Monday, March 31, 2014

Mining mafia running Patnaik govt by proxy: Rahul Gandhi

Indian Express, March 31, 2014
Rahul Gandhi said the natural resources such as minerals that the tribals in Orissa preserved for decades were being looted.
Listing a litany of scams including the Rs 60000 crore mining scam, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said the mining mafia was actually running the Naveen Patnaik government by proxy.
Speaking at a public rally in Semiliguda area of Koraput district this afternoon, Rahul said the natural resources such as minerals that the tribals in Orissa preserved for decades were being looted, while the tribals got nothing.
“There have been Rs 20000 crore chit fund scam, Rs 22500 cr rice scam, Rs 4000 crore housing scam, Rs 700 crore mid-day meal scam and Rs 500 crore NREGA scam during BJD government. The Centre has sent Rs 1000 crore for tribals in last 10 years, but the tribals in Orissa have got none of its benefit,” he said.
Rahul alleged that the State government was not implementing the PESA Act that would benefit the tribals. “The money under tribal sub-plan was also being diverted. We got Food Security Bill, but Orissa is yet to implement it. In the last 10 years we gave IIT, AIIMS, NISER, 3 medical colleges including one at Koraput and Rs 2000 crore educational loan waiver to Orissa,” he said.
Recounting the party’s long association with tribals, the Congress Vice President said in Niyamgiri, the Congress and tribals won against Vedanta despite attempts by the BJD government for giving bauxite mining rights. “Though BJD tried hard, we said the land can’t be taken away without getting the assent of the tribals,” he said. “Though you live in forests, you don’t destroy it. The rest of India has to learn a lot from you,” he said.
The Gandhi scion said he felt good coming to Orissa like his late father. “In 1985, my father started the Indravati hydroelectric project in Kalahandi. It led to the development of KBK. Our family has a special relationship with Orissa,” he said.
Rahul said like China, which had emerged as the manufacturing hub of the world, he wanted Orissa to be the next manufacturing hub. He said if Congress came back to power, his party would have 50 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and Assemblies and give pension, shelter and health rights to all citizens.

Netas feed off Odisha hunger belt

Times of India, March 31, 2014
,TNN | Mar 31, 2014, 04.50 AM IST
BHUBANESWAR: Braving the rugged terrain, politicians are once again scouring the villages of the Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi region to woo voters. KBK's hunger remains the poll issue as netas vie for four LS and 28 assembly segments, crucial for any party's fortune in Odisha.

Deprivation and starvation deaths in these districts caught the nation's attention decades ago. Former PMs — Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao — were forced to rush to faraway villages of these districts that remain among India's most backward.

Decades and millions of funds later, people here are just as poor, desperate and neglected.

In 1993, reports of destitution were so alarming that Rao was forced to travel to Kalahandi's Amjhari to see for himself the abysmal state of affairs. Nine years before that Rajiv Gandhi visited Amlapali in Nuapada district to call on Phanus Punji.

Punji's destitution had forced her to sell her sister-in-law Banita for Rs 40 and a sari. Thirty years on, the plight of KBK residents has barely improved. People migrate in droves. Malnutrition, high infant mortality, pathetic enrolment fi gures at schools and poor retention rates remain a cause for concern. With little government aid reaching these parts, Leftwing extremists stepped in. In 2011, they abducted Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna the next year they took away BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka.

Tribals have been taking the brunt of excesses. Last December, a Balangir contractor chopped off the hands of two migrant labourers, natives of Kalahandi's Jaipatna area. It explains why so many from KBK move out in search of work. Annually, an estimated 10 lakh people or more migrate from Kahalandi, Sonepur, Balangir, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Koraput. According to the annual health survey 2011-12, infant mortality rate in Balangir stood at 98 and in Rayagada at 61 compared to the state average of 59. Under-fi ve mortality rate in Balangir was 110, Rayagada 103 and Sonepur 81 compared to the state's 79.

Similarly, the status of elementary and secondary education, Odisha-2012 report showed KBK districts had lower retention rates compared to the state average. When it came to promises, political largesse was — just that — promising.

The Jawahar Rojgar Yojana of the 1990s and the more recent NREGA, special central funding under a Long Term Action Plan (LTAP), then a revised LTAP and the state Biju KBK Yojana are yet to reap dividend. Under the RLTAP, the Centre released Rs 1,964 crore from 199w8-99 to 2010-11 to develop the region. Government fi gures talk of 2 lakh old and infi rm KBK people getting one cooked meal a day round the year under the centre's emergency feeding programme (2012-13).

The state government has been spending Rs 120 crore annually under the Biju KBK plan launched in 2006-07. Clearly, none of these brought about the transformation they set out to achieve. It's election time again and the issue of poverty is there for all political parties to exploit in the four LS (Koraput, Balangir, Nabrangpur and Kalahandi) and 28 assembly segments. On April 4, Narendra Modi will address a rally at Balangir while Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Koraput and Nabrangpur on March 31.

On Friday, CM Naveen Patnaik, as always, blamed the Centre. "The Centre closed its special welfare programme for KBK. That's why my government launched Biju KBK Yojna," he told a meeting in Balangir. Kalahandi Congress LS candidate Bhakta Charan Das said the state had failed to address poverty and malnutrition. "The public distribution system's collapsed. The administration isn't reaching out to tribal pockets."

CM Naveen Patnaik's campaign trail reaches Junagarh

Times of India, March 31, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: BJD president Naveen Patnaik attended a roadshow in Junagarh and Bhawanipatna on Sunday, receiving a rousing welcome from the local party leaders and workers.

Addressing the rally at Junagarh, the chief minister said the BJD government worked for the people of Odisha. He focused on the various development programmes undertaken by his government in the last 14 years of regime and urged the voters to cast their votes in support of BJD.

Naveen was campaigning for MLA candidate Divya Shankar Mishra and Kalahandi Lok Sabha candidate Arka Kesari Deo.

At Bhawanipatna, Naveen's cavalcade passed through Irrigation Colony, Manikeswari Chowk, Statue Chowk and Gandhi Chowk where Bhawanipatna MLA candidate Anama Naik was present in the roadshow.

Naveen launched his party's campaign from Hinjili, his assembly constituency, on March 26. During the two-day campaign in Ganjam district, he attended more than 20 public meetings and roadshows. In subsequent days, he toured Balangir, Kalahandi and Maoist-affected Gajapati district.

Cordiality makes Kalahandi fight difficult to predict

Decaan Herald,  March 30. 2014
S T Beuria, March 30, 2014, DHNS:
At a time when hate speeches and filthy personal remarks by candidates of different political parties are grabbing headlines, the Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency in western Odisha presents a refreshingly different picture.
The candidates of three major political parties—the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Congress and the BJP—are not indulging in personal attacks against each other during campaigning, confining their speeches to issues only. 

The Relationship between the parties have remained cordial to such an extent that the district unit offices of the Congress and the BJP have been functioning under one roof—on two different floors of the same building—for several years without any problem. “We are ideologically different, but certainly not enemies,” insist activists of both parties.

A few days ago, Congress nominee and sitting MP Bhakta Charan Das and BJD candidate Arka Kesari Deo met each other. After a photo-op for the local journalists present, both heaped praise on each other. “I advised the young man to take up the problems of the poor of Kalahandi,” said Das of his BJD rival. Deo had equally good words for him. “He is a senior politician and I have many things to learn from him. He had started his political career along with my father,” he said.

Deo, who is making his electoral debut in the upcoming polls is the son of late Bikram Kesari Deo, a three-time BJP MP from the backward constituency, who had defeated Das consecutively in the 1998, 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The late leader, however, suffered a humiliating defeat during the 2009 polls as he was pushed to the third spot.  This time the BJP has nominated former state minister Pradip Nayak to contest from the politically important constituency.  

In the 2009, sitting MP Das virtually had a cakewalk over Congress rebel and BJD candidate Subash Chandra Nayak, by a margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes. However, it may not be that easy for the former Union minister and AICC spokesperson this time, primarily because he has a formidable opponent in Deo.

The BJD candidate is not only fresh but is also expected to get the advantage of the pro-Naveen Patnaik wave clearly visible in the constituency. “There is an undercurrent in favour of the BJD and Naveen Patnaik, and Deo is certain to benefit from that,” said Prakash Mohanty, a resident of Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi’s district headquarters.

Moreover, Deo is also expected to gain from the goodwill and reputation of his family. Not only was his father a three-time MP from the constituency, his grandfather Pratap Keshari Deo, the late erstwhile king of Kalahandi, was a five-time MP from the western Odisha seat, winning four times a Swatantra Party ticket and in 1977 as an independent.

What may further help Deo is the intense infighting within the Kalahandi unit of the BJP over distribution of tickets for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. His father was popular among local BJP cadres, and party members unhappy over the selection of candidates are expected to tacitly throw their weight behind him. Despite all this, sitting Congress MP Das has the capability to turn the tables and win back the seat primarily because of his strong organisational network in all the seven Assembly segments under the Lok Sabha constituency.

The Vedanta mining project in Lanjigarh, one of the Assembly segments under the Kalahandi LS seat, which had grabbed headlines and had subsequently been scraped, has become one of the issues here. Though local tribals were at the forefront of the agitation against the multi-crore project, the political battle is was being led by Das.

 “Scrapping of the project had a negative impact in the district, and subsequently affected job opportunities for the locals,” said Dibakar Jena, an unemployed graduate.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

BJD promise for a second agriculture university of the state in the KBK region

Thanks to Prof. Chitta Baral for sharing this.

Note: We have been demanding for a Central Agriculture University in Kalahandi , and based on this state Govt. has also appealed to central Govt. Earlier central agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had also recommended to state Govt. for establishing second agriculture university in Kalahandi citing letter of Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das, this was further forwarded by state Govt to OUAT for studying the matter, we sincerely hope OUAT has given positive evaluation for Kalahandi and the promised Second Agriculture University is established in Kalahandi if BJD returns to power in Odisha in 2014.

Times of India, March 30, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: If the Naveen Patnaik government's pre-election sops were not enough to impress the electorate, its post-poll "guarantee" is bound to raise its eyebrows.

On Saturday, the BJD released its manifesto for the upcoming twin elections by not just making a 'promise' but extending 'minimum guarantee' to fulfill primary infrastructure needs in areas like road communication, drinking water, electrification, irrigation, agriculture and education in a time-bound manner.

The manifesto, made public by the BJD president here, said Naveen was determined to fulfill this minimum guaranteed programme. Naveen said work on implementation of the manifesto would commence the day he takes oath of office, if elected to power.

The regional party, in power in Odisha since March 2000, said it would provide "shelter security for all", construct expressway connecting northern and southern parts of Odisha, concretize all village roads and all villages will have universal access to electricity and piped water supply. It said it would launch a 'chief minister sadak yojana' to connect villages having less than 100 people, start a 'chief minister employment generation scheme' to impart skills to at least 150 youths in each panchayat and put in place a 'Biju Bal Vikash Yojana' for rehabilitation of orphan and destitute children.

"Every household in the state should have a pucca (permanent) house. In a phased manner, all kutcha (makeshift) houses will be provided assistance for conversion to pucca houses," it said. "Shelter security will include homestead land and households in rural areas would be considered for housing loan. If government land is not available, private land will be purchased by government and provided to homestead-less persons. There shall be a 'shelter security mission' under the chief minister to monitor this initiative," it added.

The BJD also said it would endeavour to make health insurance coverage universal. Besides, it envisages enactment of a 'revolutionary' Food Security Act; scaling up public distribution system and making it universal. "BPL would not be the only criteria for availing food security benefits, other indicators reflecting economic status would be introduced so as to make the coverage inclusive and holistic," it said.

On education, the BJD said it would focus on improving the quality. "Every block would have a model public school and high schools in panchayats would be provided requisite infrastructure," it added. It also 'guaranteed' bicycles to all class 10 students, interest subsidy on education loans for technical and professional education and girls hostel in "good numbers" in urban areas.

The BJD also said it would reduce interest rate on agricultural loans from two to one per cent within one year; create an additional irrigation potential of over 10 lakh hectare; establish second agriculture university of the state in the KBK region; provide SHGs with loans at one per cent interest rate; register all street vendors and small traders in the state; give one time financial assistance to senior citizens for pilgrimage; and, formulate a 'holistic women policy' to enhance economic and social status of women.

It also tried to woo the people of western parts of the state, announcing that if it retains power it would pressurize the Union government for inclusion of Koshali in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Areas with population of 1,000 will be declared as a panchayat and its headquarters will have high mast lighting and a community hall, he added. Villages and people who give land for the industries will not only be paid compensation but will also be made shareholder of the industries concerned.

Highlighting achievements during the BJD regime, Naveen hailed the state government's disaster management, especially during cyclone Phailin in October 2013, poverty reduction, increase in agriculture productivity, 50 per cent quota for women in PRIs and ULBs and Odisha attracting high private investment. "When our party came to office, the state was bankrupt. Now Odisha is a revenue surplus state," he noted.

The opposition parties, however, termed the announcements eyewash. "The BJD manifesto is eyewash. It has made promises with an eye on central funds," said OPCC chief Jayadev Jena. Senior BJP leader B B Harichandan said the BJD has not fulfilled the promises it had made in previous elections. "The latest promise will never be fulfilled," he added.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mine your own business: What the ban on bauxite mining means

Hindustantimes, March 29, 2014
Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  Lanjigarh , March 29, 2014
In 2003, B Boral had shifted to this dusty village from Koraput, nearly 200 km away, to set up a shop. In front of his eyes, a "big factory" rose in the once-desolate landscape; Lanjigarh was on its way to development.
Today, Lanjigarh -- just over 400 km from capital Bhubaneswar – is still a small village but it is bustling with business.
"When I came here, this place was just a vacant land. Today, at least 50 shops are running because of the factory," Boral recalled.
Sushant Hial, an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur, not only got a job near his home in Chandanpur, walking distance from here, his family also opened the only hotel in Lanjigarh. All its employees are local youth.
Its business depends entirely on visitors to the Vedanta aluminum factory, now called Sesa Starlite Ltd.
On one hand, the factory has brought in mega investment in the infamously-backward Kalahandi district of Odisha, changing many lives around the establishment.
On the other,  it saw Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi emerge as a champion of Dalit rights: Gandhi met a tribal delegation in Delhi, later the UPA government scrapped bauxite mining rights in Niyamgiri hills.
The Supreme Court had ordered a referendum in 12 villages and in August, 2013, all of them voted against any mining in the hills which is considered sacred by the Dongriya Kandh tribe. The Niyamgiri hills straddle both Kalahandi and Rayagada districts.
Gandhi had attended a tribal rally near the company site and famously announced, "I am your sipahi (soldier)".
With tribals forming 22.1% of the state's population (according to the 2001 census) the Congress is pitching the Lanjigarh movement and the forest rights Act—which gives empowerment and protection to tribals—to woo the large vote-bank for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Elections to the state's 21 Lok Sabha seats will be held in two phases on April 10 and 17.
"I talk about Lanjigarh as a perfect example of how the Congress protected tribal land," said Pradeep Majhi, a firebrand tribal MP of the Congress from neighbouring Nabarangpur.
In Balbhadrapur, Judhisthir Harijan (a college drop-out), Jaya (a business management), Birinchi (an electrical diploma holder) and Binod (BA pass) are among several youngsters who allege they have been ignored for jobs in the factory.
"We are Rahul's sipahis for the elections," said a beaming Kumuti Majhi, the president of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Parishad, adding that the mining ban has also protected their prime sources of water and environment.
Vedanta claims that out of the 2,644 direct employments in the factory, as on March 1, 268 are from Kalahandi alone.
Earlier, more than 10,000 people were involved in mining operations but all lost their jobs after the ban.
The company also runs a local hospital that provides free treatment to locals and provides mid-day meals to 18,000 students among its various social initiatives.
Those who suffered due to the ban are now looking at the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as their potential new 'sipahi'.

Congress and its supporters' view
The Niyamgiri hills are sacred for Dongriya Kandh tribe
Mining will pollute water sources, damage environment
Many youth did not get job in factory despite qualification
Congress has "success" in Niyamgiri mining ban a key plank
Congress hopeful of turning the tide in other tribal areas due to Niyamgiri
Counter view
Out of total 2,644 direct jobs, 1,268 to Kalahandi residents, 2115 jobs altogether to other from Odisha.
Mining created 10,000 jobs before ban
Schools, mobile medical unit, ambulance service help locals
Push to local economy
No justification for blanket ban in Niyamgiri
Factory's reduced capacity led cut in direct jobs

Friday, March 28, 2014

Odisha proposed to establish National Institute of Human Settlement (NIHS) in Bhubaneswar

Note: This is a very good initiative by Odisha state Government. Earlier we had appealed the state Government to establish Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution in similar line.

Orissadiary, March 28, 2014
Bhubaneswar: The State Government has proposed to establish a National Institute of Human Settlement (NIHS) in Bhubaneswar. A high-level meeting was recently held in the Secretariat chaired by Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra to fast-track establishment of the proposed institute. Discussions in the meeting revealed that a prefeasibility study assigned to the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) was conducted and its findings were presented by Prof Kajri Mishra at the meeting. As per the in-principle decision taken at the meeting, it was agreed to set up the NIHS in Bhubaneswar. The institute would solve the crisis of shortage of planners and provide training and capacity building in human settlement planning and development. In the meantime, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has reportedly agreed to support funding a detailed project report (DPR) or a detailed feasibility report preparation. The DPR would be prepared by the XIMB for establishment of the NIHS, sources said. Besides, the meeting discussed about exploring the possibilities of assistance from Union Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Planning Commission for the purpose. The Chief Secretary advised Housing & Urban Development Department to immediately constitute a steering committee, a taskforce and an inception cell and expedite the process of preparation of DPR for establishment of the NIHS. - See more at:

For AAP, environment and industrial displacement, two key issues in Odisha

Economic Times, March 28, 2014
BHUBANESHWAR: The Aam Admi Party is still finding its feet in Odisha but is keen on claiming environment and industrial displacement, two significant issues in the state, for itself. 

One of the first names announced from the state was Lingaraj, who goes by his first name. He rose to fame in the eighties as 20-year-old in the forefront of anti-Balco agitation. He's been joined by activists committed to driving away Vedanta from Lanjigarh and Posco from Jagatsinghpur. Win or lose, they say they will give extractive industries that Odisha is betting its future on a tough time. 

Within Lingaraj's Bargah constituency lies Jharsuguda, where Vedanta group has a smelter and Bhushan Power and Steel has a power plant. "It's a myth that extractive industries are the only means of industrialisation. Mining, mostly exported, reduce forested areas into parched land and cannot be good for the health of Odisha," says Lingaraj, who has fought and lost the last two elections as president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad 

The anti-Balco movement against mining bauxite atop Gandhamardhan was so fierce that the state won't go anywhere near it, not even for Vedanta's bauxite-starved refinery in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi. Carrying on his anti-Vedanta crusade, activist Satya Mahar says, "Niyamgiri (the hill which was to be mined for the Vedanta's plant) has been saved. We have to now drive Vedanta out." 

He faces Bhakta Charan Das who stood by Rahul Gandhi's side when the Congress vice-president embraced the Dongriah Kond tribals' cause. Mahar says, "by suggesting that bauxite can be sourced from other nearby hills, he has exposed himself as an opportunistic politician. If it's not okay for our resources to be stolen, how can it be fine for our neighbours to lose theirs?" 

However, a leading Odisha-based activist who asked not to be named warns, "the past association of a few of AAP's key leaders with controversial projects could hurt its claim over this space especially since in Odisha there are many credible claimants." 

Educationist and AAP's state coordinator, Dr Dhanada Kanta Mishra, says he regrets his past support to the eventually shelved controversial Vedanta University. "The narrow and somewhat naive reasons for my initial support to the project was because I was resigned to the fact that the refinery was unstoppable and thought that at least the state would benefit from the university," says Misra, an AAP nominee for Berhampur. 

Party state secretary and Bhubaneshwar nominee, Bismaya Mahapatra, is a former TCS employee and founding member of Harshha Trust a non-government organisation funded among others by trusts associated with the Tata Group. "As a professional, my work revolved around creating livelihood opportunities among tribal people, skilling displaced people for better jobs in industries and getting professional to help do this in remote areas. In that capacity, I may have worked at Kalinganagar, as we have wi .. 

Meanwhile at Jagatsingpur, a 26 year old video- volunteer, Anupama Sethy says she supports the anti-Posco battle carried out by CPI-backed Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti there. Sethy, a state executive member, says she had tried roping in Prakash Jena, brother of one of the three killed in a crude bomb accident last year for which police eventually blamed protestors. She stepped in when he declined "to abandon the movement for party politics." 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Extra Ballot Unit for Five Seats

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), Match 25, 2014
Five Assembly constituencies, which go to polls on April 10, will have an extra ballot unit (BU) in each of their polling stations.
The five constituencies include Narla, Dharmagarh, Bhawanipatna under Kalahandi Parliament seat, Kantabanjhi in Balangir and Biramitrapur in Sundargarh.
With each of these five constituencies receiving nominations from 16 candidates and more, the State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has to arrange an extra ballot unit for the polling stations.
Originally, each BU of the electronic voting machine (EVM) has buttons for 16 candidates. This time, None Of The Above (NOTA) option has taken one button leaving space for 15 candidates. An EVM has two constituents - a ballot unit and a control unit.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Manifesto of Kalahandi for 2014 Election

Let us not include mass problems like employment, primary health and primary education etc. because MP or MLA could do little directly. 

Remember that Kalahandi does not lose much in national/state budget in primary health, primary education, irrigation, PMGSY, IGY etc, in fact in these areas it receives a good share in the district level and we can't boost remarkably despite the fact that these areas need much improvement which is also true across the nation, but it loses a lot in secondary and tertiary establishments and if we focus in these areas we could get a good share. 

We will do better if we include those specific demands for establishments that will bring employment and opportunities for youth in the local level of Kalahandi. 

Railway: (i) Sanctioning Junagarh - Nabarangpur line and Kantabanji-Nabarangpur line; (ii) Immediate implementation of Wagon Repairing Workshop in Kalahandi; (iii) Completion of survey for Junagarh-Debhog-Rajim-Raipur and Lanjigarh road-Phulbani-Talcher line; (iv) Survey for Tikiri-Bhawanipatna-Titilagarh: 

Highway: (i) State Highway for Sunabeda (Nuapda dist)-Nilji-Sinapali-Golamunda-Dharamgarh-Kususmkhuti(Koksara) or Khariar-Sinapali-Golamunda-Dharamgarh-Kusumkhuti; (ii) Extension of SH6A from M.Rampur to Ghantapada (Boudh dist) via Mohangiri; (iii) State Highway for Junagarh-Karlapat Kiapadar-Kalyansingpur; (iv) State Highway for Moter-Mukhiguda-Thuamul Rampur-Gunupur (Kalahandi dist); (v) major route for Umarkote-Jharigram-Behera- Godbhanja(Dharamgarh) to link Kalahandi directly with Umarkote: 

Education: (i) Immediate sanctioning of branch of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak campus; (ii) Demand for a central rural university with a complete medical college under it; (iii) Upgrading Govt. College Bhawanipatna to a state University; (iv) Central schools in Koksara, Kesinga, Junagarh, M. Rampur, T. Rampur, Jaipatna, Golamunda and Karlamunda (it is better to have an english medium Govt. school in each block along with ITI); (v) Diploma engineering college in Dharamgarh subdivision: 

Cultural: (i) Establishing Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya in Gudahandi; (ii) Classical status to Ghumura: \

Industry: (i) Food processing industries; (ii) Solar energy plants across Indravati canals; (iii) An industrial part in Bhawanipatna for technology, IT and business; (iv) NTPC thermal plants as proposed near Narla; (v) A Cotton processing and textile industry; (vi) Demand for upgrading Wagon Repairing workshop to be a rail coach factory or a wagon factory.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Folk Dancers Adorn Rallies

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 23, 2014
olk dance groups of Kalahandi are in demand to entertain the rallies organised by different parties while filing nominations here.
Folk dances like Ghumura, Singha Badya, Banabadi and Kirtan parties were mostly in demand for the rallies. The dance teams get `7,000 to `10,000 for one hour rally. This has become a lucrative earning option for these teams. Some of the teams also perform for more than one party in a day. Besides contract fees they are also entitled to travelling conveyance and food. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Odisha: 50% of Polling Booths Vulnerable in Kalahandi

Outlook (India), March 22, 2014

Over 50 per cent of polling booths in Kalahandi district have been identified as vulnerable for the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, official sources said.

Kalahandi district has 1301 booths of which 156 are vulnerable due to Naxal activities and 541 because of political activities and rivalries, the sources said.

So far as Maoist activities are concerned, Lanjigarh ST reserve assembly constituency is more vulnerable compared to other assembly segments. 70 booths in the assembly segment are highly critical due to Naxal activities.

Tribal dominated blocks of Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur are under this constituency. Besides this, 36 booths are vulnerable in Dharamgarh, 25 in Narla, 17 in Junagarh and 8 are in Bhawanipatna assembly constituency, the sources said.

So far vulnerability due to political activities/ rivalries is concerned, of the 541 politically vulnerable polling booths of the district, 142 are in Bhawanipatna, 121 in Lanjigarh, 102 in Narla, 94 in Junagarh and 82 in Dharamgarh assembly constituency.

It has been decided to make adequate security arrangements, deploy mobile police squads in these booths and polling stations to ensure fair and peaceful election, a senior official said.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Triangular Contest on Cards in Kalahandi Lok Sabha Seat

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 21, 2014
The Kalahandi Parliamentary constituency will see a triangular contest among Congress, BJD and BJP.
While Congress has declared sitting MP Bhakta Charan Das as its candidate, BJD’s candidate is Arka Kesari Deo and Pradipta Kumar Naik will fight it out for the BJP. The Aam Aadmi Party has selected Satya Mahar as its candidate.
Bhakta Das, initiated into politics in 1985, was elected to Assembly from Bhawanipatna constituency as Janata Party candidate after he defeated the then Congress leader Dayanidhi Naik.
In 1989, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kalahandi Parliament constituency on Janata Dal ticket and made the Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs in the VP Singh Ministry for five months and again in the Chandrasekhar Ministry when he was made the State Minister of Railways. In 1991, he faced defeat at the hands of Congress candidate Subas Nayak and withdrew from the elections till 1996 when he made a come back on Samata Party ticket.
Bhakta joined Congress later on, but had to face defeat thrice in 1998, 1999 and 2004 from BJP candidate Bikram Keshari Deo. But, he was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 riding on anti-Vedanta campaign by defeating BJD  rival Subas Chandra Nayak. During this tenure, he was instrumental in completion of the Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh railway line, opening of Bhawanipatna and Junagarh railway stations and introduction of an intercity train between Bhubaneswar and Raipur. Though his detractors have alleged bad performance by Bhakta in the last five years,
political observers said he is a formidable candidate having a strong network at the grassroot level. BJP candidate Naik was elected to Assembly in 1995, 2000 and 2004 from Bhawanipatna Assembly seat and served as the Labour Minister during the BJD-BJP coalition Government.
Political observers said with the ‘Modi wave’ and his social presence, Naik is also capable of turning the table in his favour.
BJD’s Deo is, on the other hand, a new face. He is the son of former Lok Sabha member of BJP late Bikram Kesari Deo.
Being a green horn in the electoral politics, he will depend on the clean image of party supremo Naveen Patnaik, his father’s reputation and family’s good will for winning the poll battle.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ramakrushna, Wife Join BJP

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 20, 2014
Former finance minister Ramakrushna Patnaik, his wife and former MP from Aska Kumudini Patnaik and their daughter Anita Subhadarshani on Wednesday  joined the BJP in the presence of former minister and senior BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan at the party office here.
Ramakrushna, who resigned from the Congress along with his wife on February 23, told reporters that he joined the BJP as he was attracted to the charisma of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“Modi has caught the imagination of the people, especially the young mass, for his clean image and fight against corruption. The youths of the country want Modi as the next prime minister,” Ramakrushna said.
Blaming the Congress leadership for the rapid decline of the party, Ramakrushna  said senior leaders are being ignored and all important decisions are taken by a coterie.
There is no internal democracy and leaders who are feeling suffocated are deserting the Congress. A six-time legislator from Kodala Assembly constituency in Ganjam district, Ramakrushna had handled important portfolios in his long stint as minister.
Ramakrushna was first elected to the fifth Assembly in 1971 on Utkal Congress ticket and he was made a minister. He was a Cabinet minister under Biju Patnaik from 1990 to 1995, before he joined the Naveen  ministry in 2000.
The Patnaik couple quit the Congress when they came to know that the party is planning to field the son of a former MP from the Aska parliamentary seat for which Kumudini was aspiring after a party ticket.
In a separate development, Maharaja of erstwhile princely state of Kalahandi Udit Pratap Deo and his wife Padma Manjari Devi also joined the BJP on Wednesday.
Udit, elder brother of Bikram Keshari Deo, was elected to the Assembly once in 1974 on Swatantra Party ticket from Junagarh constituency.
B K Deo was elected thrice from Junagarh seat, first on Janata Party ticket in 1985 and the next two elections as BJP candidate. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha thrice in a row on BJP ticket.
The Kalahandi Maharaja joined the BJP a week after the ruling BJD named his nephew, Arka Keshari Deo, son of Bikram Keshari, as the party candidate for the parliamentary seat. With Udit Pratap Deo joining the BJP, the party’s position will be stronger in the district, political observers said.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kalahandi BJP Workers Continue Agitation

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 19, 2014
The Kalahandi district unit of the BJP has raised a banner of revolt against the State leadership of the party over selection of candidates for the district for the ensuing elections.
Over 50 BJP workers including block and district level functionaries are on dharna in the State office of the party since Monday protesting the selection of former minister Pradipta Kumar Naik as the candidate for the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat.
Shouting slogans against Naik, the protestors gheraoed party general secretary (organisation) Prasanna Mishra on Monday demanding change of candidates of Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat and the candidates nominated for five Assembly seats.
Sources in the party said the protestors are supporters of former minister Himansu Sekhar Meher who has been denied a ticket this time. Elected thrice from Junagarh Assembly segment, Meher was a minister from 2002 to 2004 in the Naveen Patnaik led BJD-BJP coalition Government.
The party has named Sunil Singhdeo, political green horn, for the Junagarh seat for the coming election.
Meher’s supporters alleged that Pradipta Naik has a hand in the denial of ticket to the former and the selection of candidates for Assembly seats in the district was done as per the latter’s advice. However, Naik refuted the charges saying he has no role to play in the ticket selection. Naik and Meher are known bete noires. They do not see eye to eye in district politics.
“We have come here to meet party president KV Singhdeo and voice our protest against the selection of candidates,” said Manoj Meher.
Sitting BJP MLA Hitesh Bagarti who has been renominated from Kharia Assembly seat was the other aspirant for Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat. Meanwhile, Bagarti had expressed his unwillingness to contest the next Assembly election.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


The Pioneer, March 16, 2014
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the Chief Secretary over denial of basic human rights to the ST and SC villagers who are victims of large-scale displacement due to the Indravati Project.
The apex human rights body passed the order while acting on a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy. In 1978, the Indravati project was inaugurated at Mukhiguda in Kalahandi district by then Prime Minister Morarjee Desai. About 74 villages were submerged in the reservoir under this project. Of 74 villages about 6133 families (Mostly ST and SC families) were displaced and some of them were rehabilitated in Mangalapur, Chiraka and Santuguda villages of Jaypatna block in Kalahandi district and at various places in Nabrangpur district.
Tripathy contended that there has been no comprehensive post-facto analysis of large dams in the region done by the Government. The displaced people of Machhkund, Kolab, Indrabati, Balimela and number of other large dams were pushed into destitution, still fighting for their survival. There has been no count of the forests and fertile lands submerged by the dam and allied activities. Most of the victims have lost confidence in their capacity to bring out any change in their lives.
“In Machhkund the fourth generations of the oustees are holding protests after 55 years of displacement. However, there has been no intense and comprehensive study regarding this aspect of the displacement. More than 200 displaced families (mostly poor, illiterate ST, SC villagers) have not received any compensation so far even though they have lost their everything due to the execution of the project. These victims are roaming in lurch without State attention,” Tripathy alleged.
 He urged the Commission to direct the State Government to make a comprehensive study on the displaced families, besides providing them adequate compensation and rehabilitation. Besides, he also sought a direction to the Government to immediately give the villagers electricity connection and all weather road to the villages. Notably, the Chief Secretary is yet to reply to the NHRC even though the time granted by the NHRC has expired.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cong Names Six Lok Sabha Candidates in Second List

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), March 14, 2014
The Congress announced candidates for six Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in its second list.
The second list of 71 Lok Sabha candidates was announced after a meeting of the Central Election Committee (CEC) in New Delhi on Thursday.
The list did not announce candidate for  Balasore seat, from where Union Minister of State Srikant Jena, who is also the chairman of the campaign committee for Odisha, is the sitting MP, giving rise to speculation that he may not contest election this time. Jena is reported to have informed the high command that it will be better if he does not contest as he will be engaged in campaigning for party candidates in the entire State.
Besides, the party also held back announcing the candidate from Bargarh seat. Sanjay Bhoi is sitting MP from Bargarh seat. Bhoi’s candidature is being opposed by senior leaders and MLAs from Jharsuguda and Bargarh districts.
The four sitting MPs who have been renominated include Hemananda Biswal from Sundargarh, Amarnath Pradhan from Sambalpur, Pradip Majhi from Nabarangpur and Bhakta Charan Das from Kalahandi seats.
The party has also named former minister Harihar Karan as its candidate from  Kandhamal seat, while Shyam Charan Hansda has been named as the candidate from Mayurbhanj seat.
In the first phase, the Congress had announced the names of candidates for nine Lok Sabha seats.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BJD names candidates for five Lok Sabha, 30 assembly seats

Business Standard, March 12, 2014
The Biju Janata Dal () today announced first list of candidates for upcoming  and assembly  with some new faces emerging in the list chosen by the party leadership.
A total of 5 candidates have been named for contesting Lok Sabha seats while 30 candidates have been put up by the party for assembly polls.
The Lok Sabha candidates are former national hockey team captain Dillip Tirkey (Sundargarh), Ladukishore Swain (Aska), film actor Sidhanta Mohapatra (Berhampur), Arkakeshari Deo (Kalahandi) and Kalikesh Singhdeo (Balangir). Out of five names, three candidates of Sundergarh, Aska and Kalahandi will fight for the first time from BJD ticket.
The announcement of candidate for Kalahandi seat by BJD has put all the speculation to rest as it was touted that Bhupinder Singh, the former Leader of Opposition and Congress leader who recently joined BJD, might get the party ticket. Singh, has however, earlier said that he had no desire to contest the polls.
In the list of 30 assembly seats, comprising some districts of western and southern Odisha, the BJD has named eight candidates who for the first time will fight on behalf of the party while one candidate (Jogendra Behera), has been assigned to fight from Loisingha seat instead of his previous contesting place Titlagarh.
Interestingly, the party has retained the candidature of Rourkela MLA Sarada Nayak, who was expelled from state council of ministers in 2012 for his alleged involvement in the failed coup bid hatched by Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. In the first phase of election to be held on April 10, contests will be held for 10 Lok Sabha seat and 77 assembly seats. The BJD said it will announce list of other places very soon.
"In the last few days, we have received more than 5, 000 applications seeking candidature of the BJD from every nook and corner of the state. I am humbled by the confidence they have reposed in the BJD and Biju ideology. I personally thank each one of them. I am confident they will continue to support the party and work for a self reliant and prosperous state," party president and Chief Minister  said while announcing list at his residence today.
Sources said the ruling party is still undecided about naming candidates for many places as several party insiders and newcomers from other parties are jostling for candidature. It is even undecided about its talks of seat sharing with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha () for Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj districts, as announced earlier this week.
"The talks (with JMM) are still on. Let's see what happened," said Kalpataru Das, BJD vice president today.


The Pioneer, March 12, 2014
The Odisha Pollution Control Board (OPCB) has found nothing objectionable in the functioning of the Vedanta Aluminium Limited in Lanjigarh of Kalahandi district.
An on- the- spot enquiry of the unit by Assistant Environment Engineer D Sethi observed nothing objectionable from the environmental perspective and no breach of the pollution standards.
He said the plant had been shut down from December 5, 2012 to July 11, 2013 due to scarcity of raw material (bauxite). There was no over flow from the ash pond, process water lake, dirty water pond and clear water pond. The engineer pointed out that there was no damage to the cultivated land around the red mud plant. Water quality of river, stream and tube well from different locations outside the plant and raw water reservoir remains within the acceptable limit of 5.5 to 9.0.
There is no seepage or leakage from the red mud pond and the unit has adequate boilers with ESPs. The unit has raised the dyke wall of ash pond by more than five meter using fly ash and soil. About 50 per cent of the work is completed and the remaining work of dyke height raising of ash pond will be started when the plant re-runs in full fledge, the environment engineer added.
After perusing the report, OPCB Member Secretary said no further action is necessary by the Board since Vedanta has satisfactorily complied with the environmental norms. The reply of the OPCB came pursuant to a direction by the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to enquire the environmental viability of the unit. The Commission took up the case after a petition was filed by rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy, alleging environmental hazards caused by the Vedanta in Lanjigarh.