Daily Archives: April 3, 2012

Four arrested for murdering youth

Rourkela, Apr 3 (PTI) Four persons were arrested today in connection with murder of 25-year-old youth of Dharuadihi village in Sundargarh district, about 160 km from here, police sources said.      All the four accused have confessed to killing of Mukesh Saa on February 29 due to some previous enemity.      Police have seized two bikes, one sword and one chopper from their possession.      The accused were identified as Saroj Mishra (25), of Dharuadihi, Dila Sahu (20), Santosh Mali (20) and Dora Sahu (20) all belong to Mundadihi village under Govindapur police limit of neighbouring Sambalpur district.

Posco’s India project hits another hurdle

Once hailed as India’s largest foreign direct investment, Posco’s proposed steel refining project in the eastern Indian state of Orissa ran into another hurdle this week, as India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused the state government of misusing the law to acquire land for the Korean steel giant, as well as UK-based Vedanta Resources.

The CAG report follows Friday’s news that India’s green tribunal is suspending the environmental clearance granted to Posco for its $12 billion steel plant in late 2011.

The CAG also found that Posco and Vedanta were not using the land for which they were allotted and were instead “hoarding” it, the Indian Express reported Monday.

According to the paper, Orissa acquired nearly 5,000 acres of private land between July 2002 and March 2011 to allow six corporations to set up industrial facilities using the emergency provisions under Section 17(4) of Land Acquisition Act. However, the land was not used for several years.

The government acquired around 2000 acres for Aditya Aluminium (Sambalpur), 830 acres for Vedanta Alumina Limited (Kalahandi), 1000 acres for Dhamara Port Company Ltd (Bhadrak) and 440 acres for Posco India Ltd (Jagatsinghpur), the paper said.

Posco signed the agreement to build the steel plant in 2005 and was slated to begin production by the end of 2011, but “protests, environmental concerns and government inquiries into alleged illegalities at a related mining concession have delayed it,” according to FirstPost.

Unfortunately for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the green tribunal’s rejection and the CAG’s new findings closely followed his visit to South Korea — where he assured his counterpart that the Posco project would finally break the logjam.

No mention of Sambalpur in drought-hit list

Resentment is brewing among the farmers of Sambalpur district after the State Government excluded it from the drought-hit districts’ list.

Despite the fact that large tracts of agricultural land are under Hirakud Command Area, there is no denying that in the last kharif season untimely rains and pest attacks had hit the farmers badly. Drought had devastated hundreds of others in the non-irrigated belts of the district.

The Sambalpur Zilla Krushak Surakhya Sangathan convened an emergency meeting on Sunday where they castigated the lopsided decision of the State Government.

Presiding over the meeting, farmer leader Murari Prasad Purohit said there was no irrigation facility in the seven out of nine blocks of the district. It is unfortunate that not a single block of the district had been considered drought-affected though all the seven blocks were drought-hit.

The State Government is apathetic to the district, Revenue and Agriculture departments and district statistical authorities.

The members castigated the silence and indifference of the elected representatives to the injustice meted out to the farmers. They questioned the decision to reduce paddy procurement target in the kharif season and said it was indicative of low yield and drought.

They were also critical of non-payment of crop insurance amount, compensation against pest attack and untimely rain in the recent past.

Meanwhile, farmers of Rengali block have resolved to go on a fast unto death agitation over the issue on April 5 while farmers of Jamankira are already on a mass demonstration from Monday protesting delay in payment of crop insurance money.

Desks to help insurance scheme implementation

In a bid to expedite Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) implementation in the State, the Health and Family Welfare Department is establishing help desks in the empanelled public hospitals.

The help desks are being set up through Rogi Kalyan Samitis and equipped with necessary hardware and software systems to provide assistance to beneficiaries. The desks would carry out verification of the beneficiaries along with facilitating smart card transactions.

Twelve out of the 15 designated help desks have become functional in Puri district, nine out of 10 in Kendrapara, 10 of 13 in Rayagada, all the 14 in Sambalpur, 20 of 25 in Sundargarh, all nine in Gajapati, five in Deogarh, seven in Jharsuguda, 17 of 19 in Cuttack and seven out of eight have become functional in Nuapada district.

Lack of Internet connectivity has been cited as the major reason for non-functioning of help desks in the yet to be completed hospitals. The model code of conduct for panchayat polls has delayed the process in the districts of Khurda, Ganjam, Sonepur and Bargarh. The help desks in all the districts would, however, be established by month-end, Health Department sources said.

However, claims by beneficiaries are yet to gain momentum. This has been attributed to lack of knowledge and awareness on RSBY among the beneficiaries.

According to Health Department sources, the situation has come to such a pass due to lack of awareness generation initiatives by the insurance companies implementing the RSBY in districts. Help desks cannot help the beneficiaries until they become aware of benefits, sources said.

The RSBY aims at providing health insurance coverage up to Rs? 30,000 to five members of a BPL family.

They will be eligible for cashless treatment in empanelled hospitals. The insurance companies are selected and assigned districts for implementation of the insurance scheme.

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.