Monday, September 30, 2013

Permanent bench: Lawyers tread a cautious path

The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar, Sept 30, 2013
Going by the past experience, lawyers agitating for permanent High Court bench are treading a cautious path. A day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal to set up two benches, lawyers of 33 bar associations in Sambalpur region decided to suspend the agitation. At its meeting in Boudh on Sunday, the Central Action Committee (CAC) of All-Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) decided to continue with its ceasework on last three days of every month till the Bench becomes a reality.
However, the Kalahandi lawyers have threatened to continue with the agitation. District Bar Association president Daitari Pradhan said the State Government must wait till Justice CR Pal Commission submits its report.
Bhawanipatna, he reiterated, is the most suitable location for HC bench as per Jaswant Singh Committee report in the KBK region. The letter by Naveen is a tactical move to divert attention, he said.
Although the Chief Minister’s letter is being seen as a battle half won for Sambalpur region lawyers,  it would still be a long drawn affair. In the past, former Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily had assured to give assent to the proposal if forwarded by the State Government.
The CAC would meet again in November in Nuapada and decide the next course of action. The CAC Convenor,  while expressing gratitude to the Chief Minister, admitted there was still a long way to go.
He was, however, critical of the stand taken by the High Court Bar Association over establishment of Benches and said the lawyers would observe Monday as “protest day” to register their anguish over the stand. But State Government offices will be allowed to function smoothly from Monday, he added.
Lawyers of Koraput and Jeypore, who had resorted to ceasework demanding a High Court bench in Southern Odisha, have withdrawn their strike.         

Friday, September 27, 2013

Celebration of Lankeswari Kandhabasa

Shared by Sri Sushil Kumar Bag
Peameya, Sept. 27, 2013

Chaul Dangar in Kalahandi Gets it Greenary Back

Shared by Sri Sushil Kumar Bag
Peameya, Sept. 27, 2013

Is CM taking interest for poor people in Kalahandi?

Reported by Sri Sushil Kumar Bag
Peameya, Sept. 27, 2013

Crackdown on sand mafia

Times of India, Sept. 27, 2013
BHAWANIPATNA: The district administration has decided to take strong action against illegal sand mining rampant in Kalahandi.

In a crackdown on sand mafia earlier this week,the Dharmagarh administration seized 15 tractors and fined them Rs 76,000 for ferrying illegally mined sand from Hati river near Junagarh.

The tractors were intercepted by the administration at the Junagarh check gate, about 26 km from here. They had taken sand from Hati river bed and going to Junagarh.

Collector (Kalahandi) Bijoy Ketan Upadhyay said tehsildars and sub-collectors have been instructed to impose maximum fine and arrest the sand mafia at a meeting on Tuesday.

"The gangs are active during the early hours. A maximum fine of Rs 25,000 will be imposed by the tehsildar. Police will file FIR on theft charges and arrests will be made simultaneously. The 15 tractors seized on Monday will be charged with theft," the collector said. "We are carrying out regular raids on the sand mafia following a directive from the National Green Tribunal," he added.

Sand is being lifted from Hati river at Junagarh, Tel river at Kesinga, Sandul at Narla, Utei and Udanti at Madanpur Rampur, Ret river near Chhatikuda under Bhawanipatna block, Turkel river at Raj Kharira causing loss of crores of rupees to the revenue department.

Sources said the sand is not only used illegally in construction of private buildings, but also in government projects such as highways and bridges over rivers

Sub-collector Satyanarayan Das said few have taken permission and some have applied to the tehsil office to lift sand.

Vending zones to come up at 19 places in Bhubanesar soon

Times of India, Sept, 27, 2013
, TNN | Sep 27, 2013, 06.32 AM IST
BHUBANESWAR: The state government is all set to construct new vending zones at 19 places in Bhubaneswar from the centrally sponsored "challenge funds". The Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation on Thursday approved the proposed project that will be implemented at a cost of Rs 2.4 crore.

The challenge funds, launched last year, is aimed at addressing major challenges of the urban poor.The Centre recently identified Bhubaneswar and Bhawanipatna of Odisha among 40 cities in India under the flagship programme to improve socio-economic conditions of the urban poor.

"In the first phase, the Centre has agreed to fund us for the vending zone project. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation will execute the project," deputy secretary of state housing and urban development department (H&UD) Anjana Panda told TOI. "In the second phase, we will send a proposal to construct toilets for the urban poor at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district," Panda said.

At present, the city has 46 authorized vending zones, constructed by theBMC. But not more than 2,000 traders, out of the 22,000 roadside vendors in the city, have been accommodated in the existing vending zones.

Learning from previous mistakes in the wake of the demolition and relocation of some vending zones in the city due to road expansion projects, the government has decided to identify lands where vendors do not face any threat. "It is high time the government seriously took up the issue of streamlining street vending. The authorities should protect poor vendors from greedy cops and municipal staff who extort money from them. The government should ensure secured and dignified livelihood for them," said Pratap Sahoo, president of All Orissa Roadside Vendors' Association.

The H&UD department said it would soon draw up more pro-poor projects under the challenge funds, which envisages technical and financial support to urban local bodies for adopting and replicating good practices. Beneficiaries under the fund will be the urban poor and othermarginalized groups, including women, socially excluded and disadvantageous groups, pavement dwellers, disabled and children.

Sources said the 'challenge fund' will be operational till June 2016. To operationalize the fund, the Centre has formed a core management unit.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chetana Samabesha in Dharamgarh

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Sept. 26, 2013

Bar associations meet Naveen Patnaik

Times of India, Sept. 26, 2013
BHUBANESWAR/BHAWANIPATNA: Lawyers from Rourkela and Balangir on Wednesday demanded chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the capital to recommend to the Centre for establishment of Orissa high court benches in their areas.

Representatives from Rourkela and Balangir bar associations had separate meetings with Naveenand pleaded for their cases. Rourkela bar association president Ramesh Bal said Rourkela with a population of seven lakh was the third most important town in Odisha after Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and deserves to have a permanent bench. Balangir bar association leader Rakhal Nanda said they demands re-establishment of the bench, which existed a decades back.

Meanwhile, the joint action committee (JAC) has threatened to boycott the urban body election over their demand for a permanent bench of the Orissa high court at Kalahandi. President of Kalahandi bar association Daitari Pradhan told mediapersons that they suspect political interference on the issue ahead of the polls in western Odisha and before CR Pal Commission submits its report on October 30.

The lawyers have also decided to cease court proceedings on every Monday.

Teacher crunch: Villagers lock school

Times of India, Sept 24, 2013
Bikash Khemka, TNN Sep 24, 2013, 01.03AM IST
BHAWANIPATNA: Locals on Monday locked the main gate of Phaktamaal Upper Primary School, about 15 km from here, demanding more teachers for smooth conduct of classes. The students also sat on a dharna holding placards with slogans hinting at the skewed student-teacher ratio in the school.

Currently four teachers are posted in the school, which has 394 students on its roll. "Considering the students' strength, there should be at least 12 teachers. The situation would somehow improve if six teachers are posted immediately," said headmaster Jagannath Tripathy.
The school management committee also expressed displeasure over teacher shortage. "We were compelled to lock the school as the authorities concerned did not heed our demand," said president of the committee Malay Kumar Barik. The school would remain closed till the appointment of the required teachers, he added.
Inspector of schools, Kesinga block, Bansidhar Bag rushed to the school and assured the agitators that more teachers would be posted shortly. But they stuck to their demand and continued the stir.
"More teachers would soon be posted in the school," reiterated district project coordinator Kailash Sahu.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Odisha Craft Show In Dilli, Sept 23, 2013
New Delhi : 23/September/2013 
It has been the constant endeavor of the Odisha Government to promote the vibrant culture and heritage of Odisha through various initiatives in the past.
And the Office of the Principal Resident Commissioner based here is taking up innovative initiatives in this regard continuously.

Under this backdrop, the Principal Resident Commissioner Vipin Saxena inaugurated the show biz here today to promote the  art and craft of Odisha.

Bara Masa Tera Parba (named thus, because the festive spirit in Odisha surpasses the limit of twelve months in a year) is an exhibition and sale that aims at focusing on handicrafts from two districts at regular intervals in order to give the artisans the impetus and exposure required to sustain and develop their craft.
This month, the exhibition brings  to the enthusiastic visitors the exquisite handicrafts of Kalahandi and Koraput.
 Khairpadar’s woodcraft and Lanjigarh’s tribal art from Kalahandi and Kotpad’s geometric weaves, Girla’s iron artefacts, incense from Boipariguda and Alasi oil from the lush hills of Koraput; are being represented in the exhibition.
Besides these, there is a food stall with delicacies from Odia cuisine which will draw many visitors as these food items are lip smacking and has got authentic aroma.
Descriptions of the handicrafts and how these shape the artisans’ lives as well as methods of preparation are on display so that the visitor can take a step further and get to ‘know’ what he/she appreciates.
In order that the artisans savor some of the treasures that New Delhi is home to, an exposure visit has been planned to Dilli Haat and other tourist spots.
This initiative is supported by the Odisha Investment and Export Promotion Office (OIEPO) which focuses on developing markets for such products and creating business prospects for them.

Nuakhai Bheghat celebrated in Bangalore

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, Sept. 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Policy watch: Should religion have a say in industrial development?

DNA, Sept. 23, 2013
R N Bhaskar  
Perhaps, no other ministry has hurt India’s economic revival as much as the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).
Ostensibly espousing a noble cause, apparently promoting inclusive growth, it has actually turned the law on its head.  The MoEF has trampled on development plans and industrial development, including mining.
And nowhere is this more evident than in the MoEF’s tacit support to a resolution by 12 gram panchayats (village councils) to exclude all mining activity within a 150 km radius from the hilltop of Niyam Raja, the presiding deity of the tribals in that region.
The panchayats claimed that “the entire Niyamgiri hill range is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood”.
Intriguingly, the MoEF, which pushed the tribals’ cause in the first place, has chosen to remain silent. It possibly does not even comprehend what a 150-km radius means, and the implications such a move could have on the entire nation. If that is true, it should be disbanded on ground of incompetence.
A 150-km radius translates into 70,000 square km. Compare this with the geographical spread of some of the most sacred places in the world.
Vatican city, for instance, accounts for barely 0.4 sq km. The holiest of shrines for Muslims, Masjid al-Haram, which contains the venerated Kaaba, is spread over just 0.4 sq km. Tirupati city, not just the temple, accounts for 24 sq km.
This is despite the host countries having a lower population density per sq km than India. Is the MoEF stark raving mad?
Consider the implications. A tribe, settled along the banks of the Ganges or the Yamuna, can now claim that “the entire river is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood”.  So, do we ban cities along the banks, or scrap the Ganga and Yamuna expressways?  What if another tribe that dwells near the Himalayas echoes similar views and claims that the “entire mountain range is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood”?  No sane government would buy such an argument.
So, are the members of the MoEF insane? Or, is there a hidden agenda?
True, the panchayats were held on the direction of the Supreme Court (SC) through its order dated April 18, 2013. But the SC had also directed the MoEF to take a final view on the issue of forest clearance of the project taking into consideration the proceedings of the village councils. Instead, the MoEF’s silence suggests that it wants to ratify this preposterous demand.
 Sadly, even the SC was possibly swayed by the MoEF, when the latter demanded that the tribals’ views should be taken into account.  The ministry had relied on another SC order judgment (Union of India v. Rakesh Kumar, (2010) 4 SCC 50).
But that judgment related only to minor minerals [That judgment states:  tribals’ views “be made mandatory prior to grant of prospective licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas”]. The present case relates to bauxite for making aluminium, a major mineral.
The MoEF was probably making a vexatious use of the legal process by playing this last-minute gambit in October 2010 to thwart the mining company (Vedanta/Sterlite) from proceeding with its mining plans. It was after the SC had given its detailed judgment on the matter on November 23, 2007, after hearing the matter for four years.
This order was further reiterated by the SC through two separate orders, both on August 8, 2008.
The MoEF rejected Sterlite/ Vedanta’s mining proposal on August 24, 2010. The ministry did this after Vedanta/Sterlite had accepted, in 2008, all the conditions for the rehabilitation package laid down by the SC for the tribals and the project affected population.
It was done after the company had already invested around Rs 5,000 crore in its refining unit, and was now keen on integrating it with mining.
As a result, the impoverished people of Kalahandi continue to remain abjectly poor; employment generation has been thwarted; unlocking of national wealth delayed; and economic development tripped. And all this was done by a government that claims to be secular and progressive.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monsoon's special delicacy

Times of India, Sept, 21, 2013
, TNN | Sep 21, 2013, 05.32 AM IST
BHAWANIPATNA: The monsoon springs up a special delicacy in Kalahandi. The moment rains come, tribal families here get together to collect bamboo shoots and prepare kardi and handua, which have emerged as popular delicacies.

Kardi is produced by bamboo shoots after cutting it into pieces, while handua is prepared after drying and grinding it. Once the bamboo shoots are cut into round pieces, it is dried on the hills under the sun and then crushed after placing it on an iron pot. These delicious dished are rich in nutrients.

Ten families of Kabanjhaju village under Gundri Panchayat of Lanjigarh block, about 20 km from Bhawanipatana, have made the bamboo shoots their livelihood, especially during the rainy season. The bamboo shoots grow up in the rainy season in the forest area. In other parts of the year, these families are engaged as daily labourers.

"With eight family members, we remain engaged in preparing handua at home. Besides selling it to traders, we have it ourselves as well. This helps us earn about Rs 3,000 during the rainy season," said Gurubaru, the head of a family engaged in making handua.

The tribals sell handua at a very low cost to traders, who then earn huge amounts of money after selling it in the market.

"It is being sold at a cost of Rs 200-250 per kg to the traders but they (traders) sell it at Rs 500-600 in the market," said Ajay Bohidar, a school teacher.

Most of the tribal families engaged in the work of making handua and khardi said they consume almost half of what they prepare. People from all age groups love this delicacy, the demand of which has been rising in the past few years, the families revealed.

"We put in a lot of effort to prepare these delicacies and so we have some of it. It is evenly distributed among all the family members. At the end of it, almost half of the total food itme is consumed, while the rest is sold to the traders, who then go on to sell it in the retail market," said a tribal woman Bhuti Dei.

One can find kardi and handua in hotel menu these days. Besides the men, even women and children join in to prepare the delicacies.

HC bench: Pal panel begins hearing

The Times of India, Sept. 21, 2013
CUTTACK: Justice C R Pal Commission, instituted by the state government to look into the demands for permanent benches of the Orissa high court in western and southern Odisha, started its hearing on Friday. Representatives of Koraput Advocates Joint Action Coordination Committee, Kalahandiand Kesinga bar associations deposed before the commission.

Lawyers of Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts are members of the committee.

"The hearing will continue on Saturday. Rourkela bar association has been summoned to appear before commission," said secretary of the commission A K Mohanty. The commission had expedited the process after receiving a letter from the state government to complete it within two months.

Friday, September 20, 2013

College battles faculty shortage, infra

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept.20, 2013
Published: 20th September 2013 10:38 AM
Last Updated: 20th September 2013 10:38 AM
The Bhawanipatna Government Autonomous College is struggling with faculty shortage and infrastructure deficiencies.
Despite the sanctioned posts of 59, the autonomous college is functioning with just 16 teachers.
Even as 42 posts are lying vacant for a long time, no appointment has been made yet. With the existing teachers already overburdened with additional classes, education standard of the college has gone for a toss.
Important departments like Geography, Mathematics, Political Science, Anthropology and Botany are without teachers. In English department, despite the sanctioned posts of eight, there is only one teacher.
In Zoology, against the sanctioned posts of four, there is one teacher.
In Economics, there are two teachers against the requirement of five and against five for Odia, there is just one teacher in that position.
Under these circumstances, most of the departments are being managed by the guest faculty, but the arrangement does not seem to suffice.
“The college, that was once famed for providing quality education, is today witnessing a fall in its standards. Students are not even willing to study in the college anymore,” said a local.
The college, which celebrated its golden jubilee in 2010, had received Centre for Potential for Excellence (CPE) from UGC in September 13, 2004.
While it runs nine post-graduation (PG) and two MPhil courses, there are three other courses that are conducted under the CPE scheme of the UGC.
Two of them - PG Diploma in Computer Application and Certificate Course in Computer Application - are self-financing in nature. Against the sanctioned students’ strength of 3,200, there are 2,550 in the college.
Infrastructure wise, the situation is equally bad. Though students have been demanding opening of MSc, MCom and PG in Geography for a long time, no initiative has been taken by the authorities concerned.
The 100-bed women’s hostel has 300 inmates; construction of a new women’s hostel has been going on from 2009.
Former president of the college students’ union and the present district Biju Chatra Janata Dal president Abinash Thakur said he has sought intervention of the Chief Minister to set things right in the college.
He said all the vacant teaching posts should be immediately filled up for the betterment of students.

Odisha plans bauxite prospecting at five places

Business Standard, Sept. 20, 2013
Odisha has 1.8 billion tonne of bauxite reserve which is nearly 55 per cent of the country's deposit
The state geology department has identified five places in Koraput and Kalahandi districts to carry out prospecting operation for bauxite, as part of its long-term plan to boost proven bauxite reserves in the state.

"For 2013-14 field season (Nov-May) we have proposed to carry out prospecting operation for bauxite at five locations in southern," said Prabhat Kumar Ojha, director of Geology with the state government.

"We have shortlisted these locations out of 100 plus plateaus of the state. As we have found strong evidence of bauxite deposit in these areas, we want to focus on these areas spreading over 2,000 square kilometers," he added.

Odisha has 1.8 billion tonne of bauxite reserve which is nearly 55 per cent of the country's deposit. Yet, no new bauxite mine has been opened in last 30 years after the Panchpatmali mines of Nalco in early 1980s. Though some  were allotted to upcoming alumina/aluminium projects in the state, they have not been operationalised due to local protests and environment issues.

In this backdrop, the state intends to explore new bauxite reserves to meet the requirement of the industries which are unable to access the available deposits due to various problems.

It may be noted, Vedanta Aluminium, which has set up a one million tonne refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, is struggling to stay afloat after it was denied access to Niyamgiri bauxite deposit due to environment and local tribal right issues. The company has been nudging the government to allot it an alternate mine.

Similarly, 's Hindalco, which was granted a bauxite lease in Koraput district in 2007, is yet to start operation due to local opposition.

The state mines department has earmarked Rs 8.5 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 28 crore over next five years for prospecting operations. The Directorate of Geology has identified about 100 small plateaus spread across Koraput, Kalahandi and Raygada districts, believed to be have bauxite deposits. The prospecting activity will be taken up covering an area of 2,073 square kilometers in and around places like Sijimali, Kuturumali, Karlapat, Lakharisi, Sasubohumali and Kodingamali in these three districts.

Incidentally, these are the areas which were applied by Vedanta Aluminium Limited () to carry out prospecting operations. The company has filed 26 applications for bauxite mining/prospecting leases in the state and all of them are pending at various levels.

As of now, bauxite deposits explored by state Directorate of Geology, Geological Survey of India (GSI), Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL) together add up to 1,846 million tonnes of all category. The categories include proven, probable or possible.

The aim of the prospecting operations is to transform the possible and probable category of reserve into proven category, which can augment the bauxite resources in the state, said a government official.

State government lays road map to improve 2,158 km highways

The New Indian Express (Bhubneswar), Sept. 20, 2013
The State Government has set a target to improve 2,158 km of State Highways to two-lane standards during the 12th Plan period.
The double-laning of the roads will be taken under the State Highway Development Project (SHDP) with an estimated cost of around Rs 3,000 crore. A project management cell (PMC) will be set up to manage and monitor the projects under SHDP scheme. The Works department was advised to engage a professional contract management agency to assist the PMC for timely accomplishment of the targets.
This was decided at a high level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra here on Thursday.
According to the meeting, 381 km of road projects involving a cost of around Rs 633 crore have been put to tender. These works include widening of Banigochha-Khajuripada-Phulbani-Saranagada-Baliguda (52.52 km), Baliguda-Sindiguda (29.86 km) and Baliguda-Minuguda (24 km) in Kandhamal district, Parvatipur-Laxmipur (47.35 km) in Koraput district, Karanjia-Thakurmunda-Satkosia-Anandapur (57.22 km) in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar district.
The Berhampur-Mandara (31 km) and Shergada-Badagada-Sorada(38.95 km) in Ganjam district, Padadahandi-Umerkote-Yerla (18.60 km) and Umerkote-Raighar-Kundei-Likma (11.93 km) in Nabarangpur district and Bhawanipatana-Gunupur-Kashipur (18.90 km) in Kalahandi district will also be developed into two lanes.
The Chief Secretary asked the department to prepare monthly work plans on each road project and accomplish the target for each month.
He further advised the department to finalise contracts for another 800 km and finish tendering of the roads by December 2013.
Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management, Taradatt, asked the implementing agencies to minimise the time taken for developing designs, soil testing, various clearances and interdepartmental coordination. Besides, monthly target should be fixed at junior and assistant engineer levels.
The meeting decided to prioritise the road projects in Left Wing Extremist (LWE)- affected districts.
Thirteen road projects of 614.82 km and one bridge involving a cost of around Rs 949 crore have been sanctioned for LWE-hit districts like Sambalpur, Rayagada, Gajapati and Malkangiri.

Western Odisha bandh call: Several districts stay away

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 20, 2013
The dawn-to-dusk bandh call given by the Central Action Committee (CAC) of All- Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA) hit normal life in several districts on Thursday. However, it was business as usual in some other places such as Kalahandi and Balangir districts. The bar associations of these districts have steered clear of the bandh since both the bodies have been demanding HC bench in their respective districts.
Shops and business establishments were closed and the bandh was total in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh and Sonepur. Educational institutions, Government offices, courts, banks and financial establishments also remained closed in Western Odisha districts.
Heavy vehicles were stranded on both sides of NHs passing through the district with lawyers staging road blockades. A large number of passengers were stranded at different railway stations and bus stands due to blockade at Sambalpur and other places by the bandh supporters, which led to cancellation of several trains. CAC Convenor Ashok Das said the bandh was a success.
In Sundargarh, barring Rourkela, life across the rest of the district was hit as three bar associations resorted to a dawn-to-dusk shutdown. The bandh apart, suffering of the common man knew no bounds due to the prolonged closure of government offices.
However, Kalahandi district rejected the bandh call. There was bandh on Sept 16 called by the District Bar Association to step up demand for an HC bench in Bhawanipatna. The joint action committee clarified that it is having no truck with Sambalpur or western Odisha Kriyanusthan Committee and not supporting the western Odisha bandh call.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kalahandi bandh over HC Bench

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 17, 2013
Normal life was affected in Odisha’s Kalahandi district on Monday due to the bandh called by Kalahandi Bar Association and All-party Joint Action Committee demanding establishment of a bench of Orissa High Court here.
The supporters of the bandh resorted to picketing, road blocks and demonstrations in different parts of the district. While vehicles remained off the road, banks, Central and State Government offices, shops and business establishments, educational institutions and courts were closed. Besides this district headquarter town, normal life was also hit in Kesinga, Junagarh, Dharamgarh, Narla, M Rampur and Jaipatna.
President of Kalahandi Bar association Daitari Pradhan said the bandh shows the combined strength of the people of Kalahandi. “Bhawanipatna is the most suitable spot to locate the Odisha High court bench considering geographical condition of KBK region,” he said. The agitation would be intensified if their demand was not met, Pradhan added.
Shortly, a delegation of the district would approach both state and central governments and the Pal commission for the establishment of the bench here, he said.

High bridge over river Hati sought

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 13, 2013
Published: 13th September 2013 10:37 AM
Last Updated: 13th September 2013 10:37 AM
A high-level bridge over river Hati near Junagarh, passing through NH-201, has become the need of the hour. As the bridge over the river gets submerged during flood every year, a proposal to construct a high bridge at Junagarh is pending since long.
Hati is used as the main discharge channel of the Indravati irrigation system. After generation of power, water is discharged into Hati through Mangalpur barrage and finally the water reaches river Tel.
Heavy rain in the catchment areas causes flood in Hati leading to inundation of the road level bridge at Junagarh and disruption of vehicular traffic along NH-201. It is a regular feature.
It was proposed during 1991-92 to transfer the then PWD road from Jaipatna to Kesinga to Indravati Project so that the road, including the high bridge over Hati, could be constructed. However, it did not materialise.
The bridge is now the responsibility of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). After several agitations by people, the NHAI through a private construction agency began work on a high-level bridge in February 2010 at an estimated cost of Rs 10.1 crore. Length of the proposed bridge was 98 metres.
An agreement was signed between the NHAI and the construction agency and the work was scheduled to be completed by February 2012.
However, the construction agency abandoned work half way after spending Rs 1.80 crore. During examination, it was found that unless the bridge length is stretched to 1250 metres, the flooding problem would continue whenever water would be released to river Hati.
Last week, members of Odisha Krushi O Gramin Mazdoor Sangh staged a road blockade at Bhawanipatna demanding floating of fresh tender for construction of 1250-metre bridge instead of 98-metre bridge and blacklisting of the construction agency.
Led by president of the organisation Biranchi Narayan Panda, they picketed near Hati bridge at Junagarh. They continued the road blockade for three hours till the district administration officials intervened.
A memorandum addressed to the Governor and Director General of Road Development was sent demanding early intervention.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

OIPL to conduct bidding for Odisha UMPP

Business Standard, Sept. 14, 2013
OIPL is a special purpose vehicle formed by the state to take necessary decisions required for selection of developer
The Odisha Integrated Power Ltd (), a fully owned subsidiary of Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will conduct the bidding process for selecting the  for the first 4,000 Mw ultra mega power plant (UMPP) proposed at Bhedabahal in Sundargarh district.
OIPL, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for implementing the UMPP has been authorized by the Odisha government to take all necessary decisions that may be required for selection of the developer. The decisions are to be taken by the SPV in accordance with the 'Guidelines for Determination of Tariff by Bidding Process for Procurement of Power by Distribution Licensees' issued by the Union power ministry under Electricity Act-2003.
State owned power trading firm Gridco Ltd has been appointed as the lead utility among all the utilities that have been allocated power from the Bhedabhal UMPP. As the lead utility, Gridco will discharge the obligations on behalf of all the individual entities.
The Government of India recently scrapped the initial bids received from 20 power companies for setting up this UMPP since the bids were invited as per the previous standard bidding documents (SBDs). With the new SBDs finalized now,  fresh bids for the Bhedabhal UMPP are expected to be invited in a week. Bigwigs in the power sector like NTPC, Tata Power, Adani Power, JSW Energy and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) had evinced interest in developing the UMPP.
The UMPP needs 3100 acres of land in all. Odisha would get 1300 MW as its share from this project. 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 tonnes. 
Notification under Section 6 (1) of Land Acquisition Act has been issued for acquisition of private land totaling to 2732.56 acres in six villages in Sundargarh district. 
Two more UMPPs are set to come up in Odisha. 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. 

Kalahandi Bar steps up demand for HC bench

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 14, 2013
The agitation over the demand for a High Court bench in Kalahandi, spearheaded by the Bar Association, is intensifying. Displaying a rare show of solidarity, all political parties have joined  hands. A bandh will be held on September 16 in the district to press for the demand. The whole of Western Odisha is in fact on the boil over the issue.
At the initiative of the Bar, all the political parties and several other organisations held a meeting on Thursday and decided to step up the demand which, they maintained, is justifiable from all points.
All expressed solidarity with the Bar members and declared that the agitation for HC bench, a long pending demand, would be taken to its logical conclusion. The fresh round of agitation in Kalahandi was started on August 23.
Those took part in the meeting included Bar members from different parts of the district, representatives of district citizen forum, merchants association, Sikha Vikas Parishad, bus owners’ association and senior leaders of all political parties. Lok Sabha member Bhakta Charan Das, BJD district vice-president Bhawani Mishra, BJP district president Debendra Mohanty, CPI district secretary Purna Chadra Pradhan, Judhisthir Tandi of Utkal Bharat and Samajwdi Party’s  Siba Hati were also present.
Das said all parties should take up this as common issue in the interest of the district. Besides the  geographical location, Kalahandi is also fulfilling the maximum criteria laid down in the Jaswant Singh committee report, he asserted.
Bar Association president Daitary Pradhan, who chaired the meeting, said considering the distance from High Court, central location of Bhawanipatna in KBK region and the backwardness of the area justify establishment of a bench here.
In the past, the association and various other organisations have put forth their viewpoints before Pal Commission set up by the State Government.
On the occasion, a motorcycle rally was taken out by the Bar members. Similar meetings were also held in Dharamgarh and Kesinga towns of the district.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Odia designer to showcase 'folk fashion' at Bangalore show

Times of India, Sept 10, 2013
, TNN | Sep 10, 2013, 12.44 AM IST
BHUBANESWAR: Sujit Meher, a young designer from the state and alumnus of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore, is all set to showcase creations based on "folk becomes fashion" theme at the Nuakhai Bhet Ghat-2013 on September 22 in the garden city. Meher will be blending Odisha's traditional handlooms and fabrics with western wear.

"There cannot be a better occasion than Nuakhai, which is one of the key festivals of western Odishafor promoting Sambalpuri handlooms. In Bangalore, there are a large number of Odias and non-Odias who patronize this weave. I am targeting them," said Meher, who is now working with Eros International, a movie production house.

Blaming poor marketing, promotional events and customization of products for the waning demand of traditional weaves, Meher said, "Wearing a saree has a lot of limitations but if we can use the same fabric in trendy modern clothes, we can cater to a large section of youngsters."

Born and brought up in Dharmagarh, a small town in Kalahandi district, Meher felt the need to promote and popularize the traditional state handloom and started working on the concept of "design for a cause". Last year, he presented his designs under the theme, "Juhar Parivaar", which got a rousing applause from both Odia and non-Odias in Bangalore.

"This year I have focused on European evening gowns using Ikat and Sambalpuri fabrics and motifs. The collection, I hope, will be liked by the young generation as there are a lot of colours and patterns," Meher added. The 24-year-old, however, is disappointed with the state government's response to young researchers and entrepreneurs.

Monday, September 9, 2013

KBK schemes affected by delay in release of funds by centre

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Sept. 8, 2013
Implementation of a large number of development programmes in the undivided Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) districts have been affected because of the delay in the release of funds.
While the Planning Commission had granted Rs 187 crore out of Rs 250-crore proposals for 2012-13, there was delay in the release of entire amount by the Centre. Funds under the KBK programme is utilised to take up various programs including watershed development, emergency feeding, tribal education, rural electrification and road connectivity.
Official sources said the funds are released towards the end of a financial year making it difficult on the part of the administration to spend them. Out of Rs 250 crore sanctioned by the Centre for KBK during 2011-12, Centre had released Rs 130 crore as a result of which most of the major programs had to be curtailed.
The Centre is also yet to approve the special package of Rs 4550 crore submitted by the KBK district for the last so many years. Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia several times, the Centre is yet to approve the programme.
The State Government has, however, made a provision of Rs 120 crore in its budget of 2013-14 for continuation of Biju KBK Yojana for the development of most backward regions of the KBK region. The State Government launched Biju KBK Yojana with finance from its own resources after the Centre curtailed funding under the KBK programme.
The Government has also made a provision of Rs 192.2 crore for implementation of special development programme and Rs 40 crore under the special problem fund. Besides, Rs 540 crore has been provided in the budget for implementation of Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in tribal and backward districts.

An applaud protest letter to Sambad from Sushil Kumar Bag