Tag Archives: Kalahandi

Distress Sale Still Rampant in Kalahandi

Despite emerging as one of major paddy producing districts of the State over the years, poor marketing infrastructure remains a major problem in Kalahandi district. Belying the claims of the Government, distress sale is still rampant with many farmers opting to sell their surplus paddy to private players.

The kharif paddy procurement report of Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank based on the paddy purchase and delivery by Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS), which procures paddy in the mandis on behalf of Odisha Supply Corporation, revealed that about half of the marketable paddy could not be procured in the Government-run mandis.

According to the assessment report of the Agriculture department, before beginning of the paddy procurement during kharif season of 2013, total coverage of crop area was 1,90,000 hectares and the expected production was 8,56,531 tonnes. The PACS had made an assessment of total marketable crop in the district at 7,11,836 tonnes.

On the basis of this report, the target of procurement for the district was fixed by the Government. Accordingly, 74 PACS were entrusted to procure paddy from 130 centres or mandis and 85 millers were tagged to the paddy purchasing centres.

However, the final audited report of purchase and delivery of paddy in 2013-14 kharif season by the PACS released by the Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank recently revealed that the total 3.27 lakh tonnes were procured in the mandis. Thus, comparing 7.11 lakh tonnes of marketable paddy assessed by the PACS and the final procurement, there is a shortage of more than four lakh tonnes.

In the previous kharif season of 2012-13, the total paddy procurement was 3.45 lakh tonnes in the district. Due to abnormal delay in opening of the procuring centres and fixation of target by the Government, a large quantity of paddy, mostly of small farmers, was sold outside the Government managed purchasing centres. Many farmers on Chhattisgarh border sold their produce to private players of the neighbouring State, informed a Supply department official on condition of anonymity.

During 2012-13 kharif season, the procurement started on December 5, 2013 instead of November 15 due to delay by the Government in giving direction to the authorities concerned.

Farmer activist Anil Nanda said, “Due to late opening of mandis, many farmers prefer to sell their produce in Chhattisgarh.”

Besides, the special calamity allowance of `100 per quintal of paddy sold by farmers to the maximum limit of 100 quintal per farmer decided by State Government is yet to be implemented, he added.

Meanwhile, Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank has already prepared the Kharif paddy procurement of PACS under Kalahandi district for 2013-14.

Nanda said the incentive should be paid early to the farmers and the district administration and State Government should start the procurement process well in advance so that the farmers would not sell their produce outside the State and thereby not face distress sale condition.

2 lakh Odisha workers suffer in hellish Andhra kilns

They are loaded onto trains like goats, wide-eyed and scared. Few know where they are being herded to or where the trains – the Korba-VSKP Link Express and the Durg-VSKP Passenger – are going. They are pushed into unreserved compartments, one stacked above the other like sacks of rice. Some die without food or water; others from sheer heat. But no one cares. It’s modern-day slavery at its worst.

Every year in November, brick kiln workers with hunger gnawing inside them migrate from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh to escape abject poverty. This ‘distress migration’, which happens during the lean agricultural months, soon descends to a hellish existence as these workers have 18-hour work days, regular assaults and inhuman beatings.

“Some seem to have lost their minds in the process,” says Subhadeep Kumar, a University of Hyderabad (UoH) student. “I don’t think they were that way when they were recruited.” Odisha workers suffer in hellish Andhra kilns

Sudhir Katiyar, project director of Prayas Centre for Labor Research and Action (PCLRA), says, “There are at least 2,00,000 Odisha brick kiln workers in Andhra. They are a perfect example of slavery in modern times.”

These workers migrate from Balangir, Koraput, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Bargarh districts of west Odisha. “Government schemes are not implemented properly here,” says Trilochan Punji, president of Zindabad Sangathan which led to the formation of a union in Balangir. “NREGS mein ghotala hai (It’s a scam). They don’t get paid for any work.”

The state administration, meanwhile, has turned a blind eye to this migration. “We approached the Balangir district labour officer, but he did not respond,” says Punji. “Why should he? The sardars are getting these people work outside the state, so the administration doesn’t need to worry about their employment.”

They are then sent to kilns in Ranga Reddy, Medak and Nalgonda districts of Andhra where they work for a pittance. According to the Minimum Wages Act, a pair of workers should be paid Rs 367 for making 1,000 bricks. But in reality, a family (3-4 members) is paid just Rs 150-200.

Things got so bad last March that there was an uprising of workers in Dundigal village in Ranga Reddy district demanding just payment. The police detained the organizers and then allowed the employers a free run to flex their muscles, says Katiyar. “We have filed six group cases for payment of minimum wages and there has been absolutely no action by the labour department,” says Katiyar. When Kantabanji superintendent of police Avinash Kumar caught some brick kiln owners last year, he was transferred within a fortnight.

If these workers try to walk out, they are threatened with physical assault or beaten up. Goons follow them wherever they go. With no spare cash, fleeing at night is also impossible. Children too aren’t spared. They are made to flip bricks while they’re drying because the heavier palms of adults may lead to cracks.

When the Human Rights Forum approached authorities to do something, they were asked why the labourers can’t just leave, says P Madhavi, Hyderabad committee convenor of the organization. “But where will they go? They have nothing to go back home to. The solution is to protect their rights.” Meanwhile, a committee comprising the Indian Federation of Trade Unions, HRF, Action Aid and UoH has been formed to see that the voices of these exploited workers are heard.

Regional Level Consultation in Koraput

A two days Regional level Consultation on “the Implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006” was organized by Bhumiadhikar Sangathan, Koraput  affiliated to the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha on 24th  and 25th August 2012 at the Tribal Museum Koraput.

The consultation was inaugurated by  Mrs. Malati Nayak, the Sarpanch of the Ramgiri G.P and The State CSD, Odisha Convenor, Gopinath Majhi. The Member of the Bhuni Adhikar Sangatha, Gopal Nayak welcomed the participants and shared the objective of the programme.

The State CSD, Odisha Convenor, Gopinath Majhi presided over the meeting. Around 300 hundreds Tribals and Forest dwellers, Forest Rights Committee (FRC) Members, PRI members from 11 blocks of Koraput district and representatives from different western and southern  districts i.e Malkangiri, Nabarangapur, Rayagarda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Baleswar, Cuttack, Jajpur and Bolangir participated in the consultation.

The participants coming from different blocks of the Koraput and other districts shared on the various FRA implementation issues in the grounds. Raising concern over the non recognition of community forest rights in the State, Gopinath Majhi said that “the State Government has failed to recognize the community rights over forest in the State even after the passing of four years”.

Attacking the role of Forest Department he said that, “the forest department has lost its “Jamindary” over forest after the enactment and implementation of Forest Rights Act. However it still continued to play a divisive role in the villages by promoting Vana Surakhya Samitis (VSS) which has lost its legality. Further he has warned the NGOs still involved in promoting, supporting and strengthening VSS after the enactment and implementation of FRA in the State”. 

Mrs. Malati Nayak raising the number of FRA implementation issues in the district said that, “in Koraput, FRC has not been formed in a number of forest and un-surveyed villages and FRC has been formed in a revenue village under which there are 20 big hamlets, Whatever 58 community forest rights titles said to have distributed in the district are not as per Section 3(1) over traditional boundary of forest but for 3(2) meant for developmental rights i.e school, Aganwadi centre etc.”

Ranjit Pangi, the convenor of the Adibasi Ekta Manch, Koraput said that “there are lot of gaps in the recognition of individual forest rights in the district, in most of the cases, less area has been recognized, individual forest rights of the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(OTFD) has been rejected despite the approval and recommendation of the concern Gram sabha; the SDLC and DLC have arbitrarily decided over the claims disrespecting the decision of the Gram Sabha and in many cases, titles issued to the tribal has not been demarcated and verified etc.”

In the meeting, “VSS hatao Jungle Bachao”, “VSS ku Prosahan Douthiba NGO Hatao”, Jungle Aau Jamin Haharta-Amarta Amarta” etc slogans were loudly uttered.
 In the consultation , besides members of the Bhumin Adhikar Sangathan, representative of  CSD, Odisha, Odisha Jungle Manch(OJM) , Adibasi Ekta Manch, Koraput , Odisha Adivasi Adhikar Abhijan, Bhumi Adhikar Sangathan,Koraput, Dongar Adhikari Samiti,Lamataput, Mahila Mahasangh,Ramgiri, Machhkunda Basachyut Mahasangh,Koraput, Jami Jungle Adhikar Sangathan,Bargarh, Wadaka Anchal Vikash Parishad,Kalahandi, Hirakud Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti, Jharsuguda , Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Jajpur also participated.

From the government side participating the Consultation on the first day, the Koraput Sub- Collector, Ramakanta Nayak and in the second day Ramesh Patra, ZIlla parishad Member, Baipariguda joined the programme, heard the number of issued raised by the participants and assured them to address the issues raised as soon as possible.

In the second day of the programmes, the participants of the consultation have planned for filling more and more community forest rights claims in the coming days; to return the faulty individual forest rights titles issued them to the District Level Committee (DLC) and to strengthen the protest against the VSS and Forest Department who have been the main hurdles before proper implementation of FRA in the region.

All the members of various community organizations gathered in the consultation warned the State and District Administration, Koraput to go for a massive protest, if their demands are not full filled.

IAP performance in State better with 70% expenditure

The State fared better than other Maoist-affected States as far as the implementation of the Centrally-sponsored Integrated Action Plan is concerned, which is now in operation in 18 of the 30 districts, according to sources.

The sources said the total expenditure in the implementation of the IAP has been in the order of 70 per cent of the released funds for various projects. This was revealed at a review meeting following the recent video conferencing by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on the implementation of the scheme.

The sources said IAP was implemented in 15 backward and Maoist-affected districts and, since December last year, the Union Home Ministry had extended the project to three more districts- Nayagarh, Jajpur and Ganjam on demand by the State Government. The other districts in which the IAP is in operation are- Balangir, Deogarh, Gajapati, Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sonepur and Sundargarh.

During the financial years 2010-11 and 2011-12, while the Union Government had provided Rs828 crore with Rs55 crore for each of the 15 districts, the newly added three districts received Rs90 crore at the rate of Rs 30 crore each. Out of the total Rs915 crore, the expenditure was to the tune of 70 per cent in 15 districts and around one per cent in case of the rest three districts, the sources said.

During the two years, various projects like road communication, building, drinking water supply, irrigation and other core sectors were taken up. The State Government had already allotted Rs 934.15 crore, more than the released funds, for the implementation of such projects in the 18 districts, the sources said, adding that 74 % of the projects are drinking water supply schemes, both piped water and tube-well projects.While 90 per cent of the projects were taken up for implementation, 65 per cent of the projects have already been completed, the sources said.

Odisha Govt urges railway ministry to sanction three projects in Maoist zone

The state government has urged the railway ministry to take steps to sanction three new railway lines as ‘national projects’ to help the state combat the Left wing extremism (LWE).

In a letter to chairman of Railway Board Vinay Mittal on March 30, chief secretary Bijay Kumar Patanik has urged him him to take steps to sanction the proposed railway projects such as Bhadrachalam-Malkangiri-Jeypore, Junagarh-Lanjigarh Road and Talcher-Bimalagarh on topmost priority basis.

He has has pointed out to the Railway Board chief that after repeated requests by the state government, large parts of the state covering backward and Maoist-prone Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) districts have remained untouched by railway projects.

He that said the railways has been requested continuously through Budget demands of the State to partner in the vision of the state government and make a concerted effort towards connecting these regions to the national network.

In the meantime, principal secretary, commerce and transport Gagan Kumar Dhal has initiated a move with railway ministry to expedite the process.

He is in touch with officials of Indian Railways as he is batting for the KBK zone, which is one of the most backward regions of the country.

The main objective is to foster development of the region, which would act as a bulwark to counter the existing Maoist menace, he said.

New railway line Bhadrachalam Road (Andhra Pradesh)-Malkangiri-Jeypor-Junagarh-Lanjigarh Road-Talcher-Bimalagarh would connect the main Maoist-hit areas and foster rapid growth, he said.

Though the survey for this line has been sanctioned in the 2011-12 budget, there is a need to complete the survey expeditiously, he said.

Similarly, the survey of Sambalpur-Berhampur new railway line, which was sanctioned in 2009-10, needs completion and the sanction of the project has to be done urgently, urged the chief secretary.

Immediate commencement of work on sections like Jeypore-Malkangiri and Bargarh-Balangir-Nuapada via Padmapur, where surveys have been completed, need to be sanctioned at the earliest, he urged.

This would create new and alternative corridors for movement of thermal coal and other minerals, he pointed out.

Lanjigrah-Junagarh rail line through Bhawanipatna also needs to be expeditiously taken up for completion, Patnaik added.

Meanwhile, a MoU has been signed with BGR Energy for setting up a 1,320-MW thermal power project at Bhapur in Nayagarh district and a 1,100-MW power plant between Boudh and Sonepur by Visaka Thermal Power along the alignment of Khurda Road-Bolangir new broad-gauge railway line.

Traffic for these power plants would move on this corridor, which needs to be completed expeditiously.