Dilli Haat on 27 November.

The Fair, a display-cum-sale of exclusive Odisha Handicrafts, Handlooms & Art Textiles is organized by the Odisha State Cooperative Handicrafts Corporation Limited (Utkalika) in association with Odisha Investment and Export Promotion Office (OIEPO).

Surendra Nath Tripathy, Secretary Panchayati Raj & Rural Development, M Satyanarayana, Resident Commissioner, Baishnab Charan Mohanty, Director Information & Public Relations, Sisir Kumar Ratho, Additional Resident Commissioner and other officials were present on the occasion.

The Fair will continue till 7 December, where 19 Handicraft artisans and craftsperson from various parts of Orissa are participating in this programme along with the ‘Utkalika’ branch of New Delhi.

The main attractions of the Fair are Tribal jewellery made out of Brass, Silver filigree items, Appliqué and patch work, Stone craft, Wood carving items, Pattachitra and Palm leaf etching, Dhokra casting, Golden grass craft and painted wooden items.

Odisha, a land of exquisite arts & crafts manifested in its magnificent temples, handlooms and handicrafts and over one lakh craftsmen are engaged production of about 50 exquisite handicrafts items worth Rs. 100 crore annually.

This Fair is organized to popularize the rich heritage of arts and crafts of Odisha.

Minister Mr.Samal showed keen interest in the handicrafts and art textile items displayed by the artisans and appreciated the creative products presented by them for display-cum-sale.

He interacted with the artisans and hoped that people residing in Delhi and visiting Delhi would get an opportunity to appreciate the to see, touch and feel the elegance of Odisha crafts at their door step.

Mr.Samal informed that the Government of Odisha is taking proactive steps to make the Odisha Handicrafts compete in the national and international markets and to establish proper market linkages.

Organisation of such fairs/ display-cum-sale from time to time at various places help in showcasing wide range of handicraft products developed in various clusters by artisans/ craftsperson.

He also lauded the contribution of the Utkalika, the premier marketing organization of the State for procuring various handicrafts products from artisans and craftsperson from remote corners of the state and marketing them in and outside the State through its exclusive twelve sales outlets.

Later in the India International Trade Fair 2009 cultural programme kicked off with the star attraction of the cultural extravaganza ‘Prince Dance Group’, the winner of “India’s Got Talent-TV” reality show presented a spectacular performance before the spectators.
The specially choreographed hit pieces “Sare Jahanse Achha”, “Krishna Avtar” and “Dashavatar” kept the spectators spellbound.

Other notable features of the evening were the rhythmic performances of Gotipua dance of Dashbhuja Gotipua Odissi Nritya Parisada, Raghurajpur.

The vibrant song and music of Shreee Gopal Laudi and Ugala Dance Research Centre relating to the childhood exploits of Lord Krishna touched the hearts of the spectators.

Keeping pace with beats of Dhap, the young men and women of Manoranjan Sangeeta Anusthan, Bhawanipatana gave a splendid performance in the evening. 

This specially organized culture show was witnessed by the Members of Parliament, dignitaries, senior officers of State and Union Government, Journalists and thousands of Delhites in general and Odias in particular.

Temperature dips further

Expressbuzz, Nov 29, 2009
BHUBANESWAR: Night temperature fell further in Capital City even as the cold wave continued unabated in the State on Saturday. The Capital which had recorded one of its coldest nights of November in the last one decade, saw the bar dropping - from 14.1 degree Celsius on Friday to 13.9 C on Saturday. It was three degrees Celsius below normal.Meanwhile, Phulbani, Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar continued to experience cold conditions. The India Meteorological Department extended cold wave prediction for State for another 48 hours.

Niyamgiri violations inquiry ordered, Nov 28, 2009

The Government of Odisha has asked the Collector of Kalahandi to enquire into allegations of mining activities being taken up in Niyamgiri.

Department of Steel & Mines (DOSM) in an order issued here on 28 November has asked R Santhgopalan to send an Inquiring Team for an On-the-Spot study of the allegations.

Ashok Dalwai, Secretary DOSM has issued instructions in this regard.

Dr.Dalwai, has also asked the officials of the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) to enquire into the matter in Niyamgiri.

OMC will be sending Team of Experts to look into the alleged violations.

Union Forest & Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said another site inspection team was being sent next week to verify fresh allegations of violations of terms of the ‘in-principle’ approval under Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The proposal for bauxite mining at Niyamgiri hills by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) through Vedanta, a private mining company, in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa has been lying before the Union Government’s Forest Advisory Committee.

Mr. Ramesh, in a statement, also said the Centre was awaiting reply from the State Government on whether provisions of Forest Rights Act had been complied with.

The ministry had written to Odisha Government on 3 November directing the State to comply with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006.

And the Centre has asked the State Government to provide evidence for the compliance before them, which could examine conversion of the ‘in-principle’ approval to final approval.

Forest clearances come in two stages with work being allowed only after the final clearance.

But the in-principle approval requires that the proposed project also be in line with the Forest Rights Act which requires government to settle all rights of forest dwellers in the region before the land is diverted for any project.

However officials of the Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) Lanjigarh Alumina Project has rejected the allegations of violation of law under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

VAL is abiding by the Law of the Land, said sources.

Spiritual discourse delivered at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, Nov 29, 2009
Bhawanipatna: Swami Sri Mukundanandaji Maharaj, follower of Sri Krupaluji Maharaj, delivered a spiritual discourse at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium here. A large number of people listened to him with rapt attention.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orissa neglected while proposing 15 Auto Hub by Indian railway

Nov 27, 2009

The Railway Minister, Smt Mamata Banerjee

The President of India, Smt. Patil
The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Singh
The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr. Patnaik
MPs from Orissa

Dear honorable Railway Minister, Ms. Banerjee,
It is unfortunate that Orissa is missing in the list of proposed 15 Auto Hub proposed by Indian Railway across the country.

Orissa is among one of the top states which brings huge profit to Indian railway. Similarly in last few years it is leading in the proposed mining and metal based industries in the country. It has a great potential in industrialization, mainly in metal sector which is important for auto industries and for Indian railway, however, Indian railway has continuously neglect this region.

Incidentally, in social point of few it has the most backward pocket of the country, the KBK region. Indian railway is establishing new railway industries in backward pocket of West Bengal but it is neglecting similar pocket in Orissa. Among he proposed 15 Auto Hub at least two are located in West Bengal, out of 15 medical college proposed across the country by Indian railway four are proposed in West Bengal and only one is proposed in Orissa.

Compared to Lalgarh Kalahandi is more known in India for backwardness, still it is considered among the bottom 5 constituency in India unlike Lalgarh.

Kalahandi region is considered along with special category states by Union Government of India when it comes to irrigation project. However, infrastructure development is the key to the success for such a backward region. Unfortunately in railway development Kalahandi is being neglected severely and has not yet been considered by our honorable Prime Minister to give special status along with special category states.

It is clearly evident from struggling ongoing projects such as Lanjigarh road – Junagarh in Kalahandi and Khordha - Balangir line. In last couple of years Indian Railway has committed 50,000 crore investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects where as above line is struggling for completion since past 20 years. A huge commitment and new establishments are also being proposed in West Bengal. In Eastern part of the nation, only Orissa is being continuously and seriously neglected by Indian railway and always maximum benefits are gone to West Bengal and Bihar making Orissa at the receiving end.

In the past Central Government has established HAL project in Sunabeda, Koraput and Ordinance factory in Balangir, both of which has brought employment potential in the local level. However, Kalahandi region was never considered by Union Government of India for any major industrial development such as in engineering, railway units etc and rather has been marginalized since independence due to political negligence. Such an Auto Hub as proposed by Indian railway is important for Kalahandi and more to Orissa.

On the other hand, national politicians have often used backwardness of Kalahandi to show case their eagerness towards the poor people in the society though they fail to scrutinize high rate of unemployment rate among semi-skilled and skilled laborer in the region.

Indian Railway has proposed to establish new factory in UP, Bihar and Kerala. Kalahandi is centrally located in South and Western Orissa including KBK, Kandhamla, Boudh, Gajapati and Bargarh districts. A factory based on engineering in Bhawanipatna region will enormously benefit Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur, Bargarh and Malkangiri equally as it is centrally located to all the districts.

Similarly, a new East Coast railway division in Kalahandi will help to speed up the railway projects in Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur, Bargarh and Malkangiri districts many of which are poorly connected by Indian railway and are at the bottom in social indicators in the nation.

For overall development of the region development of Kalahandi is important and I urge you to specially consider railway project in Kalahandi region as urgent and

(i)  Establish a Coach factory as well as a Auto Hub in Bhawanipatna region

(ii) Approve new Kantabanji – Khariar – Dharamgarh – Ampani – Nabarangpur – Jeypur railway line

(iii) Accomplish Bhawanipatna – Jungarh line completely in coming financial year and extend the railway link to Dharamgarh and complete the Khordha road - Balangir line

(iv) Extend Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express and Bhubaneswar-Balangir express to Bhawanipatna by renaming as Howrah – Bhawanipatna Ispat Express and Bhubaneswar – Bhawanipatna express respectively.

(v)               Extend Raipur – Kesinga passenger, Vizag - Rayagada passenger and Vijaywada – Rayagada passenger to Bhawanipatna.

(vi)              Similarly, extend Jharsuguda-Titlagarh passenger to Bhawanipatna and Rourkela

    (vii)           Establish a new East Coast railway division in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna for railway development especially in KBK-Kandhamal-Boudh region. 

Thanking You

With best regards

Orissa’s demands ignored: Ghadei

Expressbuzz, Nov 28, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei today criticised the Centre for discriminating Orissa in releasing funds and ignoring it’s demands which has resulted in the loss of several hundred crores to the exchequer.Replying to the debate on the Orissa Appropriation (no 2) bill, 2009 in the Assembly, the Minister said that the Centre has announced increase of 10 per cent royalty on minerals after three years as against the demand of 20 per cent. But the royalty will be calculated on the price of minerals fixed by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and not according to the actual market price, he said.The Minister said that after the Centre stopped funding the revised long term action plan (RLTAP) for the KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput) districts, the State Government launched the Biju KBK yojana, which is being funded from its own resources. Similar other schemes were announced by the State Government following the reluctance shown by the Centre in financing the development schemes, he said. In response to opposition allegations, the Minister said that the State Government has formulated the best rehabilitation and reconstruction (R&R) policy in the country. Criticising the opposition for becoming a stumbling block in the industrialisation of the State, Ghadei said that the state will be number one in development index if proposed projects by the Jindal, Posco and Tata is completed.He said that land for the projects will be acquired after negotiation with the local people.Acquisition of agricultural land will be avoided, he said, adding that the projects will create immense employment opportunities for the local people.The Minister said that the state finances have improved considerably in recent period because of deft handling of the situation.The debt burden has come down to Rs 36430.54 crore in 2008-09 for the first time in 61 years. Debt burden had gone down once earlier to Rs 73 lakh in 1946-47 from Rs 74 lakh in 1945-46, he said.Expenditure of plan outlay has also improved during the recent years, he said, adding that in 2008-09, Rs 7367.87 crore was spent as against an outlay of Rs 7500 crore. But in 1995-96, expenditure was Rs 1369 crore against an outlay of Rs 1650 crore, he said.

Cold wave grips Orissa

Expressbuzz, Nov 28, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: A cold wave swept across western and interior Orissa as mercury level dropped below normal.Large parts of Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi and Phulbani experienced cold conditions even as India Meteorological Department predicted that the cold wave will prevail for the next 48 hours over some parts of interior Orissa.At 8.5 degrees Celsius, Phulbani was the coldest. At least three other places recorded 9 degrees Celsius on Thursday night. While Bhawanipatna recorded 9.6 degrees C, the lowest temperature (9.3 degrees C) was recorded at Sambalpur. At Balangir, mercury level stood at 9.9 degrees C.Most parts in northern Orissa such as Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Deogargh too experienced cold conditions recording temperature a little above 10 degrees C.Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar also recorded one of its coldest nights in November in the last one decade when mercury read 14.1 degrees C on Friday. Since 1999, Bhubaneswar has recorded 14 degrees C only twice during November - in 2002 and 2005. However, temperature recorded on Friday night was among the lowest.

K’handi farmers upset over erratic paddy procurement

The Pioneer, Nov 28, 2009
Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

The erratic paddy procurement at many places in Kalahandi district has caused resentment among the farmers in the current kharif season. While the administration has framed many rules and regulations it has failed to curb the middlemen’s role.

The middlemen are directly sending the procurement to millers after purchasing paddy from the farmers. The RMC and administration had given contract to six millers to lift paddy from a society Mandal Samabaya Samiti in which the farmers of both Mandal and Mingur gram panchayats (GP) were supposed to sell their procurement.

Farmers of 15 villages belonging to these GPs have alleged that till now the millers have not lifted the procurement from the society and even the millers are not helping the society secretary in the matter.

The middlemen lift paddy from the farmers from their house at Rs 630 per 75 kg paddy and not paying the price of 8 kg of paddy in the name of FAQ. While the Government has fixed a minimum support price (MSP) of paddy, the lifting of paddy below MSP has irked the farmers. They have also urged the district administration to quickly intervene in the farmers’ interest. The administration had targeted to procure 3,82,352 MT of paddy from Kalahandi of which, about 2 lakh MT was targeted to be procured during kharif season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

School drop-out rate in Orissa has dropped to 6.69 per cent in 2008-09 in comparison to 52.41 per cent in 2002-03

School drop-out rate dips
The Statesman, Nov 27, 2009

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, 26 NOV: The school drop-out rate in Orissa has dropped to 6.69 per cent in 2008-09 in comparison to 52.41 per cent in 2002-03.
While attributing the success to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the school and mass education minister Mr Pratap Jena informed the House today that during the last five years, the state has received Rs 1,956.78 crore from the Centre under the scheme. While the total availability of the funds for SSA was Rs 2,924.59 crore, utilisation certificate for Rs 2,697.20 crore has been received, he informed while responding to a question of Mr Amar Prasad Satpathy.
Minister Mr Jena, while replying to another question by Mr Santosh Singh Saluja, pointed out that 235 primary schools including some new ones in the state do not have own building. All the 48,438 primary schools of the state are repaired under the major repair allocation under SSA. Those schools, running without own building, are allotted additional class rooms as per the stipulated pupil-teacher ratio of 40:1.
Meanwhile, the Oriya schools, operating in neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand, have gathered a student strength of 40,679. There are 186 Oriya schools with 188 teachers in Chhattisgarh. In Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand there are 85 and 113 Oriya schools. West Bengal has one Oriya a school and 79 chatshalis, informed mass and education minister Mr Pratap Jena.
The government, along with Utkal Sammilani, is taking steps for infrastructure development and other upliftment activities in these schools, he said.

Indian railways has added 960km between 1990 and 2007 while China has added 20,000km

PM endorses big reform of Railways
The review says the railways has added 960km between 1990 and 2007 while China has added 20,000km 
Rahul Chandran
New Delhi

If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has his way, Indian Railways will undertake major institutional reform over the next 10 years, and the process may start as early as the next railway budget.
The major changes would include creation of an independent tariff regulator, shifting to commercial accounting practices by 2011, attracting more private investments, and spinning off the services function of Indian Railways.
In a letter to railway minister Mamata Banerjee dated 25 October, which has been reviewed by Mint, Singh has endorsed a review undertaken by the Planning Commission that set out detailed milestones for the overhaul of the country’s largest transporter.
Singh also sought a review meeting with the Railway Board’s chairman S.S. Khurana and Banerjee to discuss the response of Indian Railways to these suggestions.
Hindustan Times and The Financial Chronicle had first reported on 18 October the review undertaken by the Planning Commission and communicated to the Prime Minister by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, India’s apex planning agency.
The review underlines the fact that spending by Indian Railways lagged targets. “In the first three years, they have achieved only 48% of the 11th Plan total in constant prices, and even this has only been possible because of higher-than-planned budgetary support,” the review said. Only 23% of the Plan was to be financed through budgetary support and the remaining through the railways’ earnings and borrowings. However, Central government support in the first three years was actually at 31%, while the railways, through borrowings and its revenue, contributed 69%.
India’s government departments work with a five-year planning horizon. The 11th Plan refers to the period between 2007 and 2012.
The review also points to issues related to the slow pace of track development, as well as outdated technology, which means India still continues to use substandard freight cars. According to the review, in South Africa, freight cars can carry as much as five times their weight while in India, they do only 2.7 times.
The review says the railways has added only 960km to its network between 1990 and 2007 as opposed to 20,000km added by China during that period. It says India should add about 1,000km every year over the next 10-12 years.
“The Planning Commission has its own recipes and views, and we have our own on the matter,” said a railway official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said he was aware of the review and the recommendations, but denied knowledge of the letter from the Prime Minister.
The review also seeks to restrict the construction of new unviable lines only to those areas where the states are “willing to bear half the cost”.
The commission had also suggested the setting up of high-speed train services in collaboration with private investors for select segments such as Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Bangalore, Delhi-Ludhiana and Delhi-Amritsar. It suggests that a dedicated group be set up for developing the projects, which could also be elevated in areas where land acquisition proves to be a problem. To be sure, former rail minister Lalu Prasad had announced these projects last year.
A former railway employee, who did not want to be identified, said this would be the third announcement on the subject. “They have not moved an inch forward. The first feasibility report was conducted by Rites in 2005-06 and another one by SBI Caps in 2007,” the official said. Rites Ltd is a state-owned engineering consultant and SBI Capital Markets Ltd is the merchant banking arm of India’s largest bank, State Bank of India.
“The present system of railway fare-setting disincentivizes cost control and it legitimizes reckless monopoly rent-seeking,” said Akhileshwar Sahay, a former railway employee who currently works for project management consultancy Feedback Ventures Pvt. Ltd. “Populist tariff-setting has to immediately get out of the system if Indian Railways does not have to go the same way as Air India in the next 10 years.” To be sure, the railways have made huge strides in customer interface, but in their internal governance and efficiency in freight operations, the national transporter was lacking, he added.
Other analysts, however, say that setting up regulators was not necessarily the best idea considering many regulators could be seen as non-transparent.

Project for bauxite mining in Orissa

PIB, Nov 27, 2009

Minister of State (Independent Charge) Shri Jairam Ramesh received a large number of representations in regard to the project for bauxite mining by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC). In a statement issued here today he said the projects are now being examined in the Ministry for approval or rejection so that there is no ambiguity and project proponents do not misuse the ‘in-principle’ approval.

The following is the text of Shri Jairam Ramesh on the issue of bauxite mining in Orissa:

“I have been receiving a large number of representations in regard to the project for bauxite mining by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) through Vedanta, a private mining company in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa. The total amount of forest land proposed to be diverted is 660.749 ha., of which around 353.14 ha is in the Niyamgiri reserved forest. Concerns have also been raised on the impact that this project will, interalia, have on livelihoods of tribal communities.

The project application was received in the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoE&F) on February 26, 2005. The MoE&F gave ‘in-principle’ approval for this project on December 11,2008 under the Forest Conservation Act,1980. This ‘in-principle’ approval is to be converted to a final approval after the fulfillment of stipulations contained in the ‘in-principle’ approval.

As the representations started coming in, on August 6, 2009 the MoE&F asked the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhubaneshwar to investigate complaints that project activities have started even without the final approval of the Central Government in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The site was inspected and the site inspection report was submitted on August 16,2009. The site inspection report found that construction activity had begun in the non-forest revenue land. Technically this is not a violation of the law but it is a violation of the guidelines issued by the MoE&F which says that when a project involves non-forest and forest lands, construction in the non-forest land should not begin without clearance for activity in the forest land itself. A letter has been issued on November 25th,2009 to the Orissa Government asking for an explanation as to how the violation of this guideline has been permitted.

On August 3, 2009, the MoE&F had issued a binding guideline to all State Governments that application for diversion under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would be considered only after all due processes contained in the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 have been fully and satisfactorily completed. A letter was subsequently issued by the MoE&F to the Orissa Government on November 3, 2009 directing the State to comply with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 and provide evidence for the compliance before the Centre could examine conversion of the ‘in-principle’ approval to final approval. The reply of the state government is awaited. In addition, another site inspection team is being sent in the next one week to verify fresh allegations of violations of the terms of the ‘in-principle’ approval under Forest Conservation Act,1980.

The new policy of the MoE&F does away with the concept of ‘in-principle’ approval. Projects are now being examined for approval or rejection so that there is no ambiguity and project proponents do not misuse the ‘in-principle’ approval.”

Vedanta violated environment norms, says Jairam Ramesh
The Pioneer, Nov 28, 2009

PNS | Bhubaneswar

The Centre has instituted a probe into the allegations of illegal bauxite mining by Vedanta on behalf of the Odisha Mining Corporation at Niyamgiri forests in Kalahandi.

“A Central team will visit the site to verify allegations of violations of the terms of the ‘in-principle’ approval under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the project proponent,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement in New Delhi on Friday. The team will submit its report to him within a week.

Ramesh noted that the ‘in-principle’ approval given to the project on December 11, 2005 under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 could be converted to a final approval only after the stipulations contained in it were met.

However, NGOs alleged that Vedanta on behalf of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) had already started activities without getting the final approval. “The total amount of forest land proposed to be diverted is 660.749 hectares of which around 353.14 hectares is in the Niyamgiri reserved forest. Concerns have also been raised on the impact that this project will, inter alia, have on the livelihood of tribal communities,” Ramesh said.

“Technically this (construction) is not a violation of the law, but it is a violation of the Ministry’s guidelines, which stipulates that when a project involves non-forest and forest land, construction in the non-forest land should not begin without clearance for activity in the forest land itself,” the Minister observed.

Incidentally, the Odisha Government is yet to reply to the Ministry, which had sought an explanation as to how the violations of the norms were permitted. Ramesh made it clear that the previous concept of ‘in-principle’ approval was done away with and that projects were now exclusively examined for either approval or rejection.

Similar report in Times of India, The Hindu, Indian Express and Pioneer (National News)

Indian Railways to build 15 auto hubs across country, Odisha is missing

Indian Railways to build 15 auto hubs across country
Steelguru, Nov 27, 2009
To promote traffic of automobiles through the railways, its ministry is considering 15 automobile hubs to be set up on public private partnership across the country.

As per report the railways would provide land for constructing the hubs and the facilities would be set up by private sector players. These auto hubs would not only serve as vendor parks, but also have assembling units where components can be put together before cars are transported to sales centres.

The report said tat in Phase I, auto hubs would be set up at Santragachi, Shalimar, Siliguri, Ranchi, Guwahati, Patna and Hosur in Karnataka. Another eight hubs would eventually be put up in Phase-II of the project at Ernakulum, Vijayawada, Delhi cantonment, Chandigarh, Palakkad, Kharagpur, Challapalli and Kalamassery.

A senior official at the rail ministry said that “The establishment of these hubs will facilitate economic development of the areas where they are set up. The units will provide employment to the local people and also act as a revenue-generating source for railways.”

The Railways expect to earn around INR 1500 crore per annum from these automobile hubs. The official added at present less than two per cent of automobiles manufactured in the country are transported through the railways. The establishment of the auto hubs is intended to increase such traffic to 15% by 2015-16.

(Sourced from Business Standard)

Authorities asked to expedite R & R

Business Standard, Nov 27, 2009
The revenue divisional commissioner (RDC), southern division, Orissa government, Chandra Sekhar Kumar has asked the authorities of various ongoing projects in south Orissa to expedite the implementation of the rehabilitation and resettlement policy 2006.
Sharing the concern over inordinate delay in implementation of several irrigation, industry and mining projects in south Orissa, which are marred by frequent agitation by the affected persons, he said, effective implementation of the R & R policy will address the grievances of the people and pave the way for implementation of these projects.
“The rehabilitation and resettlement policy 2006 is one of the best in the country and try to convince the affected persons and expedite the rehabilitate work” he said. He was addressing a meeting on rehabilitation and resettlement here.
Besides the collectors and additional district magistrates of south Orissa districts, the land acquisition officers of different projects and the representatives of affected villagers and the director, (R&R), Gagan Bihari Swain attended the meeting.
Due to agitation by the affected persons several developmental projects like the Chheligada irrigation project in Gajapati district, Ghatakeswara multi-purpose irrigation project in Ganjam district have not progressed.
Similarly the implementation of some large projects like Utkal Alumina International Limited at Kasipur in Rayagada district, Vedanta Alumina Limited at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, Aditya Alumina Limited in Rayagada district, Maliparbat mining project in Koraput district  have been delayed.
RDC conducted through review on the progress of land acquisition and payment made to the affected people and rehabilitation of the displaced persons in different projects.

Projects held up by local agitation

Business Standard, Nov 27, 2009
Hrusikesh Mohanty / Kolkata/ Berhampur

Three major aluminium projects in south Orissa's Ganjam district have been marred by delay mainly due to the stiff agitation by the environmentalists and the locals to be displaced by these projects.

These projects include the Rs 5000-crore alumina plant of the Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) at Kasipur in Rayagada district, Vedanta Alumina's bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri hills and the Maliparbat mining project of the Aditya Alumina Limited (VAL) in Koraput district.

The work on Maliparbat mining project is yet to commence even though its land acquisition process has been completed.

Similarly, the alumina plant of UAIL is yet to be completed even though 17 years have elapsed since the beginning of construction work on this project. VAL has also not been able to kick off mining operations at the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district despite the verdict of the Supreme Court in the company's favour. These projects have been held up due to stiff resistance of the locals who are demanding higher compensation and better rehabilitation facilities. Besides, the green activists have also stepped up their opposition to the projects on environmental grounds.

As many as 118 families have been displaced by VAL's project while 243 people were displaced by UAIL. Over 11,000 people are to be displaced in Rayagada and Koraput districts by the Aditya Alumina project. Apart from the industrial and mining projects, several irrigation projects in south Orissa have run into rough weather on account of the agitation by the affected people.
The resistance by the locals has affected the irrigation projects like Chheligada project in Gajapati district, Ghatakeswar multi-purpose irrigation project in Ganjam district, Lower Indra Irrigation project at Khariar in Nuapada district and Ret irrigation project in Kalahandi district. According to the socio-economic surveys for these projects, 406 families are to be displaced by the Ret irrigation project, 3594 families by the Lower Indra Irrigation project and 360 families by the Chheligada project.
“The people have been left in lurch after being displaced from the areas in different projects. Hence, they do not have any confidence in the assurance of the government” says Madan Kirtani, a displaced person of the Upper Kolab irrigation project in Koraput.
He suggested that the amount meant for the peripheral development of the projects should be spent on the rehabilitation colony and at least one person should be provided a job in the project. Sanjeet Patnaik, a social activist pointed out that there was no provision in the state government's Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Policy of 2006 for extending rehabilitation for the landless labourers although the same provision was there in the previous R&R policy of 1994.

VAL may get nod for bauxite mining in Orissa for its refinery

Economic Times, Nov 26, 2009
BHUBANESWAR: Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) is expecting early nod from the Union government to mine bauxite for its Lanjigarh refinery in Orissa’s Kalahandi district.

The Rs 4,500-crore project, completed much ahead of its scheduled completion, is yet to pick up steam as the Centre has not yet given its approval for mining of bauxite in the adjacent Niyamgiri region because of the protests by a section of tribals, non-governmental organsiations (NGOs) and a few environmentalists.

The Company’s optimism stems from a recent reply in the state Assembly by Orissa industry minister Raghunath Mohanty who categorically said the mining activity would not cause any displacement of the primitive Dongria Kondhs living in Niyamgiri hills and harm the local eco-system.

“I hope the statement of the minister would expedite the process of grant of the mining lease,” Vedanta Resources chief executive officer MS Mehta told “The ET” on Thursday.

The Orissa government has leased out an area of 721.323 hectares of Lanjigarh in the districts of Kalahandi and Rayagada to the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC). It has been agreed in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that the OMC and VAL would form a joint-venture to exploit bauxite from the said mine.

“No Dongria Kondhs are living in Niyamgiri mines lease area. So, there is no threat of any Dongria Kondhs being displaced if the area is leased out to the Orissa Mining Corporation,” the minister categorically said while replying to a query by BJP legislator Hitesh Kumar Bagartti.

The minister also stated that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Lanjigarh Project Area Development Foundation, had been formed under the chairmanship of the southern division revenue divisional commissioner as per the directives of the Supreme Court to look after the interests of the local people.

Currently, VAL is sourcing bauxite from Gujarat at market price and its BALCO project in Chhatisgarh, spending hefty sums on transportation. Industry sources said bauxite transportation charge from such distant places accounts for half of the production cost.

Approval for the mine will come “soon,” Mukesh Kumar, the chief operating officer of the unit of Vedanta Resources Plc, said today in a telephone interview without specifying further. Once approval is given it will take eight months to increase refinery output to 1.4 million metric tons, he said.

VAL is currently producing alumina at a rate of seven lakh ton per annum, much below it’s a million-ton capacity because of delays in securing mining rights from the union government.

“Once the mines become operational, VAL will have steady raw material supply and our costs would significantly come down as there will be no additional freight cost,” chief operating officer Mukesh Kumar said. 

Poverty continues to haunt Banita

The Pioneer, Nov 26, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

Despite several development schemes the poverty-striken KBK region continues to be caught in a time warp. And the plight of Banita of undivided Kalahandi district speaks volumes for this.

Banita of Amlapalli village in Nuapada (part of the old Kalahandi) district, was sold by her sister-in-law (brother's wife) Phans Punji for a meagre Rs 40. The media reports about Banita being handed over to a visually challenged man had created a sensation and led to a huge embarrassment to then Chief Minister JB Patnaik in the mid-80s.

Former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi had also visited the village Amlapali to get a feel of the abject poverty in the region. After the visit of Rajiv Gandhi a plethora of schemes were announced for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden masses of the region. But due to slackness of the administrative machinery and siphoning of funds the schemes have failed to make the desired impact for the masses it was intended to.

Banita was sold at the age of 13 to Pati Podha of Khatimunda village of Bongamunda block in Balangir district in 1984. Pati Podha later got her married to his visually challenged son Bidyadhar Podha. Now Banita who is 36 has three daughters, Kalabati(16), Jambubati( 14), Kurnani(8) and two sons Kalinga (12) and Nandina (10).

However, after 25 years Banita is still reeling from abject poverty is still homeless and does not have sufficient income as her husband cannot work. Her son Kalinga sometimes gets some work. She works in an Anganwadi centre to earn her livelihood. Meanwhile, to get her elder daughter married, she is planning to sell her only school- going child Khurnani, who is studying in Class-IV.

The would-be son-in law Naren Kharsel is from Phatamunda village of Bangamunda block, and works in a crusher. Meanwhile, for the engagement ceremony of her daughter Banita has mortgaged her partially constructed Indira Awaas Yojana house for Rs 600. She is presently residing along with her family in a one-room shack of Khatimunda village in the plot of one Tirtha Ganda and has paid him Rs 3,000 by borrowing it from a money-lender. She is now in a soup with the landlord threatening him to vacate the house and on the other hand the money-lender is pestering her to repay the loan. But till now nobody has come forward to help.

When the Image Speaks for itself in Kalahandi

Mass Education in Kalahandi

Mass Education in Kalahandi 


Halgadi with loaded Crops

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Approval for setting up 419 model schools in 12 states

Press Trust of India, Nov 25, 2009

New Delhi, Nov 25 (PTI) The Centre has cleared setting up of 419 model schools in 12 states across the country and meet 75 per cent of the cost to build and run them.

The Grants-in-Aid Committee (GIAC) of the government has approved setting up of these schools as part of the programme to set up 6,000 model schools across the country.

The Centre will bear 75 per cent of the capital and running expenditure in setting up these schools, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told the Lok Sabha answering supplementaries during Question Hour.

Of the 419 schools approved by the GIAC, 105 will come up in Bihar, 74 in Karnataka, 72 Chhatisgarh, 43 in Gujarat, 33 in Madhya Pradesh and 21 in Punjab.

Can Odisha do for all the undivided district the way Central Govt. doing for all states in higher education irrespective of size and population?

Addressing Imbalances in Higher Education
PIB, Nov 25, 2009

The National Sample Survey (NSS) data for 2004-05, indicates rural-urban disparities, gender disparities, inter caste disparities, imbalances in access opportunities for tribal population of the country, disparities amongst religious groups and differences in enrolment rates between the poor and non-poor. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education for the nation as a whole as a percentage of the population cohort in the age group of 18-24 years is 12.4% based on 2007 enrolment data whereas the GER in secondary education (class XI-XII) as a percentage of the population in the age group of 16-18 years is 28.96% based on data reported in Selected Educational Statistics of 2006-07.

During the Eleventh Plan establishment of Central Universities in hitherto uncovered States has been envisaged. 15 New Central Universities have been notified on 15.1.2009 and another Central University has been established in Jammu Division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU) has been established for facilitating and promoting studies in areas concerned with the way of life of the tribal population in the country. A new Regional Centre of the IGNTU has been inaugurated in Manipur. University Grants Commission (UGC) has invited detailed project proposals from State Governments for Establishment of 374 model degree colleges in the districts having GER lower than national level with the Centre-State funding in the ratio of 1:1 for Special Category States and 1:2 for other States. The Eleventh Plan has schemes for incentivizing State Government for setting up of new institutions or expansion of existing institutions with Central assistance with focus on underserved areas, strengthening colleges and State universities with focus on underserved areas which are not presently eligible for receiving assistance from UGC to enable these institutions to fulfil the criteria for UGC assistance, additional assistance to State universities and colleges which are already declared fit to receive grants under Section 12B of the UGC Act. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has permitted second shift in certain engineering colleges and polytechnics. Expansion of intake in Central Educational Institutions by 54% has been undertaken consequent to the implementation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006. A scheme of interest subsidy during moratorium period for students accessing educational loans for technical and professional education has been notified on 8.9.2009.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development Smt. D. Purandeswari, in a written reply to a question, in the Lok Sabha today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Petition: Rethinking on the Merger of Princely States with Orissa Province 1948, Nov 24, 2009

Mr. Naveen Patnaik, The Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha,

Smt Patil, Honorable President of India
Dr. Singh, Honorable Prime Minister of India
Members of Parliament from Odisha

Dear honorable chief minister, Mr. Patnaik,
It is said that on linguistic affinity the demand of a separate Orissa province was mooted before the British Government. Orissa province was created in 1936. While the movement for a separate state was going on, the then British Government appointed Atlee sub-committee to examine and recommend to the Government, the feasibility of a separate province or a separate Oriya state. The committee submitted its report in 1930 where among other recommendations it is also pointed out that unless the Oriya speaking princely states would be amalgamated with the Orissa province, economically the said province would not be viable. This point caught the imagination of Harekrusna Mahatab and he started planning how to bring the princely states within the fold of Orissa province and thereby to strengthen the economy of the new province, as these princely states were repository of mineral and forest resources. But the outbreak of Second World War could not afford opportunity to Mahatab to execute his plan.

There were 26 princely states where Oriya language with regional variation was spoken. These princely states were not under direct British administration unlike Balasore, Cuttack, Puri, Khurdha, Ganjam, Sambalpur and Koraput. The regions under direct British administration were then called Mugalbandi or British Orissa and the localities under kings and princes were called Gadjats or Princely States.

Besides, in Chhatisgarh there were 16 States under the rulers. 23 out of the 26 Oriya speaking states of Orissa and 16 states of present Chhatisgarh did not want to join with Orissa province or Madhya Pradesh. There was an apocalyptic fear among the peoples that in the event of their merger with Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, there interest would be jeopardized and there locality would be lagged behind during post- independence time in view of the fact that freedom struggle could not gain momentum in these princely states unlike their counterpart British administered states. Thus, they wanted to form a separate province under Indian Federation or Dominion. Just after independence, almost all princes conceded their accession with the Indian Dominion, but they too wanted separate state. Thus, the people and rulers of these 39 Princely States started Eastern States Union, a province under Indian Dominion. Raipur was selected for its capital and High Court started to function their.

Eastern States Union immediately took the cause of Indravati Dam Project in Kalahandi. As Indravati is an inter-state river, the state union appealed to the Indian Government for clearance. Nevertheless, the recognition of Indian dominion to the eastern States Union as separate province was wanting. Just at that time, Prajamandala Movement broke out in many Oriya speaking states except Kalahandi and few small states, under the direct instigation of the then Congress led Government of Orissa or Harekrushna Mahatab, the then chief minister of Orissa. The leaders of Prajamandala movement were impressed upon by H. K Mahatab and Congress party that their movement is primarily designed to obtained democratic right, self- determination and people’s representative form of Govt. from their rulers. Princely states like Nilgiri, Dhenkanal, Talcher, Ranapur, Nayagarh, Bonai, Sonepur and Mayurbhanja witnessed the outbreak of this movement and the problem of law and order aroused in these states. This became a plea for H. K. Mahatab to argue and impress upon the Indian Government to take way the administration of these princely states and merge them with Orissa province and not to recognize eastern states union as separate province. At his request, Sardar Patel and home secretary, V.P Menon arrived at Cuttack on 13th December 1947 and then called the meeting of 26 Oriya rulers at Cuttack. In the meeting held on 14th December, when Patel and Menon appealed to the kings to join with the Orissa province, the response from the side of the rulers was less. On the next day, Orissa military was prepared to meet any eventuality.

P.K Deo, ruler of Kalahandi openly said that since the legislative Assembly of Kalahandi has passed a resolution to join with the Eastern States Union, it is difficult on his part to agree to join with the Orissa province. On the next day DIG of Orissa Police was ordered to proceed and forcibly occupy the princely state which would not join with the Orissa province. Then one by one all rulers put their signature on the merger document. P.K Deo, then Maharaja of Kalahandi, was last to sign it. Under intimidation and threatening to people and rulers, Mahatab achieved his objective. The leaders of Prajamandala Movement met Mahatab on the next day and condemned him for betraying to the cause of self – determination of the people for which Prajamandala Movement was working. Mahatab threatened to one of the leader of Prajamandala Movement Pabitra Mohan Pradhan of Talcher in the words, “…. you would be the first person to be shot at in this merger drama ….” .

Immediately after the merger, spontaneous reaction of the people against the merger started in Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi, Baudh- Sonepur and some other places. There was lathi charge and arrest at Bhawanipatna and Madanpur Rampur in Kalahandi. People were giving slogan “Orissa Govt, get out, we want separate state”. There was firing at Bamanghati of Mayurbhanj and some people were killed.

According to the rearrangement of Orissa province, the princely states and the British administered localities (Orissa province before 1948) were grouped under 13 districts.

Even the selection of Bhubaneswar as capital was wrong in view of the fact that capital should be located in the centre of the State. It should be located in central Orissa – Athmallik- Baud. This suggestion was also put forth to the Indian Govt. But Mahatab exploited the situation in favor of Bhubaneswar to safeguard the interest of coastal peoples. Today Bhubaneswar is always in advantages sides and these princely states Athmallik, Baud, Kalahandi etc are at the receiving end.

Though Kalahandi is infamous for poverty in present days Orissa, the general condition of these princely states was not so miserable before their merger with Orissa province. There was no scarcity of food in these states. During Bengal famine of 1942, Kalahandi alone had supplied One Lakh Tonnes of rice to Bengal. On the other hand, British administered coastal Orissa including Sambalpur and Koraput were poverty stricken due to flood and scanty rainfall in every year. However, western education first entered into the British administered territories as the establishment of Colleges shows.

Suddenly after the merger of Princely states, these British administered areas or previous Orissa province started to develop. The Government of Orissa and Govt. of India started to build all necessary infrastructures, and the princely states were sidelined. This policy continues until now by Orissa Government. This is just like the apartheid policy pursued by the White minority Govt. of South Africa over the black majority.

There are so many examples also that whenever any issue relating to two different zones arises; Orissa Government favors former British ruled area. The example of Indravati project in Kalahandi and Hirakud project in Sambalpur may be cited as first instance. The idea of Indravati dam project goes to the period of P.K Deo’s rule [1939- 1947] in Kalahandi. The idea of Hirakud Dam project was a later development, but Hirakud Dam project was executed by the Govt. immediately and the Indravati dam project was suppressed till 1978. Indravati irrigation project is not yet 40% completed. Similarly, when Sambalpur University, University College of Engineering Burla and VSS medical college were established at Sambalpur, Govt. did not adopted distributive system among Bolangir, Kalahandi (Princely States) and Sambalpur. Another recent example – the people of Mayurbhanj struggled more than a decade to get a University from the govt. But we don’t have any such information about the struggle of Balasore for the cause of a University unlike Mayurbhanj. But when Orissa Govt. was compelled to establish a University at Mayurbhanj, automatically the Govt. favored Balasore too. The last example may be the establishment of the Central University at Koraput instead of Kalahandi despite Kalahandi is centrally located in KBK districts and Kalahandi is struggling for a Central University since past two decades. Public sector industries like NALCO, HAL etc were established in Koraput. Paper mill was initially proposed in Kalahandi but shifted to undivided Koraput.

Kalahandi is always at the receiving end by Orissa Government since it merged with Orissa province. Joining Orissa province costs Kalahandi in development. This must be addressed.

Thank you

With best regards
Digambara Patra

Table 1: The Princely States before 1947-48

SL, No
Name of the State
Area in sq.miles
Population[Census 1911]
Pal lahara
25 & 26.
 Saraikela & Kharswan [did not join with orissa province]
                                                               Total area 28648               Total  3945209

Acknowledgement: I thank my teachers for supporting me with facts and figures.