Daily Archives: April 9, 2012

Waltair division of East Coast Rly crosses 50-mt mark in goods traffic

The Waltair division of the East Coast Railway has crossed the 50-million tonne mark in cargo-handling for the first time during 2011-12 financial year, according to Mr N. Kashinath, Divisional Railway Manager.

Reviewing the performance here on Monday, he said the division had handled goods traffic of 50.80 million tonnes earning Rs 4,054 crore during 2011-12 against 48.27 mt and Rs 3,837.20 crore respectively during the previous financial year (2010-11). He said Waltair division was one of the six divisions in the country which had crossed the 50-million tonne mark.

However, he said, in spite of the impressive performance the target of 52 million tonnes in goods traffic could not be achieved by the division due mainly to two main reasons. “The Maoists are active in parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh and they are disrupting the iron ore traffic originating at Bailadilla mines and reaching Visakhapatnam. We have lost at least a million tonnes during the year due to the factor. An additional problem during the year was the 10-day-long rail roko at Jagadalpur, which resulted in the loss of at least a million tonnes more. Otherwise, we could have comfortably reached, and even crossed, the 52-million-tonne mark,” he said.

Surpassing target

He said the East Coast Railway as a whole — comprising Waltair, Khurda Road, and Sambalpur divisions — had handled 120.5 million tonnes of goods traffic, surpassing the target of 120 million tonnes. All other railway zones in the country had fallen short. Referring to passenger traffic, Mr Kashinath said the division had carried 31.72 million passengers earning Rs 281.18 crore during the year as against 29.33 million and Rs 264.96 crore respectively during the previous year. The total earnings of the division including sundry earnings during the year amounted to Rs 4,383.84 crore as against Rs 4,147.17 crore during the previous year.

Escalators

He said two escalators would be installed at the Visakhapatnam railway station in a few months’ time — one at platform No. one and the other at platform No. eight. The orders had been placed for the escalators. He said the number of platforms – eight – was sufficient at the station and more would be built in future depending on the need.

He said 78 special trains had been run during the year. The loading through Gangavaram port had shown an increase of 27.26 per cent during the year. After the completion of the expansion project of Visakhapatnam steel plant, there would be substantial jump in the goods traffic of the division, he added.

Poly bags back in use

The much hyped ban on use of polythene bags imposed by Sambalpur Municipality from January 1 has come a cropper. The Municipality in a bid to make the town clean and prevent use of non-biodegradable polythene had declared a blanket ban on use of polythene bags below 40 micron.

Even as the civic body started awareness drives to make the town polythene-free, the ‘no-polythene’ movement was short-lived. Lackadaisical attitude of the municipal authorities and their failure to keep vigil are being attributed as the primary reasons. There were no enforcement agencies to ensure ban or impose fine on violators.

Today, vendors and business establishments can be seen using polythene bags again.

“Even as the State Government had banned poly bags of below 40 micron in all the cities across Odisha for reducing polythene menace as per the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, the Sambalpur Municipality was never keen on imposing it,” said Brundaban Behera, a resident of Budharaja in Sambalpur town.

He added even as poly bags add to pollution and the pang is best felt during monsoon when these bags choke drains, no step is being taken by the authorities concerned to check its use.

However, Chairperson of Sambalpur Municipality Reena Trivedi said use of polythene bags had reduced remarkably in the town and several shops have stopped using them.

She admitted that no raids on shops and business establishments had been conducted to check use of polythene bags and promised to constitute squads for surprise checks soon.

Odisha loses Rs 191cr of central aid because of mismanagement

NAVEEN PATNAIK government claims that the centre is not providing adequate financial support to the state but a report proved it completely wrong. The state government had to lose central assistance to the tune of Rs 190.72 crore during 2005 to 2011 because of low spending of available scheme funds by the implementing agencies.

According to the latest CAG report, scrutiny of records of seven district rural development agencies (DRDAS), Balasore, Cuttack, Ganjam, Gajapati, Nuapada, Sundargarh and Puri and information collected from panchayatiraj department revealed that the centre curtailed assistance of Rs 168 crore under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) scheme.

The report said central assistance was curtailed in 17 districts in 2008-09, 16 districts in 2009-10 and seven districts during 2010-11. The reasons were excess carry over of funds, non-submission of utilisation certificates, chartered accountant’s audit report and non-submission of proposal within the stipulated period.

The CAG observed that the DRDAS could not ensure timely utilisation of fund by panchayat samitis and submission of utilisation certificate to the centre. As a result, central assistance for construction of 40,561 IAY houses in the state could not be availed.

However, the commissioner-cum-secretary of the department maintained that due to delayed release of Central assistance of Rs 120 crore in February, 2009, imposition of model code of conduct for elections to parliament and assembly, flood crisis in some districts and non-completion of IAY houses, there was unspent balance.

 The CAG, however, maintained that model code of conduct was in force only during March-May, 2009 while much of unspent balance was in 2009-10 when there were no elections and floods in the state. Has the monitoring mechanism at the state level as prescribed under the IAY guidelines been adequate, efficient and effective, the State could have benefited by Rs 168.72 crore, it said.

Similarly, the centre held back central assistance of Rs 3.19 crore for Boudh district under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) due to low spending of development grant. Centre also did not release the capacity building grant of Rs 18.81 crore for all the 19 districts due to non-utilisation of earlier alloted funds and retention of unspent balance beyond the prescribed limit. This was in addition to the non release of Rs 33.73 crore to the state by the Centre during 2006-10 due to low spending.

Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, etc receive funds under the BRGF.

Big slump in number of IIT aspirants

Nearly 20,000 students appeared in the  joint entrance examination (JEE) in the city on Sunday. However, the number of  IIT aspirants in the state saw a decline from the previous years, official sources said. About 30,000 aspirants appeared from the state last year, he said.

The Registrar of IIT-Bhubaneswar, Bata Kishore Ray, said, “The number of aspirants from Orissa has reduced this year, however, the number of girls appearing in the exam has increased.” The entrance test was held at 23 centers in six cities across the state including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Balalsore. In the capital city, over 5,000 students took the test at 13 centres.

In a bid to bring transparency in the examination, students are now allowed to take a copy of their answer sheets with them. Besides, the cut off mark has already been announced this year. It is 10 per cent per subject and 35 per cent over all, Ray said.

Students coming out of the examination halls with smiles on their faces indicated that paper was good. “I was a bit nervous in the morning. But the paper was not so bad,” said Supriti Mahalik, an aspirant.

“In the first session, I found the Mathematics paper was easier than Physics and Chemistry. Chemistry was ok but physics paper was a bit conceptual and theoretical. I hope I would get through,” said Suhranshu Sahu, another aspirant.