Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rebidding for Bhedabahal UMPP by September

Business Standard, July 22, 2015
Decision taken at a meeting convened on Tuesday by the Union power ministry to take stock of status of UMPPs

Odisha to provide raw material to Vedanta Aluminium through OMC

Orissadiary, July 22, 2015
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government will provide raw material to Vedanta Aluminium through  Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) to feed its refinery plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district. This was informed by the  Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick on Wednesday.

The Minister said the government is taking steps to excavate bauxite from Kalarapat mines soon and the refinery can be run by sourcing bauxite from the mines through OMC.

He urged the company to continue operation by sourcing raw material from outside the state and abroad till the arrangement is made from the state.

Vedanta is running its refinery and smelter plants in the state at less capacity in absence of raw material.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

UMPP For Odisha Soon, July 20, 2015

New Delhi : 20/July/2015 
Coal Rich Odisha is all set to get an Ultra Mega Power Plant.

The Union Ministry of Power has offered Odisha an Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP), for which the Ministry has asked the State Government to place its nod in this regard. Ministry of Power has convened a meeting at New Delhi on 21 July to finalize the proposal.
Special Secretary Energy, Hemant Sharma will attend the meeting on behalf the State Government, said sources in Department of Energy.
In the Union Budget, Minister Finance Arun Jaitley announced to set up five UMPP in the country with an investment of Rs.One Lakh Crore.
While one UMPP is offered to Odisha another has been suggested to Bihar, sources said. UMPP will be having power generation capacity of 4000 MW.
With Pradeep Kumar Pujari, being the Union Secretary of Power, Odisha is getting the chance of having an UMPP, sources said.
Dr.Pujari belongs to Odisha and is an IAS Officer of Gujarat Cadre and Gujarat will also have one UMPP. Jharkhand is also to be favored with another UMPP.
These UMPPs will be different than earlier ones. These are Showcase UMPP on Plug and Play Mode. Power Finance Corporation (PFC) is the Nodal Agency for handling the UMPPs.
Each UMPP will have all clearances and allocations before they are put into auction, officials say. PFC has located two sites for the proposed UMPP.
One is in Chandbali Tahsil of Bhadrakh district and the other is near Narla in Kalahandi district.
After receiving the offer, the State Government will prefer to set up the proposed UMPP in a place in between Narla and Kesinga in Kalahandi district.
This is because water and train connectivity is required for the UMPP.
While Mahanadi and Baitarani has little surplus water for such a massive project, Tel River has surplus water to feed the UMPP.
Earlier Sahara India Power Corporation was eyeing for water from River Tel for its proposed 1320 MW power plant. But after Sahara Groups’ debacle and opposition from the local people, project is in limbo.
So water will not pose any problem for UMPP, said sources.
However the State Government has made it clear that it will agree if a Coal Block is allocated for the UMPP.
Because without a Coal Block, running an UMPP will just not possible, said a senior official in the Department of Energy (DoE).
PFC has already floated Shell Companies to handle the UMPP, so that the project can be put on fast track after the auction, sources said.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Medical Students to Lose A Year

The New Indian Express (Bhubaneswar), July 15, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA:The Sardar Rajas Medical College at Jaring in Kalahandi district has run into fresh trouble. This time, first year students of second batch of the medical college, who took admission in 2014-15 academic year on Supreme Court order, cannot appear at the first medical professional examination scheduled to be held in August. Because, the college has failed to get provisional affiliation of Sambalpur University for the session.
Speaking to media persons, the 24 affected students and their guardians alleged that the college could not get the provisional affiliation because of negligence on part of Department of Health and Family Welfare. The department has issued the recognition letter for the college for 2015-16 instead of 2014-15.
About the problems faced by them, the students said while part-time faculty has been conducting classes, the arrangement is inadequate to ensure quality education. The college also lacks infrastructure facilities, sufficient number of doctors and administrative staff.
The students and parents sought immediate intervention of the Government in the matter. They demanded that the Department should rectify its mistake at the earliest and Sambalpur University should allow students to appear at the ensuing examination so that they would not lose one year.
An administrative official of the medical college Saif Saiffuddin said, “We are pursuing the matter with the Department and after getting recognition year corrected, we will approach Sambalpur University and make all efforts to ensure that students write their examination in August.”
It may be mentioned that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had allowed admission to 100 seats in the medical college in 2013-14. But the Medical Council cancelled admission for 2014-15 session citing lack of adequate infrastructure. Challenging the MCI order, the college  authorities had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court.
In 2014, the apex court allowed admission in the medical college with immediate effect. While directing the MCI to visit the medical college within three months, the court told the college authorities to fulfil necessary infrastructure requirements as per the suggestions of the MCI.
Accordingly, MCI’s fact-finding team visited the college in February this year for verification of facts and document submitted earlier. The team submitted its report to the MCI but did not reveal anything about their findings. Meanwhile, CBI took over the investigation on February 23.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Displaced shopkeepers demand reservation in new RMC shops in Dharamgarh

Reported by Sri Anshuman Patra
Dharitri, July 12, 2015

Biju Expressway to Bridge Economic Divide

The New Indian Express, July 12, 2015
BHUBANESWAR:  In order to improve communication between North and South-West Odisha, the State Government has decided to launch Biju Expressway, one of the projects announced by the BJD during 2014 election, with a project cost of Rs 3,630 crore.
The expressway will connect major towns and commercial centres of the regions. While the northern part of Western Odisha is economically developed, south remains backward due to lack of connectivity. However, the project cost of the expressway, which was Rs 3,200 crore last year, has now increased to Rs 3,630 crore.
The proposed expressway, measuring 650 kms, will start at Chandli (border village in Koraput district) and touch border towns/market centres such as Borriguma, Ambapani, Gadbhanga, Dharmagarh, Sinapalli, Bhella, Nuapada, Paikamal, Padampur, Sohela, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh before ending at Rourkela.
As per a decision of the State Government, 307 kms of the total length would be developed into four lane standard while the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will develop another 183 kms.
The 160-km road from Sambalpur to Rourkela (SH-10) will be made four lane through Public Private Partnership (PPP).
Official sources maintained that the expressway will improve road communication in four KBK districts (Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada) and four Western Odisha districts (Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh).
Besides, it will connect these areas with important towns of Chhattisgarh including Jagdalpur, Raipur, Raigarh and Ranchi. The road is expected to cope with the increased traffic intensity due to growth in agriculture, mining, industrial, educational and commercial activities. Official sources claimed that on completion, the road will also provide better accessibility to tackle law and order situation in Left Wing Extremist (LWE) areas.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Centre's Lakshman Rekha for NGO Tactics

The New Indian Express, July 11, 2015
Increasingly, the question is being posed in public discourse: Who should govern the country and how?  Should an elected government with an elected Parliament under a Constitution with all its built-in checks and balances take decisions or should the many thousand privately run organisations called collectively as non-governmental organisations (NGOs)? The question is increasingly becoming relevant as the Central government has sought to curb the NGOs and bring their funding and functioning under the scanner of the law of the land. The Green Peace affair is only one of several such events that continue to dog public discourse.
 Not that such curbs are the handiwork of the NDA government only. UPA also had a run with several NGOs. The core influence of several NGOs on the Manmohan Singh-led government through the extra-constitutional authority like the National Advisory Council created by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and headed by her, notwithstanding that government had to come down heavily on several NGOs as these organisations moved to obstruct development projects. One such NGO was working among the poor fishermen at the southern end of the peninsula. It used the fishermen as a human shield against the nuclear power project at Koodankulam going ahead and succeeded in delaying it by several years. All the while Tamil Nadu itself was suffering of as much as a 10-hour power cut almost every day.
  When the UPA-2 regime blocked the pipeline that it found was being used to funnel foreign funds into this NGO, the agitation also tapered off and the project went on to being commissioned. The 2,000 MW project began to provide a lifeline to Tamil Nadu’s industries and also feed into the national grid. Whether it is NGO Green Peace or others like it that claim to have all the wisdom in development economics, there ought to be some Lakshman Rekha to their agitational tactics.
India’s power, steel, aluminium and other industries need coal. The coal reserves are largely in forested areas or even in marginal land where residents eke out a hard  and marginal life.
 If you reduce the entire coal mining project as a People versus Government issue, and then insist that the only solution is for the project to exit and people be allowed to be where they are, no new mines can be opened unless you mine the coal in the sky. A rational answer would be to find a solution that causes the least pain to the residents and yet gets the projects through. However, such a solution would mean that the NGO spearheading the agitation against the project loses out in its battle to get the project scrapped, virtually its raison d’etre  to exist. Foreign funding or political undercurrents behind these NGOs cannot be ignored by any government worth its salt.
 No one suggests people’s right to protest should be curbed. Governments in any democracy cannot claim all the wisdom; nor could NGOs.
What is needed is a fair understanding of the issues involved and a fair solution that enables both development, ecology and people to find their common interest and move ahead.
 Every industry anywhere will disturb the environment in some way or the other. We need industry to create more jobs with at least 10 crore young people looking out for jobs in the next ten years. Governments that continually outsource their right to decide what development is needed to NGOs will finally end up creating no new jobs .
 Several major projects have been stalled by the ability of these NGOs to make groups of farmers, adivasis, fishermen and forest dwellers believe that development projects are their enemy. Of course the people’s concerns may be genuine in most cases but why not let expert bodies take a call.
This is not an authoritarian government but a democratic one with a vibrant media and active opposition parties.
 Several major projects remain stalled by NGOs and other groups organising people to physically prevent installations leading to law and order issues and even force being used by governments that unfortunately end up in police firings and deaths. Just as in Koodankulam, the 2,000 MW nuclear power plant was sought to be physically stalled by  an NGO using the fishermen even after all the experts inside and outside government convincingly showed that the fishermen’s concerns have all been met, in Jaitapur on the west coast of  Konkan the proposed 6,000 MW nuclear power project has been attacked this time by a political party. Maharashtra is the industry and business centre of the country.  It too cries for more bulk power. Konkan is an underdeveloped area in the state and power, oil, gas are some of the installations that could create jobs and change the economic profile of the coast. Can people depend entirely on fishing and farming to get rising incomes and improve their living standards?
 These questions have been repeatedly asked but NGOs who object to projects refuse to answer them by merely fogging off some vague beliefs as answers. On  the east coast, the 12 million tonne Posco steel plant has remained on paper for over 15 years now. Activism of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president brought the proposed aluminium project in Kalahandi to a dead stop — and Kalahandi, we know, is  an area of persistent poverty for all the romanticism around some local tribal people. Building of national highways, opening of waterways, coal and iron ore mining have all suffered in the country and yet we want high GDP growth and elimination of poverty. In international reports, India is seen in poor light compared to China.
 In the most recent United Nations report on Millennium Development Goals, titled ‘Making It Happen’,  China gets the credit for reducing poverty from 60.7 per cent of the population in 1990 to a mere 6.3 per cent by 2011. India on the other hand is listed as a laggard compared to China with reduction in poverty ratio from 49.4 per cent in  1994 to a still significant 24.7 per cent by 2011.
Prima facie, this gives a leg up for communism which is the political doctrine in China. The government in Beijing does not have to contend with NGOs physically trying to stall development projects or a Supreme Court that could declare a government decision as illegal.
 Dissenters in China are shut up in jail and government and ruling party are supreme authority. Of course this is not an argument to follow China.
However, if democracies have all the time to keep arguing and avoid taking decisions, there can be no progress and high levels of poverty will continue to besmirch India’s  image as it used to do for a long time after independence.
The author is a senior columnist and one of the vice presidents of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Ray Of Hope For Dangaria Tribals and litmus test for Odisha govt to address fifteen point demands, July 11, 2015
Report by Badal Tah, Rayagada: After the marathon palli sabhas in the Dangaria villages in the presence of the District Judge from Rayagada court, a historical judgement was rendered by the Supreme Court of India not to have mining in Niyamagiri Hill, abode of 112 villages of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts inhabited by Dangaria tribes, a Primarily Vulnerable Tribal Group, earlier known as Primitive Tribal Group(PTG).  This was during July 2014. After this the development work by Govt  in the hills was at snail speed due various reasons. One of the reasons being disbelief and mistrust of the Dangarias towards Government which they thought was operating to the tune of Vedanta Alumina Linited situated at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.   Just after one year of passage of the above process, on last Thursday an intense dialogue was held between the dist admn and Niyamagiri Surakshya Samiti(NSS) to take forward the development process in these tribal villages. The entire administration headed by Collector and SP was present in a non-descript tribal village named Gortha, around seventy five kms from the district headquarters, under Munikhol GP in Muniguda block. Many of the officers had to travel by jeep, motorbike, walking the rough muddy and stony road crisscrossing torrential streams in the undulated mountain for at least twelve kms. Though the dist admn arranged sound system, chairs, etc, those reached late due to the difficult terrain. The meeting started at about 12.30 PM with the local village resources like rope-woven cots and a mobile hand speaker. Though Gortha has only fifteen tribal households, tribal people, daliits and others from the adjacent villagers congregated for the purpose.   Last month the RWSS department has installed a drinking water system with gravity flow methodology. The sustainability is still a question mark as this correspondent has seen such systems installed by DKDA(Dangaria Kandha Development Agency) lying defunct in several Dangaria villages. The development deficit was crystal clear from the non-existence of infrastructures like roads, electricity, housing, schools, anganwadi centres, LI centres, etc. The intervention of agricultural deptt, horticulture deptt, forest deptt, watershed deptt, minor irrigation deptt, Panchayati Raj department, etc was zero. There is not a single completed Indira Awas House in this village though at the backside of the village there is a row of stone foundation which seems to be laid years back. Several old persons made beeline for old age pension. And believe it or not, this is the situation till to-day even after 67 years of independence.   After the Collector requested the gathering to talk about the issues, the village leader Sri Dadi Fusika talked about various problems of the village and requested the Collector to address those not at the instance of Vedanta Company. Sri Lada Sikaka, prominent leader of NSS told that Development of the Vedanta Company is the Destruction of the Dangarias. Development of the tribals is only possible if the company is out from the region. They need development like education, health, etc but not at the cost of the company. They do not need any road which will bring exploiters like CRPF, Company Contractors and people like them. “What was the Govt doing before the onslaught of the company ? Why is it so interested for a road now ? If the Govt has plea that we are dying of health reasons, why there are deaths in towns ? Why there are lots of deaths due to accidents in spite of very good roads in and around cities ? Is there a real intention of the Govt to do development works for us ?”, asked Lada to the district administration.   When septuagenarian Sri Jayaram Jena, a Sarvodayee and a Gandhian spoke about the need of a road and education leading awareness, a young Dangaria boy said,” You talk of education and awareness. I am the stark example of Govt’s apathy. I am a graduate and aspire to become a teacher so that I can teach in Kui tribal language and other languages like Odia, Hindi, English in multilingual approach and serve my brethren in Niyamagiri. I applied for SSA teacher and am ineligible in the eyes of Govt. The outsiders who come as teachers to our hills, do not know the language and can not interact with tiny tots.  So either there is high drop or complete drop out. Similar is the health situation. For abortion, I took my wife to Muniguda Govt hospital but was directed to a private hospital in Bissam Cuttack. Not having enough money, I had to take help of local journos to get things done. What is the guarantee of a Doctor rendering service at our doorstep even if the road is constructed ? If a teacher or doctor is committed, road does not really matter.”   The adviser of NSS Sri Lingaraj Azad said that the members of NSS are not anti-development as branded by the delivery mechanism and corporate and read out fifteen demands which includes withdrawal of all false cases done in the name of members of NSS, closure of refinery plant of Vedanta as there is no mining around, facilitating education, health, drinking water and self employment in the villages, mother-tongue based education in Kui tribal language with appointment of kui tribal teachers and establishing residential schools, health centres in proper places, record of rights for land to all the inhabitants with NTFP based cottage industries having local employment, cessation of police atrocity in the name of combing, establishment of a society having its branches at different chowks of Niyamagiri hills to facilitate transaction of NTFPs, Construction of canals and chek-dams in all the streams for betterment of agriculture, establishing another GP having its headquarters at Goratha, promulgating a governance system in Niyamagiri in the line of Uttarakhand, Manipur and Nagaland(Sedule-VI), Closure of country liquor bhattis in Munikhol, Chatikona, K.Singhpur, Lanjigarh and Trilochanpur which are in the vicinity of Niyamagiri, action against the govt servants who take percentage(PC) in all development works done at Niyamagiri, immediate construction & completion of road from Munikhol village to Ambadhani village.   Responding to the demands of NSS, the Collector said that some of the demands could be met by the state Govt and some by the Central Govt. Demands which can be met immediately by the district administration will certainly be looked into on priority basis. “This is the first time ever a collector and all the top officers of the district admn has come to this village. Earlier activities of the district admn might not have been foolproof. But it high time that the people forget the past and look forward for an inclusive development with trust and confidence. This is only the beginning and several round of talks will follow. You are all invited to the grievance redressal meeting during the last Saturday of this month at Muniguda. There will be a complete session for the issues of Niyamagiri. Many govt servants do not come to these areas in the plea of prevalent extremism; but I am prepared for any consequences & even death while at your service. I am not only meant for installing hi-mast light cladded city people. If I can’t serve ultra poor like you, then my job as Collector is worthless. We have plans to recruit educated tribal youths of this area, establish tribal haats, etc. We must jointly plan together and implement. There could be minor lapses in the police force; but let’s not generalise that all the police force torture tribals. Bring the violence to my notice and we certainly respond”, said Sri Jagannath Mohanty, Collector, Rayagada.   “The effort of the Collector and the entire admn is certainly appreciable. It would have been more fruitful had the district administration had consultation with us before such an important meeting. However on a priority basis the district admn has to respond issues like employment to educated Dangaria youths, OAP, marketing of NTFPs, etc to gain confidence of the people. Other genuine issues can be taken up afterwards. Continuous dialogue followed up with action will pave for a good governance”, said octogenarian Gandhian and sarvodayee Dr.Ratan Das, who was present in the meeting specially invited by the district administration.   - See more at:

BSNL to invest in Odisha, launches WiFi zone at Puri

Moneycontrol, July 9, 2015
State-run BSNL will invest Rs 830 crore for improving services in Odisha and half of that amount will be spent on the broadband network in the current financial year, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

State-run BSNL will invest Rs 830 crore for improving services in Odisha and half of that amount will be spent on the broadband network in the current financial year, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday. Inaugurating wifi hotspot zone created by BSNL at Lord Jagannath Temple, Prasad said: "During the current financial year a project outlay of Rs 830 crore has been earmarked for BSNL Odisha for various projects including the Rs 400 crores earmarked for NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network)." The launch is part of government project to provide wifi service at historical monuments. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and state minister Pranab Prakash Das were also present at the function. The wifi facility has been created by BSNL with the optical fiber backbone which can provide backhaul broadband bandwidth of up to 100 MB per second. BSNL will provide free Wi-Fi service for 30 minutes per 24 hours, limited to three times in a month, which visitors can utilise in multiple sessions. "After free usage limit of 30 minutes is exhausted, a customer can continue using the service on paid basis for which subscription plans are available in the denomination of Rs 30, Rs 50, Rs 90 and Rs 150 for validity of 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 120 minutes and one day respectively," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava said. BSNL has already extended similar wifi facility in the world famous Sun Temple, Konark, in Odisha. "In the initial phase already 12,500 lines have been replaced and during 2015-16, 12,750 lines have been planned to be installed," Prasad said. He also inaugurated a new BSNL building at Bhubaneswar which has been constructed at a project cost of approximately Rs 17 crore. Prasad further said that BSNL is replacing 30 years old switching technology with the latest Next Generation Network (NGN) technology. The minister mentioned that BSNL plans to commission 372 2G mobile sites and 193 3G BTS (mobile towers). Under the NOFN project, BSNL has plans to cover 3,369 village panchayats in 167 blocks this fiscal. Shrivastava said it will cover 15 revenue districts: Boudha, Cuttack, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajpati, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Kendrapara, Kendujhar, Khurda, Mayurbhanja, Nayagarh and Puri. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Centre accords National Highway status to 2,000 km roads in Odisha

Economic Times, July 10, 2015

BHUBANESWAR: Describing roads as paths to development of any region, the Centre today declared National Highway status for 2,000 km of State Highways in Odisha where Rs 35,000 crore will be invested for road development. 

"We have decided to link NH to Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur on priority. Besides, a decision has been taken to construct 12 NH bypasses in Odisha", visiting Union Roads Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters. 
Announcing that the ministry would invest Rs 35,000 crore for road development in the state, Gadkari said work for the NH projects worth Rs 10,000 crore would begin before December and the rest amount to be spent next year. 

"I have directed the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) officials to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed project works in Odisha", he said. 

He said of the total 97,000 km of NH in the country, Odisha has 4639 km of NH in its jurisdiction. Another 2,000 km will added to Odisha's NH list after their completion. 

On plans for development of inland water ways, Gadkari said, 332 km inter-State waterways will be created on Baitarani, Birupa, Mahanadi and Budhabalang rivers, he informed. 

"As transportation of materials and goods through water ways is cheap in comparison to the roads and rails, the Centre has decided to complete different inland water way projects on priority basis," he said adding a Bill in this regard will be placed in the coming session of the Parliament. 

"During my meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, I have suggested to provide space for road side amenities centre for passengers and tourists," he said. 

The seven new NHs in Odisha, which he announced, are - Palasa-Parlakhemundi-Ramanguda-Bisam-Katak-Muniguda-Bhawanipat na-Khariar-Bangamunda-Patnagarh-Padmapur to connect Chhattishgarh ( NH-6,400 km), Bhubaneswar-Atgarh-Shankarpur-Mahidharpur-Badkera (NH-42 junction, 150 km), Naranpur (Keonjhar)-Kaliahata-Kankadahada-Kamakshyanagar- Parjang-Badakamar-Khadagprasad (NH-42,140 km). 

Cuttack-Chandbali-Dharmra-Bhadrak-Anandapur (190 km), Badkera (Angul)-Hindol-Ganja-Daspallah-Bhanjanagar (120 km), Nayagarh-Saranpur-Jankia-Chandpur (130 km),Balangir-Patnagarh -Harishankar-Nrushinghanath-Paikamal-Nuapada (130 km). 

This apart, Gadkari said, projects identified under 'Bharatmala' and aimed at bolstering connectivity to backward areas/ religious and tourists places have also been identified in Odisha.