Friday, November 30, 2012

JPC Gets Three New Members: Kalahandi MP is one among them

JPC Gets Three New Members
Outlook, Nov 26, 2012
Three new members were today included in the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G scam.

The need for including fresh members arose after three of its members - Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury - became Union ministers in last month's reshuffle of the Council of Ministers.

A motion moved by JPC Chairman P C Chacko to appoint new members was passed in Lok Sabha by a voice vote amid din.

V Arun Kumar, Bhakta Charan Das and Pratap Singh Bajwa - all Congress- were appointed as the new members.

Recently, Chacko had said that he would move a fresh motion seeking yet another extension for JPC as its term ends in December.

This will be the fourth extension of the committee set up in March last year. The panel, which has so far taken evidence from top serving and former government officials, investigation agencies and CAG, is mandated to examine policy prescriptions and their interpretation by successive governments and to examine irregularities and aberrations in the implementation of government decisions between 1998 and 2009.

Odisha: Vedanta Hospital at Lanjigarh Organises Camp for Cleft Palate Surgery Free of Cost

Indiaeducationdiary, Nov 29, 2012

Report by Pravuprasad Routray, Lanjigarh: People with Cleft lip and Palate are benefitted from a free camp for surgery at Vedanta Hospital in Kalahandi’s Lanjigarh area of Odisha which started on November 29, 2012. This is a rarest of the rare occasions in the district where six indigent people including children have been identified for surgery after a survey in the region. Cleft lip and Palate is found one amongst 1000 birth, according to a Bhubaneswar-based doctor.
The free camp for surgery was inaugurated by Dr. Mukesh Kumar – President & COO, Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), Lanijgarh. Along with him also present were Dilip Pattnaik, Chairman-NKBT; Rabi Misrha, Head-HSE (VAL); Avilash Dwivedi, Head-CSR (VAL). Vedanta Hospital provided surgeons and doctors for the successful treatment of the identified patients. The camp seems to be a symbol which portrays the escalating journey of the region’s improving health care service.
Dr. Ram Anupam Tripathy (Maxcilo Facial Surgeon), Dr. Ritesh Ray (Anastisis) of NKBT, Bhubaneswar were present for surgery whereas Dr. Manoj Sahu (Medicine Specialist), Dr. Chinky Gupta (Dentist) and Supriti Patra were instrumental in conducting the overall survey, screening and surgery.
After inaugurating the camp, Dr. Mukesh Kumar said, “This is a noble initiative, Vedanta Hospital will continue to serve the people in this region.” VAL opened Vedanta Hospital at Lanjigarh for the community which is predominantly habituated by tribal population.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PFC seeks commitment advance from Odisha for ultra mega power plants

Business Standard, Nov 28, 2012
Two more ultra mega power plants are to come up at Bhadrak and Kalahandi districts in Odisha
Jayajit Dash / Bhubaneswar Nov 28, 2012, 11:24 IST

Power Finance Corporation (PFC) has sought commitment advance from the Odisha government on two more ultra mega power plants (UMPPs) proposed in the state, each with capacity of 4000 Mw.
PFC is the nodal agency for implementation of UMPPs.
“Since Odisha is one of the nine beneficiary states for the two upcoming UMPPs, we have sought commitment advance from the state government. Each beneficiary state has to provide commitment advance of Rs 1 crore per 100 Mw. PFC has also asked the Odisha government to show its readiness for implementing two additional UMPPs proposed to be set up at Bijoypatna under Chandbali tehsil (Bhadrak district) and Narla in Kalahandi district”, said Satnam Singh, chairman and managing director, PFC.
He was speaking to media persons here on the sidelines of a financing agreement signed by PFC and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) with Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC).
P K Jena, state energy secretary said, “We have already provided commitment advance of Rs 13 crore for the first UMPP. Now that the sites for two additional UMPPs have been approved, we will be providing the commitment advance shortly.”
Since Odisha was to receive a combined share of 4000 Mw from these two UMPPs, it needed to provide commitment advance of Rs 40 crore.
It has been decided to set up the second UMPP at Bijoypatna in Chandbali tehsil of Bhadrak district and third UMPP at Narla under Kesinga sub-division in Kalahandi district. The sites have been selected after field visits by PFC.
Two subsidiaries- Sakhigopal Integrated Power Company Ltd and Ghogarpalli Integrated Power Company Ltd have been formed by PFC for executing these two UMPPs. The second and third UMPPs would contribute 2000 MW each to the state grid.
Meanwhile, PFC expects to float Request for Proposal (RFP) for the first UMPP in Odisha proposed at Bhedabahal in Sundergarh district in 2-3 months.
“We are awaiting some documents from the Union ministry of power after which we will float RFP for the Bhedabahal UMPP.
Bidding process for the first UMPP has already begun. The UMPP needs 3100 acres of land and PFC has formed a fully owned subsidiary - Odisha Integrated Power Limited - for executing this project. This UMPP would inject 1300 MW to the state grid.

Water for this UMPP has been allocated from the Ib river and check dams and barrages would be put up on the river for this purpose.

It may be noted that Meenakshi, Meenakshi-B and Dipside Meenakshi coal blocks have been alloted for the UMPP with a total reserve of 880 million tonne.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SC to seal VAL fate on December 3

Times of India, Nov 27, 2012
By Rajaram Satapathy, TNN

BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court on Monday fixed December 3 as the final date of hearing in the Niyamgiri bauxite mining case. The verdict will seal the fate of Vedanta Group's Lanjigarh refinery in Kalahandi district.
The Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) went to the Supreme Court in March 2011 after the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) rejected stage-2 forest diversion proposal for the Niyamgiri bauxite mine, having an estimated deposit of 78 million tons, from where the state government had promised raw materials toVedanta's refinery.
The Vedanta group is the only private industrial house having done tangible investments in the state during the present Naveen Patnaikregime.
The one mtpa capacity refinery, however, has been embroiled in a series of controversies ranging from environmental activists protesting that it would jeopardise the fragile ecosystem of the region to political parties, particularly the Congress, clamouring that mining on Niyamgiri hill would spell doom for the endangered Dongria Kondh tribes.
OMC had got the lease in 2004. But mining became impossible in the area in the face of PILs that raised questions on the future of biodiversity, water bodies and Dongria Kondhs.
The court battle went on for several years, during which at least three major agencies like the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, Central Mines Planning and Design Institute, Ranchi, and the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) examined the charges made by the petitioners.
The Supreme Court cleared the project in August 2008 followed by the MoEF issuing environment clearance and Stage-1 green signal for diversion of about 660 hectares of forest proposed by the state government for the mining project. The MoEF while issuing the stage-1 clearance had put 21 conditions which included deposit of Rs 125 crore for development of wildlife and the tribals.
But the refinery's problem though was far from over. This time it was the Central government that put blocks on the project. As the time came for the MoEF to issue the stage-2 forest clearance, it started dithering.
MoEF soon appointed an expert committee to study the fulfillment of conditions it had imposed earlier. The state government on its part placed its view before the MoEF that the conditions had been fulfilled, but things still were not going the refinery's way.
As the MoEF constituted more expert groups to examine the charges against the project, it withdrew the stage-1 forest clearance as well. By August-end the signal was loud and clear that the project was heading to face a raw deal in the hands of the MoEF. And it happened.
MoEF rejected the stage-2 forest diversion proposal for the mining project sent by the state government. As the Centre refused to budge from its stand despite repeated persuasions by the state government, the OMC went to the apex court challenging the MoEF order.
Amid this the net loser has since been the refinery, which has in the meanwhile completed nearly 70% works, though allegedly illegally, for increasing the refinery's capacity from one mtpa to 6 mtpa.
"We put up the plant believing the state government. Little did we know that the investment would take us running from pillar to post. We have no raw material in hand. We have already lost over Rs 2500 crore," said a senior Vedanta official.

HM garlanded with shoes, paraded

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
OrissaPost, Nov 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fate of 12 Tribal in the hand of Forest Department

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Samnad Nov 24, 2012

Govt to launch UN-aided plan in 10 Naxal-infested districts

Economic Times, Nov 26, 2012
NEW DELHI: The government will roll out a United Nations-assisted livelihood security programme in 10Naxal-infested districts in a bid to tackle the growinginfluence of Maoist rebels. 

The rural development ministry, which has been spearheading the developmental approach to this Left-wing menace, has in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme worked out a five-year plan to make markets work for the poor, ensure that state governments are more responsive to the needs of these communities and to engage these communities in local governance

Christened Governance and Accelerated Livelihood Security (GOALS), the plan will be implemented in the districts of Bastar, Kanker, Dantewada, Sukma, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, and Raigada. These districts, spread across Chhattisgarhand Odisha, are the worst hit among the 82 districts categorised as Left-wing extremism-affected. 

The government says that Naxal insurgency, which has claimed hundreds scores of lives, is the main threat to internal security. The livelihood security programme attempts to build on the understanding that economic empowerment of the local tribal population is key to stemming the influence of Maoist. This would require better harnessing of non-timber forest products, such as bamboo, honey, mahua and tendu leaves, on which the local communities are heavily dependent for their livelihood. There is also growing realisation that governments and its agencies need to be more sensitive to the needs of the local communities and involve them in governance. 

To this end, efforts will be made to improve the local population's awareness of their entitlements and ensure that their grievances are addressed. Such a move will help address the impression of an insensitive and uncaring state, which the Maoist rebels have successfully exploited to cement their influence and control in these areas. 

Work on the two planks of the GOALS programme-the financial and economic strengthening of communities and a more responsive government and empowered local communities-will be undertaken simultaneously. At the end of the five-year programme, the rural development ministry hopes to ensure an annual household income of 60,000 (at 2012-13 prices) in these districts.

Teacher humiliated for assaulting student

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Nov 26, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vedanta hopeful of arranging certain bauxite for its refinery

Livemint, Nov 24, 2012
COO Kumar says Orissa govt taking steps to arrange bauxite, hopes to get it by next week

Bhubaneswar: Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) on Saturday said it is hopeful of getting some quantity of bauxite to run its refinery in Kalahandi district.
“The state government is taking steps to arrange bauxite and we are doing it in our level. We hope to arrange some bauxite for the purpose,” Vedanta chief operating officer Mukesh Kumar told reporters. He said the company was optimistic of getting certain quantity of bauxite from outside the state in next two to three days.
Kumar’s statement came after Vedanta’s top brass including managing director S.K. Rungta and CEO P. Suri met chief secretaryB.K. Patnaik at the secretariat this evening.
The aluminium major had earlier served a notice to shut down its refinery at Lanjigarh from 5 December due to lack of bauxite. The notice was given to the state government with a request to facilitate bauxite supply to the refinery as per the provision of the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
While the company was yet to decide on whether to go for temporary closure of the refinery from 5 December, a senior official said the date could be extended if certain amount of raw material was arranged before the deadline. Meanwhile, sources said though the state government could not immediately give any bauxite to Vedanta, it is exploring several options to ensure supply of raw materials to the company.
While the Lanjigarh refinery was likely to go for a temporary closure, the company had requested Nalco to supply alumina for operation of the company’s smelter at Jharsuguda. Nalco was yet to respond to the Vedanta’s request. The senior company officials met the chief secretary here barely within a month of Vedanta Group chairman Anil Agarwal meeting the chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Delhi-based lab to manage diagnostic services in state

Times of India, Nov 54, 2012

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government is planning to handover diagnostic services in state-run hospitals to HLL Lifecare, a central government enterprise soon. 

Hindlabs, HLL Lifecare's diagnostic services division, will open and manage laboratories in the hospitals. "The government has already approved the proposal after a suggestion from the central government. Hopefully, we will sign an MoU with Hindlabs by another few weeks. The state government will provide building space while Hindlabs will engage its manpower and install equipment," health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra told TOI. 

In the first phase, the government is planning to facilitate Hindlabs to open six referral laboratories at SCB Medical College and Hospital, Capital Hospital and district headquarters hospitals at Bhawanipatna, Baripada, Koraput and Sambalpur. Besides, 13 district headquarters hospitals at Khurda, Nayagarh, Puri, Phulbani, Bhawanipatna, Balangir, Nuapada, Keonjhar, Malkangiri, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Kendrapada, Bhadrak and Jagatsinghpur will have feeder laboratories.

While in other hospitals Hindlabs will replace the existing diagnostic facilities, in case of SCB Medical College it will help in consolidation and gap-filling. 

The feeder laboratories will be equipped with basic equipment and tests such as biochemistry, hematology and electrolyte analyzers while the referral laboratories will be capable of doing all kind of pathological, microbial and radiological diagnoses. "We will ensure that 100 per cent diagnostic tests prescribed by government doctors are done in these laboratories. Action will be taken against the laboratory if it refuses any test and against doctors who entertain tests from outside these laboratories," the health secretary said. 

Mohapatra said since laboratories in government hospitals are not well equipped currently, private laboratories were fleecing patients. The new step will end doctor-chemist nexus and help in faster and periodic upgradation of laboratories, he said. 

Mohapatra said the government will control the cost of diagnosis. In case of poor patients, whose diagnosis and treatment costs are borne from government sources, the Hindlabs will send bills to respective 'rogi kalyan samitis' for reimbursement. Technicians working in these hospitals will be redeployed in sub-divisional hospitals.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

K’handi IGNTU: NRO Prof urges Govt to be proactive

The Pioneer, Nov 23, 2012

Even as the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU), Amarkantak, has expressed readiness to establish a campus in Kalahandi district and sought clearance from the State Government for over last two years, the inaction and inordinate delay by the State in responding to the proposal has raised concern among the intellectuals.
NRO (non-resident Odia) Prof Digambara Patra of American University of Beirut in Lebanon has shot off a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik requesting him to take a positive response to the proposal by IGNTU without further delays.
Notably, the IGNTU, Amarkantak has already made it clear that it has received proposal from the Union Ministry of Human Resource (MHRD) to establish a campus in Kalahandi but it is still waiting for the response to its letter on April 27, 2010 from the Odisha Government.
Kalahandi ADM had informed to the Department of Higher Education Secretary citing availability of suitable land in Thuamul Rampur for the campus on October 12, 2010. However, as a tactic to cause further delay, recently, the State Government has yet again sought information from the Kalahandi administration on whether the identified 300 acres of land land is available for the campus along with presence of an approach road connecting either the State or National Highway, electrical connectivity and drinking water facilities in the identified land. In a directive to the Kalahandi Collector last week, ST and SC Development Department Director SK Popli has sought the details at the earliest.
Patra said there are many sites in Kalahandi which have more than 300 acres of land having well connection with State Highway or National Highway besides access to electricity and drinking water facilities. So land is not a problem but all that is needed is the Government must act in a positive bent of mind, said Patra.
 Citing that when the State Government is spending crores of rupees to facilitate road, electricity and drinking water for establishment of a national institute like IIT near to the State capital, he said it will be very unjustified and unfortunate if the Government can’t be equally proactive while establishing an IGNTU campus in Kalahandi which would specially cater to the need of the tribal population in the State.
Patra said, “In fact, Odisha has a greater responsibility for tribal community as it houses 62 different kinds of tribal groups and at least one in every five people in Odisha is a tribal.When Andhra Pradesh Government where one out of 15people is a tribal, has already taken pro-active initiative to indentify land for a similar IGNTU campus, there is no reason why Odisha should lag behind.”
When honorable CM is taking personal interest in the development of the KBK region and tribal people, it is astounding that a new opportunity in the form of IGNTU regional campus in Kalahandi for the advantage of the tribals is being nauseatingly disregarded, he lamented and alleged that due to the recklessness of the State Higher Education Department authorities, the IGNTU campus is delayed for more than two years.
Patra urged the Government to recommend the identified land in Kalahandi to IGNTU authorities and the Union Ministry of Human Resource (MHRD) to establish the regional campus as soon as possible.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vedanta, State tie up for quality education to 2,00,000 children

The Pioneer, Nov 23, 2012

The Vedanta Foundation on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the State’s Department of ST & SC Development and Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare to help 2 lakh underprivileged children across 1,000 Government-run upper primary and secondary schools under the department under the Vedanta E-Shiksha@Schools Programme.
The 1,000 schools are spread across all the 30 districts which include predominantly tribal districts like Rayagada, Kalahandi, Koraput and Kandhamal.
The MoU was signed between Vedanta Foundation CEO Ravi Krishnan and Director of ST & SC Development and Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Department Sushil Kumar Popli. The function was presided over by the department’s Secretary Santosh Kumar Sarangi. Departmental Minister Lalbihari Himirika was the chief guest.
Over 2,00,000 underprivileged students from 6th to 10th standard would benefit from this initiative that aims to make learning interesting and interactive through use of technology aided learning.
Vedanta would provide hardware and software solutions like LED Pico Projectors with memory and battery backup and textbook-based educational software, i.e., e-content-based on course curriculum in Odia. Training to teachers in use of the material would also be conducted.

Global Hand-Wash Day Celebrated in Women's College Dharamgarh

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Nov 22, 2012

Vedanta Foundation enters Odisha education sector

Times of India, Nov 22, 2012
BHUBANESWAR: Vedanta Foundation on Thursday said it has inked an agreement with theOdisha government to help impart quality education to 2,00,000 students in the state's tribal dominated districts. 

The students from 6th to 10th standard who read in the schools run by state's scheduled tribe and scheduled caste development, minority and backward classes welfare department will benefit from this initiative, foundation spokesman Gaurav Sharma said in a statement. 

As per the memorandum of understanding, the foundation will provide hardware as well as software solutions like light-emitting diode (LED) pico projectors with memory and battery backup and textbook-based educational software and e-content based on course curriculum in the local language (Odia). 

The foundation will also provide training to teachers on how to use the material. 

The support will be provided to the children under the foundation's E-Shiksha programme, he said. 

The agreement was signed between Vedanta Foundation chief executive officer Ravi Krishnan and Sushil Kumar Popli, director of the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste development, minority and backward classes welfare department, he said. 

Vedanta Foundation claimed it reached out to around 2.70 million people in 550 villages across India through various initiatives, with an investment of Rs.1.80 billion last year (2010-11).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

State decides on land bank for afforestation

Times of India, Nov 22, 2012

BHUBANESWAR: The state government on Wednesday decided to identify adequate non-forest land in advance and create land bank for compensatory afforestation. This will help avoid delay in preparation of afforestation plan while moving forest clearance proposals for different mining projects, said chief secretary B K Patnaikafter reviewing progress of forest clearance cases of state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation mines here.
Patnaik said collectors of Kalahandi and Balangirshould take the lead in this matter as large patches of non-forest land are available in their districts for afforestation. He also advised to make use of DGPS and satellite images for identification of such land. The issues relating to compensatory afforestation and settlement of claims under Forest Rights Act in case of forest diversion proposals were discussed in the meeting.
It was decided that revenue and disaster management, forest and environment and mining departments will give necessary instructions to their field-level officials to expedite the different proposals for clearances of OMC mines.
The meeting also took a decision that the committee on eco-sensitive zone constituted by state government shall expedite examine the issues relating to working of mines in eco-sensitive areasand area within one km distance from sanctuary boundary. The committee has been advised to complete the task within a month.

Forest Department exploits 52 tribal families in Jilingdara, Junagarh

Reported by Sri Debendra Bisi
Sambad, Nov 22, 2012

Up-grading district hospital at Bhawanipatna to a Govt. medical college

Nov 22, 2012

The Honorable Prime Minister Dr Singh,
Copy to:
The Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha Mr. Patnaik,

Dear Honorable Prime Minister Dr Singh,
I am glad to absorb that  during 12th five-year plan union Govt. is planning to open 60 medical colleges across the country in partnership with the respective state Govt. and Odisha is set to get 4 such Govt. medical colleges by upgrading district hospitals.
It is also appreciable that Odisha Govt. and its health ministry have clearly understood the importance of such medical colleges in KBK region considering precious health scenario in this region.
State Govt. of Odisha has recently also encouraged to establish medical colleges through public sector companies, NTPC and NALCO, by up-grading district medical college in Sundergarh and Koraput respectively. Another medical college is being established by MCL at Talcher.
There was a long-standing demand in Kalahandi to establish a Government medical college. 
Earlier WODC had initiated to establish a private medical college at Jaring. However, people of Kalahandi feel that the proposed private medical college would not benefit the vast number of poor as well as tribal population living in this region. 
Therefore, since past decade people of Kalahandi have been appealing to the state and central Govt. to establish a Govt. medical college instead of the private one as not only private medical college does not benefit poor and tribal population but also the proposed private medical college at Jaring is extremely struggling to take up even after 8 years since signing of the MoU. Till now the private medical college lacks sufficient infrastructure, professors and facilities for which MCI has repeatedly rejected couple of times to give it approval recently.
The proposed private medical college still needs to get MCI approval. Even if the private medical college is materialised one day, it would not serve the interest of the poor and tribal people which share the substantial portion of total population in the region. It was clearly evident from the beginning of the project.
On the other hand the district hospital at Bhawanipatna has already a Regional Diagnostic Center that could easily facilitate establishment of a Govt. medical college, the way it was done for similar centers at Sundergarh, Koraput and capital hospital in Bhubaneswar. 
A Govt. medical college at Bhawanipatna will give additional advantages in terms of secondary and tertiary health need for the poor in a affordable way, human resource requirement in the health department in the local level, and poor and lower middle class students in the region can access medical education unlike in the private medical college.
Out of the proposed 4 Govt. medical colleges, I appeal to you and Odisha state Govt. to take necessary step for establishing at least one of them at Bhawanipatna, which is an epicenter for all KBK districts and its people.
Thank you and best regards

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A request to Mr Aamir Khan: Please take contractors off our nutrition programmes

Hindustan Times blog, Nov 21, 2012
Dear Mr Khan,

It is heartening to see news reports that the government has launched a nationwide campaign against malnutrition amongst children and that you are the ambassador for this noble endeavour.
I am inclined to believe that your involvement has the tpotential to take this campaign beyond the rhetoric. That is why I am using this blog space to draw your attention to what I believe are the biggest impediments to effective state intervention against malnutrition.
Before I get there, let me recount an experience I had 20 years ago, while visiting Kalahandi in Odisha — then a region notorious for starvation deaths. I was on a bus that was carrying loads of smartly packed bags of maize powder with USAID stamped all over. The bags were offloaded at a destination that was the same as mine — Lanjigarh, probably the most impoverished part of Kalahandi that made headlines during the drought of 1986-87 after distress sale of a girl child by a starvation-hit family. The bags, I was told, were meant to be distributed through Anganwadis and other such centres as part of a child nutrition-assistance programme of the USAID. What I wasn’t told was that the food contained in the bags never reached its target group, until I discovered it the next day. In less than 24 hours of their arrival, the bags were taken to the local market and auctioned off. A week later, I happened to visit Kantabanjhi — the region’s main commercial centre, where traders, mostly marwaris and agarwals, logged export contracts even during the so-called drought years. That’s where I got the second shock, to find on the shelves of the kirana shops yellow-coloured powdery stuff in poly-packs of half kilo and one kilo denominations. The content, I learnt, was the same as what had come from the USAID. The customer had changed. The intent of charity had been replaced by the motive of profit. The cycle of subversion had been complete.
Cut to 2012, it would seem nothing has changed. Except that there are no longer such supplies from from foreign aid agencies as india has enough food and ability to meet the needs of its people. Except that, instead of a few hundred crores, the government today is spending thousands of crores on nutrtion programmes.
Money meant to be spent on child nutrition continues to be siphoned off by middlemen. Like the USAID supplies, which might not have gone with the dietary habit of the local tribes in Lanjigarh and could, therefore, be pushed out for auction, our nutrition programmes suffer from a “one-size-fits-all” syndrome and excessive centralisation. Our nutrition programmes do not reflect a sound understanding of what a child needs.
A child likes to eat in small portions. A child eats at unpredictable intervals. A child likes to eat a variety of food.
Such needs, Mr Khan, can never be addressed by a food contractor. Nor can these be tackled by an overly centralised policy.
That is why the Supreme Court passed an order in 2004, banning food contractors from the government’s supplementary nutrition programmes under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.
The order said only self-help groups, mahila mandals and village communities should be given the contracts.
The rationale was simple: local women groups will have better understanding of what their children want and their involvement will create a virtuous cycle of effective use of funds and economic empowerment at a community level.
Yet, the enforcement of the order has been weak, despite its reiteration by the court on two later occasions.
Private contractors in Maharashtra have floated front organisations controlled by their family members so that they can get around the order. Meghalaya has engaged a Noida-based contractor, while successive governments in Uttar Pradesh have blatantly violated the Supreme Court order by awarding nutrition contracts to a company run by liquor baron Ponty Chadha who died in a shootout last Saturday.
As a recent report submitted to Supreme Court said “a close nexus between politicians, contractors and bureaucrats has allowed for the active subversion of the letter and spirit of the Supreme Court orders.”
As a result, even after spending so much on nutrition programmes India continues to be the home for one in every three malnourished children in the world.
Mr Khan, the challenge therefore is to break this nexus. The challenge is to take contractors off our nutrition programmes.

Congress MP demands Rs 300 bonus on paddy, to intensify stir

Business Standard, Nov 20, 2012

Terming Naveen Patnaik led BJD government in Odisha as "anti-farmer," Congress MP from Kalahandi Bhakta Charan Das today demanded a bonus of Rs 300 per quintal of paddy.
Das said this while addressing a farmers rally organised by the party's farmer's cell. He too announced that the farmers agitation would continue till the state government declared provision of Rs 300 bonus over paddy.
Thousands of farmers from the nearby tribal dominated district came in a procession and staged agitation protesting the state government's alleged lack of concern towards farming communities.
"We have also decided to organised a Kalahandi bandh on December 7 to put pressure on the state government," Das said adding that while neighbouring Andhra Pradesh had been giving bonus on paddy, Odisha government refused to make similar provisions for the farmers here.

Highlighting plights of farmers in Kalahandi district, the Congress MP said "Farmers in the district are hard hit due to extensive pest attack in the month of September and October. However the state government has not given any compensation to over come the loss."
Similarly farmers who have deposited premium in the central cooperative bank to insure the paddy crops grown last year are yet to get insured amount, he pointed out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kalahandi activists wave black flags

Times of India, Nov 19, 2012

BHUBANESWAR: Around 300 activists of Kalahandi Individual Satyagraha, a wing of India Against Corruption, showed black flags at the Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM) congregation organized by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra inBhawanipatna on Monday. They were, however, arrested by police.
The activists were protesting against shifting of central university to Koraput. They alleged that it was because of Pyari the university couldn't be established in Kalahandi.
Police said 48 activists were arrested for showing the black flag. "To avoid law and order situation, they were arrested and taken to the reserve police barrack. We seized the black flags too," said S K Nanda, IIC of town police station.
The outfit president, Chinmaya Behera alleged that the central university was proposed to be set up in Kalahandi district but Pyari sabotaged the process. "We launched the protest in OJM rally because Pyari was the man who turned down the proposal to set up the university in Kalahandi when chief minister Naveen Patnaik had already agreed to it. We had drawn up a prelimnary plan for the university like Oxford and we had also identified 880 acres of land. This is an injustice to the people of Kalahandi," rued Behera. Pyari won't be allowed to enter Kalahandi in the future, he added.

Rally over, it’s party time for Pyari

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), BHUBANESWAR / BHAWANIPATNA

After organising two successful rallies in Bhubaneswar and Bhawanipatna within a month, Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) chairman Pyarimohan Mohapatra on Monday indicated that the Morcha will be converted into a political party if the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, do not ‘reform’ themselves.
The next course of action will, however, be decided after consultation with the workers, Pyarimohan told this paper after Kranti Samabesh in Bhawanipatna on Monday. “The next course of action will eventually be floating of the political party if they (BJD leaders) do not reform.”
Pyarimohan did not elaborate on how many seats the Morcha will contest in the next elections. “My priority is now to organise the Morcha all over the State,” he said.
The huge gathering at the rally was not seen for a long time in Bhawanipatna. The gathering at the BJD’s rally held only a few days ago at the same town was not impressive in comparison. Addressing the rally, Pyarimohan said if the Morcha will be forced to go to elections and wins, it will solve the problems of KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput districts) region. Stating that the aim of the OJM now is to establish internal democracy in the BJD, the Rajya Sabha member criticised Naveen for non-performance.
Pyarimohan said he is the architect of all good works of the BJD like introduction of rice at Rs 2 per kg and Biju KBK yojana. “It was my advice to sever ties with BJP in the 2009 elections as a result of which BJD derived electoral gains.” All pro-people policies of the Government were announced after a lot of prodding. “Instead of being obliged to me, he (Naveen) was envious of my good work and popularity,” he charged.
The Morcha chief said he worked hard and shouldered all responsibility like Nilakantha for the popularity of Naveen. “The Chief Minister was busy showing orchids in his gardens and gossiping,” he said. Pyarimohan was critical that corruption has ‘increased at the grassroots level by 30 per cent and that Naveen was not taking steps to implement the election manifesto. Pyarimohan demanded that the supporting price of paddy be increased by Rs 300 per quintal and Rs 200 given as bonus by the State Government.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Urgency in taking action for Regional campus of IGNTU in Kalahandi

Date: Nov 16, 2012

Dear Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Patnaik and Chief Secretary Mr Patnaik,
Kindly recall my earlier letter dated on Aug 10, 2012 regarding establishment of regional campus of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU), Amarkantak in Kalahandi.
As I pointed out in my earlier letter, IGNTU Amarkantak has already made it clear that it has received proposal from MHRD to establish such a campus in Kalahandi but still waiting for the response of their letter dated 27-04-2010 from the Odisha state Government. Copy of the information obtained through RTI was submitted to you in my earlier communication.
Addl. District Magistrate Kalahandi had informed to the F.A.-cum-Addl. Secretary to Government, Department of Higher Education of Odisha Government citing availability of the suitable Govt. land in Thuamul Rampur for the same purpose on 12.10.2010. The copy of the letter was also submitted for your examination in my earlier communication.
Recently we learned from the state media (The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar, Oct 12, 2012) that “the State Government has yet again sought information from the Kalahandi administration on whether the identified 300 acres is free of cost, presence of an approach road connecting either the State or National Highway, electrical connectivity and drinking water facilities in the identified land. In a directive to the Kalahandi Collector last week, the Director of ST & SC Development Department, S K Popli, had sought the details at the earliest.
To my knowledge there are many sites in Kalahandi which have more than 300 acres of land having well connection to SH or NH, access to electricity and drinking water facilities.
It must also be noted that when state Govt. is spending tens of cores of rupees to facilitate road, electricity and drinking water for an establishment of a national institute like IIT near to the state capital, it will be very unjustified and unfortunate if the state Govt. can’t replicate a similar situation while establishing an IGNTU campus in Kalahandi when the mass tribal population in the state is benefited in higher education.
In fact Odisha has a greater responsibility for tribal community as it houses 62 different kinds of tribal groups and at least ONE out of every FIVE people in Odisha is a tribal.
Even Andhra Pradesh state Govt. where ONE out of FIFTEEN people is a tribal, has already taken pro-active initiative to indentify land for a similar IGNTU campus in their respective state for the benefit of tribal.
When honorable CM is taking personally active interest for the development of specially KBK region and tribal people, it is astounding that a new opportunity in the form of IGNTU regional campus in Kalahandi for the advantage of mass tribal population of the state is being nauseatingly disregarded.
The recklessness of state Govt., particularly Higher Education Department is well evident as no response has been given by the state Govt. to the IGNTU Amarkantak even after exceeding of more than two years since the original letter (dated on 12.10.2010) from IGNTU Amarkantak was received.
I anticipate the state Govt. will not delay further and right away recommend the identified land in Kalahandi to the IGNTU at Amarkantak and MHRD to establish the regional campus of IGNTU at Kalahandi as quickly as possible for the benefit of tribal in Odisha.
Thank you and best regards

Rahul Gandhi to lead Congress campaign in 2014

Note: Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das in communications and publicity sub-group of Congress campaign in 2014

The Indian Express, Nov 16, 2012

The Congress Thursday formally entrusted Rahul Gandhi with the task of leading the party’s campaign in the next Lok Sabha elections as head of a committee that will formulate and implement its strategy. Rahul will head the six-member election coordination committee constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi today, along with three sub-groups, for the elections due in 2014.
Besides Rahul, the coordination committee comprises Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijaya Singh, Madhusudan Mistry and Jairam Ramesh. Sources said the fact that Rahul’s name heads the list should be construed as indicating his top position in the committee.
The pre-poll alliance sub-group, headed by A K Antony, includes M Veerappa Moily, Mukul Wasnik, Suresh Pachauri, Jitendra Singh and Mohan Prakash.
The communications and publicity sub-group, headed by Digvijaya Singh, includes Ambika Soni, Manish Tewari, Deepender Hooda, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajiv Shukla and Bhakta Charan Das.
The manifesto and government programmes’ sub-group, also headed by Antony, includes P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajit Jogi, Renuka Chowdhury, P L Punia and Mohan Gopal as “special invitee”.