Thursday, April 29, 2010

Left canal of Indravati in Kalahandi broke out

Sambad, April 29, 2010
(Thanks to Dr Sanib K Karmee for helping to create the image)

Centre to rethink world-class university sites

Times of India, April 29, 2010
NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office is having second thoughts on letting 14 world class innovation universities come up in places selected during Arjun Singh’s tenure.

Sources said the system of first selecting the sites and then building the universities will not work in case of these institutions since the concept is different than a usual university. Besides, there has been a major change in the concept of innovation universities from the time of Singh. The HRD ministry in its latest concept note has suggested that apart from the government even private educational be allowed to set up these universities.

On the places selected during Arjun Singh’s tenure, an official said, “Innovation universities should come up in places that can attract students and world class faculty. Some of the sites selected earlier will not be able to live up to the expectations from a world class university.”

But the twist in the tale is that many of the states have already finalized the sites for these institutions and will definitely protest in case the Centre changes its stand now. In many cases, states have shortlisted sites away from what HRD had finalised. This could become a problem.

In Andhra Pradesh, Vishakhapatanam was selected for setting up an innovation university. The state government has even shortlisted four sites in Vishakhapatnam district. Orissa has also suggested 700 acres of land near Bhubaneswar.

Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have selected sites in Sabarkantha and Sehore, respectively. But since these two places were not shortlisted by the HRD ministry, Gujarat has been asked to finalise a site near Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar and MP in an area near Bhopal.

Punjab has shortlisted four sites in Amritsar while Tamil Nadu has shortlisted three sites in Coimbatore. Both these places were suggested by HRD ministry.

MP from Balangir, Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo taking good inititaitve, demands special development package for KBK in the parliament

Note: Recently Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo has taken few good initiatives, hope other MPs in KBK region join equal hands. The KBK grant of 250 crore was sanctioned more about 15 years ago, in current market values with high inflation it should be 1000 crore , by this time budget of Orissa has increased more than five folds, this grant amout for KBK region should be corrected.

India should make its secret service effective: SP
Zeenews, April 29, 2010
New Delhi: In the wake of an Indian woman diplomat arrested on charge of spying for Pakistan, an SP member said in the Lok Sabha that India should make its secret service effective in countries where it has diplomatic missions.

"In all those countries where India has a diplomatic establishment, our secret service should be made very efficient and effective," Shailendra Kumar said during Zero Hour.

He regretted that despite the commendable work done by our secret services, the intelligence inputs provided by them are ignored by the authorities. He maintained that when these inputs were acted upon, lives of thousands of people were saved.

Kumar congratulated the secret service for the arrest of 53-year-old Madhuri Gupta, Second Secretary in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Sumitra Mahajan (BJP) said in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, a foreign private firm - Sports Marketing and Management Company - has been given the contract for getting advertisements from abroad for the event but was only roping in Indian PSUs.

"These PSUs are giving a high commission ranging from 15 to 22 per cent to this company. Why is a foreign firm being given so much commission?" she asked.

She suggested that this firm should get advertisements from foreign companies as this was the idea behind the contract.

Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (BJD) demanded a special development package for Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) districts of Orissa which come under the top ten most backward districts of the country. The special package should be on the lines of the funds provided to Bundelkhand and Bihar.

"I would urge the Central government to provide the package of Rs 4,550 Crore be given to the state at the earliest," he said.

Lal Singh (Cong) demanded that the vice chancellor of the newly formed Central university in Jammu should be a local person as none of the universities, including technical universities, has a native of the state as vice-chancellor.

Rama Devi (BJP) said the Indo-Nepal border was being used for smuggling fake currency and criminals cross the border after committing crime and use Nepal as a place for hiding from law.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Solar support from Madhu, April 27, 2010


She is known for her love for tribal.

And the top diplomat has made it a point to come to the rescue of hapless.

Now she is out to help out the tribal students studying in various Tribal Schools.

Meet the ever smiling former Ambassador Madhu Bhaduri.

Mrs.Bhaduri, a 1968 batch IFS has been Ambassador in various countries.

She has extended financial support for the tribal students to enable them to use Solar Cooker.

And from her savings and pension she has coughed up Rs.3 lakh and provided to State Government.

This is rare and never experienced ever before, said Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Minister Science & Technology.

Mr.Majhi taking the cue from her has allotted Rs.21 lakh for Solar Cooker and Solar Lighting in the tribal schools of the State, where there is no electricity.

Mrs.Bhaduri contacted Sudarshan Pal Thakur, a pro-poor mandarin and Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the Department of Science & Technology (DOST).

The former Ambassador said that she has seen the plight of people in the areas of Rayagada and Kalahandi.

So her money may be utilized in Kashipur block of Rayagadaand Thuamulrampur block of Kalahandi.

Mr.Thakur, who has worked in the far flung areas of Koraput, Kalahandi and Rayagada knows the problems of the hapless tribals.

Once the matter was brought to the notice of the Minister Science & Technology, he decided to go in a big way.

Now with allocation from the Government and donation of Mrs.Bhaduri in hand, OREDA will cover at least 400 schools in providing Solar Cooker and Solar Lighting, said sources.

She has earlier visited the areas and recently with active help of Agargamee, a leading NGO, they have provided 500 Solar Lamps in some remote tribal villages.

Mrs.Bhaduri said that demand for this renewable energy device has been unexpectedly good.

That is why she was encouraged to provide Solar Cookers to the tribal schools.

S Raghavan, Chief Executive OREDA is eager to help out the tribal students with both solar Cooker and Solar Lightings.

And Chairman OREDA, Mr.Majhi has already green signalled the scheme, said sources.

Dharamgarh might get a Central School

It seems a new Central School has been alloted to Dharamgarh, some of you who are in Dharamgarh region may kindly obtain the confirmation in the local level and please share with us.

We had discussed to work for two more new central schools, one in Dharamgarh and other in Nuapada. At present Kalahandi has one central school in Bhawanipatna. If the information I received is true (that means the information about Central School in Dharamgarh is not the currently proposed model school) then we should make sure another central school also come in Nuapada region.

Is development making more Indians poor?

Central Chronicle, April 27, 2010
Sixty three years after Independence and rapid economic growth during the past decade, we still have no clear idea as to how many Indians still languish in poverty, deprived of even two frugal meals a day. But, judging by official figures, hastily put together to satisfy the political establishment, the number of people below the poverty line seems to grow with the fast growth in population, which is four time that in 1947. Food production and employment have not kept pace with the rapidly growing numbers and per capita income and food availability, adjusted to inflation, have gone down in real terms. The plight of tribals and landless labour is the worst of all, which explains the growth of Maoism. Pushed below the poverty line and deprived of their sources of living--land--by encroaching industry and mineral extraction, they are driven to violence.

This is despite thousands of crores being spent by the Central government on poverty alleviation and rural employment guarantee schemes, because the bulk of cash in pocketed by administrators in collusion with politicians, leaving the intended beneficiary high and dry. There is no earthly reason why a poor family should starve if even 25 kilos of foodgrains are delivered to it every month. The swindle of welfare funds is a major continuing scandal and wily politicians, in collusion with middlemen and foodgrain dealers and contractors, are enriching themselves at the cost of the poor. To quote Rajiv Gandhi's famous words: not even ten paise of every rupee spent by the State on poverty removal reaches the intended beneficiary; the rest is pocketed by middlemen and politicians. The result is falling nutritional levels in the rural areas, rising infant mortality and acute hunger is certain districts, such as, Kalahandi.

After decades of planning, we still do not have reliable statistics relating to poverty, on the basis of which credible schemes could be drafted for distribution of cash and kind among beneficiaries. The situation is paradoxical: before election-time each ruling party in the states claims tremendous achievements, including pushing the number of people above the poverty line and rising incomes of vast majority. But, when it comes to seeking more funds from the Planning Commission the same chief ministers want more and more because more people have become poor and go hungry and hence the requirement of cash and foodgrains grows higher. The Commission plans in a statistical vacuum, does not monitor expenditure or target fulfillment, has no idea of how much development has taken place and how many schemes languish with only foundation stones laid.

As chairperson of the National Advisory Council, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has asked the government to rework the Food Security Bill, which has been touted as NREGA of UPA-II. She feels that the Bill falls woefully short of the aims of the measure and the Congress Party's elections promise. The Bill does not adequately address the issue of identification of the poor. There should be a proactive attempt on the government's part to include the maximum number of poor. To settle the controversy, the Planning Commission has finally accepted the size of the below poverty line population at 37.2 per cent. Hitherto, it was keen on proceeding on the basis of its own estimates of 27.5 per cent of the population. The switch to the new benchmark boosts the number of potential beneficiaries of food security by 1.1 crore families, raising the total to 37.2 per cent, which works to 40.71 crore for 2004-2005.

There are indications of the Congress leadership's annoyance with the lethargic implementation of the "amm admi" agenda of the Party. The Plan panel set up to sort out the matter rejected the idea of having two separate poverty figures--one for food security and the other for social security measures. The increase in the numbers will mean the cost of implementation of the proposed food security law going up, more so if Sonia Gandhi decides to heed the civil society activists who want entitlement of foodgrains per family to increase from 25 kgs to 35 kgs a month. Among the objections raised by Mrs. Gandhi were the low allocation of 25 kgs per household, lack of provision for putting in place a redress and monitoring system and inadequate focus on vulnerable sections, like women, children and the elderly.

During the debate on the issue, divergences over the estimates of poverty came to light. The Planning Commission's own estimate was 27 per cent of the total population, or 6.5 crore households being below the poverty line category. But the Suresh Tandulkar Committee set up by the Planning Commission to give an authoritative view on the subject come out with a higher figure of 38 per cent, or 8.3 crore families. The Supreme Court's Food Commissioner N. C. Saxena quoted a figure of 50 per cent--10.86 crore households. The Chairman of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector Prof. Arjun Sengupta placed the figure at 77 pr cent. One wonders why he was not a little more liberal in his estimates and declared the entire population as below poverty line. Such is the reliability of our statistics and those who produce them on the basis of half-baked statistics and half-conjectures and pass them on as authoritative figures.

As I mentioned earlier, the states have a tendency to inflate the number of the poor and the socially disadvantaged so that they are entitled to higher allocation of funds from the Central exchequer. Some people feel finding the BPL is a pointless exercise and only the states are interested in extracting more money from the Centre on this pretext. CPI leader D. Raja, for instance, argues that the division of BPL and above Poverty Line should be done away with as it lacked objectivity. No uniform yardstick was applied for deciding who was APL and who BPL. His demand is for universalising the Public Distribution System, but the government was not agreeable to it. The Supreme Court's Food Commission, Mr. Saxena also holds similar views. He feels there should be pro-active attempt on the government's part to include the maximum number of poor. If steps were taken to plug the loopholes in the PDS and make it more efficient, it would be possible to cover 50 to 70 per cent of the population. But the PDS was almost demolished by the Vajpayee Government under pressure of the foodgrain trade lobby, as well as, as states who wanted cash in hand rather than foodgrains which they had to distribute, but cash they could keep or use it for budgetary support as well.

The Food Security Bill, as drafted, denies the poor even the rights conferred by the Supreme Court as far as food security schemes are concerned, many of which concern children, leave aside any expansion into fundamental issues of production, distribution, pricing and control of foodgrains. Surprisingly, despite the outcry over rising prices of foodgrains, the States refused to lift higher allocation of foodgrains for distribution at subsidised rates for distribution among the vulnerable sections of the population because the foodgrain dealers and profiteers were opposed to it. The result: there was very little above normal off take from Central stocks and foodgrains keep rotting in open storages and overflowing bins. A niggardly approach besets all food security measures and existing services for the poor a more and more targeted PDS, unfair estimates of poverty and the application of BPL cut-offs to most essential services including free health care.

The Bill is now to be reworked, involving a range of interventions that includes midday meals, child care programmes, maternity entitlements and special provisions for the most vulnerable. It would also require a willingness to allocate substantial funds for this Bill. As Development Economist Jean Dreze points out. The Bill is a non-starter as for eliminating hunger is concerned. It does not add anything to the existing food entitlements for BPL families it guarantees less than what they are already entitle to under the Supreme Court orders. For other families, it guarantees nothing. An obnoxious provision in the Bill relates to allowing states to replace physical provisions with system of cash transfers to the identified poor. The States may distribute the equivalent food subsidy in cash to identified BBPL families.

Obviously this has been done at the instance of states which want cash rather than foodgrains so that they could divert it to other purposes. It is impossible to imagine that corruption that operates and prevents the vulnerable sections from access to foodgrains will not operate with greater intensity when it comes to cash transfers. Neither cash nor foodgrans will reach the targeted population and they will slide further down the BPL. This will completely destroy the PDS, which has already been emasculated, rather than strengthen the system of food supplies to the poor.

The increase in the number of families and higher allocation of 35 kg per family will cost the exchequer Rs. 40,400 crore. The burden on the exchequer will still be lower than the existing Rs. 56,000 crore annual food subsidy under the PDS. The law should promote food security instead of creating more food insecurity and the right to food should become a fundamental right.

Author can be contacted at (
MK Dhar, NPA

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Orissa State Government has not given its share for 374 model colleges, probably 18 in Orissa

Sambad, April 24, 2010
(Thanks to Dr Sanjib K Karmee for sharing the image)

AP, Karnataka in a war of words over IISc campus, April 27, 2010
The second campus of prestigious Indian Institute of Science is the latest issue to become a bone of contention between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

While AP Chief Minister Ken Rosaiah has thanked the central government for the move to set up the IISc's second campus in the backward district of Anantapur in AP, his Karnataka counterpart B S Yeddyurappa has made it clear that the second IISc campus would come up in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.

The controversy began with Andhra Pradesh CM receiving a letter from Union Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal [ Images ] informing him that the union government had examined the AP government's proposal and mooted the idea to the IISc, Bengaluru [ Images ].

According to an official press release from the AP chief minister's office, the Union Minister informed that a Memorandum of Understanding for the sale of land, time-frame for making available the basic infrastructure etc. was under preparation and further developments in this regard would be communicated on receipt of fresh inputs from IISc, Bengaluru.

Thanking the central government, Rosaiah said that move to establish the second Campus of the IISc in the backward areas like Anantapur clearly shows the concern and commitment of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi [ Images ], Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [ Images ] and other leaders towards Andhra Pradesh. The idea of a second campus of IISc at Anantapur was mooted for the first time by YS Rajasekhara Reddy [ Images ] in a letter to the prime minister.

"We have 1,000 acres of land in Anantapur, which is 70 km away from the Bengaluru International Airport and is connected by 4-lane highway. This location enables the IISc to utilise the existing state of the art laboratories built in Bengaluru and it is convenient to expand to new areas besides enabling the sharing of faculty due to its proximity," he had stated in his letter a copy of which was also marked to K Kasturirangan, Chairman, Council of IISc.

Subsequently the IISc team had visited the Anantpur to survey the sites short listed and found suitable 1000 acres of land in Anantapur district bordering Bangalore district. But Yeddyurappa is in no mood to let the second campus go out of the state. "The second IISC campus will come up in Chitradurga", he told the media on Monday adding that the district administration had already granted nearly 2,000 acres at Kudapur village.

Now ball seems to be in the court of the IISc management to clear the confusion on the location of second campus.

The IISc, a century old institution involved in cutting edge scientific research, was established in 1909 at the initiative of Jamshedji Tata for which the then Raja of Mysore had provided four hundreds acres of land in Bengaluru.

All miners do not harm tribal people, April 27, 2010
by Aseemsaxena

A lot is being written about the controversy surrounding a joint venture bauxite mining project of Sterlite (a Vedanta group company) and the Orissa government. Replace Vedanta with any other mining company, take away bauxite and swap it with coal or iron ore or limestone, the story is the same.

It is not about Vedanta versus tribals, it is basically against mining projects in tribal areas. People have poor perception of the mining industry and rightly so when you look at the damage done to the environment by small scale miners in areas like Bellary-Hospet in Karnataka or Barbil-Barajamda belt in Orissa/Jharkhand. These small scale unorganised miners have brought a bad name for the mining industry. However, there is a bright side to the mining industry too. Unfortunately, immense benefits that have accrued to local people from mining projects like Bailadila of NMDC in Bastar or Damanjodi bauxite project of Nalco in Koraput district of Orissa have been overlooked.

The fact is that the mining industry of the past as perceived and the mining industry of today are poles apart. The new age large mining companies both PSUs and MNCs involve the local population and look after their social welfare. These mining companies utilise the latest technology that is environment friendly and does the least damage to environment. In most cases, these companies leave a better and more productive land after mining is done. These companies spend a sizeable part of investment and later the profit on corporate social responsibility. This is true of NMDC mines in Chhattisgarh, Nalco mines in Damanjodi, Orissa and Tata Steel mines in Jharkhand and Orissa. In Damanjodi, after bauxite was mined, the whole mine was replaced by beautiful forest. NMDC’s Bailadila projects pay special attention to health, education, water supply and employment of local adivasis. The young generation of Adivasis were trained by the company in skills required for operating mines and the machines. Many of them have moved to other projects at higher positions. Large corporates, be it PSU or MNC or listed Indian group, are in compliance of all regulation and are also in constant public scrutiny and are fully conscious of their responsibilities.

An issue that gets generally raked up is mining and the tribal’s rights. The tribal areas, which stretch across eastern India from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh to Orissa, involve rampant cases of land grabbing, illegal mining by mining mafias and involvement of local corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, who marginalise and alienate tribals in their homelands, thus bringing bad name to the mining industry as a whole. However it is always the high profile companies, Indian as well as MNCs, that get caught in the cross fire and bear the brunt of resentment. Companies such as NMDC, Tata Steel, Nalco, Balco and Hindalco, have conducted themselves in most transparent and people friendly manner and have responsible policies towards social responsibilities and adherence to strict mining procedures balancing the ecosystem they operate in.

The government should refrain from giving mining licenses to small fly-by-night operators and instead encourage large mining companies to participate in the development of the resources and the area. The government should create CSR models similar to that of NMDC, Tata Steel or Nalco for local development and set up a mechanism to monitor the same.

It is easy to criticise any mining project based on inputs from few individuals’ even locals instigated by vested interests. Are they aware that every year hundreds of tribals of Kalahandi die of malnutrition? What have they done all these years to improve the living condition of these people? How do they plan to stop these deaths?

The only solution is to develop industries in these areas but with human face. The mining companies have to win over the people themselves by their positive actions.

Mining and the tribals have to co-exist for economic development of the country and its people. Let us not keep the people of Kalahandi or Bastar in rags all their life. Let them improve their lot by the industrial development of the area.
(The author is former chairman of NMDC and Rio Tinto in India)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Civil service examinations on Central varsity agenda

Times of India, April 26, 2010
BHUBANESWAR: Central University, Koraput, will soon start a specialized cell to train students appearing for competitive examinations with special thrust on Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and other allied services.

This is likely to give an impetus to students to appear for the civil services examination conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

The move comes at a time when representation of the State in civil services is perceived to be low. Vice Chancellor Surabhi Banerjee said the cell would be in place within the next month and the university would accord importance to civil services examinations. "We have formed an advisory committee, comprising some senior IAS officers, who can guide the students, the course and also on the proper method of coaching," she added.

"We need to provide specialized training to our students. Emphasis is on communication skills and knowledge of English language. For this, we are collaboring with the British Council. IAS officials can also be roped in as guest faculty," Prof Banerjee said, adding that this would be dovetailed with training students for other competitive examinations like NET well.

This move to set up a specialized training cell for all-India services has been welcomed in different spheres as there has been a clear dip in the state's representation and dearth of IAS officers from Orissa.

Govt rejects allegations of biasedness against environ expert

Zeenews, April 26, 2010
New Delhi: The government today rejected allegations of biasedness against Usha Ramanthan, a member of the Central team that had pointed out various alleged violations by Lanjigarh bauxite mining project, which is owned by mining major Vedanta in Orissa.

"Ramanathan was taken on the committee keeping in view her expertise in working with government committees on human rights issues," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in the Rajya Sabha in reply to a written question.

So, imputation of biasedness against her has not found to be substantiated, he added.

Ramesh said a committee consisting of Vinod Rishi, a senior retired environment official besides Ramanthan was set up to submit a report on alleged violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act and the impact of the proposed mining project on rights of tribals and wildlife conservation.

To another query he said the report of the committee alongwith compliance of the conditions is under consideration of the Ministry.

He, however, said the ministry has not received any complaint against Vedanta of grabbing of forest land.

Vedanta had alleged "Ramanthan had past association with Amnesty International and that she had gone out of the terms of reference given to her by the environment minister... her report was biased and should not be considered."

Central Universities of Kashmir, Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to hold combined entrance test: why not CUO?

Note: My observation is national level test brings  more effectiveness by improving quality and competitiveness of any institution. I was informbed by my friend, Dr Prabhat Kumar Sahu, that some good faculties are still preferring other IITs over NISER.  Personally I known few students preferred BITS over NISER for research last year. In this context if institutions in Orissa are to be made front runner like IISc Bangalore or IIT Kanpur, bright students and faculties should be brought through national level tests.

7 Central universities to hold combined entrance test

Business Standard, April 26, 2010

In a significant step, seven newly-created Central universities have come together to hold a combined entrance exam from this year for admission of students in about 25 courses being offered by them.

These institutions are Central Universities of Kashmir, Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The combined entrance exam is the first of its kind exercise being conducted by the Central universities in the country.

At present, the IITs and IIMs are holding similar combined entrances for admission. "This will provide opportunity to the aspiring students in any part of the country to apply for any of the seven Central universities," said Prof B P Sanjay, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Central University, which is coordinating the entrance.

The single entrance will make the admission process smooth for students, who otherwise have to appear in multiple tests to get admission into the university of their choice. These universities are among the 16 universities created last year under a Central act. Some of the universities started offering courses from last year also.

The remaining nine universities, which are not participating in the combined entrance, will hold their own entrances for admission. "They said they cannot join the combined entrance this year," Sanjay said.

The seven universities have identified 30 centres for conduct of the test on June 19 and 20. Each of the universities will organise the test in their respective regions. However, counselling will be held by each university on merit cum preference basis.

"We will see performance of the students in the entrance and also consider his preference for the institute while giving admission to a student," said Prof Abdul Wahid, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had asked these vice chancellors in October last year to conduct a combined entrance exam for admission of students and design innovative courses on the unique ecosystem of the region.

Does anybody know?, APril 26, 2010

Bishnu Pada Sethi has a knack for information.

So the Director of Census Operations in Odisha is busy in digging out interesting information on people.

After a lot of research, Mr.Sethi has found out these factual data.

Here the data are given for information:

In India 37% of the total households is using tap water, while in Odisha only 9% of households have the same facility.

Only 2.76% households of Kalahandi and 2.65% households of Nabaragapur get drinking water from tap.

In India, 39.20% of married couples do not have independent sleeping rooms in comparison with Odisha where 33.85% of married couples do not have independent sleeping rooms.

In Gajapati district, 57% of married couples do not have independent sleeping rooms.

5.56% of households in India and 26.98% of Households of Odisha use tubewell water for drinking purpose.

Electricity is available to only 26.91% of households of Odisha while 55.85% households of India use Electricity for lighting.

Electricity is available to only 7.89% households of Nabarangapur district.

72.10% households of Odisha and 43.30% households of India use Kerosene for lighting.

Only 10.51% of households in Odisha have bathroom in their houses, while in India, 36.14% of households have bathrooms.

In Odisha 85% of households do not have latrine in their houses while in India 64% of households have no latrine.

94.52% of households of Baudh district do not have Latrines in their houses.

96.23% households of Debagarh district do not have bathrooms in their houses.

In India 46.4% of households have drainage facility, while in Odisha only 20% of households have the same.

Fire woods are still the main source of fuel in Odisha (69.44% of households), and the figure is 52.53% for India.

LPG is used by only 5.22% of households in Odisha while the figure is 17.50% for India.

36% of households of India and 24% of households of Odisha get banking services.

Only 3.95% of households of Odisha have the connection of Telephone in their houses, whereas it is 9.14% in India.

Less than 1% households of Malkangiri district have Telephone connection in their houses.

Bi-cycle is used by 52% of households in Odisha and 44% of households in India.

Bi-cycle is still the best means of conveyance in Jharsuguda district (more than 75% of households).

Scooter, Motor Cycle, Mopeds etc. are used by only 8% households of Odisha and 12% households of India.

Car, Jeep etc are used by 2.5% of households of India and only 1% households in Odisha.

Television is used by 15.49% households in Odisha and 32% households in India.

Television is not available to about 94% of households of Debagarh district.

Friday, April 23, 2010

IFFCO to set up training institute for Orissa farmers

Economic Times, April 23, 2010
NEW DELHI: From fruit preservation to bee keeping, farmers in Orrisa can now gain expertise in varied aspects of agriculture with agri cooperative

IFFCO planning to to set up a training institute in the state.

The fertiliser producing and distribution cooperative, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) would set up the institute at its plant in Paradeep in the coastal state, the government informed Parliament today.

"In the proposed institute, farmers would be trained on best crop practices of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, vegetable and horticultural crops etc. Fruit preservation, fish farming, dairy and poultry, maintenance of agricultural equipment, bee keeping etc," said Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Srikant Kumar Jena, in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

He added that the IFFCO further proposes to carry out soil study to improve soil health and productivity of crops with balanced and integrated use of nutrients.

The cooperative has applied to Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Orissa (IPICOL) for allotment of suitable land near its phosphatic fertilizers complex for setting up the institute.

"The allotment of land is pending with IPICOI," he said.

Oral Epics in Kalahandi

Collected from KDDF Blog

New initiatives recommended by Higher Education Task Force, Orissa

This information is provided in official website of Department of Higher Education, Orissa

Work out a bankable plan

Hindustan Times, April 22, 2010

At a time when granaries are overflowing, and stockpiles of food are rotting in the open, India is preparing to bring in a National Food Security Act. Saddled with the world’s largest population of hungry and malnourished, the draft bill certainly provides a ray of hope for the hungry millions.

If enacted properly, it can turn appalling hunger into history. But if the intention is to only repackage old wine in a new but broken bottle, it will turn out to be a historic blunder.

The primary objective of the draft Bill, as being suggested by the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM), seems to be to simply re-classify the population below the poverty line which is entitled to receive 25 kg (or 35 kg if the eGoM agrees) of grain at Rs 3 per kg. Moreover, by relying once again on a bogus Public Distribution System (PDS) to reach food to the needy, I think we are neither serious nor sincere in pulling the country out of hunger for all time to come.

As the new harvest flows in, the question that needs to be asked is why acute hunger prevails in the villages that actually produce food? How come a large population of the hungry reside in those very areas that constitute the country’s food bowl? I fail to understand why in Punjab, where food rots in the open, almost 10 per cent of the population should go to bed hungry? Why is that Punjab, the best-performing state in terms of addressing hunger, should be ranked below Gabon, Honduras and Vietnam in the Global Hunger Index?

There is something terribly wrong in the way we have looked at hunger all these years. We have failed to realise that any programme aimed at providing food-for-all on a long-term basis has to look beyond food stamps and the PDS. Including the destitute and the homeless in the food distribution channel and by ensuring 35 kg of food entitlement per family (including nutritious millets and pulses) is not enough to remove hunger.

Instead of sending search teams to 22 countries that have food security programmes, the eGoM will do well to look inwards, and will find sustainable answers that can be easily replicated. Ironically, the answer lies in the hunger belt of Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput in western Orissa. Many years ago, I had stumbled on a cluster of villages in the heart of Bolangir district, which had not witnessed hunger for nearly three decades. My colleagues have since then travelled to numerous other villages throughout the country, which have adopted a socially workable ‘sharing and caring’ approach to remove hunger. If these villages can do it, I see no reason why a majority of the six lakh villages cannot become hunger-free.

In Bolangir, or in rural Pune, some villages have built traditional but small foodgrain banks. Those who are poor and jobless find solace in these grain banks. They are provided an adequate quantity of grains on credit, with the promise that they will return it in kind (along with a small portion as interest) at the time of the harvest when they find work. This cycle of ‘sharing and caring’ has built quite a sizeable foodgrain bank in these hunger-free villages. All that is needed is to train women self-help groups and NGOs in other villages, and food security will become the responsibility of the people.

Making villages hunger-free will also limit the dependence on the unreliable PDS and thereby reduce the mounting food subsidy. It has to be backed by policies that ensure that agriculture is not sacrificed for the sake of industry, mining and exports. As Hivre bazaar in central Maharashtra has shown, the answer lies in giving control over jan, jal and jungle to the people.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kalahandi needs infrastructure development

Click here to watch it:

The Unsung Hero from Kalahandi, Orissa

Watch here in Youtube:

If 1,000 government-sponsored model schools in backward districts is true, then larger and major backward district in Orissa such as Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput, Bargarh and Keonjhar should each get three such model schools

Note: Following report says 1,000 government-sponsored model schools in backward districts, eariler it was reported about 370 (!) model colleges in India. If its true, then major and larger backward districts in Orissa should get at least three and smaller one two such schools.

Elite’ policy jab at Sibal
The Telegraph, April 22, 2010

New Delhi, April 21: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal today faced criticism from his own party MPs for two school policy decisions that some dubbed elitist.

The MPs from the Congress joined members of the BSP, Janata Dal (United) and the RJD in questioning government funding for Sanskriti School, run privately in the capital by wives of top central bureaucrats, in the Lok Sabha.

The MPs also pilloried Sibal for his decision to scrap a discretionary quota for the HRD minister and MPs in Kendriya Vidyalayas.

The opposition came even as the ministry plans to seek cabinet approval tomorrow for starting 1,000 government-sponsored model schools in backward districts.

The Congress MP from Latur, Jaywantrao Awale, fired the first salvo through a starred question where he asked Sibal to explain whether Sanskriti was ensuring admission of disadvantaged children from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes....................

Reference Note:
Below is the list of districts proposed to have model colleges in Orissa. I beleive these districts are also counted as backward districts while establishing model schools. In that case each district will roughly get 2.7 number of model schools. In Orissa  major backward district should get 3 such schools where as smaller district could get 2.

Orissa Districts having College Population Index (CPI) below 4.0
Malkangiri, CPI 1.9, Phase I
Boudh, CPI 2.4, Phase I

Orissa Districts having CPI above 4.0

Kandhamal, CPI 4.7, Pahse II
Nuapada, CPI 7.5, Phase II

Nabarangpur, CPI 8.7, Phase III
Gajapati, CPI 9.3, Phase III
Koraput, CPI 10.1, Phase III
Sonepur, CPI 11.5, Phase III
Bargarh, CPI 12.3, Phase III
Deogarh, CPI 13.0, Phase III
Kalahandi, CPI 14.2, Phase III
Balangir, CPI 14.6, Phase III
Anugul, CPI 15.7, Phase III
Rayagada, CPI 17.6, Phase III
Keonjhar, CPI 18.2, Phase III
Ganjam, CPI 18.3, Phase III
Nayagarh, CPI 19.3, Phase III
Dhenkanal, CPI 19.8, Phase III

Naveen wants Plan Panel to back Kalahandi revival

Financial Express, April 22, 2010
Bhubaneswar: The Orissa chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, demanded that the Centre should accord its approval to the Rs 4,550 crore eight year perspective plan for the development of KBK (Koraput,Balangir, Kalahandi) region of the state.

The chief minister, who met the deputy chairman of planning commission, Montek Singh Alhuwalia, on Tuesday, said the implementation of the plan is necessary for the consolidation of the devlopment of KBK region, the most backward area of the country.

The eight-year perspective plan has been prepared in consultation with the planning commission and submitted for approval.

Pending approval of the perspective plan, the Centre should enhance the special central aid for the KBK region from Rs 130 crore to Rs 500 crore, the chief minister demanded.

Pointing out that Orissa despite being the pioneer in power reforms is facing difficulty in getting Central assistance in the sector, Patnaik said the guidelines for sanction of funds under Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program II (APDRP-II) be modified.

The chief minister also demanded allocation of 500 mw power from the Central unallocated share and Orissa's share from the NTPC Kaniha II to bail out the state from the present deficit situation.

He also demanded a special allocation of Rs 300 crore a year for construction of the Orissa portion of the Ranchi-Vijayawada highway.

The Tuesday meeting pegged the state's annual plan outlay for 2010-11 at Rs 11,000 crore.The plan oulay was Rs 9,500 crore in 2009-10.

Patnaik, while discussing on the size of the state plan outlay, told said that the state has clocked a growth rate of 9.51 during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period. Asserting that the tempo will be maintained in the 11th Plan period, he said the plan size need to be pegged at a high of Rs 11,000 crore as the state government is making an effort to attract more and more investors by improving the physical infrastructure and also social infrastructrue in the state.

The state finance minister, Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, said the plan outlay has increased four-fold since 2004-05 when it was Rs 2,500 crore.

NRHM funds underutilised in disease-inflicted KBK

The Pioneer, April 22, 2010

PNS, Bhubaneswar

As per the information received by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from the State’s National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) Directorate, the funds allotted under the NRHM to the KBK (Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi) districts during 2009-10 and the expenditure incurred up to February 28 have been underutilised.

This was revealed by the Union Health Minister (State) Dinesh Trivedi while replying to a question, if the funds allotted to the KBK districts under the NRHM could achieve its target, made by Rajya Sabha member Rama Chandra Khuntia on Tuesday.
As per the data tabled by the Minister in the Rajya Sabha, out of the total Rs 5,476,25 lakhs allotted to the KBK districts under the NRHM, Rs 3,390,61 lakhs have been utilised as on 28.2.2010, as per a Press note issued by Khuntia.

Replying to his another question on the number of deaths in malaria, TB and unknown diseases in the backward south and western districts of the State here in 2009, the Minister stated that Kandhamal tops the malarial death list with 35 followed by Koraput with 32 while Balangir goes nil. So far TB deaths are concerned, Kalahandi tops the list with 137 again followed by Koraput with 135 casualties and Balangir, Malkangiri and Rayagada above 100 deaths.

However, deaths reported due to unknown diseases have been stated nil in all the said districts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dalwai bids goodbye, April 21, 2010

Finally Ashok Dalwai signed the relinquish slip on 21 April.

1984 batch IAS officer relinquished the post of Principal Secretary of the Department of Steel & Mines (DOSM).

He is leaving for Bangalore to take over as Regional Deputy Director General of the Unique Identification Authority of India(UIAI).

DOSM has never been in limelight during last 30 years as it was in the Media Glare during last 10 months.

Thanks to Opposition and Media trial both DOSM and Dr.Dalwai were in glare of publicity.

During the entire episode of Mega Mining Scam, the top most mandarin of the DOSM remained cool and handled the affairs with all sincerity.

He was backed by Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and Chief Secretary to the hilt.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik supported Dr.Dalwai for his honesty and integrity.

Now the through going mandarin has turned the table and Central Organizations like Railways, Ports and IBM are at receiving end.

Before signing the papers Dr.Dalwai told newsmen that the State Government has tried its best to curb illegal mining through systematic changes in the system.

“This was possible because of the political decision at the highest level to bring in transparency in the Mining Administration”, said Dr.Dalwai.

He said now DOSM has started a Pilot Project in Keonjhar by using IT and Technology in the mining sector.

Digitization of Mining Maps and putting up Electronic Weigh Bridges are on cards, said he.

Apart form that the State Government is filling up the vacancies in the field level, so that manpower shortage will be taken care of, said he.

Thanks to the determined effort of the visionary bureaucrat, who hogged the attention of Central Government for his innovative initiatives and for which Ministry of Mines is going to issue directives, initiated by Dr.Dalwai to the various Central Agencies involved in Mineral Administration.

At the end of the day Ashok Dalwai is a happy man, said one of his closet aide.

Pollution clean chit for Vedanta April 21, 2010

Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) has received a clean chit on the count of pollution by its refinery at Lanjigarh from Odisha Pollution Control Board(OPCB).

VAL, which has turned to be whipping boy for all and sundry was blamed by Sridhar Pesnia that more than 100 deaths occurred due to Tuberculosis (TB), thanks to pollution by Vedanta.

Recently, a delegation led by Sridhar of Lanjigarh, who went to meet Naveen Pattanaik, the Chief Minister to narrate their owes and submitted a memorandum charging Vedanta for the same.

There have been several allegations by NGOs and few local persons regarding pollution by the Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh by VAL also.

These allegations created hype in media and news appeared in all the leading news papers of Orissa on 25 January.

The issue was also surfaced in the Parliament as a starred question.

On the basis of the complaint and question raised in Parliament, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) immediately directed State Pollution Control Board to submit a report on the matter by 5 March.

However, the OPCB, after a thorough inspection of the operation of the refinery has rejected all the allegations related to environmental pollution.

OPCB appointed a team of scientists for an on the spot enquiry on the allegations.

They collected data and samples from different sources including data from health and TB control department, in presence of people and has submitted its report.

As per the report, only one death has occurred in 2006 due to tuberculosis in the periphery area of the refinery between 2002 and 2010 although the area is prone to TB, skin disease, malaria, malnutrition etc.

No death of household animals, cattle and bird could be verified due to water pollution as majority of the rivers was having pH below 7.5.

Analyzing water samples from river, stream and tubewell from various location around the plant, the report says that ‘pH of surrounding surface and ground water remains within acceptable limit’.

Team did not also observe any seepage or leakage from red-mud pond, process water lake, Ash Pond and other waste water containment areas.

The company has also made appropriate provisions for controlling air pollution, as per the report.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Overview of industrialization in Odisha, presented by Samaja along with Teamorissa,
State Govt. must be lauded.

KKD repeated demand for Central University in Kalahandi, suggest to rename WODC to Koshal Vikash Parisad

Thanks to Dr Sanjib K Karmee for sharing the image.

Sambad, April 19, 2010

DAV Vedanta School holds annual day

The Pioneer, April 19, 2010
PNS, Bhawanipatna

Lanjigarh-based DAV Vedanta International School celebrated its third annual day on Friday. VAL COO Mukesh Kumar graced the occasion as the chief guest, flanked by head HR Sanjay Kumar Pattnaik, head CSR PK Hota and DAV institutions regional director HK Mohanty while the welcome speech was made by principal Sukla Chakraborty.

Kumar commended the exalted standards of the institution and the contributions made by the grooming students of the tribal dominated Lanjigarh. He also announced a new separate block for the nursery education and a scholarship with free books for toppers of classes VI, VII, VIII and IX. A newsletter of the school was also inaugurated.

The atmosphere was filled with a variety of scintillating cultural programs of songs, skits and Sambalpuri, Odishi and Goan dances. The children also played a short drama Jago Bharat in order to spread message against terrorism.

The DAV Vedanta International School is the only English medium school in Lanjigarh with 269 students. The school has benefited a number of tribal students in the periphery area along with children of the VAL employees, as per a Press release.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blatant efforts to wage a proxy war

Expressbuzz, April 15, 2010
M G Devasahayam
The Dantewada massacre took the lives of 76 CRPF jawans and caused a huge setback to the Union home ministry’s self-proclaimed ‘war on tribal terror’. It also portends a debilitating civil war unless humane governance replaces the gun-wielding ‘area-domination’ mindset in the heartland.

Instead all we get is sound-bytes. Union home minister P Chidambaram says something must have gone “drastically wrong” and orders an inquiry. Before finding out what went wrong, he discreetly suggests the use of air power against the Maoists: “At present there is no mandate to use the Air Force or any aircraft. But, if necessary, we will have to revisit the mandate to make some changes.” But the Air Force chief says: “Our training and weapons are meant for enemies across the border and to inflict maximum lethality. We cannot do this on our own people.” The army chief too says it is not wise to deploy the army against Naxalites. Defence minister A K Antony rules out direct deployment of armed forces.

Pushed on the back foot, Chidambaram offers to resign, which as expected is rejected by the prime minister. The BJP spokesperson says Chidambaram has been entrusted with the nation’s security and the responsibility is his. They want him to ‘face boldly the situation which has arisen.’ Their ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is more to the point. He wants Chidambaram to work more and speak less and control his ‘tone and tenor’.

As for Chidambaram, if the Maoists believe in shooting their way to revolutionary glory, he seems to believe he can rein them in by shooting off his mouth and jumping the gun with his thoughtless rhetoric. When he visited Lalgarh on April 4, everyone expected a series of confidence-boosting measures. But he tried to pass the buck to the state government. For good measure, he added that the Maoists were “cowards hiding in jungles” and fixed a three-year timeframe for their elimination. The Maoists hit back with a vengeance within 48 hours, butchering 76 security personnel. A rattled Chidambaram hurriedly termed the Maoists ‘savage’ as if the whole issued hinged on the adjectives he chose.

He did not even spare army chief general V K Singh who had said in good faith that the massacre was perhaps due to inadequate training and orientation. One need not be a top-notch commando, as the general was in his younger days, to say this. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of jungle warfare would say this a thousand times.

Why is the ‘calm, composed and competent’ darling of India’s neo-liberal media getting so worked up when it comes to tribals and unwashed Naxal-Maoists? Why does he brand well-meaning intellectuals and ideologues as Naxalite-extremists? Why have things gone so far as to make social activists lament that ‘in this country whoever tries to fight for justice, who talks about the poor, who brings up the issue of human rights, the government labels all of them as Naxal supporters’.

The answer lies in the mandate of Operation Green Hunt — to clear the tribal area of insurgent groups, hold the territory to ensure that Maoists can’t re-enter, and, finally, prepare the ground for development projects by ‘civilian agencies’. This is not a mandate for a counter-insurgency mission in the jungles where paramilitary forces are expected to ‘fight guerrillas like a guerrilla’ and not capture or hold territory.

Then for whom is this mandate intended? Obviously for the mining-MNCs who can build their industrial empires on this ‘captured’ territory. A look at the interests of the London-based MNC — Vedanta Resources plc, one of the world’s largest — gives enough clues. Of India’s total aluminium capacity of 1.3 million tonnes, Vedanta’s share is 3,85,000 tonnes. Its 5,00,000-tonne smelter in Orissa’s Jharsuguda is getting commissioned and the company will ultimately create 1.6 million tonnes of smelting capacity there, to be backed by a five million-tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and a power complex of 3,750 MW. Its subsidiary, Balco’s capacity will be raised to one million tonnes.

In Lanjigarh alone Vedanta has access to bauxite deposits of 75 million tonnes and the government has promised an equally large deposit nearby. A five million tonne refinery is justified provided links to bauxite deposits lasting for about 50 years can be acquired. Orissa, where most of Vedanta’s aluminium action is to unfold, has an estimated 1.7 billion tonnes of the country’s total 3.3 billion tonnes of reserves. Vedanta says it has strong claims to free deposits because of the world’s single largest smelter it is committed to building at Jharsuguda.

If Vedanta has its way all this capacity will be on the ground by 2013. These reserves lie under the tribal forestland. It all depends whether Chidambaram can secure and deliver this land, a task he has taken upon himself and for the purpose declared a state-of-war.

The fact that Chidambaram had a close relationship with Vedanta raises serious concerns about the motive, agenda and mandate of this ‘war on tribal terror’. In 2003, he represented Sterlite Industries (a group company) before the Bombay High Court, when it faced charges of avoiding customs duties and tax evasion. Shortly afterwards, Chidambaram became a director on the board of Vedanta and only surrendered this job on May 22, 2004 — a day before taking up the position of finance minister at the Centre.

With an orchestrated neo-liberal media baying for ‘full-scale war’, area-domination operations have restarted. This time around it is the commandos of the Special Action Force who have been specially trained to fight Naxals. And the tribals are fleeing their villages. The question is: With such a blatant and high-level ‘conflict of interest’ does the home ministry have any moral authority to pursue this proxy-war?
(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Orissa Govt.'s list for the promotion of exclusive industrial parks does include Kalahandi along with 13 other locations

Note: In 2007 industry minister of Orissa  had stated that (read here)  three industrial hubs have also been identified at Jajpur, Jharsuguda and Kalahandi areas for focused ancillary and downstream industrial development.But Kalahandi was later on NOT mentioned in the list of state Govt and Rayagada was included which we had protested in a letter (text is given below). However, now we found many other names were included along with Kalahandi for industrial development park.

Text of our protest letter (hard copy was sent to concern authorities) is given below:

Sept 26, 2008

The President of India, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil
Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi - 110 004, India

CC to:
The Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi, Pin code: 110 001, India

The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr Naveen Patnaik
Aerodrome Road, Bhubaneswar,
Pin code: 751 001, Orissa, India

Dear Honorable President of India, Shrimati Patil,
A recent survey (Reported on Sept 22, 2008, India Today) has put Kalahandi among bottom five constituencies for worst infrastructure development in India. Kalahandi is known for starvation, poverty and backwardness and often used as synonym for starvation, poverty and backwardness all over the world by the media and social workers.

Kalahandi is located in the central place among all KBK districts in Orissa (Reference 1: Map is attached) and it is also centrally located (Reference 2: Map attached) in the South-Western Orissa comprising Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajpati, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir, Kandhamal, Boud, Sonepure and Bargarh districts which are together known as most backward pocket in the South Asia by World Bank. Location of Kalahandi, especially Bhawanipatna, is best suitable as central location for whole region. Bhawanipatna should have been developed as a regional center for the development of whole region but Orissa state Govt. has always ignored it over Koraput due to ill political and bureaucratic motivations. Despite geographical advantage in the above region and scrutinize by the media and social workers every year for backwardness, surprisingly Orissa state Government has been showing repeatedly ignorance towards Kalahandi since years.

Esteem Madam, I would like to draw following fact sheets showing ignorance towards Kalahandi by Orissa state Government despite Kalahandi is geographical epicenter in KBK region for your kind attention.

Ignorance in Administration:
Kalahandi is centrally located among KBK districts and Bhawanipatna is center among major towns in KBK in Orissa, however, when Orissa Government proposed to establish the present KBK head quarter it decided to establish in Koraput (due to personal interest of few state politicians and bureaucrats) without giving any thoughts on rationality and by totally ignoring demand of people of Kalahandi and Balangir region to establish it in Kalahandi. Most of the KBK administrative and related offices are functioning either in Bhubaneswar (Khordha) or Berhampur or Koraput instead of Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput by totally marginalizing Kalahandi and Balangir region to have any administrative office of KBK.

Ignorance in Industrial Development:
Orissa state Government identified three industrial hubs at Jajapur, Jharsuguda and Kalahandi for focused anicilliary and downstream industrial development. Orissa’s industrial minister Mr Biswabhusan Harichandan revealed it (Reported in Organiser, Jan 8, 2007). However, later on Orissa Government shifted the proposed industrial hub from Kalahandi to undivided Koraput district due to ill political motivation by administrations.

Ignorance in Higher Education:
Realizing a central institution would bring enormous development and help to change the present image of Kalahandi, social organizations and many intellectuals, local politicians etc have been working continuously and seriously towards establishing a central University in Kalahandi since two decades. People of Kalahandi have already submitted a memorandum to the Government of India and Orissa state Government bearing 80,000 signatures for a central University in Kalahandi on January 14, 2002 (Reported in Dharitri (Oriya), Aug 13, 2008). 4000 post card letters have been sent in this matter. Many emails, letters, fax letters etc from all over the world specially but not limited to from the people living in various states in India, USA, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Lebanon etc are sent since last few years to the President of India, Prime minister of India, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Chief Minister of Orissa to establish a central university in Kalahandi. However, the Chief Minister of Orissa initially promised (Reported on May 8, 2008, The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar,) to establish 350 crore Central University in Kalahandi but later on shifted to Koraput to satisfy personal interests of few politicians and bureaucrats despite location of Central University in Kalahandi suits more to all KBK districts as it is located centrally to all KBK districts and major towns in KBK (Reported on May 31, 2008, The Pioneer, Bhubaneswar.)

Ignorance in National Highway:
National Highway (NH) 217 was proposed to pass through Bhawanipatna town of Kalahandi. The national highway map, google map and yahoo map show NH217 passing through Bhawanipatna town of Kalahandi district. However, due to political ignorance later on this NH217 was diverted from Bhawanipatna to some other route by the state Government. People of Kalahandi are not yet sure why such a decision was taken. If it were to reduce the distance between Raipur and Gopalpur then there was no consistency on such argument when state Government recently proposed Vijayawada – Ranchi national highway to the union Government of India.

The shortest possible route for Vijaywada – Ranchi would be via Rayagada, Bisham Katak, Paikadukulguda, Kotagada, Siritiguda, Nuagaon, G. Udayagiri and Phulbani and not via passing though Chief Minister’s home district such as via Digapahandi, Asika and Bhanjanagar as proposed by state Government. The route was politically manipulated. If such manipulation could be possible in favor of Chief Minister’s home district (Asika was his Lok Sabha constituency and Hinjili is his assembly constituency) then the Vijayawada-Ranchi highway could also be proposed via Koraput, Dasmantpur, Kashipur, Bhawanipatna, Tumudibanda, Nuagaon, G.Udayagiri and Phulbani which would have benefited backward regions of Kalahandi, Koraput, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts substantially without appreciably changing the distance between Vijayawada and Ranchi.

In addition our proposed route via Kashipur, Bhawanipatan and Tumudibanda would have further benefitted by covering a large portion of Kandhamal district bringing more development to a district that is often tense for communal and tribal violence and is equally backward. While proposing National Highway such political manipulation against backward regions that are ranked at the bottom five constituencies in the country in worst infrastructure (Reported by Indian Today, September 22, 2008) should be stopped by Orissa Government.

Ignorance in Railway:
State Government has often raised for railway development in other parts of Orissa, but it has never shown any interest on extension of Jungarh – Amagura line which was proposed in 1990 and has been a long standing demand in the region (Reported in Dharitri, August 7, 2007, The Statesman, March 1, 2007). No survey has been taken place for this line so far. Other important lines which connect most of the districts in undivided Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput and Kandhamal such as Kantabanji – Khariar –Dharamgarh –Ampani-Nabarangpur –Jeypore and Lanjigarh road – Phulbani – Anugul have not yet been proposed and surveyed by the Indian railway despite most of these districts are at the bottom of worst infrastructure development.

Ignorance in major Bridge Construction:
Submergence of NH-201, one of the major routes in the region, by the overflowing Hati river water near Junagarh in rainy days has been a routine and serious concern since past decade affecting lakhs of commuters (Reported by Dharitri on Aug 8, 2007). It is also affecting road movement from Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balangir, Angul and Bhawanipatna to Jeypore, Sunabeda, Damanjodi, Nabarangpur and Koraput and vice versa. A high-level new bridge is required over the Hati River near Junagarh on NH 201 over the present low-lying bridge (Reported by The Pioneer, Bhubaneswar, Aug 2, 2007). Despite public demand since last decade for a new bridge over NH 201 near Junagarh, the Government has remained callous. In another instance Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone in 2003 for a new bridge over the same river at Kalampur, but construction work is yet to start (Reported by The Samaja (Oriya), Feb 25, 2008). Another important bridge over Udanti River near Kegaon connecting Kalahandi and Balangir regions has not been approved though KBK get special grants towards infrastructure development.

Ignorance in State Highway:
Similarly, state Government has announced many state highways across the states, but no importance was given to major infrastructure development of KBK region for a state highway in the Bongomunda – Dharamgarh – Moter- Jaipatna – Raniguda route connecting Padampur sub-division of Bargarh district, Patnagarh sub-division of Balangir distrct, all the Nuapada district, Dharamgarh sub-division of Kalahandi district with Koraput and Malkangiri. Similarly, Junagarh – Kalampur – Thuamul Rampur – Kasipur route is crucial to link above regions with Rayagada and Gajpati. Nothing has been done despite huge public demand for the above state highways.

It is surprising that despite huge claim by central and state Governments that lots of money is being spent in KBK, the main and crucial infrastructure development has not yet been achieved in decades. It brings a big question how rural development in infrastructure would have been doing in this region?

KBK region is getting special grants from both Central Government and state Government of Orissa. However, most of the money was left unutilized and in reality there was no improvement in major infrastructure development in the local and regional level in Kalahandi due to political ignorance towards the region by Orissa Government.

I have repeatedly urged Government of Orissa about the ignorance and injustice towards Kalahandi and millions of people living there on the above issues.

I request you being head of the country to interfere in this matter and take it to concern administrations so that Orissa state Government stops its ill motivation and ignorance towards Kalahandi and bring infrastructure and over all development to Kalahandi as mentioned above.

Thank you and kind regards

Yours sincerely

Orissa reserves 20% land in industrial estates for MSMEs
Business Standard, April 14, 2010
To meet the infrastructure needs of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on a priority basis, the Orissa government has reserved 20 per cent of the area in all industrial estates, industrial parks, industrial corridors and land banks for such units.

Further, the state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) will promote new exclusive zones for MSMEs in all major industrial hubs of the state.

The locations where exclusive industrial parks will be promoted include Kalinganagar, Barbil, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Dhenkanal, Rourkela, Baragarh, Balasore, Dhamara, Gopalpur, Chhatrapur, Raygada, Kalahandi and Choudwar.

Such exclusive zones will also come up near the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the state.

“The government has notified reservation of 20 per cent land in all industrial estates for MSMEs”, a senior official of the state industry department told Business Standard.

The government has also decided that wherever land is provided to large and medium industries, 10 per cent of the land, subject to a maximum limit of 200 acres, will be earmarked for setting up MSMEs. This will facilitate the setting up of ancillary and downstream units, preferably in cluster mode, a source added.

This condition will be applicable to companies that have already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government and those who are expected to sign MoUs later.

Sources said that Common Facility Centres (CFCs), to be set up by the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) constituted for the MSME clusters, would be entitled for allotment of land free of cost at various locations in the state.

Idco, the land acquisition arm of the Orissa government, will earmark these locations. The CFCs’ land cost will be treated as the state government’s shareholding in the SPV.

To provide assured sources of raw material for such units, the Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC) and the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) will set up raw material banks.

The two organisations will act as nodal agencies for MSMEs and public sector resource companies will accord priority to OSIC and NSIC in supply of raw materials, which will be made available to MSMEs at the lowest possible rate.

Gram Vikas has implemented four units of mirco hydro projects in Thuamul Rampur block

Note: Our sincere thanks to Dipti Vaghela for commenting in this blog, here we post her comment again for our readers about contribution of Gram Vikas in Thuamul Rampur. Indeed when I visited I was told about these four units but could not visit due to time constrain.

Dipti Vaghela says:
Thanks to Akshaya Babu, I've come to know of this blog devoted to Kalahandi!

Here is more info on the micro hydro in Orissa:

1. There are nearly 11 working units in Orissa, the oldest one having worked for over a decade now in Koraput.

2. Gram Vikas has implemented 4 units in Thuamul Rampur block. With each project, we have learned new lessons:
a. Amthagouda (5-20kW)--This system is under repair and will be re-commissioned next month.

b. Karlapat (15-25kW)--This system is functioning well, after we started involving local technicians for preventive maintenance. Now we are focusing on establishing livelihoods usage, e.g. oil mill.

c. Purna Guma (4-10kW)--This project is working well because it has local technology. Thanks to Practical Action in Sri Lanka, we were able to teach a local fabrication shop in Bhawanipatna how to fabricate the turbine for this project. We have learned not to depend on Bangalore and Delhi for our hardware needs, as those suppliers do not like returning to Kalahandi. Also in this project, we did not use Gram Vikas field staff. Instead, we found the natural leaders of the community--the village youth--and encouraged them to coordinate the implementation as much as possible.

d. Karnivel (4-10kw)--This beautiful, small village has raised my expectations of communities in Thaumul Rampur. Having only 15 households, this village has done double the work of the earlier projects, in half the time, with half the households. The lights were turned on April 1 with no major isses. We are working with OTELP to see how micro hydro electricity can be combined with OTELP's great efforts.

We have identified 5 more sites, but it is important that we do new micro hydro projects with knowledge about other electrification efforts (REC, OREDA, NTPC), so that we make the most of renewable energy collectively.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Foreign varsities in India: A bane rather than boon

The Pioneer, April 13, 2010
Partha S Mohapatra, Bhubaneswar

The Indian Government is opening up higher education to foreign universities on the premise that it will save the country about $7 billion in foreign exchange and stop brain drain. The Government also wants us to believe that top-ranking universities will come to India and research will increase in different disciplines.

However, the Government is mum on the employment opportunities for the students who are going to graduate from these foreign universities where they will pay huge sums in terms of rupees. When they spend dollars or pounds abroad, they also get opportunities to work there. A sizeable amount of the $43.5 billion sent to India by Indians staying in foreign countries is from students who work there after graduation.

Most foreign universities are showing interest in areas like MBA programmes where there is very little funding required compared to medical or technological programmes, but returns are good. But Indian corporate bodies are already doing a good job on this front as shown in the case of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, which has become a world-class institution. The homegrown IIMs and IITs need time and space to grow and be able compete internationally.

China is doing economically much better than India, and still hasn’t allowed foreign universities the way Indian Government is planning to do. The world-class Chinese universities like Peking University that have improved their international ranking in the last decade are homegrown institutions. China has even allowed private Chinese universities to be set up. But it is still cagey about allowing foreign universities and the few it has done has been under strict supervision. China itself has become a destination country for international students. However, instead of encouraging foreign universities to set up shop in China, they encourage partnerships with foreign universities, specifically research collaborations and faculty exchange programs.

Each year, about 80,000 to 90,000 students go to the US only, and many of them decide to stay there. The US and UK Governments are facing flak because of high immigration which is increasing their population and straining their infrastructure. Recent measures by these Governments show that these countries are trying to curb immigration from countries like India in whatever way they can. However, universities in the US and the UK need Indian students. The only way to have the “best of both worlds.” is to set up their own campuses in India, conduct their own profitable courses, and rake in the dollars converted from rupees!

-- Dr Partha S Mohapatra is a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky and a faculty in the University of Maryland

Ultra mega power project in Balangir, Bhadrak and Sundargarh districts

Union power ministry to float request for quotation for Sundargarh ultra mega power project soon
Daily News and Analysis, April 13, 2010
Bhubaneshwar: Union power ministry is likely to float a request for quotation (RFQ) soon for the proposed 4000 MW ultra mega power project (UMPP) at Bedabahal in Orissa's Sundargarh district, official sources said today.

The decision was taken after the state government identified 3,000 acres of land, they said adding Orissa chief secretary TK Mishra and union power ministry's joint secretary ICP Keshari held a meeting yesterday to finalise location of the proposed UMPP.

During the meeting, Keshari raised issues relating to land acquisition and water availability for the proposed plant.

Chief secretary has assured all help including acquisition of land for the first UMPP in the state, Keshari told reporters.

The state government, facing acute shortage of power this summer in view low generation of electricity from its hydel projects, is likely to get about 1300 MW from the 4000 MW UMPP, Orissa's energy secretary PK Jena said.

While MOP was about to begin work for its Rs16,000 crore UMPP in Sundargarh district, two more such units would also come up in the state, he said, adding that of total 10 proposed UMPPs having generation capacity of about 40,000 MW in the country, three would be located in Orissa.

A high level central team was scheduled to visit the state on April 19 for identification of the locations of two other UMPPs to be set up in Balangir and Bhadrak district.

The state was likely to avail about 5,300 MW of electricty from the three UMPPs at a concession, Jena said.

Though Orissa was currently availing only 10% of the power being generated from NTPC's different units in Bhubaneshwar, the state government had been demanding to increase the state's share to 50%, sources said.

It's tribal faith vs Vedanta might in Kalahandi forests

Economic Times, April 13, 2010
LANJIGARH/BHAWANIPATNA: Kalahandi has always captured the national imagination, but never for the right reasons. Recurring poverty deaths and reports about entire communities surviving on mango kernels defined this predominantly tribal district in southern Orissa for decades.

So when the London-listed, Indian-run miner Vedanta Plc announced plans in 2002 to set up a Rs 4,000-crore bauxite refinery and bauxite mining project in the district's Niyamgiri hills, there was a feeling in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar that Kalahandi was finally climbing on to the development bandwagon.

“A big company was coming to Kalahandi... It would make the district into something like Kolkata or Mumbai. That's how we felt then,” said local journalist Mahamad Ashlam.

Eight years on, Ashlam is a disappointed man. It is a feeling shared by Kalahandi's elected representatives, people living near the refinery, the local middle class and the business community. The company, too, says it is disappointed because the refinery can break even only if the state government acts on its promise to let it mine in the bauxite-rich Niyam Dongar mountain.

Vedanta wants the flat-top mountain massif, the best-forested in the Niyamgiri hill range, but the local Dongria Kondh tribals say it is the abode of their god Niyam Raja. The surreal fight between the $12.3-billion mining firm and tribals facing extinction has already drawn parallels with James Cameron's blockbuster film Avatar.

The David-versus-Goliath battle has drawn in a variety of actors—from tribals to environmentalists to politicians to non-government organisations. Even the Church of England waded into the controversy, selling its stake in the company last February to protest the company's allegedly poor human rights record.

The battle is being fought against the backdrop of raging Maoist violence in tribal areas across several Indian states, which means a decision on whether to let the company mine the Niyam Dongar will not be an easy one.

The government, increasingly having to reckon with deep disenchantment felt by several tribal communities about the country's industrialisation agenda, will be forced to confront the issue soon. The environment ministry's Forest Advisory Committee, which advises the government on whether forestland should be diverted for non-forest use, will meet on April 16, after which it will submit its recommendations to the ministry to take the final call.

As D-day approaches, it is instructive to know just how Vedanta got here. To understand that question, and to make sense of the claims and counterclaims made by the company and the local community, ET traveled to Kalahandi last month.

Vedanta's plan mired in charges of ecological sins

Special Note:

Instead of bribing govt/officials if VAL would care local requirment and demand it would have been more successful in Kalahandi by this time, even neutral people who were supporing VAL in the local level just because to have an industry in industry starving Kalahandi, have slowly started changing mind. When CM approached Anil Agarawal for Vedanta University in Orissa because of its mining & business interest in the state and AAF announced the same in Orissa; but now when local demand for Univ and medical college in Kalahandi is coming the company is arguing AAF and VAL are two different entities, this is contradicting each other!!!

Other argument (which ET has misshed below) I found in the local level was: Vedanta announced world class VU at Puri with a budget Rs 15000 crore for philanthropy purpose, but demand for a local standard medical college and university in Kalahandi (in less than 5% budget of proposed VU) is being ignored by VAL when people are dying every year (major one in 1996, recently in 2007, 2008, 2009) due to poor health conditions in Kalahandi where VAL (a subsidary of Vedanta group) is possibly proposing to mine, so is it philanthropy for rich and exploitation for the poor people?

Economic Times, April 13, 2010
Lanjigarh/Bhawanipatna: Drive UP from the district head-quarters of Bhawanipatna to the project site in Lanjigarh, and it is hard to miss the sight of rocks and trees clinging to the steep flanks of every hill along the way. This part of Kalahandi is mostly flat agrarian land with the odd tree-covered rock mass jutting out of the earth.

But not at Niyamgiri itself. It is a place buried in smoke, and its people have accepted the resultant haze as a part of their lives. The fumes surround the Vedanta refinery, which started operations some two years ago, processing bauxite trucked in from Chattisgarh and elsewhere as the company awaits permission to mine Niyam Dongar.

Along the lower flanks of Niyam Dongar is Rengopalli, a village of around 300 people sandwiched between forests and the plant. It is where the mountain’s foothills used to descend into the Vamsadhara, one of the two major rivers that originate from the mountain.

Rengopalli gave away 340 of its total 400 acres for the Vedanta refinery. The company cleared the fields and constructed a giant pond the size of several football fields, just a five-minute walk from the village. The red mud pond is used for dumping alkaline slurry from the plant.

Since the pond was built, villagers say their tube-well water has red specks. Rengopalli resident Linga Majhi and others say the air blowing in irritates their eyes and causes breathing trouble. Some 14 people have died because of tuberculosis in the last two years, and Majhi says the villages never had such an incidence of TB before. Matters have reached a point where the villagers are asking the company to buy the rest of their land and resettle them.

In nearby Chhatarpur, residents say in the early days of the project, there were repeated instances of caustic soda leaking from the plant into the Vamsadhara killing some villagers who unwittingly used it for bathing.

Vedanta has addressed some concerns – like the caustic soda leaking into the river. The river seemed fine the day ET went there. The water was clear and more convincingly, grass was visible in the shallows and dragonflies were skimming along the surface of the river. But Chhatarpur has other issues too. Dust from the project has affected crop output. Where there used to be 100 kilograms of tomatoes from an acre earlier, they now get 30 kilos, they say.

Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer of Vedanta Alumina, rubbishes these charges. Only three — Chhatarpur, Rengopalli and Banduguda — of some 13 villages in the refinery’s vicinity are unhappy, he says, adding villagers are being instigated by NGOs such as Action Aid, Survival International and Amnesty International, all of which oppose the project. He insists the refinery is non-polluting and says caustic soda leaked out just once when Vamsadhara went into spate after heavy rains, breached the company wall and its waters mixed with the pond. On air pollution, he says, the project sticks to its emissions limit despite Coal India supplying coal with higher ash content.

The red mud slurry pond cannot taint groundwater at Rengopalli because the village is on a higher elevation than the pond, Kumar says. In any case, he adds, three impermeable layers line the pond and keep slurry and groundwater apart — a natural layer of bauxite beneath the pond, a 300 mm layer of Bentonite, a sealant used for waterproofing, and the red mud itself.

To Linga Majhi’s complaint about the air blowing in to his village, he says dust cannot blow off the top of a (wet) slurry. “Rengopalli is jusenvious of the two resettled villages (they were displaced during the construction of the refinery) and also wants those benefits now,” says SK Pattnaik, the refinery’s human resources head.

But the report by the Forest Advisory Committee team, which comprised researcher Usha Ramanathan, additional director general (wildlife) at the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun, Vinod Rishi, and the chief conservator of forests in Bhubhaneshwar, JK Tewari, corroborates villagers’ claims about the air from the red mud pond and red specks in the water. So does a report by Kalahandi’s collector to the Orissa Human Rights Committee.

Two employees of Orissa’s pollution control board also challenge Kumar on the red mud pond. Bauxite, the first person says, is exceedingly permeable. Groundwater can easily seep into the pond. “The groundwater level is very high. It can leak into the pond during monsoons. For that reason, we had suggested they line the pond with a layer. But all they did is sprinkle some Bentonite,” he says.

The second employee says air blowing across the pond would pick up some alkaline moisture from the caustic slurry. “That village should be shifted. The risk of groundwater contamination and alkaline air will always be there. They should be moved to a safer place,” he said.

But Kumar says bauxite can be impermeable and dismisses the possibility of groundwater contamination. The company is now building a second pond abutting Rengopalli on another flank and larger than the first.

Chhatarpur’s former sarpanch Senapati Naik says the company is now adding insult to injury by reneging on its promise on land settlement and employment. Against its original promise of direct employment to one person from every household that lost land and indirect employment to all who live in the village, so far only one person from the village has got a direct job, he said. Others, he added, are either working as contract labour or are unemployed.

At Rengopalli too, Linga Majhi and two other villagers said the company had failed to honour its offer to provide appropriate training facilities in lieu of land to eligible ‘project affected people’ and provide employment as per Orissa’s resettlement and rehabilitation policy. This charge is also echoed by the FAC report.

But Vedanta’s Kumar says the company has paid everyone whose land it acquired and all its vendors provide villagers with direct jobs, but the villagers refuse to join vendors and want direct jobs with Vedanta only. “We can hire only so many people,” he says, adding that employment problems too were only confined to the three villages of Chhatarpur, Rengopalli and Banduguda.

But local journalist Ashlam, who has tracked the project since inception, says conditions are the same in all the villages. The FAC report, written after surveying almost 20 villages around the refinery and the proposed mining area, also suggests discontent is not limited to just three villages.

COO Kumar insists the project is doing all it can to develop Kalahandi, and that it has created 10,000 jobs. For instance, he says the company employs 2,000 people at its rake-unloading yard at Kesinga alone. But Kalahandi collector R Santgopalan disputes Kumar’s claim. Kesinga has a population of 15,000 people or 3,000 households. Vedanta’s claim, he says, would make Kesinga a town of coolies. “It is more likely they will have 50-100 people working there unloading the trains.” There are other reasons for rising local anger. Villagers accuse the company of resorting to pressure tactics. The fact-finding team sent by the FAC said Vedanta was slapping criminal cases to keep protests down, echoing what villagers told ET.

ET saw an agreement the company signed with Rengopalli villagers while acquiring land for the red mud pond. It says: “The people of Rengopalli will unconditionally offer the land payment and will not directly or indirectly oppose the construction of the red mud pond and the access road. They will not raise any future issues that will materially affect the construction and operation of alumina refinery. Any demands raised by Rengopalli villagers shall only be routed through the village coordinator to be nominated by Vedanta and they will not resort to any pressure techniques/strikes/stoppage of work/threatening etc.”

Just as the tribals claim to be victims of Vedanta, the company is also a victim of expectations. The company, which set foot on an industrial blind spot, suddenly meant all things to all people. But now, as it struggles to manage hopes, troubles are mounting on the political front too.

Resistance to the project is being harvested by parties such as the Congress and the BJP, although the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) — a votary of the project from the beginning — continues its support. But off the record, local BJD politicians paint the picture of a party split over Vedanta. BJD’s losses in both the recent assembly and Lok Sabha elections are partly attributed to popular anger against Vedanta and the party’s support for the company.

Bhakta Charan Das, the Congress Kalahandi MP, has been lobbying against the project. He flashes a copy of a letter that he gave environment minister Jairam Ramesh, which cites concerns over biodiversity, local ecology and the Dongria Kondh tribals, a primitive tribal group numbering just 7,000 and living in some 200 villages in the Niyamgiri hills. He opposes any clearance, not even a conditional one, to Vedanta for mining in the Niyamgiri hills.

Vedanta can be allowed to mine elsewhere in Kalahandi provided it agrees to do more for local development, said Das, adding that most profits from the project will go to the company with a small share also going to the government. “But all that Kalahandi will get is Rs 10 crore every year. In 25 years, Niyamgiri will be gone. The company will be rich. But what about us? And what about the Kondhs?”

Similar disappointments are echoed by the BJD and BJP. A BJD leader, who requested anonymity, says: “Vedanta has electricity. They could have resolved the power crisis in Kalahandi. We hoped the project would make us a rich district. But the company has not delivered on any promise. If anything, Vedanta’s trucks ferrying ore, coal and alumina day and night have hammered the roads.”

Local MP Das says the district has some 2,16,000 families that live below the poverty line and wants the company to give two cows to each and create 10,000 jobs. “It should create 10 Industrial Training Institutes. It should set up one engineering college and one medical college. It should set aside a part of the company shares for the Dongria Kondhs. It should provide schooling to their children and houses for the Dongria Kondhs.”

The company, predictably, has not been able to meet many of these expectations.

On March 11, a day before the fact-finding team was to submit its report to the FAC, the Orissa government sent two letters to the Centre, one of which said that district collectors of Rayagada and Kalahandi had finished implementing the Forest Rights Act, a 2006 legislation that recognises the rights of forest-dwelling communities on lands that sustain them. An environment ministry order issued last year bars forest land from being cleared for non-forest use until tribal rights over the forest have been settled.

But Kalahandi collector Santgopalan says the implementation of this act is incomplete in his district and said his certificate to the government only said that the process had begun. He said district authorities were still verifying applications submitted by locals claiming rights to the forest. The report of the FAC fact-finding team also raises concerns about the impact of the project on the Dongria Kondhs. And environment ministry officials said they are deeply concerned about some of the team’s findings, especially the impact mining would have on the Dongria Kondhs.

Earlier this year, Amnesty said Vedanta had not studied the impact of mining on the Dongria Kondhs.

Meanwhile, the Dongria Kondhs have been getting increasingly restive. They recently set fire to three Vedanta vehicles and beat up employees. They have blocked the road leading to villages and do not let anyone through.

A top BJD politician told ET that his party had asked the company to mine somewhere else, but Vedanta’s Kumar says this cannot be done. “The onus for exploring bauxite, prospecting it and getting it ready for mining lies with Orissa Mining Corporation. So far, they have not prospected for bauxite in any part of Orissa,” said Kumar.

“Even if they start exploring in other locations now, it will still take three more years before they can offer us mines. For that reason, Niyamgiri is a must for the refinery,” he said, adding that the company would force the state government “to fulfill the terms of the agreement they signed with us”.

Like Kumar and Vedanta, the Kondh tribals seem equally resolute.“The tribals will go down with the mountain,” says local tribal leader Kumti Majhi.