Tag Archives: Bhubaneswar

Cops Make a ‘U-turn’ in Sugrib Kidnap Case

Even as Bargarh police on Wednesday tried to take Sugrib Ranbeda, who was allegedly kidnapped by a minister, to Bhubaneswar to identify the place where he claimed he was confined, the cops had to drop the plan following orders from higher authorities.

Two weeks ago, Sugrib, a member of Rusuda Service Co-operative Society, had alleged that he was kidnapped and confined to the official residence of Handloom and Textile Minister Snehangini Chhuria in Bhubaneswar to prevent him from voting in cooperative election. Election to the cooperative society was held on January 25.

After Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra raised the issue in the Assembly, police decided to take him to Bhubaneswar where he claimed he was confined to a room. While police were approaching Boudh, one of the officers received a call and was asked to take Sugrib back to his village at Rusuda.

In his complaint to the Bargarh SP on January 27, Sugrib had alleged that on January 18, supporters of Chhuria – Sadanand Khamari of Bagiapali, P Satyanarayan of Bheden and Dumatsen Rana of Dhatukpali – took him to the residence of the Minister in Bargarh. Later, he was taken to the Minister’s residence at Bhubaneswar.

When he requested the Minister to allow him to cast his vote, Chhuria allegedly locked him in her house and went to Kalahandi on a tour. Later, he was dropped in his village, a day after the election, on January 25. “Though my son Durga had reported the matter to the police the same day, no action has been taken so far,” Sugrib alleged.

Bargarh SP Umashankar Dash said efforts are on to nab the persons named in the complaint.

Chhuria, however, refuted the allegations. “The charges are false and politically motivated. I am in no way involved in the incident,” she said, adding that she is ready to face any inquiry.

Congress and BJD fan pet issues

Stepping up its attack on the BJD, a poll-bound Congress today organised three rallies in the undivided Koraput district, an old party bastion with a sizeable chunk of tribal population.

Addressing big gatherings at Malkangiri and Jeypore, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena and All-India Congress Committee-appointed in-charge of state party affairs B.K. Hariprasad, lashed out at the Naveen Patnaik government for trying to usurp central schemes such as cheap rice while failing to develop the state, which was labelled as the poorest in the country by the Raghuram Rajan committee.

“He has been making allegations against the Centre accusing it of neglecting Odisha. The truth is that he has failed miserably to make use of central schemes while trying to take undue credit for some of them such as subsidised rice,” said Hariprasad, addressing the rally at Malkangiri where the party has taken up the cause of tribals being branded as Maoists by the police.

“Not only are the tribal people suffering under this regime, the farmers, too, are committing suicide. The Centre, on the other hand, has been extremely generous to the state giving it a central university at Koraput and setting up the state-of-the-art Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bhubaneswar,” said Hariprasad.

The tone and tenor of the Congress leaders did not change at Rayagada where Jena tore into Naveen accusing him of depriving the poor tribal people of their full quota of the subsidised rice allotted by the Centre. The party MLA from Bisam Cuttack, Dambrudhar Ulaka, trotted out figures to substantiate the charge made by his party chief.

The meeting at Rayagada, however, was marred by the heckling of Hema Gamang, wife of former chief minister, Giridhar Gamang and an aspirant for the party ticket from Gunpur Assembly constituency, by the supporters of Ramanaguda block chairman Purushottam Gamang.

With the disturbance exposing the growing factionalism within the party, Jena warned the hecklers against breaking discipline. “We are not going to tolerate such behaviour,” he said.

The other embarrassment for the party, of late, has been the queer behaviour of veteran Bhupinder Singh, who has made himself incommunicado amidst speculation that he might quit and join the BJD. Both Jena and Hariprasad refused to comment on speculations with regard to Bhupinder’s future saying the leader of Opposition was unwell and unreachable at the moment.

In yet another development, Arya Gyanendra, an All-India Congress Committee member and a known opponent of Jena, lashed out at the state party leadership for ignoring sincere leaders while selecting candidates for Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. He said he would stay away from party programmes for a year as a mark of protest.

The party, on the other hand, sought to extract the maximum political mileage out of its Malkangiri rally accusing the district police of preventing supporters from reaching the meeting venue. It has called a shutdown in the district tomorrow to protest alleged police atrocities against its supporters today.

The Congress is keen to retain its hold on undivided Koraput district where it has four sitting MLAs and a Lok Sabha MP, who is its trump card as far as mobilising tribal support is concerned. Sources said Nabarangpur MP Pradeep Majhi, a livewire, has been trying all the tricks in the bag to win over the tribals of the area who appear to be upset with the police for engaging in a witch-hunt against them.

The BJD hit back at the Congress with a sit-in before the Raj Bhavan here today to ramp up its protest against the Centre’s continued refusal to grant Odisha the special category state status while according the same to the yet-to-be-born, Seemandhra.

The ruling party, which is organising a state-wide agitation on the issue, has planned a major show of strength with three rallies at Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Sambalpur on March 5, the birth anniversary of Biju Patnaik, which is celebrated as ‘panchayati raj divas’.

Residential apartments gained pace in small towns

Residential apartmentsConstruction of multi-storied residential apartments has gained pace in small towns, which boasted only of standalone houses built by individual owners till recently.

Contrary to real estate development centered around the Cuttack-Puri-Bhubaneswar triangle alone earlier, several residential projects are coming up in Angul, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Balasore, Bhadrak, and Berhampur, among other towns. Apart from individual merits of certain towns because of industrial activities around them and their strategic locations, apartment culture is picking up across Odisha towns, industry insiders said.

Around 50 apartments with a total of 10,000 dwelling units are under different stages of construction in Berhampur alone. “People prefer apartments and planned constructions to buying land these days. Salaried employees have disposable money but don’t have time to construct a house by employing a contractor on their own. They are the large clientele here,” said P K Rajeev, a developer in the south Odisha town.

Berhampur with its good road and rail connectivity is a gateway to south Odisha, making it a preferred destination for people from neighbouring districts to invest and own a house here. The real estate price here is now as high as Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 per sq ft, only a little less than the price in Bhubaneswar.

Jharsuguda, an emerging industrial town, where the government is planning the state’s second airport, is coming up as another real estate hub. “Besides apartments, simplex and duplex houses, there are huge takers for plot schemes here,” said Sajid Hussain, a developer there. With per sq ft price of Rs 1,350 to Rs 2,500, buyers are finding two bedroom houses below Rs 20,000, which is very cheap for them, he added.

Sambalpur is witnessing similar vertical and horizontal expansion with multiple developers undertaking huge projects. “Local residents staying outside the city for their jobs are the largest section of buyers in Sambalpur. This may be their post-retirement settlement plans,” said Sambalpur Development Authority (SDA) chairman Bijay Mohanty.

In Bargarh, rice millers who had to down their shutters after the government decided to shift them outside the town some years ago, are using the available land to develop residential projects. Besides, apartments are also coming up on virgin land close to the upcoming bypass road of the NH. “Because of affordable land cost, our pricing is far lower compared to cities like Bhubaneswar, giving a chance to the low middle income groups to own a house here,” said Jay Prakash Agarwal, a developer in Bargarh. The per square feet price of house starts from Rs 1,300 here with two bedroom flat available at Rs 13 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

Developers said with land price skyrocketing in Bhubaneswar, housing cost in the city is exceptionally high. “This is ruling out a substantial section of low middle class families from buying a house in Bhubaneswar. These people can easily afford houses in the district towns. Many others who have money tend to own houses both in the state capital and in their native towns,” said Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India state president D S Tripathy. Development of ports and industrialization in coastal districts has helped real estate activities in towns like Bhadrak and Balasore, he said.

Odisha to invite bids for vegetable retail chains in three towns

The horticulture department of the Odisha government will soon come up with tenders for setting up of vegetable retail chains in towns like Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur, after a similar initiative in Bhubaneswar.

The department has already facilitated setting up of two vegetable stores, branded as ‘Udyan Fresh’ in the capital city with the help of private players and aims to open at least 18 more. In the adjacent Cuttack city, it has plans to open five such stores.

“For Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur towns, we have not decided how many stores will be there. We will notify it in our next expression of interest advertisements,” said K B Dash, an official dealing with the ‘Udyan Fresh’ scheme, in the Directorate of Horticulture, Government of Odisha.

 These stores are being set up as part of a scheme of the Central agricultural ministry, launched in 2011. Known as vegetable initiative for urban clusters (VIUC) plan under the Rastriya Krishi Vikash Yojna, it has little more than Rs 12 crore provision for Odisha in the current fiscal.

The scheme envisages development of vegetable clusters and opening up of retail stores for ensuring supply of good quality vegetables to a city or town in every state having a population of one million and above. In the case of states with smaller population, the state capital city or township having less than one million population are also covered.

As per 2011 census, no city in Odisha has a population over one million. However, the combined population of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack goes beyond two million, according to an estimate.

The expression of interest will be open for domestic and international investors too, informed the horticulture official.

“Companies like Reliance Fresh can apply for the stores like it has done in Andhra Pradesh. Foreign investors too can apply after the recent central government decision,” said Das, referring to the latest announcement by the Union government allowing foreign players to invest in retail sector.

Under the VIUC scheme, the promoters would be subsidised for setting up selling stores, buying refrigerated vehicles and establishing cold stores, apart from buying farmers’ produce. So far, the state horticulture department has identified three vegetable clusters within the 100 Km radius of Bhubaneswar.

State to set up six more anti-human trafficking units

Centre has asked the State government to convert primary schools having low enrolments in urban and semi urban areas into integrated hub of services for children especially vulnerable ones.

In a recent communication addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Krishna Tirath, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, expressed concerns over inadequacy of services for deprived children like shelters, creches and residential schools especially in urban and semi-urban areas.

“A number of primary schools are having low enrolment and thus, are under consideration of closure. There may be unutilised government buildings and similar infrastructure in cities as well,” Ms. Tirath pointed out.

She suggested that such schools and buildings could be better utilised for establishment of an integrated hub of services for children.

“Services available in such hubs could include open shelter under Integrated Child Protection Scheme, creche facilities under Rajiv Gandhi National Creches Scheme for Children of Working Mothers (RGNCS), anganwadis under Integrated Child Development Schemes and residential schools under Sarva Sikshan Abhiyan,” the Union Minister noted seeking Chief Minister’s intervention for expeditious establishment of such centres. Sources in State Women and Child Development Department that steps had already been initiated to action plan on the proposal.

Meanwhile, the State government has decided to set up six more anti human trafficking units (IAHTUs) to track human trafficking in the State. These units would be located at office of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Crime Branch, Cuttack, DIG (North Central Range), Talcher, DIG (South Western Range), Koraput, Inspector General of Police (Railway), Cuttack, Sundargarh and Kandhamal districts.

At present there are six IAHTUs operating in the State. The locations are office of IG (Crime Branch), Cuttack, Commissionerate of Police, Bhubaneswar and offices of IG of Police, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balasore and Berhampur.