Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Varsity proposes to set up medical college

IBNlive, July 30. 2012
Koraput (Odisha), Jul 29 (PTI) Proposing to open a medical college and hospital here, Central University of Odisha (CUO) has sent a detailed project report to the Centre for setting up such an institution in the backward region. This was revealed by CUO's Vice Chancellor Surabhi Banerjee at the second convocation of the university organised at Sunabeda in Koraput district. "Considering the long-standing demand for a medical college in KBK region (Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi) under the auspices of CUO, we have submitted a detailed project report for establishment of a medical college and hospital in Koraput to the Centre," Banerjee said. The project report also includes the budget estimate for setting up the college and hospital and final approval is awaited during the 12th Plan period, she said. Former Supreme Court Judge Ruma Pal was the chief guest at the convocation while secretary in union ministry of tribal affairs, Vibha Puri Das was the guest of honour.         Speaking on the occasion, the vice-chancellor further said the CUO would launch a school of education and education technology, school of basic and applied sciences and school of health sciences from the academic year 2012-13. As many as six topper students Arun Kumar Raj (Odia), Archana Nayak (English), Moushumi Nayak (Anthropology), Arupama Senapath (Sociology), Priyaranjan Swain and Sudarsan Sahoo (Journalism and Mass Communication) in five departments were awarded gold-medals by the varsity in the convocation ceremony.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Roadblocks to bauxite mines opening hurt smelters

Business Standard, July 10, 2012
Kunal Bose
Ideally, the least of concerns for Indian smelters of aluminium should be the sourcing of bauxite from which the intermediate chemical alumina is derived. The reason is the country’s bauxite reserves (proved, probable and possible) are well over three billion tonnes (bt) making it the world’s fifth largest owner of the mineral. Countries endowed with richer deposits are Guinea, Australia, Brazil and Jamaica. Whatever the riches of our deposits, the country has not seen the opening of a new bauxite mine close to the size of the one at Panchpatmali hills in Odisha opened by the National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco) some 30 years ago.
It has been seen time and again that from identification of bauxite deposits to winning leasehold over areas to be mined and getting a host of environment and forest clearances, the process is so frustratingly time-consuming that groups planning to build alumina refineries on the basis of captive bauxite mines run the risk of being worn out of patience. No group has found itself in as difficult a bind as Vedanta Aluminium, which in the belief that overcoming all the odds it would be able to feed its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Odisha where capacity could be expanded to six million tonnes (mt) from one mt by opening mines at Niyamgiri hills. This, however, proved to be a non-starter thanks to some spirited campaigns by NGOs and goalpost shifting by government agencies. Vedanta is, therefore, compelled to source bauxite from more than one source to feed its refinery. In the process, its cost of production of alumina and aluminium is significantly more than would be the case had three mt of bauxite come annually from Niyamgiri.
The desperate search for deposits alternative to the one of about 90 mt at Niyamgiri hills has led Vedanta to acquire Dubai Aluminium’s (Dubal) ownership of Raykal, a special purpose vehicle (SPV)created by Larsen & Toubro and Dubal with ownership ratio of 76 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Vedanta’s interest in Raykal in which it retains the right to become the single owner over a period of time provided it achieves “certain milestones,” is not because of the SPV’s grounded plan to build a three mt refinery but for the two bauxite deposits in the upstream in Odisha for which L&T was issued prospecting licences in 1992 but since lapsed for lack of activity. With Vedanta entering the scene with a hugely growing appetite for bauxite and a big refinery in the state to show, it may already have started the work to get the prospecting licences for two deposits totalling an estimated 280 mt revived and then get these converted into mining licences. The development must be giving comfort to the Orissa government, which made many attempts to break the logjam at Niyamgiri. Vedanta is, however, not expected to give up pursuing the state government to compensate it for virtual loss of Niyamgiri by giving it access to new deposits.
In time slippages, Utkal Alumina which was conceived as early as 1990s remains ahead of Raykal. All the original promoters, including Norwegian Hydro, Canadian Alcan (now part of Rio Tinto) and Tata Industries left the project one by one frustrated by the roadblocks. Utkal Alumina, since under full ownership of Hindalco, will finally be commissioning a mine of capacity close to 4.5 mt in October and a 1.5 mt alumina refinery in January 2013. Utkal Alumina has ownership of 198 mt of bauxite deposit in Baphlimali hills. The commissioning of mines there will be an event of its kind in Odisha in nearly three decades. Hopefully, another wholly owned enterprise of Hindalco building an alumina refinery-cum-smelter in Odisha will have success in opening mines at Odisha’s Lakharis having bauxite deposit of 45 mt and Kodingamali where the resource is bigger at 85 mt.
A government minister is supposed to be a facilitator of new industries coming up, while at the same time keep an eye that displaced families are properly settled with sustainable sources of income and the environment is not damaged. But when a central minister recently shot off a letter to the Andhra Pradesh governor that there should be a blanket ban on bauxite mining in Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam for that could destroy forests and pollute rivers, he acted without considering that such eventualities could be avoided by taking preventive steps. For the minister, the compulsion to improve his profile among the tribal fraternity took precedence over commitments by Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation to supply bauxite from the two districts to refineries planned by JSW and Anrak, part of Ras Al Khaimah of UAE. If anything, such attitudes are helping the extremists to rally tribals against the opening of any new mines. Hasn’t Nalco virtually put on hold its bauxite mines project in AP and a refinery in downstream because of unchecked disturbances by Maoists? Nalco Chairman B L Bagra will, however, euphemistically describe extremist threats as “unfavourable ground conditions”. The country has got large aluminium capacity in the pipeline and also on the drawing board calling for opening of many new bauxite mines. The challenge is to remove all roadblocks, including extremist threats to new mines openings.

Insects destroy crops in 18 villages in Kalahandi

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 29, 2012

Flood in Hati river in Kalahandi

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 29, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Make Rahul Leader of Lok Sabha: Congress MPs to Sonia Gandhi

NDTV, July 26, 2012
New Delhi: Ten Congress MPs have written to party president Sonia Gandhi suggesting that Rahul Gandhi be appointed Leader of the Lok Sabha, a position vacated by Pranab Mukherjee, who is now President of India. 

The letter, written by Odisha MP Bhakta Charan Das and also signed by nine other MPs, reportedly says that making Rahul the Leader of the House is the "need of the hour". 

The Congress, which is the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, has reportedly been considering veteran Congressman from Maharashtra Sushil Kumar Shinde for the post.  
The request to elevate Mr Gandhi, who is a two-term MP, comes days after he promised to play a "more pro-active role in the party and the government." Mr Gandhi said after voting in the presidential elections last week that the decision that he would play a bigger role had been taken and now the timing was up to his "two bosses." One of them - his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi - was by his side as he offered this limited insight into his political future. The other boss he was referring to is the Prime Minister.

Recently, senior Congress leaders like Salman Khurshid and Digvijaya Singh too have said the party is waiting for Mr Gandhi to officially accept a larger role.  Mr Singh told NDTV on Thursday evening that he accepts that Mr Gandhi "has to come out more often" and share his opinions; he also agreed that "interaction with media should be far more than what it is at the moment."  He said that while Mr Gandhi may not air his views on crucial policies, "he has a very definite idea on most issues...he reads a lot and formulates his own ideas...he has a very inquisitive mind."

In a controversial interview recently, Mr Khurshid had said about Mr Gandhi, "We have only seen cameos of his thought and ideas like democratising elections to the Youth Congress. But he has not weaved all of this into a grand announcement. This is a period of waiting." 

There is much speculation about what form that larger role for Mr Gandhi will come in. There is talk about a ministerial position - a cabinet reshuffle is expected before August 8, when the Monsoon Session of Parliament begins. 

Then there are those in the party who say that Mr Gandhi will perhaps opt for a bigger role within the party rather than in government. Digvijaya Singh has said that if it were upto him, he would like to see the 42-year-old Rahul Gandhi adopting a bigger role "within the organisation." 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Central varsity for Kalahandi, please!

The Pioneer, July 26, 2012

While the Union HRD Ministry has decided to establish two central universities each in Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir and an IIM in Rajasthan, the demand for a Central University in the backward Kalahandi district of Odisha has been ignored, rued several educationists, including non-resident Odias.
In letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, they have said that Kalahandi has been demanding for a Central University since the 1980s. Many letters and petitions have been submitted to both the State and Central Governments in past decades requesting for a central university but in vain.
On many occasions, the issue was also already raised in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha. Leaders from Odisha also had pleaded with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to establish a varsity in Kalahandi. Besides, local MLAs and intellectuals have met the Chief Minister of Odisha reiterating the same demand. But nothing has been done, they said.
Showing the rationale behind the demand, they said Kalahandi is located at the central place of the KBK districts. It is an ideal location in terms of infrastructure, 200 km from Raipur International Airport and has direct train communication with most major cities in India.
When two Central Universities are approved for the backward States, why Odisha should not have two such Central institutions with Kalahandi housing one, asked they and termed the apathy of the HRD Ministry as gross violation of equality and civil right.
Those who have made the plea are Prof Digambara Patra, Omkar Joshi, Madhusmita Panda, Sachin Kumar Agrawal, Sheshadev, Omkar Joshi, Rajesh Mund and Sumanta Praharaj.

Also you can read in Orissadiary

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Land acquisition move for K’handi wagon factory initiated

Note: Seems to be a positive development, hope all our struggle materializes and politics does not come in the development of Kalahandi.

The Pioneer, July 25, 2012

The State Government has initiated the process of land acquisition for the proposed second railway wagon factory in Kalahandi district.
According to official sources, the district administration has already identified the required land for the ambitious railway project in the backward district of Kalahandi, part of the KBK region.
Since the project would help develop the socio-economic status of the local people, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday assured the Railway Ministry to provide all possible cooperation to ensure the setting up of the project. He also asked the Revenue Department and the IDCO to undertake acquisition of land as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Patnaik also advised the Railway Ministry to expedite the construction  of the first railway wagon factory at Sitapali in Ganjam district.
The Union Railway Minister has provided a token sum of Rs. 1 crore in the current year’s Railway Budget for the Sitapali wagon project.

Thanks to Prof. Chitta Baral for the following pointer.
The Odisha government has identified the required land for establishing the Railway Wagon factory in Kalahandi district. ChiefMinister Naveen Patnaik, meanwhile, has assured the railways to provide all required assistance from the government side for the Wagon factory, the second in the state. Mr Patnaik said the wagon factory when established will help economic development of Kalahandi region. The chief minister also asked the officials to expedite the work of the first wagon factory at Sitalapali in Ganjam district. The Railway had already sanctioned Rs.1 crore for the project in the 2012-2013 budget. UNI DP AK sdg1947 NNNN

Economic Times, July 25, 2012
BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government today offered to provide land for establishment of a railway wagon factory in tribal dominated Kalahandi district, official sources said.

Indian Railway, which had already sanctioned Rs 1 crore for establishment of the first wagon factory at Sitalapalli in Ganjam district during 2012-13 fiscal, had also indicated that it would not hesitate to construct another such project if the state government provides land.

"Responding to the Indian Railways, the state government had already identified land to set up the second wagon factory in Kalahandi district," the official said.

A railway wagon factory in the undeveloped and tribal dominated district like Kalahandi, would certainly help boost the economic condition of the local people. The state government would provide all assistance for establishment of the wagon factory in Kalahandi, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ten forest dwellers for bail

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seeking justice for Kalahandi people in the line of Bihar

July 19, 2012

The Honorable Prime Minister, Dr Singh

The Honorable President, Mrs. Patil
The Honorable HRD Minister, Mr Sibal
The Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha, Sri Patnaik
MPs from Odisha

Dear Honorable Prime Minister Dr Singh,
I am pleased to learn that HRD ministry has decided to establish two central universities in Bihar, one of the backward states inIndia. Earlier the same ministry had approved to establish two suchuniversities in Jammu & Kashmir. Rajasthan also received an IIM beside IIT.However, similar demand for Kalahandi and its people has been ignored and neglected by the HRDministry in past years.

Kalahandi has been demanding for a Central Universityin late 1980s and early 1990s. Public demand for a University is growing day byday in the region. Many letters, petitions, postcard etc have been submitted toboth the state as well as central Governments in past decades to establish aCentral University in Kalahandi. Since the political decision made by stateGovt. to establish the Central University of Orissa at Koraput publicdissatisfaction in the region is nurturing. In many occasions the issue wasalready raised in the state assembly and Lok Sabha (Parliament) of India sincepast five years. Leader of opposition of Odisha assembly and MPs have alsoraised this issue with you as well as Mrs. Sonia Gandhi personally to establisha Central University in Kalahandi. Beside that MLAs and local intellectualshave met and given their grievances to Chief Minister of Odisha, who haddisfavored Kalahandi due to political reasons, to establish such a Universityin Kalahandi. The issue has been widely covered in national and state media buthas gone in the deaf ear of HRD ministry.

The rational of Kalahandi being located in the centralplace of KBK as well as KBK, Kandhamal, Boudh, Gajapati and Bargarh districtsand being an ideal location in terms of infrastructure, ~ 200 km from Raipur InternationalAirport and direct train communication to most of the major cities in India hasbrought lots criticism against the decision made by state Govt. in the locallevel, despite this fact unlike the case of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir the HRDminister rather has not listened to the grievances of Kalahandi people andcollaborated with the state Govt. to marginalize local sentiment of Kalahandi.

Keeping public and political sentiments, two centraluniversities are established in Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir, and additional IIMis established in Rajasthan, but unfortunately similar public and politicaldemand of Kalahandi is undermined by HRD ministry. This is a gross violation ofequality and civil right by the HRD ministry against Kalahandi and its people.  

I anticipate you will take this matter to HRD ministry seriously and establish a second central University for Odisha in Kalahandi in the line of Bihar.

Thank you and best regards

Digambara Patra

Impure edible oil circulating in Kalahandi's market !!!

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 22, 2012

Ten forest dwellers sent to jail in a false case by the forest department

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, July 22, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Central University of Bihar row: Bihar emerges ultimate winner

Note: If Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir could get two central Universities why not another in Kalahandi for Odisha

Times of India, July 19, 2012

GAYA: Strange but true, Bihar is the ultimate winner in the Nitish-Sibal match that ended in a 1-1 draw, as the wish list of both chief minister Nitish Kumar and Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal got fulfilled and the state of Bihar, in the process, got two central universities instead of one. Whereas CM Kumar wanted the proposed central university to be located in Motihari, Sibal, backed by a favourable report for the Site Selection Committee, pitched for Gaya.
The state's victory becomes all the more pronounced in view of the fact that Bihar had to wait for 65 long years in the post independence era to get its first central university, whereas neighbouring UP had three central universities from the very beginning.
The history of injustice to the state in respect of education, besides other sectors, is fairly old as the claim of both Patna and Magadh Universities for central university status was rejected outright even though the claims were based on hard facts and sound logic.
Whereas, Patna University, for long enjoyed an enviable reputation as a centre of academic excellence, the vast infrastructural advantages and growth potential of Magadh University have never been properly appreciated.
Notwithstanding the stand of the perennial critics trying to undermine the contribution of Nitish Kumar in the now certain establishment of the two central universities, the fact remains that but for the success of the CM in not blinking first in the rather long battle of wits with an argumentative and somewhat stubborn HRD minister Sibal, the state would never have got two central universities.
Chief minister's political rivals hell bent on depriving the CM of his due share of credit for the establishment of one more central university in the state, may argue that but for the JD(U) support to the UPA candidate, Pranab Mukherjee, in the presidential election, Motihari would never have figured on the central university map of the country.
Even if, for the sake of argument, it is conceded that the additional central university was part of a political bargain between the UPA leadership and CM Nitish Kumar, the 'bargain' is worth it as the CM is duty bound to promote the interest of the state and then, politics, they say is the art of the possible.
Nitish has only converted that 'possibility 'into a reality. And then, the JD(U) supported the better of the two presidential contestants and for that reason, too, Kumar's pragmatism cannot be faulted, says activist Ali Hussain who teachers politics to under-graduate students.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Govt approves posting of 351 doctors in KBK region, Kandhamal

The Pioneer, July 18, 2012

In order to improve the health services in remote and tribal areas, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday approved the proposal of the Health and Family Welfare Department for appointment of 351 new doctors to fill up the existing vacancies.
On the request of the H and FW Department, the Odisha Public Service Commission had conducted recruitment examination and recommended the list of 351 eligible doctors for appointment.
According to official sources, the new doctors would be recruited particularly in dispensaries, PHCs and CHCs in the remote areas of the underdeveloped Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region and other
tribal regions of Kandhamal and Gajapati districts.
The sources said in order to check the problem of shortage of doctors, the State Government has enhanced the age of superannuation of doctors to 60 years. Besides, seats in the SCB Medical College and Hospital, MKCG Medical College and Hospital and VSS Medical College and Hospital have been enhanced to 150 each.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Reflection from Life: Bela Bairi

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, July 12, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Planning Commission raises KBK fund to Rs 250 crore

Business Standard, July 12, 2012

he Planning Commission has raised financial assistance under Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) from Rs 130 crore to Rs 250 crore for the overall development of Odisha's undeveloped Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region, official sources said.
Poverty in the region had come down by 24.6 per cent from 87.14 per cent in 1999-2000 to 62.5 per cent in 2004-05 and by 16.9 per cent from 62.5 per cent in 2004-05 to 45.65 per cent in 2007-08.
Meanwhile, the state government submitted a new Eight Year Prospective Plan for KBK districts for Rs 4,550 crore. "The people of KBK region would have been benefited if the planning commission sanctioned the Rs 4,550 crore plan," finance minister Prafulla Ghadai said.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Amazing Handicrafts from Khairpadar

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Junly 7, 2012

Odisha: Ashram Building inaugurated for 30 children at Bhawanipatna

Orissadiary, July 5, 2012
Report by OD bureau; Bhawanipatna: The fate of 30 orphan children in Kalahandi district of Odisha took a different turn – thanks to Hemant Mund and his wife Sunanda Mishra who are parenting the kids like their own family at Bhawanipatna. The 30 children – who were adopted by Mr. Mund from tribal dominated places of the district – have a home to live, dreams to fulfill with a nice parent.
With the name of ‘Bal Gopal Seva Niketan’, Hemant was running the orphanage school at his home earlier. However, thanks to Vedanta Aluminium Limited, Lanjigarh, Member of Parliament (MP) Mr. Bhakta Charan Das and the then MP for their financial support. Now the children have a newly constructed Ashram to live with good infrastructure.
On July 3, 2012, the new Ashram for the 30 orphan children was inaugurated by the MP Bhakta Charan Dash in presence of Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Satyananda Mishra and Dr. Mukesh Kumar, President and COO Vedanta Aluminium Limited, Lanjigarh.
On the occasion, an emotional Hemant says, “I am happy for my children for their new home. Vedanta arranged a land for the Ashram at Bhawanipatna and later helped us to build the building for the children. I am thankful to the corporate house for their kind support in the noble cause.” Hemant also extended gratitude to Mr. Satyananda Mishra for helping him and giving guidance all the time.
Hemant and his wife not only providing food and a home, they also ensure that the children get good education as all are doing well in different schools. The couple takes special care to impart spiritual education to them. All the children have become experts in reciting Gita and Vedic hymns. They have also displayed their skills in New Delhi, Mumbai, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar and won accolades.
Hemant and his wife dine and sleep together with the children and take special care like their own kids.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nalco agrees to set up medical college hospital in Koraput .

Note: VAL should be pushed for the same in Kalahandi/Bhawanipatna.

The Pioneer, July 6, 2012

Immediately responding to the State Government’s proposal, the National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has agreed to establish a medical college at Koraput with 100 seats.

Besides, the company has informed the Government on its own that it will also establish a 300-bed hospital at Koraput. The Nalco has told the Government that it will send its consent letter within seven days.
The Health and Family Welfare Department had recently sent a proposal to Nalco CMD BL Bagra asking the company chief to establish a medical college in Koraput district and offered to affiliate the District Headquarters Hospital to the medical college if it was established.
H & FW Minister who presided over a review meeting over the progress related to proposals by private bodies, corporates and PSUs to astablish medical colleges and hospitals in the State, said after the meeting that he was hopeful about the Nalco starting its process for the medical college and the hospital soon.
As to the medical college and hospital proposed to be established by the NTPC at Sundargarh, Acharya said the land for the purpose had already been identified.But the Government was not agreeable to its conditions, he said and added, “We hope the NTPC will consider it and stari their work as immediately as possible.”
Similarly, about the MCL proposal Acharya said identification of the land at Talcher would be finalised soon. He advised the MCL authorities to open a DMLT training centre to meet the shortage of laboratory technicians and other technical manpower.
The Narayan Hridayalay which has already been given land in Bhubaneswar for a superspeciality hospital will start its work from September this year, the Minister said. The hospital will be 300-400 bedded initially and will later be expanded to a 1,000-bed hospital.
The Minister said for some reasons, admission could not be possible this Year at the Sardar Rajas Medical College at Jaring in Kalahandi district set up by Selvam Education and Charitable Trust of Tamil Nadu. “But steps are being taken to solve this problem,” he said.
Proposals by the Basanti Charitable Trust and the Bidya Bharati Trust to open a medical college and hospital at Rayagada are under consideration and a final decision would be taken soon, Acharya informed.
The DFID proposal for a medical college and hospital at Balangir, accelerating the process of land transfer to Sahayog Foundation for its medical college and hospital at Keonjhar were also discussed. The proposal by Shankar Natralay of Chennai to open a 200-bed eye hospital at Brahmapur was accepted at the review meeting.

Cong leaders up ante for rail wagon unit in K’handi .

The Pioneer, July 5, 2012

The district Congress unit has threatened to take to the streets on the prolonged uncertainty over establishment of a rail wagon factory in Kalahandi.
The party leaders are organising public meetings at various places accusing the BJD Government of betraying the people of the district.
Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das has organised a meeting at Narla recently where the proposal for the establishment of the factory was given. It was attended by former Revenue Minister Jagannath Patnaik, said to be the mentor of Das.
After long years, both the leaders were seen in a platform, where they attacked the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD Government, saying that the regional party was neglecting the district knowingly despite sufficient availability of land at Narla for the factory.
The meeting was not attended by Opposition leader Bhupinder Singh which had raised eyebrows as Singh is the MLA from Narla Constituency. Singh’s silence in the Assembly to set up the rail wagon factory was another concern for the people. However, sources informed that Singh was away in Delhi during the meeting. Political observers said the absence of Singh may go against his political prospect in the area while other Congress leaders might reap its benefit.
The party leaders present in the meeting told the audience that the wagon factory would generate employment in the area. Das vowed that at any cost the factory would be established at Narla, where the State Government will be compelled to provide land.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Odisha: Elephant population increased to 1930 from 1886

Orissadiary, June 29, 2012
Bhubaneswar: The population of Elephant has increased to 1930 from 1886 in 2010. The elephant population in the state is 1930 which comprises 334 tuskers, 1087 females, 46 of unknown sex and 463 calves, forest and environment minister Debi Prasad Mishra told reporters here.
Stating that about 7,000 people were involved in the three-day elephant census carried out in 38 forest divisions on June 1, 2 and 3, the minister said no elephant was sighted in seven divisions.
While the population of jumbos rose in five regions like Angul, Rourkela, Baripada, Berhampur and Bhubaneswar, the number of pachyderm declined in three regions of Bhawanipatna, Sambalpur and Koraput. The previous census, conducted in 2010 showed the elephant population at 1886 comprising 332 tuskers, 1064 female, 42 unknown sex and 448 calves.
There were three elephant reserves namely Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur. There were 14 elephant corridors in the state, the minister informed.
Though there had been increase in the elephant population, they died in large number during last three years. While 51 elephants died in 2009-10, the casualty figure in 2010-11 and 2011-12 was 83 and 66 respectively.

Odisha denying tribals their rights: Centre

Times of India, July 1, 2012
NEW DELHI: The Centre has told Odisha that transit and sale of bamboo by tribals was being denied in the state in violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), a complaint which is at odds with CM Naveen Patnaik's bid to position himself as champion of tribal rights by pushing for P A Sangma for President.

Union tribal affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo on Thursday wrote a letter to Patnaik, complaining that forest authorities were not allowing transit permit to a gram sabha in Kalahandi district to sell harvested bamboo, despite FRA giving them a claim over minor forest produce. The letter said, "Kindly issue necessary instructions to authorities concerned to allow unfettered right of transit for sale of bamboo by gram panchayats to buyers which is a right given to them under the FRA."

The lament that Odisha was not implementing the landmark FRA, which seeks to rescue forest dwellers like tribals from oppressive forest bureaucracy, does not augur well for the ruling Biju Janata Dal which has sought to flag its pro-tribal credentials by making it an issue in the July 19 Presidential poll.

CM Patnaik was the first person to back NCP dissident Sangma for the President's post by arguing that it was time for a tribal to move to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Observers said Patnaik's surprise move was aimed at embarrassing Congress while consolidating his hold over 23% of the state's tribal population. Else, the bid to back Sangma makes little political sense for Patnaik since the opposition has fewer votes to harbour any realistic hope of victory.

In the backdrop of Presidential poll, the tribal minister's plaint about forest communities" rights in Odisha contrasts starkly with Patnaik's objective. Observers wondered if the timing of the letter — a day after Sangma filed his nomination to cross swords with UPA's Pranab Mukherjee — was not well thought out.

The issue pertains to a remote tribal village in Jamguda. The villagers complained they were in danger of losing bamboo produce worth Rs 30 lakh. The forest authorities turned down gram sabha's request for transit permit to enable buyers to pick the bamboo, saying the state government had not issued any such circular.

Police bar on German scribe visit to Red rebels area

Times of India, June 28, 2012
BALANGIR: Kalahandi district police on Thursday prevented a German journalist from venturing into the Maoist stronghold of Lanjhigarh in view of the Red rebels observing protest week from June 26 to July 2. Police identified the journalist as Sandra Petersman, correspondent of ARD German Radio network in New Delhi.
"After we came to know that she had ventured into Lanjhigarh area without informing us, local policemen were directed to advice her not to move in the area as the Maoists have called a protest against security operations," said SP (Kalahandi) Sudha Singh.
The SP added that Sandra later met her and produced a journalist visa and other documents. "We conveyed to her the present situation in Lanjigarh and advised her against visiting the area. It was just an advisory and now it is up to her to go to the area or not," the SP said.
Police have been discouraging the visit of foreigners into Odisha's tribal areas after the Left-wing extremists kidnapped two Italians in Kandhamal district March 14.
Recently, five Germans were spotted in the Maoist stronghold of Turla village in Balangir district's Khaprakhol police station area. After TOI's report on their entry to Maoist area, the police had traced the five Germans and brought them to district police office for verification.
They were later given a stern warning not to venture into Maoist areas.