Tag Archives: koraput

Impact partial in Koraput, Phulbani

Impact of the country-wide bandh, called by Srikakulam-Koraput division of CPI (Maoist) on Wednesday, could be felt only in interior pockets where shops and business establishments were closed. In urban centres, life remained unaffected.

Security was tightened in Red-hit zones of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Nabarangpur and Ganjam districts to prevent any untoward incident.

While opposing the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Maoists are demanding halt to Operation Green Hunt and combing operation and closure of CRPF camps.

While private bus services from Jeypore to Malkangiri and on Boipariguda-Lamtaput-Rayagada route have been cancelled, the State-owned Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) plied its buses from Jeypore to Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Berhampur via Rayagada through Andhra Pradesh route.

In Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks, buses to Andhra Pradesh were cancelled.

Train services from Koraput to Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Howrah were normal. Shops and business establishments also remained open.

An alert was sounded and a thick security blanket thrown to prevent any trouble.

“We are prepared to meet any eventuality. Patrolling has been stepped up,” SP Awinash Kumar said.

PHULBANI: The bandh evoked mixed response in Kandhamal district.

Vehicles remained off the road in vulnerable blocks of Daringibadi, Kotagarh,

Tumudibandha and buses plying from Rayagada to Phulbani and Jeypore to Phulbani were cancelled. Shops in some blocks downed their shutters.

Vehicles were being checked in Kandhamal district in view of the bandh. Security forces were also deployed in the vulnerable areas in the district, Kandhamal SP J N Pankaj said. Combing operation was intensified in border areas of Ganjam-Gajapati-Kandhamal district by security forces.

Goods train derails, train movement hit in Odisha’s Koraput district

A goods train derailed in Odisha’s Koraput district early today, disrupting train services on the route.

Five rice-laden wagons of the train, proceeding from Hirakud to Jeypore, jumped off the tracks at Chatriput, about 25 km from here in the wee hours, railway officials said.

While the Bhubaneswar-Sambalpur Hirakhand Express and Kirandul-Visakhapatnam Passenger were cancelled for the day, some other trains were diverted in the wake of the derailment, they said.

Odisha forests burning bright

Forests in Odisha are burning in the scorching summer heat, literally. Around 2,700 cases of jungle fires were reported in the state in the past two months.

Satellite generated data available with the Forest Survey of India (FSI) said Kandhamal district in the southern part of the state reported the highest 757 incidents of forest blaze between March 1 and April 28.

Koraput district reported 500 forest fires while Ganjam reported 286 in the past two months. Other districts with over 100 instances of forest in flames include Sambalpur (171), Dhenkanal (137) and Sundargarh (108).

In total, there have been 2,934 forest fire incidents reported in the state this year. While a majority of 2,400 incidents were reported in March, there were 296 fires in April. The latest three incidents of fire were reported in three different places in Puri district on April 26, the FSI data said.

There were just 780 incidents of forest fire reported in 2011, while 2,523 fires were reported in 2010 and 2,080 in 2009.

Authorities attribute the drastic increase in number of forest fires to better tracking. “The mechanism to track and report fire incidents have improved due to satellite imagery. That is why the number seems to increase sharply. Earlier, many incidents were going unnoticed,” said principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) (wildlife) J D Sharma.

Sharma said another reason behind marginal rise in the number may be exceptionally dry weather during December and January. “There was no winter rain this time. Such rains help control dryness in forest. That may be one reason behind some more fires this time,” he said.

The PCCF (wildlife) said the forest department had created several fire lines (patches clean of foliage so that accidental fires don’t cross those lines) and had undertaken controlled fires to destroy combustible leaves to avert mishaps.

Environmentalists said all incidents of forest fires are due to human error, sometimes deliberate. Gopal Panda, a professor of geography at Utkal University, said March and April are the months when such incidents go up every year because thick carpets of leaves shed by tress are found lying in forest during this time. “People dependent on firewood, torch the forests so that they may gain an easy entry inside the thick foliage,” he said. Notably, 65% families in the state depend on firewood for kitchen fuel, as per Census 2011 household data.

Panda said those collecting mahua flowers tend to burn the fallen leaves to have a clean ground to collect the flowers on. Such fires sometimes spread uncontrollably. During the dryness of spring and summer, people casually dropping their half-lit biri may also lead to fire. Awareness should be created to address such problems, he added.

Environmentalist Biswajit Mohanty said the rising incidences were due to the failure of the forest department to take remedial steps. “The department is supposed to involve people in protecting the forests as per the provisions of Forest Rights Act. But no such initiatives are being taken. Incentives meant for protecting forests are not reaching people,” Mohanty said.

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.

DLF Pramerica aims to tap rural areas in eastern states

In its endeavour to expand beyond northern India and tap rural customer base, the fledgling DLF Pramerica Life Insurance (DPLI), a 74:26 joint venture between DLF and Prudential International Insurance Holdings, a fully owned subsidiary of Prudential Financial, the US-based financial services leader, will now reach out to over 18 lakh households in 250 villages in eastern India, mostly across West Bengal, Orissa and Assam.

The company, which operates through 41 branch offices and 88 branch units across Delhi NCR, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and partly Gujarat, has recently marked its footprint in Kolkata and is now keen on moving into tier-II, tier-III cities and even deeper.

The company has drawn up elaborate plans to reach out to people in far-flung areas through a programme called ‘Bima Jagrukta Abhiyan,’ which is a month-long insurance awareness campaign that seeks to generate awareness about the need and benefits of life insurance among rural customers.

“Through our initiative of Bima Jagrukta Abhiyan, we aim to reach out to a large number of rural households to educate them about the importance of life insurance and simultaneously also to make our products easily accessible to them,” Pavan Dhamija, MD and CEO of DPLI, said.

“The protection that life insurance offers is extremely important for the financial security and well-being of the family. It is unfortunate that large population of people residing in rural India has little knowledge of or access to life insurance,” he said.

As per the plan, the company will cover 100 villages in 16 districts in Orissa including Cuttack, Jagatsinghapur, Puri, Khordha, Nayagarh, Kandhamal, Balangir, Kalahandi, Naupada, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Boudh, Sonepur, Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur.

In West Bengal, the company will touch upon 100 villages in the districts of Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia, Hoogly, Nadia, Mushirdabad and Coochbehar. And in Assam, the programme will cover 50 villages in the 12 districts of Baksa, Nalbari, Barpeta, Chirrang, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Goalpara, Sontipur, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sibsaga and Tinsukia, he said.

Branded mobile vans will travel through these villages with simple and direct messages. Besides, skits, street plays and interactive games will be used to draw attention of people and encourage them to find out more about life insurance and what it can do for the long-term financial security for themselves and their families. All communication will be kept simple so that the rural population finds it easy to understand and act upon.

Maoists serve ultimatum to Odisha Govt

Dialogues between the Government representatives and the two Maoist-nominated negotiators on the release of Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco appeared headed for a breakdown with one of the negotiators, Dandapani Mohanty, asking the Government to accept the three main demands put forth by the State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist) led by Sabyasachi Panda and restart the dialogue latest by Friday afternoon failing which the insurgents would walk out of the parleys “without wasting any more time in AC rooms at cost of public money”.

“The Government should fulfill three of the 13 major demands made by the Maoists to facilitate the release of Italian national Paolo Bosusco held hostage since March 14,” said Mohanty, while talking to the media on Thursday.

Anguished at the way the three bureaucrats negotiating on behalf of the Government are conducting themselves, Mohanty alleged that they are misleading the Chief Minister only to create confusion and not allow the issue to close.

Although Mohanty and BD Sharma have confined the talks to the issue of release of the Italian national, the three demands also cover the main demands made by the abductors of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka and could serve the Government both ways.

The first demand pertains to action against police officials responsible for fake encounters and custodial deaths as directed by the High Court. The Maoists claimed that Lalit Dehuri, Pradip Majhi, Junesh Badraita and Katru Huika were victims of police excesses.

Under the second demand, the Maoists alleged that several persons were still incarcerated in jails on basis of false cases slapped by the police even after they were freed by the court. The Government should immediately release 14 such persons including Subhashree Dash alias Mili Panda, wife of Sabyasachi Panda (secretary of the State Organising Committee, who is also the mastermind behind the abduction of Paolo Bosusco). The Government should also expedite legal processes for the release of over 400 tribals lodged in several jails in Kandhamal, Gajapati, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Sundergarh districts on charges of involvement in Maoist activities.

The third demand relates to the release of 16 persons including Arati Majhi, Susil Sai and Ashutosh Soren who have been booked under false charges. The Maoist-nominated mediators have furnished the list of 16 persons to the three Government representatives.

Dandapani Mohanty categorically stated that dialogues could be held later on the other ten demands put forth by the Maoists.

He reiterated that the Maoists have not put forth any new demand and accused the three Government representatives of misleading the Chief Minister to create confusion. He had also alleged on Wednesday after a brief meeting that their note to the Chief Minister on the 13 demands were misinterpreted by the Chief Minister as new demands in a statement given in the State Assembly, thereby misleading the House. He had even suggested that if the Government was not in a position to concede the demands, it should place the same on the table of the House “whose decision would be binding” for both sides.

In fact, the negotiations which appeared promising in the initial stages, have reached a stalemate, with the Government dragging its feet over decisions and parroting that “the demands are being studied” for the last few days.

There had been forecasts in certain media circles just on the eve of announcement of the names of negotiators by the Government casting doubts on the outcome of the talks and suggesting that the politicians could solve the hostage problem better than bureaucrats who are heavily biased against issues related to tribals and activists working for them.

The Government seems to have learnt little from its failure in implementing the agreement reached during negotiations for release of then Malkangiri Collector R Vineel Krishna which has declaredly prompted the present crisis.

Meanwhile, the crisis over Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka who was taken hostage by the Koraput-Srikakulam Divisional Committee of the Andhra-Odisha-Border Special Zonal Committee on March 24 is lingering with the Chief Minister “studying the demands” while nobody knows as yet exactly where the MLA is and in what condition.

Rural polls: Filing of nominations begins

 Hectic lobbying is on in different parties for tickets, even as filing of nomination papers for the three-tier panchayat polls got under way on Saturday. Candidates for the posts of ward members, sarpanch, panchayat samiti member and zilla parishad member were seen taking out processions to file nomination papers before their respective election officers in different parts of the state. The State Election Commission was yet to compile information on the number of candidates who filed their nomination papers on the first day, sources said.

Though only zilla parishad elections are held under political party banners, candidates for posts of ward member, sarpanch and panchayat samiti member are also trying to get support from different parties to shore up their prospects. Major parties like BJD, Congress and BJP are yet to complete their candidate selection processes.

According to poll schedule, filing of nominations would be held from January 7 and January 12, except government holidays. Scrutiny of papers will be on January 13. Withdrawal of candidature and publication of the final list of contestants would take place on January 18. The five-phase elections are slated on February 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19. State Election Commission sources said polling would be staggered in a block-wise manner in 22 districts of the state, while in four districts (Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Rayagada and Gajapati) polling would be phased both block-wise and zilla parishad zone-wise. In Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada and Sambalpur districts elections would be held taking into account different zilla parishad zones, commission sources said.

A maximum of over 2.44 crore voters will exercise their franchise to elect around one lakh grassroots-level representatives. Fifty per cent of the posts have been reserved for women, up from 33 per cent quota in the previous polls in 2007.