Saturday, May 30, 2015

Procurement Gathers Pace in Kalahandi

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 30, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:Paddy procurement is on in full swing in Kalahandi district. While procurement started on May 20, the Kalahandi administration has so far procured 79,925 quintals of paddy through mandis.
The district administration has decided to procure 1,05,304 tonnes of paddy through 55 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS). Of these, 46 are located in Indravati area.
Sources said 33 rice millers have been engaged to lift the paddy and squads formed to ensure hassle-free procurement.  Nodal Officer for Paddy Procurement, Mahendra Behera said of the 55 paddy procurement centres, 17 do not have permanent sheds to store paddy.
Meanwhile, rice millers have already delivered 75 per cent of the costumed milled rice of Kharif crop to the district administration. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Small country with big past and future

News Asia One, May 29, 2015

Singapore's success story as a small country with an immaculate global reputation is a role model many Indian states can emulate. That was the view of five Indian members of parliament, who were here for a three-day visit last week.
They came from a cross-section of the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament): Mrs Meenakashi Lekhi, 48, MP for New Delhi from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); Mr Arka Keshari Deo, 36, MP for Kalahandi (Odisha) from the Biju Janata Dal; Mr Bhagwant Mann, 41, MP for Sangrur (Punjab) from the Aam Aadmi Party; Mr Dushyant Chautala, 27, MP for Hisar (Haryana) from the Indian National Lok Dal; and Mr Rahul Kaswan, 38, MP for Churu (Rajasthan) from the BJP.
"Small country but with a big past and big future," Mrs Lekhi, a lawyer, said with a smile when asked to sum up Singapore. She points to the continuing need for Singapore and India to further strengthen ties by elevating bilateral relations to a strategic partnership in order to achieve concrete deliverables in areas such as "Smart Cities" and "Skills Development".
This year, the two countries commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. India was among the first countries to set up bilateral ties with Singapore on Aug 24, 1965, after the Republic gained independence.
She said Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's approach towards South-east Asia, previously called "Look East" and now renamed "Act East", has sought to be comprehensive with more focus on economics, soft power, connectivity and maritime security.
'Smart power'
She added: "Mr Modi has been deft at using what Mr Joseph Nye (US political scientist and former US assistant secretary of defence) has dubbed 'smart power' - the right blend of soft power and hard power."
Mr Deo, who hails from the Kalahandi royal family in Odisha, urged more Indian states to foster stronger bilateral relationships, especially in a new era where India has moved from idealism to pragmatism in a number of its relationships.
- See more at:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Odisha proposes bauxite mines lease for L&T

Business Standard, May 27, 2015
Kutrumali, Sijimali mines can supply bauxite to Vedanta refinery
Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar  
 Last Updated at 20:19 IST
Ending years of uncertainty, the Odisha government has recommended to the Centre for allotment of two bauxite deposits, Kutrumali and Sijimali in south Odisha, to engineering & construction giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T).

L&T held the prospecting licence (PL) for these deposits for last two decades. But the state was unwilling to recommend its case for grant of mining lease (ML) as the company did not have any end use plant in the state.

"The state government has recommended L&T's case to the Union mines ministry for award of ML over the two bauxite deposits. Since L&T holds a PL, it is eligible to get the ML under the amended Mines and Minerals - (Development & Regulation) Act, 2015," said an official with direct knowledge of the matter.

R K Sharma, principal secretary (steel & mines), Odisha refused a comment on the matter. Earlier, this month, L&T's group executive chairman A M Naik met the chief minister Naveen Patnaik, impressing upon him the need to recommend the company's case for ML over the bauxite deposits. Kutrumali and Sijimali, located across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, have combined reserve of 300 million tonne of bauxite.

L&T had won PL for Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines in 1992. But the PL had expired two years later, after which the state government had denied ML to L&T since it had decided that mining properties would not be given to any entity which did not have a value-addition project in the state.

Faced with such constraints, L&T, in 2005, had proposed a joint venture with Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) for setting up of Rs 30,000 crore aluminium complex comprising three million tonne per annum (mtpa) alumina refinery at Rayagada and also a 1.5 mtpa aluminium smelter plant and a captive power plant (CPP) in western Odisha. Though a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Raykal Aluminium was formed for the purpose, the project has so far remained a non-starter.

Seven years later, in 2012 when Dubal walked out of the SPV, Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (now Vedanta Ltd) bought 24 per cent stake in the project. The grant of ML to L&T over the bauxite deposits can come to the rescue of Vedanta refinery at Lanjigarh, which is facing raw material crunch due to denial of supplies from Niyamgiri mines on environmental grounds and local protests. The refinery is currently keeping its operation barely afloat by importing bauxite from states like Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and also places abroad like New Guinea.

The state government's counsel in the Supreme Court Uday U Lalit, in 2013, had given a legal opinion in favour of L&T for grant of ML over Kutrumali and Sijimali. The counsel had also opined that long-term supplies to Vedanta's refinery from the two bauxite deposits of L & T is legally tenable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Resolve Issues Delaying Big Industries: CM

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 24, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: In view of the delay in implementation of industrial projects, the State Government on Saturday decided to review their progress on a monthly basis to sort out the problems which are responsible for holding back the projects for years together.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Secretariat here. The Chief Minister asked the Industries Department to prepare a list of 20 big industries which have invested in the State and solve problems faced by them.
Naveen asked Industries Minister Debi Prasad Mishra to coordinate with other Ministers before the next monthly meeting and suggest measures to speed up the implementation of projects which have been delayed.
However, there was no discussion on the fate of Posco project. Official sources said, the steel project by the South Korean company which has been delayed by nearly ten years did not figure in the discussion. The proposed steel project at Paradip has become uncertain as Posco did not respond to the letter sent by the State Government to pay Rs 54 crore for the land acquired for the proposed plant.
 “We discussed about the challenges faced by 11 mega projects in the State. The Government is taking steps to resolve their issues and ensure smooth industrial environment in the State,” Mishra told mediapersons after the meeting.
Projects including the Visa Power Limited, the Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) proposed near Paradip, Auto Park near Cuttack, Lanco Power Limited, Aditya Aluminium and Jindal Steel and Power are facing land acquisition problems while some projects are facing forest diversion hurdles.
The refinery project of Vedanta (Sesa Sterlite) Limited in Kalahandi district is facing shortage of raw material, forcing it to run the one million tonne per annum plant at 30 per cent of capacity. Problems facing by the Gopalpur SEZ project in Ganjam were also discussed at the meeting.
 Mishra also said the meeting discussed the draft Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) 2015. The policy is aimed at value addition and employment generation in the State, he added.
The Chief Minister directed the Labour and Employees’ State Insurance Department to submit a report before the next meeting on local people engaged in different projects in the State.

Odisha royalty open gates to tourists

The Telegraph, May 24, 2015
- Palaces and hunting lodges to become platform for promoting culture, cuisine and arts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

BJP Leaders Flay Naveen

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 21, 2015
SAMBALPUR: Nuapada BJP MLA Basanta Panda on Wednesday termed the BJD-led State Government as ‘Dhritarashtra Government’ and said the State is bound to be doomed under Naveen Patnaik’s leadership.
Speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday, he said the number of cases related to atrocities on girls in TRW areas has crossed the 200 figure and the State Government refuses to act.
“The BJD Government is a curse for the people of Western Odisha and the latest UNDP report claims that situation in Koraput and Kalahandi is no better than Ethiopia,” said the BJP leader, adding that the law and order situation was at its lowest.
Speaking on the occasion, the party’s National Executive member Suresh Pujari said the last one year has been the worst in the 15-year rule of the BJD. “It is unfortunate that the BJP had partnered with the BJD for nine long years,” he said.
The leaders informed that the BJP members will reach out to people at the grassroots and apprise them about failure of the State Government.
They said though the State Government had claimed to provide one lakh jobs every year, only 750 persons have got jobs till now and that too in unorganised sector despite the fact that the Government spent `135 crore on ‘Nijukti Mela’.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Centre may okay funds for some Odisha dists

Times of India, May 17, 2015
,TNN | May 17, 2015, 03.53 PM IST
BHUBANESWAR: The NDA government is likely to consider state's demand for continuation of the Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi (KBK) scheme and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) implemented in 18 Maoist-hit districts.

The Centre has not allocated funds for both the schemes in the 2015-16 annual budget.

The state government raised the issue at the regional meeting of NITI Aayog organized in Kolkata on May 12.

"The NITI Aayog has agreed to take up the issue in its governing council meeting," said an officer of planning and coordination department.

The KBK, comprising Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Sonepur, Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts, is one of the poorest and most backward regions of the country.

On August 18, 1995, former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao launched a long-term action plan for KBK to alleviate hunger and usher in development.

Under IAP, each district was allocated Rs 30 crore a year for development work, which was approved and monitored by the Planning Commission. In 2010, the Union ministry of rural development started implementing the scheme in 60 districts. It later expanded to 88.

The state government demanded Rs 250 crore under special plan for KBK and Rs 540 crore for IAP, official sources said.

The state has also demanded that the Centre bears the monthly salary of gana sikshyaks under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), anganwadi workers under Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and ASHA workers under National Health Mission (NHM) because the central government has substantially reduced funding under several schemes following the 14th finance commission recommendations.

Odisha has also moved the Centre to continue funding for NHM, National Urban Livelihood Mission, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Drinking Water Programme and rural housing scheme in the existing sharing pattern after the Centre announced to give only 50% of the money.

On May 8, chief minister Naveen Patnaik during his meeting with Union health and family welfare minister J P Nadda urged him to continue NHM in its current sharing pattern.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Odisha govt set to spend Rs 795 crore for development of tribal communities

DNA, May 15, 2015
With an aim to improve the living conditions of the tribal communities in the Odisha, the state government launched Odisha PTG Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Program (OPELIP) on Thursday.

Under this program, the state government will spend Rs 795 crore for the development of 13 different PTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) – Birhor, Mankirdia, Hill-Kharia, Bondo, Didayi, Juang, Dongaria Kandha, Kutia Kandha, Lanjia Saora and Paudi Bhuiyan – living in 1,019 villages and hamlets in the state and 84 Gram Panchayats (GPs).

Overall, the program will cover approximately 62,356 households, including 13 PGTs and 62 ST and SC households.  Initially, the project will be implemented in 12 districts: Malkanagiri, Rayagada, Angul, Deogarh, Ganjam, Nuapada, Keojhar, Sundergarh, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Mayurbhanj.

The overall goal of OPELIP is to achieve enhanced living conditions and reduce poverty of the target group households. The government aims to achieve this by realising the development objective of enabling improved livelihoods and food and nutrition security primarily for 32,090 PTG households, 14,000 other tribal households and 16,356 other poor and Schedules Caste (SC) households.

Besides, the program will also focus on building the capacity of the target households, securing them their entitlements over land and forest, improving their agricultural practices for enhanced production, promoting income-generating micro-enterprises for alternate livelihoods and ensuring access to education, health and other services and improving community infrastructure.

Kharif Focus on Cash Crops

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 15, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:Kalahandi district administration has decided to cultivate kharif crop in 3,83,721 hectares (ha) of land this year. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Collector Brunda D on Thursday.
This time, the focus would be on crop diversification from paddy to cash crops, particularly cotton. The area for paddy crop has been brought down to encourage the farmers to go for cash crops.
Deputy Director of Agriculture Laxan Kumar Palatasingh said expecting a normal monsoon, the administration has planned to cover 1,85,005 ha under paddy against 1,90,000 ha last year, 87,258 ha under pulses against 83,341 ha, 50,000 ha under cotton against 44,677 ha. It has also been decided to cover 16,000 ha under oil seeds and provide irrigation to 1,59,423 ha which is 42.35 per cent of the total cultivable area. Out of this, 80,106 ha would be covered under Indravati irrigation project.
Kalahandi is the leading district in the State in seed replacement ratio. The administration has planned to increase it from 64.1 per cent last year to 65 per cent in 2015 kharif season. It has been targeted to supply 72,695 quintals of paddy seeds against 67,062 quintals last year.
Last year, Kalahandi was awarded first prize by the State Government in the field of production enhancement of rice and pulses under National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
The administration has also planned to increase processing and value addition of agriculture products through farmers’ groups, capacity building and ensuring market linkage to farmers, the Deputy Director said.
Asking the officials of agriculture and line departments to work towards achieving the targets, the Collector asked them to ensure that the benefits of various plans and programmes reach the farmers. Stating that there should be timely release of water to canals by different irrigation projects, the Collector said the improvement in farming technology should be taken to the grassroots to improve the socio-economic condition of the farmers.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

B.Ed, M.Ed courses in 29 colleges, 6 varsities of Odisha from next year

Odisha Sun Times, May 13, 2015

Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, May 13:
Starting with the education year 2016-17, 29 government colleges and six universities in Odisha will offer Bachelor of Education (B. Ed)) and Master of Education (M. Ed) courses.
BJB College in Bhubaneswar is one of the 29 colleges where B Ed course will be on offer
BJB College in Bhubaneswar is one of the 29 colleges where B Ed course will be on offer
The move is aimed to address the huge shortage of trained teachers in the state. While about 17,000 untrained teachers continue to teach in schools across the state, lack of enough seats in B.Ed and M.Ed courses meant that they were not able to get trained by the government.
The School and Mass Education Department and the Higher Education Department of the state have started the preparatory work to implement the decision.
All of these colleges and universities would apply to the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) for necessary approval by the end of this month. The decision was taken at a meeting attended by the principals and vice chancellors of these colleges and universities yesterday.
The students would be able to study in these places in self-financing mode.
The 29 colleges that will offer B.Ed courses are Sailabala Women’s College of Cuttack, BJB College of Bhubaneswar, Rajdhani college of Bhubaneswar, SCS College of Puri, Khallikote College of Brahmapur, Government College in Koraput, Government College in Bhawanipatna, Rajendra College in Bolangir, Panchayat College in Bargarh, Government College in Sundargarh, DD College of Keonjhar, MPC College of Baripada, FM College of Balasore, Dhenkanal College, Government College of Phulbani, Bhadrak College, Government Women’s College in Bolangir, KKS Women’s College in Balasore, Women’s College in Dhenkanal, NG Women’s College in Aska, Government Women’s College in Bhawanipatna, Government Women’s College in Keonjhar, Government Women’s College in Jaipur, Government Women’s College in Baripada, GM College of Sambalpur, Government Women’s College of Sambalpur, Government Women’s College of Sundargarh, Rourkela Government College and SG Women’s College of Rourkela.
All of these colleges are already offering graduation courses.
The six universities that would offer M.Ed courses are Utkal University, Sambalpur University, Brahmapur University, North Odisha University, FM University and Srijagannath Sanskrit University.
Starting next year, a four-year integrated course will also be offered in the above mentioned 29 colleges. Students would be able to enter these courses after +2. These students would be trained on Bsc B.Ed and BA B.Ed on these colleges based on their preference and performance.
Apart from this, a three-year M.Ed course would also be introduced in the universities and colleges. The students enrolling in this course after their graduation would be eligible to apply for jobs where both B.Ed and M.Ed certification is mandatory.
It may be noted that the state government will also introduce two-year B.Ed and M.Ed courses in all 15 existing teacher’s training colleges instead of the current one year ones from this educational year. This decision has been taken to enhance the quality and depth of the education. These 15 colleges have 1728 B.Ed and 120 M.Ed seats.

111 model schools to be set up this academic year

Bhubaneswar: The School and Mass Education department on Wednesday issued a notification regarding establishment of 111 model schools in educationally backward districts of the State during 2015-16 academic year. English will be the medium of education in these model schools and Odia will be taught as second language.
Education will be imparted in these schools from Class-6 to Class-12. These schools will be manged by missions/societies formed by the State government. At the district level, a managing committee headed by the district collector will be formed to manage these model schools.
In the first phase, 3 model schools in Bargarh district, 9 in Balangir, 2 in Debagarh, 7 in Gajapati, 17 in Ganjam, 13 in Kalahandi, 11 in Kandhamal, 9 in Keonjhar, one in Jajpur, 14 in Koraput, 5 in Malkangiri, 10 in Mayurbhanj, 5 in Nuapada and 4 model schools in Sonepur district will be set up in the current academic year.

Mega Project to End Water Woes of Nuapada Soon

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 14, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government will set up a mega drinking water project to address the perennial drinking water problem of Nuapada district,
The Rural Development department has floated tenders for the proposed project which is estimated to cost `752 crore. The Finance department has given its concurrence. The project will be financed by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
This will be the second mega project in the country after Tamil Nadu. The project will be implemented on turnkey basis through EPC (engineering, procurement & construction) contract. The EPC contractor will run and maintain the project for five years after completion, Principal Secretary of Rural Development department Pradipta Mohapatra said.
Water for the mega drinking water project will be drawn from four sources, including Patora dam. About 905 villages of Nuapada district and Golamunda block of Kalahandi district will be benefited from the project, he said.
A water treatment plant will be set up to purify the water sourced from four dams and one overhead tank will be constructed in every three-four panchayats for supply of water though pipe to each household.
A budgetary provision of `150 crore has been made for the first year and the project is targeted for completion within 36 months, he said. As ground water in large parts of Nuapada district is affected with high fluoride content, the department has made interim arrangements for providing safe drinking water to the affected villages till the completion of the project.
While the permissible limit of fluoride in water is 0.5 to 1 mg per litre, as per a survey done by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS), the groundwater in Boden has 1.5-3 mg fluoride content per litre.
Of the total affected villages, 305 villages are being supplied with water through pipes while the remaining 600 meet their requirement from tube wells. As many as 5,023 villages in the State are facing quality water problem and the department has decided to cover these villages under pipe water supply on a priority basis.

Monday, May 11, 2015

College Reputation at Stake for Government Apathy

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 11, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:Degree education has gone for a toss in Bhawanipatna Autonomous College which once held the reputation of being one of the best educational institutions in the district. Reason: There are not enough faculty members in the five-decade-old college that offers Plus Two, Plus Three and PG courses in History, Geography, Economics, English, Odia and Political Science besides MPhil in History and Odia. There is also a provision for PGDCA and professional courses under PPP mode.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced it College of Excellence for its multifarious activities and research works despite dearth of teaching personnel. However, the standard of education is going down each year as the vacant faculty positions are not filled up.
Against the sanctioned strength of 59 in Plus Three and PG courses, the present teacher strength is only 24 with 35 posts lying vacant. Of the 24 teachers in position, 11 have been appointed on an ad hoc basis. Worse, there are no faculty members in Mathematics Department with all the three teacher positions lying vacant. Similarly, six out of eight teacher posts are vacant in English Department and the Anthropology Department runs without a head.
In Botany Department, there is only one teaching staff against the sanctioned strength of three, in Chemistry it is one against five posts while Zoology has two against four. Geography classes are managed by just one against the need for four teachers, English has just two teachers against eight and in History, only two teachers are managing the show against five.
The silver lining is that the Plus Two college does not face the problem with two teaching posts remaining vacant out of 25. Ironically, the college does not have a regular principal though there is a provision for autonomous colleges to have a principal of professor rank.
To manage the classes, college authorities depend on guest lecturers. But that too has become difficult due to fund crunch. In-charge Principal of the college, Loknath Sahu said the college needs Rs 35 lakh for paying guest lecturers but Government has released Rs 21 lakh so far. As a result, the faculty members have not been paid remuneration since February.
In this scenario, classes are regularly suspended and courses not completed in most of the departments leaving the students and parents high and dry.
Sahu said the existing faculty members are unable to pitch in 180 days of teaching in an academic year, not only because of teacher crisis but also infrastructure shortage. Although the college runs several courses, it does not have sufficient number of classrooms. The Science block of the college is yet to be completed.
The Principal said the Government should immediately post regular teachers for smooth running of classes and look into renovation of the dilapidated college building and hostel buildings. He also sought urgent measures for eviction of the unauthorised occupants on two acres of the college campus.
■ Faculty crisis threatens students’ future in the five-decade-old Bhawanipatna Autonomous College
■ Against the sanctioned strength of 59 in Plus Three and PG courses, the present teacher strength is only 24 with 35 posts lying vacant
■ Of the 24 teachers in position, 11 have been appointed on an ad hoc basis

Biju Expressway Yet to Cut Through 'Red' Tape

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 11, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: Even nine months after launching of the Rs  3,200 crore Biju Expressway aimed at connecting the four districts of Odisha, including Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, and Sundargarh, with four KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) districts namely Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada, preliminary work is yet to be started. The project has assumed significance in view of the increasing Maoist activities in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
Official sources said that as field survey and identification of projects already awarded on the same route are yet to be completed, preliminary work on the 656 km long Expressway project is yet to be started.
The programme was launched with much fanfare by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in August last year. However, only a token Rs 30 crore has been provided for the project in the 2015-16 budget. The project was an election promise of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Though the Expressway project is 656-km long, widening of road is already going on in the same route on 234 km stretch by various departments, out of 254 km identified for the first phase expansion.
L&T has undertaken four-laning of road from Rourkela to Sambalpur (160 km) through public-private partnership (PPP) mode and work for four-laning of Sambalpur to Sohella road via Bargarh (74 km) is being funded by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
In the first phase, 254 km of the corridor would be converted into four lanes and the rest 402 km widened to two lanes at a cost of Rs 1,471 crore. In the second phase, 258 km would be made four lanes at a cost of Rs  1,729 crore.
Official sources said that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by May 2017 while the second phase is scheduled to be completed by May, 2020.
 Both the State and the Centre would bear the cost of the project, estimated at Rs 3,200 crore. For the Rourkela-Sambalpur road widening project, the State Government will spend Rs 256 crore. However, in the changed scenario arising out of the cut in Central assistance for different projects, the project has remained uncertain.
 The corridor is aimed at connecting border towns like Chandli, Boriguma, Nabarangpur, Papadahandi, Ambapani, Dharmagarh, Sinapali, Nuapada, Paikamal, Padampur, Sohella, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundagarah and Rourkela.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Digitisation is changing the way poor access TV, says study

Business Standard, May 7, 2015
Digitisation is changing the way the poor access TV and terrestrial broadcasting reception has almost disappeared in rural and urban India, says a study which looks at its impact on working class television viewers.
The study by Delhi-based Media Foundation conveys snapshots from the ground in over four states and is based on data from some of the districts considered backward including Kalahandi and Dantewada.
The first-of-its-kind study says that digitisation of TV signals was putting an end to free-to-air telecast regime.
Reporting on how digitisation was impacting people at the bottom of income pyramid, the study says that new TV households in the villages now go straight to Direct to Home (DTH) operators except in Andhra Pradesh where cable covers much of the rural population.
"Yet a substantial part of Prasar Bharati's annual budget allocations each year are absorbed by the salary and hardware costs of maintaining its terrestrial network of 1400 transmitters."
The study says that growth of television access in rural India is riding on the digital revolution.
"Post digitisation, driven by content demand, rural India has overtaken urban India in TV ownership. 2011 was the first year to record this change," it says.
The study says that majority of TV households opt for paid DTH over Doordarshan's free dish because they want content choice.
"In not a single state do even 50 percent of alll DTH households opt for Doordarshan's free dish - DD Direct."
"The absence of popular entertainment channels as Colors and channels such as Discovery and National Geographic and private regional language channels such as OTV in Odisha or Zee Chhattisgarh or numerous private channels in Andhra Pradesh on the DD direct bouquet has led to demand for DD free dish declining between 2006-07 and 2012-13," it said.
The main areas of study were Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi and were supplemented with additional group interviews conducted in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Integrated Action Plan Projects Counter Maoist Call

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 8, 2015
 BHAWANIPATNA: With Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) continuing their inroads into Kalahandi district taking advantage of its poor economy and lack of development, the Centre has given thrust to the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to gain confidence of the people and dissuade them from going to Maoist fold.
Ironically, despite its backwardness, Kalahandi was free from Maoist activities a few years back when its neighbouring districts like Nabarangpur, Nuapada and Rayagada and neighbouring State of Chhattisgarh were in strong grip of Maoists.
However, in past four years, Maoist cadres have gained foothold in the tribal dominated inaccessible pockets of Kalahandi causing security concerns. They have been targeting various development projects and have come face to face with security forces several times. The Red ultras have also allegedly murdered two persons during the period.
With LWEs making their presence felt in nine out of 13 blocks, Kalahandi is now one of 18 Maoist affected districts of the State. The worst hit blocks are Lanjigarh, M Rampur, Th Rampur, Golamunda, Bhawanipatna, Junagarh and Koksara.
However, in a bid to appease the people and prevent them from turning their ire against the administration by joining the Maoists through development, the Centre introduced holistic IAP in Maoist affected areas in 2010-11.
Out of 2,765 projects sanctioned for the district, 2,759 have been taken up by the end of last financial year. The thrust is on ensuring road connectivity, construction of schools, anganwadi and public health centres, market yards besides drinking water provision and irrigation facilities. Out of `134.46 crores sanctioned for various projects, `134.19 crores have been spent till now.
Kalahandi SP Brijesh Kumar Rai said the purpose of IAP is to bridge the critical gap in development in LWE infested tribal areas. Citing an example, he said the proposed Badpadar to Karlapat road under IAP will directly link the two tribal dominated blocks of Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur.
Similarly, the road from Gotomunda to Duhimal will link Umarkote of Nabrangpur district with Koksara block of Kalahandi. The SP said the IAP projects have started yielding result with people of the areas, where the development works have been undertaken, realising the futility of Maoist campaign.
Deputy Director (Planning and Coordination) Bimbadhar Sethi said several innovative interventions have been launched under IAP in the district like gravity-based irrigation/check dams, piped water supply, model sanitary complexes and hygienic steam cooling systems in TRW schools.
Ten gravity based water flow projects for irrigation and piped drinking water have been launched in the district while 37 check dams have increased irrigation potential in hilly areas. In Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur blocks, six weekly market sheds have been constructed benefiting 150 villages, he added.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

L and T Plea for Lease of Two Bauxite Reserves

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), May 5, 2015
BHUBANESWAR:  Engineering and construction giant Larsen and Toubro (L&T) on Monday requested the State Government to grant mining lease of two bauxite deposits in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to the company.
The request was made to the Government by Executive Chairman of L&T AM Naik who met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Secretariat here on Monday. Since L&T has prospecting licence over Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines located in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts respectively, the company is hopeful of getting the two deposits.
“Since we have the prospecting licence, L&T is eligible to get mining rights over the two bauxite deposits under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015,” Naik told mediapersons after meeting the Chief Minister.
“We have requested the State Government to recommend mining lease in our favour and also expedite permission for our alumina refinery project,” he added. Naik also met Chief Secretary GC Pati and Secretary in the Steel and Mines Department RK Sharma.
The Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines have a total deposit of close to 300 million tonnes. L&T, through a joint venture with Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), had proposed a `30,000 crore alumina refinery of three million tonne per annum (mtpa) capacity at Rayagada in 2005.
Though a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Raykal Aluminium was formed for the purpose, the project remains a non-starter.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Continue Funds for Key Plans, State Plea to Centre

The New Indian Express, May 4, 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has requested the Centre to provide Rs 3,000 crore to continue implementation of several key programmes which will face shortage of funds in the coming days due to reduction in Central assistance. Besides, it has also asked the Centre to continue funding of area specific development (ASD) plans which are being implemented in backward and Naxal-affected areas of the State.
The ASD plans include special scheme for KBK (undivided Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi districts) region, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP).
The Centre’s decision to delink eight schemes from Central support and change the sharing pattern of 33 Centrally-sponsored schemes will substantially reduce the quantum of Central assistance in 2015-16. The State Government will have to provide funds from its own resources for sector specific and State specific programmes which were recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC). However, the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has not recommended any grants for sector and State specific programmes.
 The loss on account of reduction in Central assistance will be about Rs 8,037.26 crore. The State Government will receive an additional Rs 5,883.43 crore on account of the 10 per cent more devolution of funds recommended by the FFC. The additional liability of the State Government will be Rs 2148.83 crore in 2015-16.
 In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said delinking area development programmes like KBK, BRGF and IAP from Central assistance will severely affect development programmes taken up in Maoist-affected districts.
This will have an adverse impact on the socio-economic development of some of the most vulnerable and backward regions of the State, he said.
The Chief Minister has also taken up the issue of loss of Rs 1,700 crore per year from the current financial year for deferment of VAT on petroleum products for 11 years after commissioning of the oil refinery of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) at Paradip. The State Government is exploring a suitable mechanism to minimise loss in this regard in consultation with the Centre.
However, the revenue loss will continue till some alternative mechanism is in place.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Govt to bring backward areas of Odisha, NE on rail map

Business Standard, April 30, 2015
The government today said it was committed to bring the backward areas in Odisha and Northeastern states in the railway map. 

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha told Rajya Sabha said that his ministry is working with Odisha government through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) and five projects would be taken up under it. 

"Through SPV involving the ministries of railways, coal and Odisha government, we would be carrying out five projects at an investment of Rs. 3689 crore. We would be covering 731 kilometres through the process," he said. 

He was replying to a Private Member Resolution on various railway issues connected with Odisha, which was moved by BJD member Bhupinder Singh, but was withdrawn later. 

The Minister further said that over Rs. 41,000 crore worth of railway projects were sanctioned for Odisha. 

Sinha also promised to bring the rail density in Odisha on par with the national average. 

He lamented about "politics" of granting rail stoppages, saying it leads to reduction in the speed of trains, including Rajdhani Express. 

Requests for only valid stoppages would be approved in the future, he said. 

Earlier, moving the private members' resolution, Bhupinder Singh said even after 67 years of independence, many districts of the country have not yet been connected with railway lines. He noted that seven districts of Odisha have no railway line. 

Demanding more railway connectivity and facilities in Odisha, Singh said about 10 per cent of the total revenue of the railways has been contributed by the state during 2013-14. 

Satyanarayan Jatiya (BJP), Narendra Kumar Kashyap (BSP), Kanak Lata Singh (SP), E M Sudarsana Natchipappan (Congress), Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD), Chaudhary Munnavver Saleem (SP) and A V Swamy (Independent) spoke on the resolution.