Six Western Odisha districts to shut down from today

Lawyers in six districts of western Odisha will close down the Government offices and courts during the monsoon session of the State Assembly beginning Tuesday.

Under the aegis of All Western Odisha Bar Association (AWOBA), the agitation is being held to mark their protest against silence of the State Government on establishment of a permanent High Court bench in the region. In fact, the Central Action Committee (CAC) of AWOBA has been spearheading the agitation over the demand.

According to reports received from various districts till Monday evening, Government offices and courts will remain closed in Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Sonepur, Jharsuguda and Bargarh. Meetings in other districts over the issue were continuing till the report was filed. The agitation will conclude on August 28.

Earlier, the CAC had issued an ultimatum to the State Government to recommend to the Union Government on setting up the High Court bench by August 15. With State Government remaining silent on the issue, the CAC decided to go ahead with its agitation plan.

The agitation apart, political parties from almost all the districts of the region have extended their support to bar associations on the issue. At a meeting held here on Saturday, the political parties in Sambalpur district led by their presidents accepted the proposal of the CAC to abstain from the urban local body (ULB) election. The parties in Jharsuguda, Deogarh and Bargarh have also decided to boycott the ULB polls.

Members of Bargarh Bar Association who convened a meeting with political parties on Monday evening, adopted a resolution to boycott the ULB polls. At Deogarh, while BJD leaders were absent, BJP leader Subhas Panigrahi and Congress leader Dharmendra Debta also agreed to boycott the polls.

On the other hand, an all-party meeting convened by the Sundargarh District Bar Association urging political parties to boycott the ULB election was not accepted by the latter who sought more time to consult senior leaders. Local BJD and BJP leaders said they need time to take a decision, while their Congress counterparts said they would accept the decision the two parties take.

Congress hits out at government for delaying HC bench

The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) has criticised the State Government for the delay in recommending to the Centre for setting up a permanent bench of the High Court in western Odisha districts.

Even though the people of western Odisha are resorting to different types of agitation during the last several years and courts are paralysed every month for three to four days on the issue, the State Government remains a mute spectator, former minister and media cell chairman of the OPCC Narsingh Mishra said. Mishra said the OPCC had submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Congress Bhavan here in January, 2012 demanding a permanent bench of the High Court in western Odisha.

The Prime Minister had said let the State Government recommend it to the Centre. The then Union Law Minister V Moily had also assured that the Centre will take steps in this regard after the State Government made a recommendation. The Congress media cell chairman said the people of Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts have decided to boycott the urban local body (ULB) polls after they found that boycott of courts and ceasework movements did not yield any result.

Mishra said the poll boycott decision taken in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts has the support of the local units of all the political parties. He warned that this may spread to other districts also. However, major political parties are yet to announce their stand on the poll boycott.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das, a member of the committee constituted by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to manage the ULB polls, is camping at Jharsuguda for selection of candidates. OPCC president Jaydev Jena also criticised the Government for dilly-dallying the issue and said the Congress cannot go against the demand of the local people.

Boycotting the forthcoming ULB polls

demanding-hc-benchLeaders from all political parties decide to boycott forthcoming Urban Local Bodies elections in Sambalpur by demanding permanent bench of ??Odisha? High Court.

Leaders from several political parties including BJD, Congress and BJP on Saturday decided in a meeting to boycott forthcoming Urban Local Body (ULB) elections. The leaders also supported the ‘Western Odisha bandh’ call given by several bar associations in the district protesting against the delay in setting up of the HC bench.

The lawyers decided to observe the bandh from August 20 to August 28. This was informed by the president of Sambalpur District Bar Association Krushna Chandra Baboo.

Fake currency racket busted

Fake currency racketA fake currency printing racket was busted and four persons including a woman were arrested on Wednesday. The fake notes amounting Rs 42,500, huge quantity of papers and a scanner-cum-printer machine were seized. The accused have been identified as mastermind Radhakanta Rai alias Suru (24), Chanchala Saha (42) and her son Ganesh Saha (25) besides Santosh Rana (23).

Sambalpur Sadar SDPO PK Mohapatra said on a tip-off, Ainthapali police managed to catch Rana on Tuesday  evening. During search, police recovered fake notes of 500 and 100 denominations. On interrogation, Santosh revealed the racket and the modus operandi. Police then nabbed Radhakanta and seized four counterfeit notes of Rs1000 and 48 fake notes of Rs 500  from him, Mohapatra said.

Radhakanta who is an alumnus of Industrial Training Institute (ITI) at Hirakud and completed the course in electrical trade revealed that he printed the fake currencies in Karmapada, a hamlet of Jhariabahal village under Laikera police limits in Jharsuguda district. Consequently, a police team swooped down Karmapada and arrested Chanchala Saha and her son Ganesh from a house and seized 26 fake notes of Rs 500 and the printer machine. Chanchala along with his son was living at her paternal house at Karmapada to run the illegal trade, Mohapatra said.

Housing scheme moves at snail’s pace

It has been five years since the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) was launched in Sambalpur to improve the condition of the slum dwellers. But the programme has failed to make any impact till now.

Although 613 BPL families were identified under the scheme, only 101 houses have been completed so far while 138 houses are in different stages of completion.

Initially, each beneficiary was sanctioned `80,000 which was later raised to `1.20 lakh under the scheme. Sources said the local municipality had received `6.13 crore for implementation of the scheme in the beginning. As it did not make much headway in implementation of the programme, the work was entrusted to an NGO, Biswa.

While the NGO was directed to construct 239 houses, it could complete 101 houses. Subsequently, work order of the NGO was cancelled by then collector Mrinalini Darswal in 2011 following controversies.

As the situation stands today, construction of houses under the programme is underway in 24 slums across 14 wards in Sambalpur municipality. Although the Municipality claims that 15 houses have been completed in Harijan Pada of Bhatra in Ward No-1, only five houses have been completed. Municipal Engineer Basanta Padhy said individual work orders have been issued to beneficiaries to ensure early completion of houses.