Sunday, July 31, 2011

EMIL holds Mega Blood Donation Camp

 Bhubaneswar: 31.07.11
In it’s move to accelerate the CSR activities in the peripheral villages of Joda and Barbil, the Essel Mining & Industries Limited (EMIL) has organised a three-day long Mega Blood Donation Camp in Jiling, Kasia and Barbil area from 27th July to 30th July. In this mega camp a total of 333 blood donors have donated blood which was an unprecedented record achievement in the region since last 7 years. The Blood donation camp was organised in collaboration with Orissa Red cross Blood Bank .
Mr. Alekh Kumar Sethi, the  District Social welfare Officer (DSWO) inaugurated the camp in Kasia & Mr. Sashank Sekhar Dash the Tehsildar ,Barbil inaugurated the camp in Barbil . In Jilling the number of donors were 41, where as in Kasia and Barbil it was 108 & 184 respectively. 90% donors were from the contract workers & community and 10% from EMIL. Dr. Deepankar Sathpathy (Medical officer), Red cross Blood Bank  along with his team was present during the camp . The camp witnessed the spontaneous flow of the donors from the Day 1.
The Joint President of EMIL Mr P K Panda also paid a visit to the Camp organised at Barbil and appreciated and encouraged the donors. By donating the blood, the donors are saving the life of the lots of people and contributing greatly to the mankind, said Mr Panda to the donors.
A donor, said “I was initially a bit sceptical about donating blood. But seeing the response of the people here, I realised this is my best chance to start and I made up my mind to donate. I feel really proud of myself and will be a regular blood donor.”
It is worthwhile to mention here that EMIL is always committed to giving back to the society and has been undertaking a number of CSR activities under the Aditya Birla Jana Seva Trust (ABJST) in the arena of livelihood, education and health care for the people of the Keonjhar district which is largely accepted as well as appreciated by the people.

Letter to CM: Establishing Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Odisha

Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik,
Odisha is witnessing many internal conflicts currently. In most of the cases there is lack of appropriate communication between two adamant involved groups or parties and no initiative is being made to have a rational and scholarly study to overcome it.

When mega industries are encouraged by local population in Gujarat, local people are totally reluctant in Odisha. In past 6 years many large projects and investments in Odisha are suffering due to lack of appropriate understanding of the whole matter in all aspects. Depending on their respective positions in the cycle of development, one may say, Odisha needs more time than Gujarat or, Gujarat needs more time than Odisha. Even individually some people who are opposing such developmental projects now may support and some others who are supporting presently may oppose such investments when they approach their respective different points in the development cycle. The contradiction between environment and economy has been there since 10,000 years ago when human learned agriculture and this has been part of “developing syndrome”.

The problem associated with industrialization and establishment of hydroelectricity projects in Odisha is mainly due to lack of trust among locals and tribal population on the Government and industrialists. The past experience of rehabilitated people while constructing Hirakud dam and Rourkela Steel plant has made people disinclined; it has not met the desire of affected people. Similarly, there are problems due to lack of proper implementation or human emotion in the ground that can be resolved in creative aspect. For example, the villagers and tribal population in those villages which got surrounded with water after construction of Indravati dam are completely reluctant to leave these villages despite Government efforts to rehabilitate in other locations and these people are time to time suffering heavy human loss in boat accidents in Indravati dam and their daily life has become tougher in terms of economic and social need. In one side state Government’s approach to construct such dam was rational in terms of greater need of the country, state and the other local population, but on the other hand tribal lives with their emotions, land and surroundings.  In this case with the natural beauty the location posses, developing these villages as tourist islands focusing local tribal arts, crafts, culture, dance, cottage etc for tourism and providing motor boating as well as house boating facility in the dam would bring social and economic change of these villagers and their respective villages.

Naxallites have become another serious threat to Odisha. Local tribal, poor and ideologists have become vulnerable to join this force. Each year more number of districts in Odisha is getting affected by naxal problems since 2000, mainly from neighboring states. Such problem needs a careful understanding and involvement of economists, policy makers, social and political scientist to have a close look while implementing governmental policies.

The regional imbalance and regionalism is other important issue breeding in Odisha every year. Though state Government had initiated a committee, a organization and few policies to overcome it, it has not produced any results and regional mistrust among people is exceptionally nurturing. Project like Sindhol is further catalyzing regional suspect.

Therefore, establishment of an Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) to study and analyze various on going problems in the state by involving academicians, environmental scientists, economists, political scientists and social scientists is helpful and urgently wanted. Such institute may conduct timely policy-relevant analysis particularly in terms of rehabilitation, affected people, environment, economy and development and do research identifying best practices, develop new tools anticipating, analyzing and preventing violent conflict and taking general interest of the state and country as well as support related training and education efforts.

I like to request you to take necessary step to establish an Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Odisha initially on its own and later on Central Govt. could be approached for complete take over like happened for the Institute of Physics and Institute of Life Science in the past.

Thank you and best regards
Digambara Patra

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Maoists eye new terrains

Expressbuzz, July 30, 2011
BARGARH/NUAPADA: That the Maoists are advancing into new regions was evident from the posters and handbills found in different areas of Bargarh and Nuapada district. These posters were found on a 2 km stretch from Bhuilabandha to Tarini temple and around Paikmal Square in Bargarh district.

With the Martyrs' Week into its second day, these posters only make it apparent that the Maoists are spreading their tentacles fast to newer areas. The killing of a Vedanta official in Lanjigarh in Bhawanipatna district on July 27 and appearance of posters clearly reveal the growing presence of the Maoists in the district.

The handbills and posters identified the female cadre killed in an encounter in forest near Sanbanjipali in Khaprakhol of Balangir district on June 21 as Manjula of Dhipapuram village in South Bastar of Chhattisgarh. It also speaks about her joining the PLGA at the age of 19 years and her activities, including killing of 76 CRPF jawans in Chhattisgarh.

The posters also castigate the police for killing Madhav Singh Thakur and Ramesh Sahu besides Azad in Adilabad forest in Andhra Pradesh in a fake encounter.

Assuring people of the area about the dawn of a new era, they have tried to impress upon the locals that they were working for their betterment.

Similar types of materials have also been found in Amanara, Moharadihi, Dharambandha in Nuapada block and near Khariar Road railway station.

The posters brings to the fore desperation of the Maoists to lure people into their fold after a series of setbacks.Posters and red banners were also found in eight panchayats under Bamunigaon police limits in Kandhamal district.

As a precautionary measure all the border areas of Kandhamal district to Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam district have been sealed and patrolling intensified.

On the first day of the Martyrs' Week vehicles stayed off the road in Daringibadi and Bamunigaon area. No untoward incident has been reported so far, said a senior police officer.

Kalahandi Express, July 28 - Aug 3, 2011

Panda blames WODC headquarters imbroglio on dissenting regional leaders

The Pioneer, July 30, 2011

Politicians of western Odisha themselves are creating road blocks in the way of establishment of the Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) headquarters within the limits of the council area, deplored WODC Chairman Niranjan Panda.

Panda, whose term expires on July 31, addressing his last Press conference as the chairman of the council, lamented that as per the stipulations, the State Government would establish the headquarters of the WODC in consultation with the council. But it could not be materialised due to lack of unanimity among the political leaders of the region resulting in the continuance of the headquarters at Bhubaneswar. He said that during his stint as the council's chairman he had initiated a process to bring unanimity among the leaders for selection of the headquarters' location, for which he had convened council meeting at least four times but in vein.

Stating that the WODC has enough authority and autonomy and there is no need of more autonomy for its functioning, the chairman said during his five years' tenure, he had got all support and assistance from the Government and the Chief Minister for its efficient functioning.

"At no point of time, the Government had interfered in the day-to-day affairs of the WODC," he clarified. Hailing the Government for the upward revision of the annual budget to the tune of Rs 100 crore, Panda said the Government had approved some innovative programmes to accelerate the development process in the region and help bridge the regional imbalance. The outgoing chairman informed that the WODC had formulated a three year prospective plan with a provision of Rs 300 crore. Need-based planning has been included in the perspective plan to implement various developmental programmes keeping in view the population and geographic situation of the districts, he said.

The main thrust is given on lift irrigation and rain water management, education, roads and communication and health. While Rs 114 crore has been provided for irrigation and rain water management, Rs 60 crore has been provided for the education sector. Rs 45 crore towards roads and communication network and Rs 32 crore for health services sector have also been provided. Panda announced that the council has decided to set up a modern Eye Hospital in the WODC region, a GNM School at Sundergarah, three hospitals with 50 beds each on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode at Thuamul Rampur in Kalahandi, Koida in Sundergarah and Rantipalli in Jharsuguda district. Stating that the State Government had provided Rs 683 core till 2010-11 to the WODC for removing regional imbalance, he said so far 656 lift irrigation points have been installed with an investment of Rs 50 crore, constructed 852 check dams for expansion of irrigation coverage at a cost of Rs 64 crore and 523 small irrigation projects with an investment of Rs 61 crore.

Highlighting various developmental works undertaken during his tenure, Panda said while Rs 1 crore each had been provided for establishment of Agro-Polytechnic Institutions at Debagarah and Boudh. Besides, a Horticulture Degree College has been set up at Chipilima at an investment of Rs 7 crore. Rs 23 crore has been provided for the improvement of health services in various hospitals under the WODC and Rs 56 crore for the infrastructural development of 2669 schools and Colleges, he added.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Congress seeks special package for KBK

Expressbuzz, July 28, 2011
BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leaders on Wednesday demanded a special package for all-round development of KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput districts) region.

The team led by former minister Narasingh Mishra discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi. Backwardness of the area is one of the reasons behind increase in Maoist activities, Mishra told this paper. Alleging large-scale irregularities in the implementation of Central schemes in the State, the delegation demanded constitution of committees by the Centre at the State and district levels to supervise implementation of the welfare schemes. Stating that the State Government is trying to cover up the irregularities by delaying investigation, the Congress leaders said that the Centre should inquire into dal, mining and linkage coal scams and take follow-up action. The delegation demanded a special project for provision of drinking water in tribal areas. Former OPCC president and AICC secretary Jaydeb Jena, former speaker Kishore Chandra Patel and former MLA Chiranjib Biswal were part of the team.

Orissa: Suspected Maoists kill contractor in Kalahandi

NDTV, July 28, 2011
Bhawanipatna (Orissa): Suspected Maoists slit the throat and killed a young contractor near Lanjigarh in Orissa's Kalahandi district today, police said.

The incident took place when the contractor and his uncle were on their way to Lanjigarh on a motorbike.

"A group of people suspected to be Maoist ultras detained the contractor and his uncle and forcibly took him into the nearby jungle. His body with the throat slit was found later," Lanjigarh police station inspector-in-charge S N Nanda said.

The dead was identified as a resident of Trilochanpur village and police investigation into the killing is on, he added.

Monday, July 25, 2011

2 yrs on, K'handi Govt Engg college yet to have own building

The Pioneer, July 25, 2011
BIKASH KHEMKA, Bhawanipatna

The foundation stone of Government College of Engineering, Kalahandi had been laid by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on February 7, 2009 at Bandopala near Bhawanipatna, but the construction work is yet to be completed.

Two years have passed for the study of engineering students in Kalahandi. Neither have the students got their own college building nor have they been allotted hostel yet. The progress of the building works at snail’s pace has added to the worry of the students and staff alike.

It was strictly instructed by the Government to the R&B, PWD to complete the building works in time but 50 per cent works have been completed so far.

After laying the foundation stone, the Government had started its counselling and accordingly admissions were taken up and now classes are going on a rented building on the first floor of Sardar Rajas Medical College situated at Jaring, 18 km from Bhawanipatna.

The Government is paying Rs 2,68,000 towards the rent to a private medical college since the study of the engineering college began and lakh of rupees is being spent towards the occupancy of four hostels at Bhawanipatna. The Government has also hired buses for commuting the students to the engineering college. Though the counselling for the third year engineering students has also been completed this year, the question arising now is where the 240 boys and girls will stay after their admission?

The principal in-charge of the engineering college, Dr Tusar Kumar Nath, told the media that the building is now under construction. “We have not been handed over the building yet,” he stated.

Since the students are staying in four different hostels and a college building, they are scattered which is difficult for us to interact with them properly. We are also facing difficulties in monitoring the academic and other activities, he said.

Sweety, an engineering student of second year said, “I came to know that the college did not have a building after only taking admission and reaching here for study.”

Now we are studying in a hired building for which we travel 18 km everyday from Bhawanipatna. We get so much tired in commuting up to Jaring. As an engineering student we have not been provided any facility here, she rued.

Similarly, K Sangeeta, a student of the college said, “After staying in different places, we are suffering various problems each and every day. No improvement has been done so far even after many complaints and strikes were done. Even we have not been provided library room here.”

Though the State Government had started the engineering college after much hue and cry, it seems it has been showing apathy in terms of providing required facilities and infrastructure to the students.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vedanta may apply afresh for green nod

Business Standard, July 22, 2011
Vedanta Aluminum Ltd (VAL) is open to make a fresh proposal to obtain environmental clearance for the expansion plans at its aluminum unit in Lanjigarh, Orissa.

However, the company said it wanted the government to consider its application on par with other companies like Lavasa, Posco, SAIL and Jindal Power Ltd, who had recently got a green nod for their projects. “We are open to the idea, provided we are treated at par with other companies (by the Ministry of Environment and Forests),” a senior company official said.

Vedanta is keen on initiating a dialogue with the environment ministry to understand what process it needs to follow to fast track the clearance.
The decision comes after the Orissa High Court upheld the Centre's decision to stall expansion of its refinery plant at Lanjigarh. The high court, however, had allowed VAL to make a fresh bid to obtain environmental clearance from MoEF to expand its existing units.

According to the court order, the petitioner (Vedanta) had not applied for the expansion project following the due procedure as has been done by Jindal Power Ltd. The order said, as and when the proposal is submitted by the petitioner, a similar procedure would be followed as in the case of Jindal Power Ltd.

In the case of Jindal Power, the MoEF had withdrawn the Terms of Reference (first stage of clearance) in June, 2010. However, the company got the clearance for its 4x60OMw coal-based power project at Tamnar in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh earlier this year.

MoEF had scrapped the proposal for the six-fold expansion of the VAL refinery, from one million tonnes per annum to six million tonnes, last year. The MoEF had also asked Vedanta to re-apply for its expansion plans.

Challenging the MoEF order, VAL had moved a petition before the high court.

In August 2007, VAL had applied to the environment ministry for expanding its existing refinery capacity and that of its captive power plant.

The company, subsequently, went ahead with construction work for refinery expansion without prior environmental clearances. A report by the N C Saxena committee in August 2010 found VAL had proceeded with the construction for its expansion without obtaining the clearances.

While substantial expansion work was in progress, the ministry invoking its power under the Environment (Protection) Act-1986, had ordered the company to maintain a status quo at the plant site and directed the Orissa Government to take legal action against the company for violating the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006.

VAL is an associate company of the globally diversified, Vedanta Resources plc. Incorporated in 2001, VAL is a producer of metallurgical grade alumina and other aluminium products.

The Niyamgiri bauxite mining plan of the company linked to the refinery is mired in controversy. Clearance was cancelled by the environment ministry on which the National Green Tribunal is holding a hearing.

Vedanta under fire from Amnesty international over human rights

Guardian, July 24, 2011
Amnesty International has launched a scathing attack on Vedanta, accusing the London-listed Indian miner of disregarding human rights and failing to protect the environment.

The criticism comes days before Vedanta's annual meeting in London, where campaigners are expected to stage noisy protests about the group's activities on the subcontinent.

Aviva Investors, an influential City shareholder, will oppose the remuneration report, on the basis of doubts about its corporate social responsibility. Aviva says executive bonuses are not adequately linked to meeting internationally approved "green" targets.

Vedanta was unavailable for comment, but in the past, chief executive HS Mehta has rejected criticisms of the firm's record in India, accusing Amnesty of "jumping to the wrong conclusions", and insisting that Vedanta is "very strong on sustainable development".

Vedanta is fighting a ruling from the environment ministry in New Delhi that prevents it expanding an aluminium refinery in the eastern Indian state of Orissa and from digging a bauxite mine on land considered sacred by an indigenous tribe.

Two years ago, an Amnesty report said the Orissa refinery had "polluted local rivers, damaged crops and disrupted the lives of the Kondh tribe".

Amnesty's latest report says Vedanta's legal campaign to overturn the ruling preventing expansion in Orissa should be vigorously opposed. The organisation said: "The company is trying to overturn the environment ministry's decision to block the plans, claiming it has conducted adequate environmental impact assessments. But this is plainly not the case.

"Villagers were given scant and misleading information about the potential impact of Vedanta's proposals. Today they are living with a massive refinery in the middle of their community, the air is choked with dust and huge lorries full of raw bauxite hurtle down the roads. The refinery and its toxic waste pond are right beside the local river, so people are now unsure whether their main source of water is safe to use."

Vedanta villagers were consulted, but Amnesty claims to have found systemic failings in its social and environmental stewardship. Steve Waygood, Aviva's head of sustainability, said Vedanta had made some improvements over the past year but added: "While the direction of travel is good, the speed absolutely isn't."

Shareholders fear the firm's strained relations with Delhi have prompted the Indian government to delay a deal struck 10 months ago, under which Vedanta will acquire Cairn Energy's Indian operations. Vedanta's shares have underperformed its peers in the mining sector by up to 40% over the last year.

Manifest, the shareholder activist group, has questioned Vedanta's decision to pay bonuses following 26 deaths at group facilities in 2010/11. "These payments will be considered wholly inappropriate by many investors," said Manifest. Pirc, another shareholder group, is advising investors to oppose the re-election of the chairman of the remuneration committee.

Vedanta is chaired by its founder Anil Agarwal: he and his family own 61% of the company. The group received a barrage of adverse publicity in 2009 following the collapse of a chimney in the state of Chhattisgarh that killed 40 people. Following the disaster, three Vedanta officials were arrested but no charges were brought. There was more bad news nine months ago, when the Madras high court temporarily ordered Vedanta to shut down a copper smelter that supplies about half of India's total output, citing environmental concerns.

NRO plea for WODC Chief, July 12, 2011

Digambara Patra, a leading NRO has urged the Chief Minister to appoint an academician as the next Chairman of Western Odisha Development Council (WODC).

The present incumbent term comes to an end on 30 July.

While appreciating the Chief Minister’s initiative to bring down the regional disparity between Western and Coastal Odisha, Prof. Patra, who teaches in the American University at Beirut said this region needs special attention to overcome existing regional disparity.

He pointed out that WODC Chairmanship has gone to undivided Balangir (2 times) and undivided Sambalpur (once).

But it has not come to undivided Kalahandi or undivided Sundergarh at all.

The main reason of regional disparity of Western Odisha is education and infrastructure.

Appointment of an academician will strengthen these two important sectors.

It will also make WODC a non-political organization focusing on development to minimize regional difference and strengthen the state, whereas appointing a politician may encourage political lobby and weaken this organization by diverting from its main goal.

Prof.Patra said that the State Government had chosen an excellent path by appointing an academician last time.

There are other outstanding academicians in the undivided Kalahandi and Sundergarh districts who have been working for over all development of Western Odisha.

Some of them are now serving as members of WODC.

Appointment of such a member from undivided Kalahandi or Sundergarh who is already aware of functioning of WODC and problems in Western Odisha will further facilitate proper implementation of various ongoing projects and bring effectiveness to WODC.

This will also balance local power in the regional level of WODC, as some of the local regions feels neglected and unsecured when often such position is politically bestowed to particular localities, said the NRO.

Sindol-I, II and III units in Sambalpur were not exactly the Hirakud Stage-III project: Odisha Govt says Detailed Project Report for each unit has been changed to ensure that the people are not affected

Note: If its the case it is defintely a good sign for an energy starving nation. Alternative and clean energy must be encouraged. Many activists do not think seriously that unless alternatives are prepared from now, the energy crisis in near future would be alarming and will bring serious environmental consequences. If the language used by state Govt. is correct, its one of the balanced solution for the current problem. Western Odisha people should not read every aspect in political lines. If both irrigation and energy needs are met without affecting negatively on local people, such projects should be welcome.

Shared by Sri Sudhir Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Rejecting apprehension that hydropower plants proposed by the state-run OHPC and NHPC would affect local people in three western districts, the Odisha government on Saturday claimed that the height of each barrage has been reduced to rule out displacement.

There will be no displacement due to the three proposed power generation units to be developed jointly by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC), energy minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak told reporters here while reacting to allegations made by former MP Bhabani Hota.

NHPC on Thursday signed an MoU with the state government to set up the hydropower plants in Sonepur (100 MW), Sambalpur (100 MW) and Boudh (120 MW) districts across Mahanadi river in western parts of the state. An estimated Rs 3,000 crore would be invested in the project, Nayak said.

Hota had alleged on Friday that the proposal for such a project down the Hirakud reservoir on river Mahanadi was abandoned in 1996 due to stiff opposition.

About 118 villages will be affected besides submergence of about 240 acre of land, the former MP had claimed at a media conference at Sambalpur. The energy minister, however, said that the height of each barrage had been reduced by two meters, therefore there was no question of submergence.

The Sindol-I, II and III units in Sambalpur were not exactly the Hirakud Stage-III project as was proposed in the 90s. We have changed the DPR (Detailed Project Report) for each unit to ensure that the people are not affected, the minister said, adding that the project would be completed within four years.

While the Hirakud Stage-III project was likely to displace people from at least nine villages according to the old DPR in Sambalpur district, the amended version of the DPR has estimated that only six villages would be affected due to construction of roads and other infrastructure.

However, not a single person will be displaced, Nayak claimed.The minister pointed out that the proposed units in Sonepur and Boudh would also not affect anyone. We have taken maximum care before preparing DPR for Sindol-I, II and III units, he said.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Orissa to open training institutes for disabled youths

IBNlive, July 19, 2011
Bhubaneswar, Jul 19 (PTI) The Orissa government today decided to open a special Industrial Training Institute for disabled youths in backward Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region in the state, officials said. A decision on special assistance for persons with disability was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here. "Of the total 10 lakh disabled persons so far identified in the state, the state government has decided to provide assistance to four lakh this year," Patnaik said. Students of special schools would also be provided two pairs of dresses every year, besides disability certificates, bank pass books and identity cards, he said. Steps would also be taken for corrective surgery on children below 16 years of age, said the Chief Minister. It was also decided to provide a scholarship of Rs 350 per month for college-going siblings of disabled persons. PTI AAM PC EKA

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vedanta plea for refinery expansion dismissed

Expressbuzz, July 19, 2011
BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa High Court Tuesday dismissed Vedanta Aluminum Ltd's petition to quash the central government's notification stalling expansion of its refinery project in the state, a lawyer said.

The environment and forests ministry last year stalled the expansion of Vedanta alumina refinery project in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district from one million tonnes a year to six million tonnes capacity and of its captive power plant from 75 to 300 MW.

Vedanta had moved the court against the order. A high court bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra delivered the verdict at Cuttack, about 26 km from here, after hearing all parties concerned.

"The court dismissed the petition filed by Vedanta. It upheld the argument of the environment ministry," Manoj Mishra, a lawyer associated with the case, told IANS.

The environment ministry had in August last year issued show cause notice to the company under the Environment Protection Act for undertaking construction without prior clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification-2006.

After examining the company's response on the matter, the ministry in October cancelled the terms of reference issued in 2009.

The ministry then directed the company to maintain status quo at the site and asked it to ensure that no further construction was undertaken in respect of expansion of the project.

The ministry had also asked the state secretary for environment and forest to take legal action against the company under the provision of the Environment Protection Act for violation of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification-2006.

The ministry had also asked the company to furnish a fresh proposal to obtain environmental clearance for the proposed expansion.

NABARD tp Sponsor a Micro-Hydel Power Project in Kalahandi

Shared by Sri Dillip Kumar Das

Reply from railway board: Selection of appropriate site is under consideration for Wagon Factory at Kalahandi with Govt. of Orissa since the required land is to be provided by the state Govt.

July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Deiailed survey on Kantabanji-Jeypore railway line yet to start: CM urges PM for railwat sleeper plant at Kantabanji

Thanks to Sri Sudhir Mishra for sharing this.

Note: Kantabanji - Jeypore line will connect 5 districts in KBK, it has a social importance. This line along with Khordha-Balangir, Lanjigarh road-Talcher and Rayagada-Gopalpur will change the railway infrastrucure for whole backward and tribal dominated South-Western Odisha.

The Pioneer, July 14, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kalahandi farmers take to cotton

IBNlive, July 14, 2011
BHAWANIPATNA: Poor rainfall till now this month has upset the paddy cultivators, but it’s boom time for non-paddy crops particularly cotton in Kalahandi. For the current kharif season, paddy cultivation has been taken up in 1,96,000 hectares. However, erratic monsoon has delayed the broadcasting process. The prevailing weather condition has also many farmers shift to non-paddy crops. Cotton cultivation has benefited the most.� Against 26,315 hectares covered last season, cotton cultivation has been planned across 35,000 hectares this time around.

According to the Agriculture Department, the area under cotton cultivation already exceeded the departmental target of 8,244 hectares last year itself. There was bumper cotton crop supported by good market price. Farmers sold their produce between ` 3,400 and 6,000 a quintal. This has encouraged other farmers to venture into cotton cultivation and the new support price, declared by the Government, has come as an incentive.

These days, hoeing and earthing up works are on in the cotton fields along with sowing of seeds. A specialist in cotton, Narayan Upadhaya said that the weather conditions here suited cotton cultivation and it would exceed the projected target of the district. The black soil in Bhawanipatna, Kesinga and Golamunda blocks of the district besides Narla, Karlamunda, M.Rampur and Lanjigarh blocks are conducive for cotton cultivation, he added.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rebels go back on peace promise

Times of India, July 10, 2011
BHUBANESWAR: Going back on their commitment while releasing the then Malkangiri collector held hostage, the Maoists have indulged in wanton violence and killed as many as 22 people, including nine tribals and nine security personnel, in the past five months in Orissa. The casualty from the extremists' side was three during the period, official sources said.

A test check of the records revealed the rebels did not confine themselves to their old tactic of killing constables and home guards only and indulged in destroying public property, looting people, blocking traffic on highways and attacking families whom they suspected to be police informers.
Orissa has been witnessing escalating Maoist violence with incidents of killing of innocent people in regular succession. The government has faced severe flak from all quarters for failing to initiate serious action against the extremists.
The Maoists' attitude has disappointed the government to say the least, which believed a lenient attitude on its part might change the stance of the rebels to some extent. "Maoists resorted to violence just a few days after the agreement with the government was signed in February preceding the district collector's release," said a senior home department official.
The Maoists had kidnapped the former Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishana in mid-February and a junior engineer who accompanied him to the cut-off area for supervising welfare works. The government had agreed to negotiate for the release of the two officials with three interlocutors selected by the Maoists. A 14-point agreement was arrived at, leading to the release of the two officials.
"As per the agreement, the government initiated steps for withdrawal of nine major cases against the rebels, four of which have already been allowed by the court, resulting in release of Maoist leader Ganti Prasad and four others from jail. The other cases will come up soon," a government official said. "It is surprising that the Maoists continue to kill people. The security forces have so far exercised utmost restraint in not launching major offensive against the extremists, but our apprehension that the Maoists would never keep their promises has come true," he said.

The official cited several major violent incidents like March 8 attack on Erla Ashram school, injuring the headmaster and another teacher, destruction of construction works and machines used for it, March 31 dacoity in Sorada of Ganjam district, April 2 kidnapping of five villagers from Naglur near Kalimela in Malkangiri district and killing two people among them, May 2 attack on police team near Daringibadi in Kandhamal district in which one havildar died, May 3 murder of contractor Tuna in Sinapalli area of Nuapada district, May 9 looting of household articles Gagarmetla village in Malkangiri district, attack on Golamunda block office in Kalahandi district, burning of nine vehicles at Chunabhati in Sundergarh district to prove his point. And in one of the most violent incidents, Maoists ambushed a team of Chhatisgarh police near Sunabeda in Nuapada district on May 23, killing nine people and looting firearms.

One of the interlocutors Dandapani Mohanty, when contacted, refused to elaborate why the Maoists have continued to cause violence in the state. "The Maoists can best answer this question. It was a hostage crisis and we intervened to bring peace and release of the officials," Mohanty said. "I am all for peace in society. There are allegations coming in from the Maoists' side that security personnel have killed nearly 45 of their men. We are verifying the truth and would soon come up with a statement," he said.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Centre okays mega food park at Rayagada

The Pioneer, July 9, 2011
PNS, Bhubaneswar

The Central Government has sanctioned a mega food park for Odisha. The State Government has identified Rayagada as the suitable place to set up a world class Food Park with satellite units in other parts of the State.

Accoding to official sources, the food park would be set up in Public Private Partnership mode with an investment of Rs 200 crore. The Union Government would provide fiancial assistance to the tune of Rs 50 crore for the project to be implemented in phases. It was decided at a high level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Bijay Patnaik that the State Government would create the infrastructure to attract investors. As many as 56 food processing units over an area of 198 acres of land have been planned in the proposed food park.

It was also decided to provide incentives to the promoters who would evince interest to invest in the food park. Patnaik has directed the Industry Department to work out a package on Governmental assistance and incentives required. Patnaik said since the project was related to agricultural infrastructure, an official team would be sent to other States having Food Parks to study the mode of incentives, other packages and their management. Basing on the report of the team a draft policy framework would be prepared for taking the approval of the Chief Minster.

Sources said that the food park would create employment potential for 30,000 people. Farmer groups, self-help groups and individual farmers would benefit from the scheme. In the first phase the project would be implemented in Rayagada with a satellite unit at Khurda with an investment of Rs 120 crore and in second phase it would be implemented in Ganjam.

Kalahandi gets vigilance court

The Pioneer, July 9, 2011
PNS, Bhawanipatna

An office of Additional District & Sessions Judge-cum-Special Judge (Vigilance) was inaugurated by Kalahandi District Judge Ashok Kumar Acharya here on Friday.

President of Kalahandi Bar Association Lokanath Nayak expressed his gratitude to the senior lawyers, who had been demanding establishment of the Vigilance court in Kalahandi since long

The inaugural function was attended by Vigilance ADI Niranjan Panda, ADIs Himanshu Sekhar Brahma and Padma Charan Dash, Registrar Rabi Narayan Panda, JMFC Special Judge Basudev Dash, Krushna Chandra Behera of the Legal Service Authority, Special Vigilance Judge Subash Chandra Das, Sub-Collector Jagannath Mohanty and SP of Kalahandi Sudha Singh.

Friday, July 8, 2011

ARSS Infrastructure Projects receives Work Order of Rs 21.18 Crores, July 8, 2011

ARSS Infrastructure Projects Ltd has been awarded with a new work order from the Office of the Executive Engineer, Kalahandi, R&B Division, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi, Odisha on July 07, 2011 for Improvement of Bhwanipatna - Rayagada Road from 0/0 to 26/0 K.M for an amount aggregating Rs. 21.18 crores.

The stock was trading at Rs.456.65, up by Rs.1.10 or 0.24%. The stock hit an intraday high of Rs.462.20 and low of Rs.453.20.

The total traded quantity was 0.91 lakhs compared to 2 week average of 1.92 lakhs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Western Odisha not priority for CM, alleges Kosal DaL

The Pioneer, July 6, 2011
PNS, Rourkela

Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) secretary general Baidyanath Mishra on Wednesday targeted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as being Bhubaneswar-centric and not at all caring for western Odisha. He said that wester Odisha was not a priority for the CM.

Mishra told reporters here that the progress of work on the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) at Rourkela is still sluggish even eight long years after its foundation. A couple of months back, local MLA and Minister Sarada Prasad Nayak had promised for commencement of the BPUT construction work, but it has been stopped without rhyme or reason, Mishra said.

The BPUT, which is managing more than 150 professional colleges, only has a makeshift office at the UGIE that has become a dumping yard of sacks and trunks of examination paper. The vice-chancellor and a finance officer, along with some junior executives, are running the show.

The university land in the Chhend area is gradually encroached upon by unauthorised persons as there is none to protect the land, Mishra pointed out.

So, he said, an early review of the BPUT’s progress by the Chief Minister is required so that appropriate steps are taken before its head office is finally shifted to Bhubaneswar much to “the delight of a Bhubaneswar-centric Chief Minister,” Mishra said.

On the Western Odisha Development Council; (WODC)-sponsored medical college and hospital, he urged the Government to take steps for getting the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) nod to a hi-tech medical college at Rourkela so that local aspirant students can take admission in MBBS and BDS courses. He also urged the Government to spell out the actual percentage of seat reservation made for the students of western Odisha nativity.

Mishra said Rourkela is deprived of the Commissionerate-II of the Central Excise for the last 14 years. Like the WODC headquarters in Bhubaneswar, some vested interests in the State capital are trying their best to retain this Commissionerate-II office in Bhubaneswar though the July 22, 1997 notification made it clear that the headquarters of the Bhubaneswar-II Commissionerate would be shifted to Rourkela as its jurisdiction is western Odisha.

If these demands are not heeded by the Government, the KKD would have no other option than to launch agitation, he threatened.

Mishra also demanded passenger air line facility for Jharsuguda and Rourkela and an ESIC Medical College in Sundargarh district. He said the State Government should demand another rail coach factory to be set up at Narla, Kalahandi, as promised by former Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee. This was hijacked by Naveen Patnaik elsewhere. Similarly, the Government must take early steps to start a medical college at Balangir at its own initiative.

Mishra said that from July 8 to15 a fact-finding team of the KKD would be touring various parts of western Odisha. Among others, KKD working president Sagar Singh Manki, Rourkela unit president Rama Chandra Amat and founder-member Surama Mishra were present at the news conference.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No green nod for mining in Niyamgiri forests: Env Ministry

Times of India, July 2, 2011
NEW DELHI: Union Environment Ministry today made it clear that no green nod has been given to Orissa Mining Corporation to mine bauxite in the sensitive Niyamgiri Reserve Forests in the state and the status quo remains.

"... the order passed by the MoEF expressly states that the environmental clearance has become 'inoperable'. There is no change in this status quo. It continues to remain inoperable," the Ministry said in a statement.

Niyamgiri hills covering two districts of Raigarha and Kalahandi of Odisha is the homeland of the Dongriya Kondh tribals.

The Ministry said the issue of environmental clearance to Orissa Mining Corporation's Lanjigarh Project has become "practically redundant" as it had withdrawn the forest clearance last year.

"Considering the fact that the MoEF has outright rejected the request for Forest Clearance, the question of granting environmental clearance on the land does not arise," it said.

In the wake of media reports that Ministry's statutory green clearance authority has given the nod for mining to a firm in the hills, the Ministry said the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) had referred the matter to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Non-Coal Mining Projects.

A five-member sub-committee was constituted by the EAC and it has reported back to the EAC itself, it said.

The Ministry said it was in the process of examining the recommendations by the EAC and will submit its decision to the the newly constituted National Green Tribunal, before whom the case is now to be heard.

The Ministry made it clear that it was not bound by the EAC's recommendations.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vedanta gets green ministry panel’s nod to mine in Niyamgiri hills

Times of India, July 2, 2011
NEW DELHI: Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi may have campaigned to protect the forests of Niyamgiri hills in Orissa from bauxite mining, but the environment ministry's statutory green clearance authority has given the nod for exploitation of mining in the Dongriya Kondh tribals' homeland.

The environment ministry appraises projects for two types of clearances – environmental and diversion of forests – and both are processed separately. In April 2009, the environment ministry had accorded environmental clearance to mine the sacred forests.

The clearance was immediately challenged before the National Environment Appellate Authority by the Dongriya Kondhs and activist Prafulla Samantra. The mandatory public hearing was done on the basis of one set of requisite documents, while the clearance was accorded by the ministry's statutory Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) based on another set of documents, which was patently illegal.

The appellate authority rejected had the nod, and asked the environment ministry to take a re-look at the proposal. Also, environment minister Jairam Ramesh had rejected the forest clearance to Vedanta, leading Gandhi to champion the tribals' cause.

Vedanta appealed against the rejection of forest clearance in the Supreme Court, and also filed a plea before the appellate authority for reviewing cancellation of the green clearance.

With the rejected environmental clearance pending review, the green ministry asked its EAC to take a re-look at the project. It admitted that the government was not even aware that two different sets of documents existed – one for public hearing and another for official clearance.

It set up a sub-committee to revisit the case again. The sub-committee recommended that the absence of one report from public domain, and another before EAC made no difference. It turned a blind eye to the fact that the second report, which the government had considered, didn't even exist when the public hearing was held.

Now, the EAC is in agreement with its sub-committee, and has given the nod yet again to Vedanta to carry out bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills. It has only added three more conditions to the clearance that was given earlier.

EAC's decision holds much weight unlike the forest clearance that Ramesh had overruled. EAC's recommendations cannot be over-ridden by the ministry. At best, the ministry can send the recommendations back again to the EAC for yet another review.

The sudden revival of fortunes for Vedanta comes days before the case is to come up before the newly set up National Green Tribunal.

This is half the battle won for Vedanta, which was till recently seeing a dead end to its aluminum refinery and mining project in Orissa, especially after Congress scion burst into the scene.

However, the forest clearance rejected by Ramesh will still have to be fought against separately by Vedanta in the Supreme Court.