Sunday, April 26, 2009

Second Campus of Central University of Orissa in rented house in Bhubaneswar!!!

The Samaja, April 26, 2009

No central varsity in K'put, April 26, 2009

First it was Centre.

And now it is turn of officials.

All play with the fate of the much-awaited central university in Orissa’s Koraput district.

Centre took a lot of time for granting a central university for Orissa.

Though it was expected that the proposed new varsity will come up at Bhawanipatna, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik decided it to set up at Koraput.

That’s only keeping political advantage in sight.

And the centre after lot of noise sanctioned Rs 1.20 crore for the central university at Koraput.

However, now its officials were not in a mood to go to the tribal dominated district.

The reason: lack of facilities like airport and modern health care units.

Surabhi Banerjee had been appointed as the first vice-chancellor of the central university at Koraput.

But, Prof. Banerjee, are in no mood to move to Koraput.

Sources said, the VC had been persuading the state government officials to open temporary campus of the varsity in the state capital instead of going to Koraput.

The newly formed central university authorities claimed that the academic activities could begin from temporary campus here till the building was constructed at Koraput.

By the time, the building would be over; Prof Banerjee’s term could end.

Therefore, though the credit of becoming the first VC of the central university at Koraput goes to her, she will skip the tribal dominated district.

Prof Banerjee’s attempt to open temporary campus is, however, not supported by many in the state.

The authorities could find a suitable place for running the temporary campus in Koraput itself, they argued.

But Prof. Banerjee was not ready to accept the fact because of one simple reason that they would stay in Koraput.

Though Koraput did not have air link, it was well connected with rail line.

Therefore, the students and faculty should have no problem in making to and fro from the place.

Despite that, Koraput, the major district in the infamous KBK region, would be literally deprived up of getting a central university even as it had been sanctioned by the centre.

The central university in Koraput in all probability will face the fate of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) which had its headquarters in the state capital for a long time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Orissa government: Has it done enough for the poor?

Merinews, April 18, 2009
by pradeep baisakh

The Orissa government has not delivered on NREGS and therefore the ruling party lacks the moral right to ask for votes from rural labourers. It has faltered in terms of providing work and wages to the workers in time.

HAS THE Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government of Orissa led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is now the most popular Chief Minister of the country according to an ‘India Today’ survey, done enough for the poor labourers in the rural patches of the state by way of delivering on NREGS to plead for their votes in the ensuing general and assembly elections?

If you roam around several villages in Lamtaput, Nandpur and Machhkund blocks of Koraput district, you will find people just loitering around and wasting their time. When asked “why are you wasting your time? Do not you have any work available in your village?” The answer you get is a big ‘No’. In several villages like Enugu, Logum, Litiput among others no work under NREGS is available during this lean agricultural season forcing people to migrate or simply stay in the village and do nothing. Recently, thirteen 13 Logum village migrated to do work on railway tracks in Secunderabad.

Collector Gadadhar Parida (recently transferred elsewhere) says “As many as five out of14 blocks of Koraput have no regular BDO. In Lamtaput post office, there are no additional staffs to open passbooks of people for making NREGS related payments.”

After repeatedly asking, Parida with reluctance admits that the block and panchayat level officials are not showing much interest to take up NREGS work after introduction of the bank payment system. It may be noted that the bank payment system under NREGS has almost checked the prevailing PC (percentage cuts) culture (where a fixed percentage of the welfare expenditure is siphoned of by the officials involved in the implementation) existing in the panchayat and block levels. Therefore it obvious that the officials at these levels are demotivated!

During the survey on NREGS conducted in Orissa in October 2007 by G B Pant Institute, Allahabad, it was revealed that as much as 22 percent of the money goes as percentage cuts to the JE, BDO, Sarpanch, VLW, computer operator at the block level and others apart from the percentage that the contractor keeps for himself. The Collector laments “currently we are in a state of under utilisation of funds under NREGS”

Very poor performance in comparison to other states:

In several such districts of the state like Bolangir, Nuapada, Malkanagiri, Nawrangpur, Sundergarh, Ganjam etc where migration is rampant, NREGS has effectively failed check this trend. According to official figures, in the last financial year (2008-09) the total number of house hold provided jobs are meagre 9.4 lakhs as against about 51 lakhs job card holders in the state. Admittedly, all these card holders did not apply for work so not qualified to get job, the plea the government officials generally take- but people not applying for work does not qualify the perception that they are not needy but they are unaware about the demand driven character of NREGS. And the onus to generate awareness lies on the state. A inter state comparison till 5th March 2009, reveals that Orissa has been able to spend only 48.7 per cent to the total allocated fund whereas states like Bihar has done 63 per cent, Chhatisgarh 76 per cent and Jharkhand 63 per cent. Total percentage of work completed by this date is: Bihar-47 per cent, Chhatisgarh-51 per cent and Jharkhand-32 per cent and Orissa-a meagre 6.49 per cent!

Political and administrative will is lacking:

There have also been continuous complaints from different parts of the state about not providing work despite applications. In January, 2008 about 110 job card holders from Hanumal and Hantalput villages of Koraput district reportedly staged a dharana in front of the block office to demand payment of unemployment allowances as they were not provided work in time even after application for the same.

Complaints have also come about non payment and about in surmountable delay in payment of wages under NREGS to the workers. According to reports by the grass root activists, labourers of Hatipokna and other villages under Tentulikhunti block of Navrangpur district did not receive wages for more than five months till February 2009. Provision of compulsory payment of wages through banks and post offices has aggravated the already worsening condition of irregular payment. Though the bank payment system works well in Andhra Pradesh, in Orissa due to involvement of lengthy and cumbersome procedure and due to lack of any serious attempt by the government to streamline the transaction system, the statutory provision of wage payment within 15 days has been being unceremoniously flouted.

The grievance redressal system in the state is in complete disarray. Complaints of the workers lie unattended by the responsible officials at the block, district and state level for months together. A visiting delegation of Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) in November 2007 submitted 20 complaints to the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Panchayati Raj department of the state. They are yet to be heard.
If this is the situation at the state level, it can well be imagined what the situation would be at the block and district levels. All these have accumulated to create a situation where people have started losing faith on the efficacy of NREGA to address their work need and poverty by consequence. Though distress migration is characterised by inhuman working condition and various forms of exploitation-physical, mental and sexual, with the political and administrative class taking no interest on delivery of NREGA, the people of the state have no option but to go for it.

With this dismal show on providing guaranteed employment to the rural mass, does the government command any moral right to ask for votes from the rural labourers? The government may not actually need to bother much as Umi Daniel of Action Aid puts it “About two lakh migrant workers from western Orissa and more than four lakh from Ganjam district will be completely away from the election in the state!” Yahan honge tabhi to hamare khilap vote de payenge!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dongria Kondh demand Execution of Supreme Court’s Order on Niyamgiri

Reporter: Kailash Tudu

Lanjigarh: The Dongria Kondhs are one of the primitive tribes living in Niyamgiri in Rayagada and Kalahandi Districts of Orissa, India. Though they reside above huge volume of bauxite, primary source of aluminum, development is yet to reach them after six decades of Indian independence. Literacy level is very low. Poverty and unemployment is everywhere. Through primary occupation is agriculture; a small land base and low agricultural productivity have led to their low income and poverty. Malnutrition and disease are very common among this Dongria Kondh community. Few Dongria Kondh villages are lucky have basic services such health facilities and education.

However, after the Supreme Court’s order on August 2008, about mining from Niyamgiri, a new hope has been originated among the community. Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s direction regarding mining from Niyamgiri by the Vedanta Aluminium, the Dongria Kondh community are hopeful that a new era of development is awaiting for them.

In the Landmark judgment, the Supreme Court directed the Vedanta Aluminium to spend Rs. 5 Crore or 10% of the profit, whichever is higher for development of people in the periphery area of the Alumina Refinery set up by the company. The money shall be spent through a Special Purpose Vehicle for Schedule Area Development – with Vedanta, Government of Orissa and Orissa Mining Company as its partner. The books of the account shall be audited by the Auditor General of Orissa and reviewed by the Supreme Court’s Central Empowerment Committee.

However, even after eight months of this land mark judgment, no initiative has been taken either by the company or the government. The Dongria Kondh community is waiting eagerly when the SPV will start function and their fortune will change. “We have no opposition to mining, as long as our development is ensured. We demand the government and the company should make the SPV operational,” said Senapati Sikoka. The voice is echoed by several other dongria kondh community members. All of them demand mining from Niyamgiri and investment for their development.

“The Dongria Kondhs stay in the immediate periphery of the plant. So with their fortune is going to change once the mining starts,” feels Dhan Majhi. The Dongria Kondh community is very encouraged to see various development interventions by the Company for Tribal development. Now they are getting regular health services at their door step though mobile health unit. Child Care Centers are also established for proper nutrition and pre-schooling of children. Roads and communication facilities in Lanjigarh has also improved. Vedanta has not only taken care of their basic need, but also started intervention for livelihood development of people in Niyamgiri. Recently, it has trained 120 Dongria Kondh women on leaf-plate making. The product has huge demand in local market and the company has also assured them to provide market linkage, once mass production starts. “We may need not to go to wage work once this leaf-plate business starts”, says Anda Majhi, a Dongria Kondh woman from Khemdipadar. They can earn more than Rs. 100/- per day sitting at home by making machine stitched leaf-plates.

As stated by the Chairman of Vedanta Mr. Anil Agrawal, Niyamgiri Bauxite Mine will be operational very soon. However, the tribals are not patient enough to wait for the ‘very soon’. They want immediate opening of Niyamgiri Bauxite mine and early operationalisation of Special Purpose vehicle, as per directive of the Supreme Court.

Reporter can be reached by email:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Decades of struggle has not brought INC, BJD and BJP come politically to address problems in KBK

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Honorable PM of India
Ms. Sonia Gandhi, President of Indian National Congress Party (INC)
Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa and President of Biju Janta Dal (BJD)
Mr. Jual Oram, Vice-President of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

CC: Media

Dear Dr. Singh, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Naveen Patnaik and Mr. Jual Oram,

Though your respective parties have come with your own manifesto for Orissa assembly and for national general elections, it has rarely promised anything towards long term development of KBK region.

The manifesto by INC, BJD or BJP do not mention important and urgent infrastructure requirement of KBK region such as in higher education, health, railway, industry, major bridges and highways.

Kalahandi, Koraput and Nabarangpur Lok Sabha constituencies are among the bottom five constituencies in India in socio-economic development by a survey carried out by India Today. Promised made by various political parties in Orissa during this election largely concentrates on subsidy in rice which is required for poor people in KBK but is not enough. Without addressing other important issues such subsidy will keep people in KBK region still in the same risky acute poverty level. Instead of making them self-dependent and respectful in the society it will by default drag them to live like beggar largely depending on Governmental aid.

KBK has to go a long way to meet national average standard in many social indicators and in human development index. To achieve long term sustainable growth KBK needs simultaneous major developments in intensive agriculture, highway infrastructure, railway, higher education, technical education, health and industries apart from generous promises such as subsidy in rice, pulses, free power, etc by political parties during this election time.

KBK at this moment needs intensive irrigation projects, new railway line, railway factory, Govt. medical colleges, state highway, new bridges and downstream industrial development. Many of the local demands have not been addressed since past two decades despite promised made by Chief Minister of Orissa and other leaders such as on a high laying bridge over Hati River near Junagarh, railway link between Balangir and Koraput via Nuapada, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur, a railway coach factory in Kalahandi in past two elections.

When there is similar policy adopted in other part of the state in a different name, tall claim of Biju KBK Yojana specially designed towards KBK development is meaningless and futile. On the other hand without any targeted goal and with a small budget Biju KBK Yojana is a political eye wash to the people of KBK region as this region is home to 20 % of Orissa’s population covering 31 % of geographical area of Orissa. Based on factual data and social need KBK region should have a budget at least not less than 30 % of the state budget which is not the case in infrastructure and social development programs.

Serious health problem and diseases such as malaria, AIDS are becoming acute in the region. A proposal of a downstream industrial park in Kalahandi is in cold storage since past five years. No initiative was taken for directly connecting various district headquarters within KBK districts by state highways.

Unfortunately, even after decades of struggle INC, BJD or BJP have not yet come politically together to addresses problems in KBK some of which were badly expected such as new irrigation projects in Nabarangpur, Balangir, Koraput, Sonepur, Nuapada, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, high over bridge near Jungarh over NH201 which is heart line in connecting KBK internally, approval of Kantabanji-Jepore and Lanjigarh road –Angul via Phulbani railway lines, railway coach factory in Kalahandi, Government polytechnique colleges in all KBK districts and Government medical colleges in Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput, a KBK state highway to connect Bongomunda (Balangir) with Raniguda (Koraput) via Sindhekela, Kegaon, Dharamgarh, Moter, Jaipatna and Mukhiguda and completion of Khordha-Balangir & Lanigarh road- Jungarh railway lines.

Without political involvement and consensus, solution to socio-economic problems in KBK, one of the most socio-economically backward regions in the nation will be impossible.

Therefore, I urge to immediately address and include the above in your party manifesto towards long term development of KBK.

Thank you and with kind regards

Digambara Patra

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tribal Leaders vow to oppose false propaganda by NGOs

Reporter: Kailash Tudu

“Villages still exist in the foothill of the mining site and people are engaged in agricultural activities. However, the NGO people misguided us by saying that our entire hill be destroyed and rivers and streams shall dry up. I will reveal this reality to entire Dongria Kondh Community”. This was the first reaction of Taalu Sikoka, after he visited Panchapatmali bauxite mining site and interacted with tribal villagers in the periphery area. Taalu was not only persons to have such reaction. Seven others from Dongria Kondh Community had similar reaction.

In order to verify several misinformation by some of the NGOs regarding bauxite mining from Niyamgiri hill, a team of eight persons, from Patsali, Guma, Luma and Dangamati villages visited Panchapatmali bauxite mining site, Asia’s largest bauxite reserve. The tribal leaders were amazed to see the positive impact of bauxite mining. In spite of repeated propaganda that bauxite mining will dry up all rivers and streams from the hill, they found that water flow in the streams is as usual and in some cases more than usual. “Forest Cover is also increased with the plantation by the mining company”, said Maandi Sikoka.

While interacting with local villagers they found that the villagers were doing double crop. None of the villagers is displaced; neither the hill has been collapsed. Rather the development activities taken up by the mining company has enhanced lives of people in the area.
“We won’t allow these NGOs to misguide us further. Now we see the reality and will let others know about this in our villages. If mining can change our lives so positively, then it was our foolishness to oppose the Mining from Niyamgiri,” said Drika Kadraka.

Some of the NGOs were mobilizing people against bauxite mining from Niyamgiri with their false propaganda. They were telling that the entire hill will collapse due to mining. Similarly, the rivers and streams will vanish. And agricultural activities will be severely affected. There will be lot of tree cutting and the tribal cannot collect any livelihood from the forest. Even the villagers shall be displaced.
In order to check the reality, they visited the nearest operational bauxite mining site. “It has opened our eyes,” said Taalu.
Reporter can be reached by email:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

India Yatra, Hindustanf Times review present aspiration of Kalahandi

India Yatra, Hindustan Times, April 3, 2009

........... The new demands reflect the new aspirations: A central university in Kalahandi; colleges for engineering and medical sciences; more teachers in schools; better prices for farm produce; and a railroad network to help improve business......
... railway line and railway coach are being damanded in Kalahandi (in video & voice)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Advani raises hope for people in KBK region

The Pioneer, April 3, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

LK Advani’s announcement to construct a Kantabanji-Jeypore railway line if the NDA comes to power, has raised high hopes among the people of Koraput, Nabarangpur and Kalahandi.

Coming to know about the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate’s assurance, leading NRO Digambara Patra has appealed to the civil society in the State to highlight the advantages of this lifeline for these three underdeveloped districts. Addressing an election meeting at Khariar on March 31, Advani had said a Kantabanji-Jeypore rail line via Khariar, Dharamgarh, Ambapani and Nabarangpur would be sanctioned if the NDA is voted to power.

The proposed rail line covers Balangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur and Koraput districts, said Patra, who belongs to Kalahandi and teaches in the American University of Beirut. It was also proposed for survey in the 2008-09 Railway Budget speech made by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, he said.

The three Lok Sabha constituencies — Nabarangpur, Koraput and Kalahandi — are at the bottom of the socio-economy ladder in India, a recent India Today survey showed. Railway development in these areas will not only boost infrastructure but also bring employment in the region, feels Patra.

A railway factory in Kalahandi will also bring about development as there is no Government-run industries in the region, whereas Koraput and Balangir have got HAL and ordnance factories, respectively, from the Central Government. A railway factory in Kalahandi has been a longstanding demand, said Dr Patra.

Not a single rail line has been sanctioned in Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput, Nuapada, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts in the last 10 years, he pointed out.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Advani promises Kanatabanji Jeypore through Nuapada, Kalahandi and Nabrangpur Railway Line

Advani assures Kanatabanji Jeypore through Nuapada, Kalahandi and Nabrangpur Railway Line
and Promise to include Bargarh dist with KBK

The Pioneer, April 1, 2009

Advani on recovering black money from Swiss banks

Nimai Charan Sahu/Rakesh Joshi | Sambalpur/Bargarh/Nuapada

NDA prime ministerial candidate LK Advani on Tuesday said black money is crippling the economy of the country and there should be efforts to bring back the million crores of rupees deposited in Swiss banks by Indians. He was addressing an election campaign meeting of the BJP at Paikmal in Padmapur sub-division in Bargarh district.

“I have requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise this issue in the coming G-20 nations’ conference,” he said. Once recovered, this huge money could be invested in health, education, rural development, irrigation and all other developmental sectors, he added.

Surprisingly, unlike other BJP leaders, including Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley who visited Orissa recently, Advani did not utter a single word against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik or his BJD in his entire address. He only appealed to the people to vote for the BJP and the NDA both in the State and for the Centre for strong and stable Government.

However, BJP State president Suresh Pujari, BJP candidate from Bargarh Lok Sabha seat, Radharani Panda, Padmapur Assembly seat nominee Pradip Purohit and the party’s State secretary Aswini Sarangi, in their speeches, severely criticised Patnaik and the BJD. District party president Sauri Charan Barik presided over the meeting.

Advani strongly criticised the Congress and UPA Government at the Centre for the present crises everywhere. Price rise of all products including essential commodities severely affects poor people of the country in spite of the tall claim of the UPA Government on low rate of inflation, he said. He assured that if the NDA comes to power, Padmapur sub-division of Bargarh district would be included under the KBK programme for its socio-economic development.

Earlier, launching the election campaign in the State from Khariar in Nuapada district, Adavani said his Government would stress on providing good governance including transparent and progressive Government to the people.

Lauding the efforts of the Vajpayee Government, he said besides making the India an atomic power, the Government was putting stress on connecting the entire country with roads. “While I had laid the foundation stone of road from Gandhinagar to Silichar, I was not able to see the completed road in Silchar which incidentally comes in Assam from where Manmohan Singh has been elected. Development of agriculture and farmers will be the priority of the BJP which had given the farmers a Kisan credit card,” he said.

Though his speech centered mostly on national issues, he touched on local issues and said their demands of a railway line between Kantabanji and Jeypore through Nuapada Kalahandi and Nabrangpur would be fulfilled if the BJP is voted to power.