Daily Archives: January 30, 2012

Clash of examinations

Students taking Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) can’t appear for  pre-medical entrance test of  Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) Pune this year as both the tests are scheduled to be held on May 6.

OJEE authorities said it is difficult to find a date that does not clash with other  entrance dates, leaving medical aspirants resentful of being deprived of a major opportunity. The AFMC Pune has 130 MBBS seats, including 25 for girls. It is a sought after test for students across the country, attracting thousands of aspirants from Odisha.

“OJEE authorities should have avoided the May 6 date so that students from Odisha too can appear for the AFMC. Though the AFMC is a tough competition, it’s a dream test for most medical aspirants,” said Subashis Das, a student from Kendrapada, who has been taking coaching for the pre-medical entrance test from an institute in Bhubaneswar.

Sudhansu Meher, another aspirant from Atabira in Bargarh district, also receiving coaching in the city, said important entrance tests should not clash. Various authorities should coordinate among them to facilitate students to take all the tests, he said.

Last year, AFMC Pune test date had clashed with AIEEE offline test, both of which were held on May 1.

OJEE vice-chairman Dr Sitaram Mahapatra said selecting a date by accommodating all other tests is impossible. “There are only four Sundays in May. Any date we pick will coincide with one or the other entrance dates. We have to conduct the test in May,” he said. OJEE authorities keep in mind that its date should not coincide with other major national level tests such as All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), All India Pre Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) and IIT-JEE, Mahapatra added, however.

The May 6 date for OJEE was fixed keeping in mind the proposed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, the overarching pre-medical test for all state medical colleges, which was tentatively fixed for May 13. NEET would have taken out medical out of OJEE. Though the Union government decided not to introduce NEET from this year, the OJEE decided to stick to its May 6 date.

About 85,000 students appeared for OJEE, for admission into medical, engineering, MBA, MCA and pharmacy courses, in 2011. Last year, the OJEE date had clashed with West Bengal JEE. The private engineering college association had expressed its reservation about the date because a substantial number of students from West Bengal had previously appeared for OJEE. This year, the WBJEE will be held on April 15.

Cut-off villagers threaten poll boycott

As a last resort to pressurise the State Government to act on their demands, villagers in the cut-off region on the other side of the Chitrakonda reservoir have threatened to boycott panchayat polls.

In a meeting held at Gurusetu near Panasput, 30,000 tribals of 151 villages under six gram panchayats of Kudmulgumma block have reportedly decided to boycott the local polls in their areas over their six demands.

The villages are water-logged and deprived of basic amenities like drinking water, health, education and electricity. Repeated talks with officials concerned have yielded little result. Their demand for electricity is two decades old.

Sensing the mood of the people, politicians too have preferred to skip the region.

The district administration sources said despite the Maoist threat, efforts are being made to accelerate development works in the cut-off region.

Sub-Collector Loknath Mandia said the administration had prepared a special package for the? region which would be declared after the polls.

Sabars Demand ST Tag

Jajpur: About seven lakh ‘Sabar or Saara’ people of 10 coastal districts have decided to boycott the polls. They are protesting the State Government’s refusal to grant? tribal status to the community.

This was decided at an emergency meeting organised by Sri Sri Nilamadhav Adivasi Sangh (SSNAS) at Palar under Dharmasala block in the district.

?“We have been demanding tribal status for the past couple of years. But the Government has paid no heed. We will take to the streets

if our demand is not conceded,” SSNAS Jajpur district president Kusa Nayak said.

People belonging to this community mostly reside in Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda and Balasore districts. Jajpur district alone has 1.64 lakh Sabar population.

Anganwadi Centre in Eye of Storm

Paradip: Peeved over shifting of the anganwadi centre, the women of Nokaipur village under Ersama block have threatened to boycott the ensuing panchayat polls. Sources said Department of Women and Child Development had decided to open an anganwadi centre at Nokaipur village but later shifted it to a nearby village owing to alleged political pressure. They further alleged that as a result, the pregnant women of the village have been deprived of nutritious food.

The irate women have sent a memorandum to the district collector citing their decision. Meanwhile, some political party leaders including block officials tried to persuade them to drop their decision.

Dam Oustees Join the Chorus

Sambalpur: Four villages under Salad gram panchayat of Rengali block have resolved to boycott the poll scheduled for February 19. Their wait for basic amenities seems a little too long having been displaced by Hirakud Dam Project more than six decades back.

Kurla, Barikpali, Sapne and Jogipali villages are mostly inhabited by the displaced people. However, even after decades they have neither received compensation nor have been properly rehabilitated, The villages lack drinking water facilities and the villagers have long been demanding permanent pattas against the land allotted to them besides irrigation facilities.

The villagers maintained that they had been running from pillar to post over the demands and petitioned all elected representatives and senior administrative officials, but there was no redressal of their grievances.

They have apprised the District Collector of their decision to boycott polls through the Rengali Tehsildar.

Panchayat polls: In the race for quick bucks

Despite the hype surrounding the three-tier panchayat polls with development being the buzz word in the district, the ground realities paint a sorry picture of the elected representatives. Many of them have been tainted with cases ranging from financial to criminal.

Former Sarpanch of Tabla gram panchayat, Sanyasini Badhai was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) and a fine of Rs 2,000. She had demanded a bribe of Rs 3,000 from a contractor on January 28, 2003 against construction of boundary wall of Tabla School. Her son Anjan was also sentenced to six months RI as the graft amount was found from him.

On October 20 last year, Jujumura Police in the district arrested Sarpanch of Meghpal gram panchayat Rajib Jhankar besides one Satyanarayan Bhoi of Kisinda for demanding ` 1 lakh from a village-level worker of Meghpal, Rabi Kanta.

The accused, identifying themselves as members of the banned Left ultra outfit, threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to cough up the money. The two have been making calls demanding money for long but when Kanta did not oblige they hiked the demand to Rs 2 lakh forcing Kanta to report the matter to the police in September. Investigating the matter, the police traced the calls to the duo and arrested them.

Similarly, a joint team of the Excise, Police and Forest arrested Sarpanch of Panimora gram panchayat Pramod Kumar Sahu for cultivating hemp in the backyard of his house at Panimora village under Kisinda police limits, on November 5 last year. A former Sarpanch of Ghusramal gram panchayat Debarchan Mirdha (32) was also arrested by Rairakhol Police for his involvement in hemp trading on November 7. The police also seized wooden planks worth lakhs of rupees from his house.

The cases against Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) representatives have left the rural folk nonplussed. They are demanding stringent action against all those involved in illegal activities. And with no dearth of funds for development of rural pockets, the race for prestigious seats is hotting up with candidates going all out to lure voters.

Dead saplings: History may repeat for BJD

The growing protests against the death of paddy saplings in the Hirakud Command Area are likely to cast a shadow on the poll prospects of the BJD. Though the BJD has made fresh inroads into the Congress bastion in Sambalpur district forcing it to go back-foot, the farmers issue may well help Congress retain the Zilla Parishad.

It was in 2006 that farmers began protesting diversion of water to industries from Hirakud dam. The issue had united the farmers against the State Government and despite a history of farmers voting against the Congress, they had voted for the Congress en masse helping it to win Sambalpur ZP in 2007.

Now, with the State Government and the authorities concerned yet to wake up to the problems of the farmers, it is widely believed that it will be a rerun of the situation this time too.

Though district BJD president Rohit Pujari toured the affected areas as a damage control measure, it has failed to make much of a difference as the farmers still await an assurance from the authorities. The State Government not acting on the issue on the plea of model Code of Conduct has failed to cut much ice with the farmers.

The farmers have been demanding adequate compensation, distribution of short-duration variety seeds besides subsidised fertilisers and pesticides.

Missing boy rescued

Activists of a voluntary organization in Sambalpur rescued a 13-year-old boy from  Trivandrum (Kerala) on Sunday, a few months after he had gone missing. He had gone to work in a brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh with his parents and four siblings.

The boy, identified as Basudev Luha from Jhanged village under Bargarh’s  Attabira police station limits, was spotted by a vendor loitering near Trivandrum railway station. Child Line activists in Trivandrum picked him up after getting the information. The boy was brought to Sambalpur on Sunday after a relative identified him from his photograph.

Basudev requested the administration to bring back his parents as well, who according to him are working as  bonded labourers in a kiln near Shikandarabad in Andhara Pradesh, along with his brothers and sisters. The boy said they were taken to the kiln by a local agent, Panchanan Gatiapali from Attabira police station, with an assurance of getting huge sums of money.

Basudev said he decided to flee when the kiln owner did not give them promised rewards. “When he started torturing us, I managed to escape and reached the railway station in an auto rickshaw. But instead of coming to Odisha, I boarded a train that took me to Kerala,” the boy said.