Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vedanta's refinery stares at a possible shutdown

Business Standard, Sept 29, 2012

With Vedanta Aluminium Ltd's (VAL) Lanjigarh refinery battling acute raw material crunch and staring at possible shutdown, the plant employees and local communities have sought chief minister Naveen Patnaik's intervention to overcome the prevailing crisis.
The employees of Lanjigarh refinery and local communities on Saturday called on Patnaik  at his residence here, making a plea to take immediate measures to ensure  raw material security for the one million tonne plant. They also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on concerns surrounding the refinery and its consequential impact.
“The plant has given employment to more than 3,500 people and an equal amount in indirect services like bauxite transportation and unloading. Since its inception, the plant has improved the economic condition of the people in Rayagada and Bhawanipatna and a large number of people have taken loans from banks to promote their self-entrepreneurship. The suspension of the refinery's expansion project has already impacted a large number of people and if immediate measures are not taken to ensure raw material security for the refinery, it will seriously impact the economic conditions of all the residents of the region”, the memorandum stated.

"After the establishment of VAL's refinery, Kalahandi started to prosper– thousands of localities got employment and livelihood opportunities. The infrastructure developed and educational standards also improved. Also, you may be aware that 70% of the employees engaged at Lanjigarh are from Odisha and nearly 15% population is in the female category”, the memorandum added.

The chief minister assured that he would take the matter forward in consultation with the state chief secretary B K Patnaik.

It may be noted that VAL had served a three-month closure notice to the state government on September 6 this year. Since the company was not alloted any mine in Odisha, it fully depended on external bauxite supplies to keep the refinery operations afloat.

Naveen Patnaik assures steps to avert closure of Vedanta Aluminium refinery

The Business Line, Sept 29, 2012

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has promised to initiate efforts to avert the closure of the Lanjigarh plant of Vedanta Aluminium. The company has said it would shut down the plant from December 5 citing the lack of assured supplies of bauxite.
This promise was given to a 30-member delegation comprising representatives of the employees and the local community when they met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. They appealed to him to save the Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh.
The delegation submitted a memorandum and appealed for regular supplies of bauxite from Odisha to the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh so that the company doesn’t close it down.
The Chief Minister told the delegation, “I will follow it up and take the matter forward in consultation with the Chief Secretary. All necessary steps will be taken.”
A day earlier, the delegation had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary, the Minister of Mines, and the Minister of Labour and Employment. The Chief Secretary assured them that he would take steps to sort out the issue in the interest of the people.
The local community said the company had already sent a temporary closure notice to the Odisha Government due to a lack of raw material (bauxite) and at this juncture, if a regular supply of bauxite was not be maintained, thousands of people would be impacted. “In spite of having large quantities of bauxite in the State, if Vedanta Alumina Refinery closes down, Kalahandi will again become poverty-affected,” the memorandum said.
“I am from Lanjigarh of Kalahandi and I know that if the company closes down, it would affect the lives of more than 20,000 people. We want the Government to take immediate measures for the supply of bauxite to the company so that we and our region prospers,” Srikant Bohidar of Lanjigarh said.
Earlier this month, the company served a formal notice to the Odisha Government through the Labour Commissioner. The company had said, “The unit has already incurred financial losses to the tune of more than Rs 2,500 crore. Further operation of the refinery is not feasible unless supply of Odisha bauxite to the refinery is assured.”
The company’s refinery, located in the backward district of Kalahandi, has a capacity of 1 million tonnes. It has invested over Rs 8,000 crore, out of total investments of Rs 50,000 crore in Odisha. The refinery feeds alumina to its smelters located in Jharsuguda and Korba

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fake Naxal Arrested in Dharamagrh

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Sept 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Who will land a Union Ministry berth?

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 25, 2012
The impending reshuffle of the Union Cabinet has again sparked off speculation in political circles here about inclusion of one more member from the State which remains under-represented in the Central Ministry.

The State has only a Minister of State, Srikant Jena, in the Central Ministry with insignificant portfolios. Even though there is no indication from any reliable source that the representation from the State would be increased this time, aspirants have started lobbying.

Out of the five remaining Congress MPs from the State, at least four are seriously in the race. They are former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das, Amarnath Pradhan and Pradip Majhi.

Sources said several senior leaders from the State, including OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik, Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh and others met several party leaders in Delhi recently and discussed political situation in the State and the expected reshuffle in the Union Ministry.

The opinion of a majority in the State Congress is that there should be another minister from the State. But that minister should be helpful in strengthening the Congress setup in the State, many Congress leaders here said.

The success of the September 6 ‘Naveen hatao rally’ and the Odisha bandh on September 10 has rejuvenated the Congress in the State. To keep up the momentum, the State leadership now wants to intensify its campaign against the Naveen Patnaik Government with an aim to dislodge it in 2014.

Hemananda and Bhakta can stake claim by virtue of their seniority and experience. Hemananda is one of the senior-most leaders of the Congress in the State apart from being the tribal face.

Bhakta represents Kalahandi from where maximum number of Congress MLAs were elected in the 2009 election.

A former president of the Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress (OPYC), Majhi is a young gun with a good following in the Southern Odisha.

If Majhi makes the cut, it will strengthen the base of the Congress further in those areas.

There is a also demand for inclusion in the ministry an MP from Western Odisha. Sources said Pradhan may make it to the ministry in case someone from Western Odisha is taken in.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

No infrastructure, manpower for mobile vet units

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 21, 2012

21st September 2012 11:49 AM
In a bid to promote livestock rearing and boost production of milk and other products in the backward and tribal-dominated regions, the State Government had decided to roll out mobile veterinary units in 10 districts, including Kalahandi.
 On September 16, 10 such units were launched in the district. Prior to this, three mobile vet units were launched in Thuamul Rampur, Narla and Dharamgarh blocks.
 The units would hold camps on a regular basis to not only check and diagnose diseases but also extend vaccination and artificial insemination (AI) services to the livestock population. They would also act as real-time disease surveillance agencies tracking down outbreaks in the early stages to initiate containment measures. The camps would be held for 20 days a month, covering every village.
 Each of the 10 units would have one doctor (a retired veterinarian), one livestock inspector and an assistant. The units would be equipped with medicines, vaccines, AI items and diagnostic apparatus. One of the major benefits would be disease surveillance. However, the officials concerned have reportedly made no arrangement to meet the additional requirement of staff and infrastructure for these units. This apart, the government is yet to supply the required medicines for these units.
Under these circumstances, the officials have decided to operate the units with the existing veterinary staff and medicine stock. CDVO Dhananjaya Das admitted to the shortcomings in smooth functioning of the units.
 “We have started this on a trial basis and a detailed road map will be drawn soon,” he said.

Bhupinder bats for tribal agri-tech varsity for KBK

Note: Good initiative by Bhupinder Babu.
The Pioneer, Sept 22, 2012

Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Bhupindar Singh on Thursday urged Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal to set up a Tribal Agriculture University in KBK region for the development of agriculture.
Singh during his meeting with Sibal said though Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi region was underdeveloped, it is the Rice bowl of the State. Since the origin of rice is the Koraput area, the Central Government should take immediate steps for establishment of a Tribal University of Agriculture and Technology in this backward region. Sibal has assured him to consider the proposal, Singh said.
Similarly, Singh said, he met Union Telecommunication Minister Sachin Pilot and had requested him to extend high-speed telecommunication network to the remote and tribal areas of the State.
He also demanded setting up of more Mobile towers in the inaccessible areas, particularly in the tribal districts, for better communication network and to install required equipments in the mobile towers under construction, Singh said.
Vital equipments are in short supply and would be installed soon after their procurement, the Minister assured, said Singh.

Friday, September 21, 2012

It’s not bandh but Nuankhai fest in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Sept 21, 2012


People of the rural areas of Kalahandi district on Thursday celebrated the annual Nuankhai festival when a nationwide bandh called by non-UPA political parties was held.
As the Bharat Bandh coincided with this important festival of western Odisha, the BJP had decided to keep this region out of the purview of the shutdown. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions and Government offices remained closed due to the festival. The people celebrated Nuankhai with great enthusiasm. The markets and other business establishments witnessed heavy rush as people, even from villages, purchased new clothes and other items.
Hundreds of devotees in the villages offered prayers to their presiding deities as part of the Nuankhai celebrations, which are held to mark the arrival of the newly-harvested paddy of the season. The festival is celebrated as mark of devotion to Mother Earth in the month of Bhadrab.
Family members assembled together wearing new clothes. After offering Chuda on the Kurei leaf to the deities and grinding new rice with handmade machine, they all sat together and eat the new rice along with Manda Pitha, Khir and Puri.
However, the people of towns like Bhawanipatna, Lanjigarh, Jaipatna, Thuamul-Rampur and Madanpur-Rampur will celebrate Nuankhai on September 25 on the day of Dasami of Bhadrab after offering prayers at the Devi Maa Manikeswari Temple of Bhawanipatna.
The major agricultural festival of western Odisha, Nuankhai, is celebrated among the tribals as well as non-tribals. Also known as Nabanna, it is celebrated in the State’s western districts of Kalahandi, Balangir, Sambalpur, Nuapada, Subarnapur, Bargarh, Sundargarh. Since anna (rice) is attributed to Goddesses Lakshmi, the goddess is worshipped as well on the Nuankhai day.
Nuankhai is a celebration of the masses. People may stay faraway for there livelihoods, but they come home to celebrate the festival with other members of their families.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Locals urge MP to save Vedanta refinery

The Pioneer, Sept 16, 2012

After Vedanta Aluminium Limited’s Lanjigarh alumina plant closure notice to the State Government, the save-Vedanta movement seems to be escalating further with hundreds of local people working at the alumina refinery meeting Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das on Saturday and pleading for saving the plant from closure.
The locals handed over a memorandum to the MP seeking his intervention in taking their concern to the appropriate authorities so that closure of the Lanjigarh refinery can be averted.
The local workforce, more than 300 in numbers, approached the Congress leader at his residence in Bhawanipatna and requested him to consider their demand. “If Vedanta at Lanjigarh will be shut down, thousands of local people working at the refinery will be jobless and livelihood of more than 10,000 people would get affected directly or indirectly,” said Hari Majhi, a local employee and a member of the displaced families.
The local workforce also told Das that in spite of having several bauxite deposits in Kalahandi, industrialisation in the district is facing a setback following VAL closure notice to the State Government owing to lack of regular supply of bauxite.
“We, the local workforce of the company and residents of Kalahandi request your kind intervention in taking our concern to the appropriate authorities so that the present situation can be averted and more employment opportunities can be created for the people of Kalahandi,” they stated in the memorandum submitted to the MP.
This move was followed by a series of demonstrations and agitations by the local people of Lanjigarh area and the local workforce of the refinery, demanding regular supply of bauxite to the company from within Odisha. This series of ‘Save Vedanta Movement’ comes in the wake of the closure notice sent by Vedanta Aluminium Limited to the State Government seeking temporary closure of its Lanjigarh refinery from December 5.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tribals set riders to mining in Rayagada

Times of India, Sept 13, 2012

KORAPUT: Tribals in Rayagada's Kashipur block have prepared an action plan that they will submit to Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) and the district administration for development of villages affected by the factory. This plan will be the precondition to mining in their area.
The action plan was prepared on Sunday during a meeting attended by more than 2,000 tribals of five panchayats under the banner Baphlimali Anchalika Samiti (BAS) at Odri panchayat bordering Kalahandi district. "Depending on the needs of the villages, an action plan has been prepared and, for its fulfillment, it will be submitted both to the company and administration. "We will allow mining in our area if the company fufills our demands otherwise anti-mining campaign will be intensified," said president of the samiti Kesab Majhi.
According to the samiti, a village-level campaign was carried out in the area from August 24 to September 5 before preparing the action plan. Around 50 villages were covered and the basic needs of the villages were identified during it.
The tribals have demanded irrigation facilities, safe drinking water, pucca roads, establishemnt of model schools and technical institutions, opening up of hospitals and free treatment of patients at the company's hospital and planting fruit-bearing trees.
"If industrialization brings development, then let the company first develop the area in which it is coming up. For the last several years, the company has been cheating us in the name of development. It has done nothing noticeable for which we had not allowed the company to start mining. Now if the company wants to start mining then it has to fulfill our demands first," said tribal leader Bhagaban Majhi, who has been spearheading the anti-mining campaigning against UAIL for the past several years.
The UAIL has set up a 4.5 million tonne per annum bauxite mining plant at Baphlimali hills and a 1.5 million TPA alumina refinery in Kashipur block's Doragurah. According to BAP, 108 villages in nine panchayats of Kashipur block and three panchayats of Kalahandi district will be affected by the company's refinery plant and mining.
While a senior company official said that UAIL was ready to cooperate with the villages and will do the needful within its limitation, when contacted Rayagada collector Sasi Bhusan Padhi said, "Soon, a meeting of the rehabilitation and peripheral development advisory committee would be called to look into the demands of the people."

Odisha to implement Right to Public Service Act from 2013

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
Business Standard, Sept 12, 2012

The Odisha government today decided to implement the Right to Public Service Act from January 1, 2013, official sources said.
Under the act, citizens would be able to get their land records, driving licenses, electricity and water connections and other services within a stipulated time and officials could not keep them waiting for long, the sources said.
"People of Odisha will be provided services in time. All the 75 services will be under the purview of the new act," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik said.
To start with people would be offered at least 25 services under the purview of the Odisha Right to Public Service Act, 2012, the sources said, after the decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

To ensure early implementation of the law, the state government ensured passage of a Bill in the recently concluded session of the assembly.
According to the provision of the new act, the people were entitled to get any particular service within a stipulated time. The officials who failed in meeting the deadline would have to pay penalty to the applicant for delay.
Initially, the departments of revenue and transport would be added under the new act, the sources said.
The Chief Minister has issued instructions to departments to train officials to avoid penalty and to provide better service to the people.
All the government offices will display a timeframe for particular services.
Odisha would be the 12th state in the country to implement the law.
The states which have so far implemented it included Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Rajasthan, Utarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand and Chhattishgarh.

Vedanta staff oppose shutdown

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 12, 2012

Fearing loss of jobs in the event of closure of the Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), a delegation of employees of the refinery submitted a memorandum to the District Collector on Tuesday. They also staged a demonstration at the collectorate.
Facing acute shortage of raw materials to run its one  MTPA refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, VAL had sent a three- month closure notice on the matter to the State Government last week seeking temporary closure of the refinery from December 5.
VAL had signed a memorandum of understanding with the State-run Odisha Mining Corporation for the supply of 150 million tonnes (MT) of bauxite, which included 78 MT reserves from the Niyamgiri hills. While bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills was prohibited by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, there was no attempt by the government to supply bauxite from other sources. Although VAL invested Rs 5,000 crore in the Lanjigarh plant till date, it incurred losses to the tune of Rs  2,500 crore during the past five years.
The employees in their memorandum stated that closure of the plant is expected to affect the livelihood of over 6,000 people, including 550 employed directly, 5,000 engaged indirectly and 1,000 self-employed in and around the plant. The company spent over Rs  100 crore on the development of the local area and community and had recently set up Lanjigarh Project Area Development Foundation. They demanded intervention of the State Government to safeguard the interests of thousands of workers and locals who will be affected in the wake of VAL closure.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Locals demand bauxite for Vedanta refinery

Business Standard, Sept 12, 2012
Due to non-availability of bauxite, we have been hearing that the plant might be shut down locals of Lanjigarh and VAL employees

Worried over the possible shutdown of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd’s (VAL) one million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh due to non-availability of bauxite, locals and employees of the company have approached the Kalahandi district administration to ensure bauxite supplies for the plant.
They claimed that Vedanta’s refinery has provided employment to over 10,000 people since 2004 and was the lone major industry in the poverty stricken district.
“Due to non-availability of bauxite, we have been hearing that the plant might be shut down. If the Odisha government, in spite of having large deposits of bauxite, is not able to supply the same to Vedanta, we feel it is a misfortune. The closure of the plant might also shatter the vision of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik who is widely regarded as the pioneer of industrialisation,” locals of Lanjigarh and VAL employees stated in a memorandum submitted to the Kalahandi collector.

“If Vedanta leaves the region, it will again plunge into poverty as all the amenities being provided by the company will vanish. We feel that the recently set up Lanjigarh Product Area Development Foundation (LPADF) might also become defunct,” the letter stated.
Hundreds of company employees, project affected people and displaced persons staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Kalahandi collector’s office.
Company authorities are also frustrated over the state government’s indifference to VAL’s refinery that is starving of bauxite.
“After serving the closure notice on September 6, we have not received any response from the state government. VAL had even filed 26 applications with the state government, seeking alternative bauxite mines to run its refinery but even on this count, the state government has not responded. Now, there is public agitation at the plant site and people have approached the Kalahandi district administration,” said Mukesh Kumar, president and chief operating officer, VAL.
Kumar ruled out immediate possibility of sourcing bauxite from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) as the PSU was yet to come out with a tender for selling the raw material.
VAL, a subsidiary of London-listed metals and mining major Vedanta Resources Plc was struggling to keep its refinery operations afloat due to acute shortage of bauxite. Since
August this year, the company’s refinery ran at 40-50 per cent capacity amid uncertain raw material supplies. The company had served a three-month closure notice to the Odisha government in accordance with the Industrial Disputes Act.

Vedanta sends shutdown notice to government

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 7, 2012

The Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) on Thursday served a closure notice to the State Government owing to the acute shortage of raw materials to run its 1 mtpa refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
In the notice, it was stated that as per the MoU signed between VAL and the State Government in 2004, it had been agreed that  the government would supply 150 MT of bauxite ore to the company through Odisha Mining Corporation to establish the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh.
 “Based on this MoU, VAL had set up this plant and started production. But it had to arrange for bauxite from other sources and in the process, the company incurred a loss of Rs 2,500 crore. However, even after eight years of the MoU, no arrangement has been made by the State Government to provide bauxite,” the notice read.
 “We have proposed to go for a temporary closure (stopping the refinery) by December 5,” Mukesh Kumar,Chief Operating Officer (COO) of VAL, said.

Eight years on, Kalahandi awaits medical college

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 7, 2012
07th September 2012 11:54 AM
It is eight years since the MoU for a medical college and hospital at Jaring here was signed. The project, however, is yet to take off. While the hospital functions with skeleton staff, there is no sign of the medical college.
On April 1, 2004, the MoU was signed between Selvam Educational and Charitable Trust, Tamil Nadu, and Western Orissa Development Council (WODC).
After prolonged public agitation the construction started. For the Rs 100-crore project, it was agreed that WODC would contribute Rs 10 crore in eight instalments on the basis of progress of the work and the State Government would provide 25 acres of land on lease. The Selvam Trust constructed a building for the medical college and Hospital, hostels for students and other structures. However, the project has run into problems.
The medical college and hospital has to be a 300-bed one, well equipped with medical staff and departments  to get Medical Council of India (MCI) recognition. Though the present facility  has 100-bed hospital, it lacks medical staff in most of the departments and other facilities. Although the MCI visited the site twice last year and once this year, it did not give approval as the project  lacked infrastructure and staff.
At present, the hospital has just six doctors including three specialists in Medicine, Pathology and Ophthalmology. The trust had earlier declared that admissions would begin for 2008 academic year. Even then,  members of MCI had expressed unhappiness over the number of doctors and other facilities in the hospital.
Protesting the sorry state of affairs, locals recently demonstrated in front of the medical college and hospital demanding immediate functioning of the hospital to its full capacity. They demanded immediate posting of the specialists in the departments of surgery, medicine, gynaecology, orthopaedics, anaesthesia, and other doctors and supporting staff. They submitted a memorandum, addressed to the Chief Minister, to the local tehsildar over the issue. They demanded government intervention in making the hospital operational for providing quality healthcare to locals.
They threatened mass agitation if their demand is not met by November first week.

'Government neglecting engineering college at Bhawanipatna'

Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal

The New Indian Express, Sept 2, 2012

Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh on Saturday criticised the State Government in the Assembly for neglecting the engineering college at Bhawanipatna as a result of which it has not got accreditation from the AICTE.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Singh demanded immediate measures by the State Government to ensure that future of the students, who will pass out from the college this year, is not jeopardised.
The State Government had set up the college four years back. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that till now the college does not have adequate infrastructure. The college also does not  have a principal too, Singh said and added that many teacher posts are also lying vacant. Alleging that the college building is yet to be constructed till now, Singh said the college does not have a library.
The State Government has not taken any steps to improve the infrastructure of the college despite repeated demands in the Assembly as well as outside it, he said. BJP leader KV Singhdeo had also raised the issue in the House on Friday. He had suggested that students, who have taken admission in the college, should be shifted to other engineering colleges to secure their future.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vedanta to close Lanjigarh refinery on Dec 5

Times of India, Sept 7, 2012
Rajaram Satapathy
BHUBANESWAR: With no bauxite in hand and mines stuck under regulatory issues, the Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) has decided to shut down its refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district. VAL president and Lanjigarh plant's chief operating officer (COO) Dr Mukesh Kumar on Thursday intimated the state government that the factory was no more in a position to run and would be closed from December 5.
VAL's decision is bound to send a wrong signal amongst the prospective investors that mineral-rich Odisha, contrary to the claims of the state government, is far from welcoming industries. The VAL staff carried Kumar's letter addressed to the labour and employment secretary and handed over in the respective department. Copies of the letter were also given to the chief secretary, industry secretary and director of factories and boilers. "Such a big investment in the state is in jeopardy. No one in the government seems bothered. Our people wanted to meet the secretaries, but were told that they had no time," said a senior VAL official.
Anil Agarwal's VAL is the only private industrial house to have invested more than Rs 50,000 crore in Odisha for setting up the integrated alumina, aluminium complex. This included 1mtpa refinery at Lanjigarh due for expansion to 6 mtpa capacity 70 per cent work on which has already been completed, 1.75 mtpa capacity aluminium smelter, 1215 mw captive power plant and 2400 mw independent power plant, all at Jharsuguda. "In retrospect we feel it was a bad decision to go for such huge investments here," remarked a senior VAL official. Kumar's letter blamed the state government for not doing enough to provide raw material, bauxite, for the refinery leading to its closure.
"VAL had set up the refinery entailing huge investment in a specific background wherein the government of Odisha had agreed to supply bauxite," the letter said, adding detail studies were undertaken on various aspects before signing the final MoU on 7th April 2003 for setting up the refinery. "It is only on the basis of the MoUs and agreements with the government of Odisha for supply of bauxite that VAL agreed to set up an alumina refinery at Lanjigarh," the letter said. Elaborating, the VAL said it had in the past several years has submitted 26 applications to the state government for prospective license/mining lease of bauxite. "Unfortunately none of the applications could be processed and forwarded for allotment of bauxite mines," the company's letter stated.
Kumar's letter highlighted how VAL finding the government not keeping its promise for supply of bauxite had desperately tried to source raw materials from different other places including going for imports at high costs. But nothing seemed helping the plant providing livelihood to hundreds of families run smoothly. "As such, it has become difficult to sustain operations without causing damage to the plant, equipment and machinery. The unit has already incurred financial losses to the tune of more than Rs 2500 crores," the letter said adding that Lanjigarh factory was built exclusively with 'low pressure and low temperature technology to treat bauxite available only in the Eastern Ghats and mostly in Odisha.' The VAL said the prevailing situation has left it with no choice but to take such a 'painful' decision to close down the factory as 'further operation is not feasible'.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cong forum seeks white paper on K’handi farmer schemes

The Pioneer, Sept 2, 2012

The Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangh of the Congress has demanded a white paper on the various Government-sponsored schemes meant for the farmers and the money spent on the schemes.
The Government must tell the people what it did with the money provided by the Central Government over the last several years," said Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangh president Amiya Pattnaik.
The Sangh threatened to demonstrate before the Collectorate, if the Government fails to bring out the white paper by October. After discussing with the farmers in the Congress Bhawan here, Pattnaik told news reporters at a Press conference that crop insurance, crop loan, flood assistance, provision of fertiliser and seed were the issues taken up for discussion.
Pattnaik demanded setting up of a special grievance cell for the farmers in each block. He said even though the Central Government provided crores of rupees under the National Krishi Vikash Mission, the State failed to implement it.
Giving details, he said the Centre provided 5, 80, 00 MT fertiliser to the State. Kalahandi required 58,000 MT but the State Government could provide only 35,123 MT. In 2011, out of 86,752 crop insured farmers in Kalahandi, 24,533 farmers were deprived of the insured sum.
The farmers complained that they have not been given identity card by the administration. The 2010 flood assistance of Rs150 crore is still lying unspent in Collectorate, said Pattnaik.
Pattnaik alleged that the State had a stock of 4,593 MT fertilisers in its godown but it sold off the fertilisers at higher prices this year, disregarding the need and concern of the farmers. He said had the stock of fertiliser been sold at the previous price to the farmers, they would have been greatly benefited.
Pattnaik said the State Government never heeded to the farmers’ plight. On the seed issue, he said 59, 000 quintals of seed were required in Kalalhandi, but the Government provided only 50,000 quintals to the farmers. He also charged that in Odisha during the last 12 years of BJD rule, 2,972 farmers have committed suicide.
Sangh office bearers Himanshu Sekhar Das, Santanu Behera, Ayub Ali Khan, Kumar Mani Sabar, Devi Prasad Sindoor and Jugal Bag were present.

Development of college hospital demanded

The Pioneer, Sept 4, 2012

Members of the Jaring Medical Banchao Sangharsh Samiti held a road blockade on NH-26 here demanding immediate steps for improving the condition of the Sardar Raja’s Medical College Hospital.
The protesters said though the hospital has not been able to provide treatment to the locals because of lack of infrastructure and doctors. They demanded appointment of sufficient number of doctors.
The members submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding all round development of the hospital.
The foundation stone of the hospital was laid by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on February 8, 2004 at Jaring, named as Naveen Town. The project had got clearance from the State Government in 2004 after an MoU was signed with a private educational institute Salvam Educational and Charitable Trust, Tamil Nadu to complete it in five year.
The terms of the agreement have already elapsed and the medical college also failed to get a nod from the Medical Council of India (MCI) many times during last eight years, mostly due to lack of adequate number of doctors, staff and some basic infrastructure.
Initially, the Revenue Department had provided 25 acres of land at Jaring between Bhawanipatna and Junagarh. The Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) had released `10 crore for infrastructure development. Soon the work began on the 370-beded hospital. The hospital’s 100-bed facility was first inaugurated on December 9, 2006 and again its 200-bed facility was inaugurated on March 18, 2007. Later, 70 beds were added.
The Salvan Educational and Charitable Trust has already spent around `25-30 crore for the hospital. The hospital is now being handled by three doctors only, with a medicine specialist, paediatrician and one dentist.
Though the nearby villagers come to the hospital, but lack of sufficient doctors has caused a major difficulty in providing them due treatment, alleged Samiti president Sunil Kumar. He also threatened to continue the stir if demands were not fulfilled immediately by the Government.
The hospital has facilities of one ICU, two X-ray wards, ECG, ultra sound, three OTs, but due to insufficient doctors, the machines are hardly used. This matter was raised in the Assembly earlier by Junagarh MLA Gobardhan Das and Opposition leader Bhupinder Singh but in vain.

Bandh to demand bauxite for Vedanta's alumina refinery

IBNlive, Aug 29, 2012
Lanjigarh (Odisha), Aug 29 (PTI) Apprehensive about the future of the alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminium Limited at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, local people today observed a bandh demanding bauxite for the company. With VAL having to run its refinery at 40-50 percent of its capacity, the people under the banner of the Lanjigarh Anchalika Vikash Parishad feared that a halt in production would lead to loss of jobs and livelihood. The people from Lanjigarh and adjacent places like Biswanathpur, Daikhal and Ambadala shouted slogans demanding immediate allocation of bauxite to the refinery which is facing a crisis due to shortage of the raw material. Sridhara Pesnia, president of the Parishad said, "The alumina refinery should be provided bauxite from Odisha. The state and central governments must ensure this. If it is not done local people will be affected badly." Stating that a large number local people depend on the refinery for their livelihood, Pesnia said, "We will go to the Chief Minister and if necessary to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister to ensure that a bauxite mine is provided to Vedanta." PTI COR SKN PC PMS

Cholera strikes in 11 districts of Odisha

Times of India, Aug 31, 2012
Ashok Pradhan,

BHUBANESWAR: Cholera, which had claimed 183 lives and affected over 2000 in KBK region in 2010, has again emerged as a major headache for the state government. With samples from Dasmantpur block of Koraput testing positive for Vibrio cholerae on Thursday, the total number of districts where the virus was found in August alone went up to nine, government sources said.
Samples from total 11 of the 30 districts have tested positive so far this season (June-August). The state has recorded 20 deaths from various diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera, during the same period.
Though often associated with poor hygiene and lifestyle of people in remote tribal districts, Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) has confirmed the bacteria in rectal swabs of patients from Narasinghpur area of Cuttack district besides in Dhenkanal. Narasinghpur had reported around dozen cases of loose motion and vomiting, some of whose samples were tested and were found positive for cholera. There was, however, no casualty from the area.
Among other districts where Vibrio cholerae were found in stool samples this month included Angul, Sonepur, Nuapada, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur.
The bacteria were found most widespread in Rayagada district this month with stool samples of people from Kasipur, Kalyansinghpur blocks besides water samples from Kolnada and Bisamkatak areas found containing the bug. Similarly, in Kadampur, Kalampur and Jaypatna areas of Kalahandi district and Chandahandi of Nabrangpur, rectal samples from some patients were confirmed for Vibrio cholerae.
Samples from Balangir and Puri districts had confirmed cholera in July though positive samples in Puri are not unusual because the area is endemic to cholera. A few samples from Kalahandi and Nupada had tested positive in June.
Government authorities articulated there is no reason to worry at all as most of these cases were detected during routine surveillance without any outbreak like situation. "Finding cholera bacterium is not unusual or unexpected in water or stool samples during surveillance. However, there is no outbreak like situation anywhere," said director public health services (DPHS) Dr Prasad Kumar Patnaik.
Patnaik said the government has been attending to all diarrhoeal cases irrespective of whether those were due to cholera by sanitizing the drinking water sources and undertaking public awareness drives. "The situation is far better compared to previous years," he added.
RMRC sources said the strain of vibrio cholerae has been identified as O1 Ogava everywhere in the state while the scientists are doing research to nail the exact serotype. The bacterium is sensitive to tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and arithromycine medicines. The saving grace so far is that there is no human to human transmission this year, which result in higher deaths, scientists said.

Veteran politician, sports personality Birkesari Deo passes away

Daily News Analysis, Sept 2, 2012

Veteran politician and sports personality Birkesari Deo died inOdisha on Sunday due to old age related ailments, family sources said.
A former member of Rajya Sabhaand two time MLA, Deo (85) was the second son of former 'Maharaja' ofKalahandi princely stateBrajamohan Deo. He is survived by four sons and two daughters.
Deo's elder brother Pratap KesariDeo was the last crown prince ofKalahandi.
He was elected to Orissa assembly as a 'Ganatantra Parishad' candidate from Dharamgarh and Madanpur Rampur assembly constituency between 1957-67 and was the Rajya Sabha member from 1970-76.
A prominent game organiser as well as sportsman, Deo was considered as a living encyclopedia of Kalahandi district. He had immense contribution for popularity of cricket, football and tennis in Kalahandi district and was the founder of Kalahandi cricket club.As news of his death spread, thousands of people from different walks of life rushed to his Birkesari Bhawanresidence and attended the last rites at the nearby crematorium braving heavy downpour.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kalahandi lost its earliest & foremost Sports Patron and the Father of Kalahandi Cricket

Greetings from Kalahandi.

Very early this morning Kalahandi lost its earliest & foremost Sports Patron and the Father of Kalahandi Cricket.

Yes, HH Sri Bir Keshari Deo is No more. Born in 1927, he led a remarkably youthful and spirited life till the end.

His passion for cricket and contribution towards sports in Kalahandi will be remembered for ever.

His love for Kalahandias, his scorn for anyone speaking against Kalahandi and his down to earth yet unpredictable lifestyle will be matter of discussion where ever two Kalahandias meet.

It's a great loss, still we live on with a sense of pride that in our times we had such man that taught us a different aspect of life.

Capt R Senapati
Senapati Street