Tag Archives: Jharsuguda News
Rajkishan Patel has been selected by NCA for the training
Six Coal India projects have got stalled, with state governments not processing the proposals for forest clearance and not launching prosecution against company officials involved in violation of environmental laws at the project sites.
Coal mining projects require two types of green nods to start operations — forest and environmental clearance. The forest clearance is initiated and sent by the state government to the Centre for evaluation while the environmental clearance is submitted by the project proponent directly to the Centre. But a Supreme Court order has made it mandatory for project developers to secure a forest clearance as a pre-condition to getting the environmental clearance in cases where forest land is involved.
An internal stock taking of the environment ministry has revealed that six coal projects have got stuck as the states are yet to forward the forest clearances.
Two key cases for which Coal India Limited has been seeking speedy clearances cannot be cleared until the state governments take action against officials of the companies involved in violations earlier. Under existing regulations, projects can only get final nod in cases where violations have happened if the state governments first start criminal proceedings against the officers for such violations.
Sources in the ministry said “credible action” against officials who had violated the norms remained pending in the Lajkura Expansion Phase 1 and Belpahar Expansion both falling in Jharsuguda, Odisha. The forest clearance proposal from the states is also awaited for both projects.
The other projects for which forest clearance proposals from the state are pending include the 2.5 million tonne per annum (mtpa) project of expansion of Tetariakhar, Ananta, Hingula and Lakhanpur coal blocks.
Ministry officials said these projects can only get the final nod once the forest clearance proposals are received and assessed at the Centre.
The House panel completed its visit to the district headquarters hospital in just 30 minutes, passing some instructions to the hospital authorities, works department and the CDMO.
It held a review meeting regarding the developmental works of the district. All the line officers, including district Collector Pradeep Kumar Rath and SP Nikhil Kanodia were present.
It had been expected that there would be a serious discussion on utter negligence in the health sector, but nothing of the sort happened. The committee headed by MLA Pravat Ranjan Biswal completed the review within 45 minutes and left for Jharsuguda.
It had been expected that there would be hot discussions on different subjects, including procurement of paddy and PDS. But the issues were skipped. However, during the period, the members asked the officials to make full utilisation of the budget provided for the purpose by March.
Discussions were also made on four-laning of the Sambalpur-Rourkela State Highway 10, reconstruction of Jhulenpali bridge in Jamankira-Kuchinda road, construction of stadium at Kuchinda and PMGSY roads, among others.
Acting promptly on a complaint, police rescued a four-year-old boy and nabbed his kidnapper from Jharsuguda on Tuesday evening. The accused, Sunil Sawant, was produced in court on Wednesday.
Reports said the boy was found missing after school on Tuesday. His mother, Laxmi, had gone to pick him up but was told that he had left with an acquaintance. Before she could lodge a complaint with police, Sunil called asking her to return the money she had borrowed from him. Laxmi knew Sunil, a resident of sector 3, through a common friend.
She immediately lodged a complaint in Bondamunda police station and the police tracked the call to Jharsuguda. Plain-clothes cops nabbed Sunil at Jharsuguda police station and rescued the boy.
“Considering the urgency of the case, police began the investigation even before receiving a written complaint,” said additional SP (Rourkela) Sudersan Sethi.
The state government received a shot in the arm over its long pending demand to accord international tag for Biju Patnaik Airport here following Air Odisha Aviation introduced its flight services in the state on Friday.
The air service, in the first phase will be available for Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda and Rourkela which in a later stage will be extended to some major industrial hubs of the state, according to company officials. Odisha-based Air Odisha is also mulling to extend the flight services to Vizag and Tirupati, looking at the increasing demand among passengers.
On Friday the 9-seated aircraft took off from Bhubaneswar airport at 9:45am and landed at the Durlaga airport in Jharsuguda taking a flying time of nearly one hour. The flight service was flagged off by state Tourism and Culture minister Maheswar Mohanty. According to Air Odisha officials, the daily flight from Bhubaneswar to Rourkela via Jharsuguda will be later extended to Raipur.
The state is planning to develop at least five greenfield airports, at upcoming industrial centres like Paradip, Dhamra, Angul, Kalinganagar and Rayagada. Moreover, it has also proposed to upgrade existing airstrips at Gopalpur, Jharsuguda, Jeypore, Barbil and Rourkela.
The Odisha government is poised to ink a pact with International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private arm of World Bank, to avail IFC’s technical expertise for projects to be implemented on the public private partnership (PPP) mode.
“We are going to sign a technical cooperation agreement with IFC for PPP projects. The state government is keen to gain from IFC’s technical expertise which we feel will be useful for implementing PPP projects. Tourism, agri-business and solar power have been identified as the key areas where IFC is expected to provide its technical knowhow”, said a highly placed official source.
During his visit to Odisha in March this year, World Bank Group president, Robert B Zoellick pointed out that IFC was keen on adding agro business to its portfolio of cooperation with the state. The World Bank had identified environment, social sustainability, mining and natural resources as the future areas of focus in Odisha.
The World Bank was financing projects worth over Rs 3000 crore in the state.
Meanwhile, the state government is in the process of reviewing its PPP projects.
“There are some PPP projects which have not made headway due to problems like lack of viability, pending land acquisition and environment as well as forestry clearances. Some of these projects facing an inordinate delay may also have to be dropped. But nothing can be disclosed now as all PPP projects are set to reassessed”, said a senior official of Planning & Coordination department.
The state government has approved 37 projects on the public private partnership (PPP) mode between April 2009 and March 2012.
The approved projects are in sectors like ports, real estate, food processing and tourism.
In the ports sector, the state government has approved the establishment of a minor port at Astaranga in Puri district by Hyderabad-based Navyug Engineering Ltd. The initial port capacity is pegged at 25 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) with the port taken up a cost of Rs 7417 crore. The port capacity will be eventually scaled up to 70 mtpa.
In the real estate sector, the state government has approved six integrated residential cum commercial complexes to be developed in the outskirts of the city with cost of all projects totaling to Rs 1400 crore. Project developers include Vipul Ltd, Z Engineers Ltd, Tata Housing, Utkal Builders, Delhi-based Amrapali Ltd and Visakhapatnam-based Skyland Construction Ltd.
A mega food park project proposed at Rayagada at a cost of Rs 80.17 crore has also been approved by the state government. A special purpose vehicle has been formed between Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) and MITS Mega Food Park Ltd.
On the PPP mode, the four-laning of Sambalpur-Jharsuguda road, entailing a cost of Rs 1292.56 crore has been approved. Bidding process for this project would be initiated after obtaining in-principle approval from the Government of India for Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
Construction 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.
At a time when controversy surrounding block allocations has caught different coal bearing states in a bind, the Ministry of Coal has urged the Odisha government to submit its action taken report at the earliest in connection with illegal coal mining activities.
In the light of observations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on coal & steel, Coal secretary S K Srivastava has asked Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik to expedite the action taken reports so that they can be compiled and sent to the Lok Sabha secretariat.
Though the Coal ministry had written to the state chief secretary earlier on the matter in December 2011, the state government was yet to apprise the ministry on action taken in respect of illegal coal mining.
Waking up rather belatedly to the directive of the Coal ministry, the Odisha steel & mines department has now urged Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) and collectors of four districts- Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundergarh to comply with the recommendations of the Parliamentary panel. The department has also suggested that the recommendations be discussed in the meeting of the district level task force.
The Parliamentary Standing committee had observed that the natural resources of the country are being plundered at the cost of national economy and destruction of environment. The panel was of the opinion that officials responsible to curb illegal mining are either indifferent or too scared to stop the menace.
“Officers of personnel and legal departments of coal companies should make all endeavours to ensure that the criminal trials pending for legal and unauthorized coal mining are ended with conviction. Unfortunately, the coal companies could not produce any facts and data, establishing the appropriate steps taken in this regard. The committee deprecates such a lackadaisical attitude of coal companies. It is unfortunate that in cases of such huge illegal coal mining, there is not a single conviction made by appropriate court by reason of non-persuasion of such case either by the appropriate government or by the coal companies”, the committee stated in its report.
Moreover, there is utter lack of coordination between the Central and concerned state governments and among various coal companies. While the Centre has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to regulation of mines and major mineral development, the state governments are mainly responsible for implementing such laws. The committee recommended that the coal producing states should frame rules and set up an inter-state joint intelligence and action force to combat the problem of illegal mining.
It had called for better monitoring, policing and creating job opportunities for the poor in areas where the problem of illegal mining is prevalent. The panel also observed that except for Jharkhand, no major study has been undertaken by any coal producing state or coal companies to ascertain the extent of loss of money due
to illegal coal mining.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urges Union Ministerof Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja to include Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda, Jajpur under Rajiv Awas Yojana. Patnaik writes a letter to Selja over this issue.
Patanik said that, “The Government of Odisha is fully committed to making the State slum free and has formulated a comprehensive policy for this purpose. We are also in the process of making a legislation for according property rights to slum dwellers and preventing the growth of new slums.”
CM Patnaik further added that, “Six cities of Odisha are at present covered under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), which are Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Puri. So far 2 pilot projects have been sanctioned, namely Rangamatia and Mahisakhal slums in Bhubaneswar and a few more are in the process of submission. Owing to the rapid economic growth and urbanization of the State, it is essential to expand the coverage under RAY by inclusion of new cities. Taking into account the growth of cities and the incidence of slums, it is recommended that the cities of Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda and Jajpur (including Jajpur Road) may be included under the scheme.”
Seven girls from Odisha, including three from Kendrapada district, were part of the gold medal winning Indian women squad at the recent South Asian Women Football Tournament in Sri Lanka.
Besides Sasmita Mallick (21), Alochana Senapati (21), Suprava Samal (21), all from Kendrapada’s Aul block, Sita Sharma (Rourkela), Lochana Munda (Sambalpur), Supriya Routray (Cuttack) and Pinky (Jharsuguda) were part of the Indian team that defeated Nepal in the final at Colombo on Sunday.
Sasmita Mallick scored five goals in the tournament whereas Alochana and Suprava scored one each. The India team defeated Bangladesh 3-0, Sri Lanka 5-0, Bhutan 11-0 and Afghanistan 11-0 before gaining entry into the finals.
Sasmita, Alochana and Suprava are simple village girls, who were propelled into international sport for their love of football and hard work in Aul. On Tuesday, many villagers thronged Alochana’s house after she returned home. Sasmita and Suprava went to Bihar as they work in the railways at Patna. Alochana received a rousing welcome. “No happiness is bigger than winning a medal for the country,” said Alochana.