Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kendriya Vidyalaya for Dharamgarh in Kalahandi

Note: Thanks all the people and leaders who supported us in our demand

Times of India, April 30, 2014
BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has granted another Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) to Odisha. The new school will open at Dharamgarh in Kalahandi district from the current academic year, government sources said.

The state school and mass education department on Tuesday asked the Kalahandi district administration to identify land for the KV at the earliest. The government order follows a letter from KV Sangathan (KVS), Raipur regional office, that necessary administrative sanction for the KV at Dharamgarh would be given after completing the process of transfer of land. After land is allotted, KV will start functioning from a temporary accommodation provided by the state government, said the letter from S S Rawat, deputy commissioner, KVS Raipur.

Construction of the permanent campus at the allotted land would start subsequently.

The proposed KV will initially function for the primary section, from Class I to Class V. It would be upgraded gradually. People in Kalahandi have long been asking for a KV at Dharamgarh, the second KV in Kalahandi district. There is another KV at the Kalahandi district headquarters in Bhawanipatna. Odisha has over 50 KVs under KVS Bhubaneswar and KVS Raipur regional offices.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pisciculture Fails to Take off for Poor Bank Support

The New Indian Express (Bhbaneswar), April 28, 2014
With its sound sweet water sources, Kalahandi district has a good potential for developing pisciculture. But it lags behind in harnessing those resources due to lack of interest among local entrepreneurs and support from bankers.
Presently, the total area of the ponds in the district stands at 5414.03 hectares, reservoir and minor irrigation projects (MIPs) in 8806.91 hectares and rivers and canals in 6565 hectares.
Though the district has a predominantly fish consuming population, the supply of fish is inadequate to meet its growing demand, forcing the local market to import it from Andhra Pradesh and coastal Odisha. The present per capita fish consumption is 11 kg in the district. Out of the annual requirement of 17.06 million tonne (MT), 9.636 MT are produced in the district and 4.06 MT are imported leaving a gap of 3.664 MT.
District Fisheries Official Sibaprasad Bhoi said the import can be stopped and gap bridged by increasing local production and there is a ample scope for it in the district. Similarly, there is a gap in demand and supply of fish seed.
There is a need for development of existing water bodies, creation of additional sources, establishment of new hatcheries, aqua shop, feed mills, supply of boat and net, post-harvest care and capital investment for large scale fish production.
It will not only meet the internal consumption but also export to other markets, Bhoi said.
The State Government has decided to release 17 lakh fish seeds in Indravati reservoir and utilise the reservoirs of minor irrigation projects for developing breeding farms of commercially potential species in a large scale.
Though the Government has launched several schemes to encourage pisciculture in the district, lack of support from banks in financing interested entrepreneurs has added to the problem. Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) has been formed to facilitate bank loans for this purpose, but it is yet to yield any result.
In 2013-14, total 128 cases amounting to `2.45 crore were sponsored to different banks by FFDA to cover 68,20 hectares. But only 11 cases were sanctioned funds by the banks.
Similarly, 177 cases were sponsored to banks to release `1.12 crore for short term credit to improve existing tanks but only 31 cases were granted credit amounting to `9.15 lakh.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sesa Sterlite sets up biogas plant at Lanjigarh

Odisha Sun Times, Odisha Sun Times Business Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 26, 2014
In a significant step towards decentralized waste treatment in the plant area, the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) department of the Sesa Sterlite Ltd has set up a bio gas plant at Lanjigarh in Odisha’s Kalahandi district. 
The plant, built at a cost of Rs 60 lakh, has a capacity to process three tonnes of waste daily.
As per the waste management study, around 640 kgs of kitchen waste from the mid-day meal (MDM) centralized kitchen is being used to generate biogas.
Besides, wastes from colony households are also being collected.
The plant can generate 75 cubic metre of high quality cooking gas daily. The gas is being used in the MDM centre for 18000 students in Lanjigarh Block.
One of the major benefits of the plant is that the residual solid matters were high quality organic manure which could be put as Fertilizer in the Staff Colony and community towards creating greenery.
The commissioning of the plant is not only to replace the need of three LPG gas cylinders per day but also obviate the need of disposable wastes, a release by the company said.

Crop Loss Staring Farmers in Face: Farming as business will benefit farmers economically

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra

 Orissa Post, April 27, 2014
 Dharitri, April 27, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bhawanipatna's Search for Water Continues

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 23, 2014
Published: 23rd April 2014 08:09 AM

Bhawanipatna is under the grip of water crisis with many tubewells lying defunct and ambitious projects moving at a snail’s pace. The district administration, though, is yet to wake up from its slumber.
 Ironically, the three main projects that were proposed nearly 10 years back to augment water supply system in the town are yet to see light of the day. These projects come under Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP)-1, RLTAP-2 and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).
 A piped water supply system was also proposed for the town under which water was to be drawn from the river Hati and supplied to households. But new pipelines under this project are yet to be laid and a partially constructed overhead tank at Weekly Market is lying incomplete for the last two years. Similarly, another overhead tank under construction at Dharamgarh to supply piped water under Biju KBK Yojana is yet to be completed.
 Making things worse, the local administration has so far provided just one water tanker at Risida area and is conducting surveys to identify water-stressed pockets in the town which would need tankers. At present, only 4.5 million litre (ML) of water is supplied to residents of Bhawanipatna every day by Public Health Engineering Department (PHED). Of this, 2.7 ML water is supplied through pipes and the remaining 1.5 ML through 12 borewells dug by the PHED. This arrangement, though, does not suffice for the over one lakh population in the town. The PHED also owns 600 tubewells in the town most of which are defunct.
The existing piped water supply system in the town was set up in 1965 to cater to the needs of 20,000 people. Another piped water supply system was proposed in 2004 to meet the water needs of 70,000 people by drawing water from river Hati. Though the aim was to supply 9 ML of water daily, the project has not made much headway.
Similar is the case with two RLTAP and UIDSSMT projects that were also initiated in 2004.
The RLTAP-1 included an intake well at river Hati, 25 km from here, a 350 mm pipeline from the Hati to river Sagada, water treatment plant at Kandh Bandopala and 250 mm pipeline from Kondh Bandopala to Bhawanipatna town which entailed an expenditure of `10 crore. Though in some areas, pipelines were laid, they were damaged during widening of NH-36. Sources said an additional `2.5 crore is required to repair the damaged pipelines.
The RLTAP-2 water project aimed at connecting a 400 mm pipeline from river Hati intake well site to the water treatment plant at Kondh Bandopala. This project would have cost of `8 crore. The UIDSSMIT project, estimated at `9.86 crore, was meant for improving water distribution infrastructure in the town. The project included laying of 30 km-long pipeline, construction of two overhead tanks and three underground reservoirs. While work on the overhead tank at Weekly Market has been left mid-way, that on the other tank and three reservoirs is in progress.
Sources said the three projects are lingering for want of technical manpower in PHED and alleged misappropriation by the contractors concerned. The PHED officials said currently there is just an assistant engineer and one junior engineer, besides four maintenance workers to look after the projects. The executive engineer of the PHED stays at Balangir as he holds dual charges.
In other parts of Kalahandi district, the river beds of Udanti, Ret and Sandool have already dried up and in the absence of alternative drinking water sources, villagers are digging up chahalas (water pits) in search of water.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Distress Sale Still Rampant in Kalahandi

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 21, 2014
Despite emerging as one of major paddy producing districts of the State over the years, poor marketing infrastructure remains a major problem in Kalahandi district. Belying the claims of the Government, distress sale is still rampant with many farmers opting to sell their surplus paddy to private players.
The kharif paddy procurement report of Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank based on the paddy purchase and delivery by Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS), which procures paddy in the mandis on behalf of Odisha Supply Corporation, revealed that about half of the marketable paddy could not be procured in the Government-run mandis.
According to the assessment report of the Agriculture department, before beginning of the paddy procurement during kharif season of 2013, total coverage of crop area was 1,90,000 hectares and the expected production was 8,56,531 tonnes. The PACS had made an assessment of total marketable crop in the district at 7,11,836 tonnes.
On the basis of this report, the target of procurement for the district was fixed by the Government. Accordingly, 74 PACS were entrusted to procure paddy from 130 centres or mandis and 85 millers were tagged to the paddy purchasing centres.
However, the final audited report of purchase and delivery of paddy in 2013-14 kharif season by the PACS released by the Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank recently revealed that the total 3.27 lakh tonnes were procured in the mandis. Thus, comparing 7.11 lakh tonnes of marketable paddy assessed by the PACS and the final procurement, there is a shortage of more than four lakh tonnes.
In the previous kharif season of 2012-13, the total paddy procurement was 3.45 lakh tonnes in the district. Due to abnormal delay in opening of the procuring centres and fixation of target by the Government, a large quantity of paddy, mostly of small farmers, was sold outside the Government managed purchasing centres. Many farmers on Chhattisgarh border sold their produce to private players of the neighbouring State, informed a Supply department official on condition of anonymity.
During 2012-13 kharif season, the procurement started on December 5, 2013 instead of November 15 due to delay by the Government in giving direction to the authorities concerned.
Farmer activist Anil Nanda said, “Due to late opening of mandis, many farmers prefer to sell their produce in Chhattisgarh.”
Besides, the special calamity allowance of `100 per quintal of paddy sold by farmers to the maximum limit of 100 quintal per farmer decided by State Government is yet to be implemented, he added.
Meanwhile, Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank has already prepared the Kharif paddy procurement of PACS under Kalahandi district for 2013-14.
Nanda said the incentive should be paid early to the farmers and the district administration and State Government should start the procurement process well in advance so that the farmers would not sell their produce outside the State and thereby not face distress sale condition.

Friday, April 18, 2014

25 Percent More Fund for Bailey Bridges

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), April 18, 2014
The State Government has agreed to provide additional 25 per cent of the project cost in advance to two Central public sector units (PSUs) for construction of 72 Bailey bridges in four tribal dominated districts before the onset of monsoon.
As per the agreement, the Central PSUs are to be paid 10 per cent of the project cost in advance for mobilisation of materials. The Government agreed to provide additional 25 per cent in advance against their bank guarantee for procurement of raw materials from the Steel Authority of India Limited.
The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra recently.
The Government had entered into an agreement with Bridge and Roof Company (India) Ltd, a Central PSU, for construction of 60 Bailey bridges including approach roads in Kalahandi, Koraput, Nabrangpur, Rayagada and Gajapati districts. The company has started construction of 41 bridges in Rayagada and eight bridges in Gajapati district with a budget estimate of `90.31 crore.
In a separate agreement with Garden Reach Ship Builders Engineers Ltd, the State Government has assigned the PSU with construction of 23 bridges including 19 in Koraput and four in Malkangiri district with estimated cost of `63.25 crore.
“It has been decided to complete all the projects under execution in the four districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Koraput and Malkangiri by July for which field level operations have already started,” a senior officer of the Rural Development department said.
The Government has decided to assign 100 more projects to each of the company in the current financial year. The approach roads to the bailey bridges will be constructed by the Panchayati Raj and ST and SC Development department out of their own fund.
The Rural Development department has finalised sites and project proposals for 87 Bailey bridges. The width of the bridges has been standardised for 4.25 metre. The length varies as per the requirement. The maximum length of a single bridge taken up in this phase is 120 metre, the sources said.
The Government has received proposals for construction of 806 Bailey bridges. While the Panchyati Raj Department has proposed 506 such bridges, the ST and SC Development Department has given proposals for 179 bridges and Collectors of various districts have proposed 121 bridges.
The State Government has adopted the new technique of Bailey bridge - a portable and pre-fabricated steel bridge - to provide all-weather connectivity to the remote areas where conventional bridges are not possible.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Letter of Sachin Kumar Agrawal to Ban Gutkha

Dr. S.C.Jamir,
Honourable Governor of Odisha,

Sachin Kumar Agrawal,
Member, Marwari Yuva Manch,
Dharamgarh Branch, Kalahandi, Odisha.

[Sub:  Ban on Gutkha & Chewing Tobacco]

Date: 14th April 2014

Respected Sir,
The Government of Odisha on 1st January 2013 announced a state-wide ban on the manufacture, sale and use of gutkha and chewing tobacco containing nicotine. The then Minister of Health and Family Welfare Sri Damodar Rout appealed the people to cooperate with the state government in making Odisha a tobacco-free state. Subsequently, the official notification regarding the ban came up on 3rd January 2013.
Odisha was the 15th state during this announcement and as of now almost all the states and Union Territories in the country have banned the use of gutkha and chewing tobacco under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 & Food Safety and Standards Rules, 2011.

Use of gutkha and chewing tobacco leads to Oral Cancer and other severe health problems.  Excessive use of these products leads to loss of appetite, promotes unusual sleep patterns and contributes to loss of concentration in daily life. Problems are many, Profit is null.  

According to the 2009-2010 survey by Global Adult Tobacco Sruvey, 53.5% of Indians use tobacco products of which 48.07% figures for chewing tobacco while the rest accounts for bidi, cigarette and other variants.

Although it’s almost a year and three months since notification, no considerable steps have been taken by the State Government in curbing the use of such disastrous products. These products are easily available in the market and one can, without much effort, have access to it. It seems that the manufacturers, distributors and sellers have no fear of the law of the land and thus have bypassed it without much endeavor.

Health indicators in Odisha are not that satisfactory and a strict ban on these products can contribute exceptionally in improving the health status of the state. There is provision of strict punishment in case of violation of FSSA and COTPA acts, but everything seems to go in vain.

Just like gutkha and chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes and bidis also contribute significantly to negative health status. It is being regulated by COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. However, the regulation has been unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

It should be kept in mind that proper rehabilitation steps also be taken for all those entities who are dependent on sale of such products for their livelihood. Care must be taken to ensure that such people are not left unemployed after the strict ban of the products.

I, as a responsible citizen of the country, request you to direct the state government to take up the issue seriously and impose a strict ban on the Guthka and its variants both in manufacture and sale and take up rehabilitation programs wherever necessary.

I am attaching the Global Adult Tobacco Survey Report 0f 2009-2010 (I could not find the latest report. Please consider the latest report if it has been released.)

Also the official notification of the Government of Odisha regarding the issue has been attached.

I sincerely hope that you will, at the earliest, consider the issue and take appropriate steps.

Thank You.

Sachin Kumar Agrawal
Member, Marwari Yuva Manch,
Dharamgarh , Kalahandi, Odisha – 766015.

Contact Details:
Mobile:  09861965410

Copy To (Via Mail):

1.    Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India.
2.    Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
3.    Department of Health and Family Welfare,  Government of Odisha
.    Shri Bijay Ketan Uppadhyay, Collector Kalahandi.
5.    Shri Lala M. K. Ray, Sub-Collector, Dharamgarh Sub-Division. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

BJP hopes to bag 6 LS seats in Odisha based on higher voters' turnout

Business Standard, April 13, 2014
Bharatiya Janata Party () hopes to win at least six out of 10 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls on April 10 based on higher voter turnout figures and feedback from local party workers.

“The higher number of turnout indicates that people want change at the Centre and the state. They have rejected the incompetent governments. The high turnout will be in favour of BJP and we hope to get six out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in western and southern , which went to polls in the first phase”, said Suresh Pujari, BJP state spokesperson at a press conference here today.

On Saturday, the Chief Electoral Officer, Odisha had said the turnout in the first phase of polls for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats in Odisha was close to 75 per cent, revising it from earlier update of 67 per cent. In 2009, the state had witnessed 65.3 per cent turnout in the first phase comprising the same areas and same number of seats.

Based on the feedback of local party leaders, BJP is certain to win Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur and Berhampur Lok Sabha seats, said Pujari.

Last time, the party was not able to send a single candidate to Lok Sabha from Odisha due to its last minute breakup of alliance with Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The party said, there is every chance that the similar turnout will be seen in the second phase polls on April 17.

Despite the higher turnout, the BJP leader alleged that many voters were denied to cast their votes due to discrepancy in voter list. For example, in Jharsuguda assembly constituency, a BJP candidate was denied to cast vote as his name appeared in the ‘deleted’ list.

“There was also confusion in the polling booths as in some booths people were instructed to vote for Lok Sabha candidates first while in some other areas people voted for assembly candidates first. This might alter voting pattern,” he alleged.

Attacking Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, Pujari said, Patnaik is playing minority card in the second phase polls to secure more votes as he fears the record turnout in the first phase could go against his party.

Referring to the recent statement of the Global Peace Initiative president and Christian preacher K A Paul, who appealed to the people of Odisha to vote for BJD, Pujari questioned the secular credential of the BJD leader.

He also criticised the Chief Minister for not taking action against the people who were responsible for the Kandhamal riots in 2008.

Voting for Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency will be held on April 17.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Campaign ends in Odisha

Business Standard, April 8, 2014
There are 688 aspirants for the 70 assembly constituencies under these Lok Sabha segments

After reaching a crescendo, the din and bustle of high voltage electioneering became to an end in 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats of  today with polling scheduled in these constituencies spread over western and southern Odisha on April 10.Altogether 98 candidates, including stalwarts and former chief ministers Giridhar Gamang and Hemanand Biswal, former union ministers Jual Oram () and Bhakta Charan Das (Congress) are in the race from Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Aska, Berhampur and Kalahandi parliamentary constituencies.

Hockey star and former Indian team captain Dilip Tirkey is contesting the election as a  candidate from Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat. He is pitted against Hemanand Biswal of Congress and BJP's Jual Oram.

Prominent Odia cinestar Siddhant Mohapatra is a BJD candidate from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. There are 688 aspirants for the 70 assembly constituencies under these Lok Sabha segments. Chief Minister  is seeking re-election from Hinjili assembly constituency in Ganjam district and many state ministers were also in the fray. Among the other contestants are candidates of AAP, Odisha Janmorcha (OJM), Ama Odisha Party, Samata Kranti Dal, BSP, JMM and Trinamool Congress.

An electorate of 1.35 lakh voters is eligible to exercise their franchise on April 10. With several constituencies in these regions falling under Maoist-hit areas, where the red rebels have given a call for poll boycott, tight security arrangements were made with to prevent any untoward incident.

During the month-long campaigning, bigwigs of all political parties crisscrossed the constituencies making whistle-stop tours to woo the voters. Congress President , Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate , BJP President Rajnath Singh, senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu addressed poll rallies to muster support for their respective party nominees.

For the ruling BJD in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the star campaigner. Two other chief ministers, Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Hemant Soren (Jharkhand) also hit the campaign trail in the state. Electioneering had its share of glamour and glitz with actors and sports personalities participating in roadshows to regale voters.

While BJD targeted Congress accusing UPA government of neglecting the state, BJP levelled charges of corruption against both Congress and the BJD. Congress slammed the BJD government in Odisha accusing it of misrule and corruption. It promised to order a CBI probe into mining, chit fund and other scams that rocked Odisha in recent past. Polling in the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly constituencies in the state is scheduled to be held on April 17.

In-principle nod pending for two more UMPPs in Odisha

Business Standard, April 6, 2014
Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar  
 Last Updated at 20:30 IST
The two additional ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) proposed in  are stuck due to lack of in-principle approval from the state government.

The government maintained it is unable to give its nod to the two UMPPs amid pending clarification from  (PFC) on the modalities of project implementation. PFC is the nodal agency for executing UMPPs across the country.

“We had sought information from PFC on the modalities for implementing two more UMPPs. But we are yet to get any response and this has held up the grant of nod to the two projects”, said a government official.

It has been decided to set up the second  at Bijoypatna in Chandbali tehsil of Bhadrak district and the third one 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.

These UMPPs would have a capacity of 4000 MW apeice and are being taken up at a total investment of Rs 20,000 crore each.

Earlier, the state government had urged the PFC officials to set aside ayacut land for UMPPs and ensure that there is minimal displacement from these mega power stations.

The collectors of Bhadrak and Kalahandi were instructed to make an assessment of private land needed and the number of persons who would face displacement due to these two additional UMPPs.

The first UMPP in the state is coming up at Bhedabahal in Sundargarh district. PFC has formed a wholly owned subsidiary Odisha Integrated Power Ltd (OIPL) for the project.OIPL has received applications from nine prospective developers- Adani Power Ltd, CLP India Ltd, Jindal Power Ltd, JSW Energy Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T), National Hydro Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC), NTPC Ltd, Sterlite Infraventures Ltd and Tata Power Ltd.

The selection of bidder is being done as per the tariff based competitive bidding guidelines issued by the Central government on design, build, finance, own and transfer (DBFOT) basis.

Recently, PFC Consulting Ltd, also a fully owned subsidiary of PFC, had invited bids to select consultant for developing coal blocks allocated for the Bhedabahal UMPP.

Meenakshi, Meenakshi-B and dip side of Meenakshi blocks have been allocated for the 4000 Mw plant to be built at Bhedabahal in western Odisha’s Sundargarh district.The annual requirement of fuel for the Bhedabahal UMPP has been estimated at 19-20 million tonne of coal.

The coal from the allocated blocks will move from pit head to coal loading point at Dhuka chowk through a six-km belt conveyor system. After loading, the coal would be transported through MGR (merry go round) system of about 64 km loop length (aerial distance of 31 km).

The total land requirement of developing the coal mines is 1308 hectares (ha) - 492 ha for Menakshi, 486 ha for Meenakshi-B and 330 ha for dip side of Meenakshi coal blocks.The coal block area involves 102 ha of reserve/ protected forest, 332 ha revenue forest, 236 ha of government land and 638 ha of private land.

Central Mine Planning & Design Institute (CMPDIL), a fully owned subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), has already carried out regional exploration in Meenakshi-B and dip side of Meenakshi coal block area.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On a mission to help the disabled exercise franchise

Times of India, April 6, 2014
,TNN | Apr 6, 2014, 03.50 PM IST

BHAWANIPATNA: Suresh Choudhary (35), a physically-challenged man, has taken the initiative to create awareness among disabled persons in Kalahandi so that they cast their votes in the forthcoming election. The number of disabled people who cast their votes in the last election was very low.

More than 40,000 disabled people live in Kalahandi and among them, 25,000 are eligible to vote. But most of them don't take interest in the polls because the government has turned a deaf ear to their demands.

Suresh began his journey on his three wheeler motorbike with his friend Chaitanya Sahu on Friday and is motivating disabled persons to take part in the poll. He will campaign till April 8.

He appeals to the voters to vote for those leaders who will support their demands after winning the election. "I am not campaigning in favour of any candidate. We will vote for those who will support our demands after the election," says Suresh.

Following the Persons With Disability Act (1995) Section (46), (PWD Act-1995), Suresh has asked leaders to make all educational institutions, hospitals and government offices accessible and barrier free to disabled persons. He said that in Kalahandi, neither the administration nor any MP or MLA has as yet focused on providing such facilities till date.

Suresh is hoping for a lot from the leaders this time. "The MP and MLAs we choose should riase their voices in Parliament and assembly in our favour so that all buildings are accessible to us," says Suresh.

He has also demanded that the elected members help build a vocational training school in the district which will create employment opportunities for disabled people.

Suresh says 70% of the disabled don't vote. "They never take interest in the polls because the government has never taken any interest in their needs. They can't visit the upper floors of the collectorate or any other government building because the buildings do not have the facility," said Suresh.

He said government building should have elevators and slopes along with stairs.

Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput high on priority list, low on welfare indices

Times of India, April 6, 2014
,TNN | Apr 6, 2014, 03.54 PM IST
BHUBANESWAR: Firm commitment to the development of poverty-stricken the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region and western part of the state figure prominently in the manifestos of all major political parties. Experts, however, doubt genuine political will to bring regional parity.

The BJP, in its state manifesto, has promised removal of regional imbalance by formulating long-term schemes for the KBK region comprising Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sonepur, Balangir, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Koraput districts in a time bound manner if voted to power. It has also said it would provide for a special budget for Western Odisha Development Council (WODC), which works for the development of the western Odisha districts of Angul, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur and Sundargarh.

Congress has committed to shift the WODC headquarters to a prominent location in the western part of the state from Bhubaneswar if it comes to power. It has also promised to amend the WODC Act and provide more assistance to WODC. The party has also announced they would establish HC benches in western and southern Odisha and four medical colleges in these regions.

Promising more steps for the development of western Odisha and KBK region, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), in its manifesto promised to upgrade all major two-lane roads in the KBK region to four lanes in five years and an expressway connecting northern and southern Odisha running through the backward regions of western and KBK districts if it returns to power. The regional party has also promised special drought proofing measures and irrigation facilities specifically for the drought-prone areas in KBK and western Odisha. BJD has also promised to fight for the inclusion of Sambalpuri in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

Experts feel the talk of regional imbalance is a pet subject before any election. "Talking about KBK is a trump card for any political party. However, I have my doubts about genuine political will to realize these fashionable promises," said Shukadeb Naik, a professor of sociology at Sambalpur University.

"The region's development has always been a political issue. However, the region has not progressed the way it should have. All parties are now trying to woo voters through the KBK slogan," said Amareshwar MIshra, a retired professor of political science of Utkal University.

There are many commonalities in the manifestos of all three principal parties. Both BJP and Congress have promised Rs 300 bonus per quintal of paddy. BJP and BJD have promised to fight for special category status for Odisha.