Daily Archives: May 1, 2012

MCL Coal Transport Corridor nowhere in sight

The much-awaited coal corridor proposal of the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) to free a vast rural population from the hazards of dust pollution is not moving on the expected lines. The coal transportation through these corridors will be easy and is expected to reduce dust pollution.

Sources said after intense public pressure it was decided that MCL would lay 33-km four-lane stretch exclusively for transportation of coal from its mines.

The project envisages a corridor between Basundhara to Bhedabahal where it would connect with the State Highway 10. The company board had approved Rs 385 crore for this project.

MCL has two high-yielding functional coalmines – Basundhara and Kulda – in Hemgir block of Sundargarh district, about 145 km from Rourkela.

The proposal for the corridor came after accidents and dust pollution made life miserable for hundreds of villagers. About 5,000 heavy coal-laden vehicles that ply through Ujjalpur, Tangarpali, Chhatenpali, Duduka, Balinga, Bandhapali and Mahulpali during peak hours kick off clouds of dust leading to health problems and polluting water sources in the villages.

The villagers, who had pinned hopes on the corridor would have to wait for a long time. The proposal has not moved beyond the drawing board stage as neither the Sundargarh district administration nor MCL authorities are in a position to predict its time of completion.

Sources said that the Public Works Department (PWD), Sundargarh, has been entrusted with execution of the project and MCL would bear the entire cost. Sambalpur-based MCL spokesperson Dikken Mehera claimed that MCL had sanctioned Rs 385 crore for the project and it’s up to the district administration to do the rest.

Sundargarh Collector Rupa Roshan Sahu said the PWD had submitted estimates to MCL for land acquisition and project costs but a communication from MCL is awaited.

Administrative sources said after final approval from MCL, the land acquisition task would be taken up. It would be a couple of years before the harassed villagers could hope to get some relief.

In view of the projected dispatch of coal by MCL, the company had planned to construct four coal corridors in its coal producing areas comprising Talcher, Ib valley and Basundhara mines. early last year.

Lawyers threatened to go for a west Odisha bandh from May 8, HC Bar to meet again

Lawyers threatened to go for a west Odisha bandh from May 8 in case their demand was not fulfilled by May 7. As the lawyers of Sambalpur sat on dharna in front of the office of the IGP (NR), demanding Collector Mrinalini Darswal’s arrest besides a judicial probe.

On the otherhand members of the Odisha High Court Bar Association on Monday could not decide whether to continue their boycott of courts or resume work after they discussed the report of the association’s fact-finding team on the Sambalpur Collector-lawyers row. Instead, the association’s executive body suggested a reassessment of the situation again on Tuesday.

As the air of confusion continued, the lawyers of all courts, including the High Court, also boycotted the court proceedings for the fourth day on Monday.

Reports reaching here also indicated that the judicial and administrative courts in many other parts of the State remained paralysed as lawyers stayed away from the courts.

“We are going to take a decision on Tuesday afternoon regarding our next course of action after meeting the members of the Sambalpur Bar again on Monday night,” said OHCBA president Jayant Das, who has already arrived at Sambalpur along with several other office-bearers of the association to hold parleys with their Sambalpur counterparts.

Das said the necessity of a reassessment of the situation arose when the members of the western Odisha Bar associations came up with a fresh demand insisting on the arrest of Sambalpur Collector Mrinalini Darswal. The demand for a judicial probe into the whole affair was already there since the beginning, he said, adding that the OHCBA discussed the report of the fact-finding team and a general body meeting of the association would be held at 1.30 pm on Tuesday.

The dharna brigade at the IG office was led by women lawyers demanding the transfer and arrest of Darswal. “The collector had misbehaved with the lawyers and used abusive language for them,” said Pushparani Mohapatra, a lawyer of the Sambalpur Bar Association. “The Crime Branch inquiry is not acceptable. We demand judicial inquiry into this matter,” she said.

On the other hand, chairperson of State Women’s Commission Jyoti Panigrahi has started inquiring into the April 23 conflict. She met the lawyers and also the Collector on the day to note their statements.

During her discussion with the representatives of the Sambalpur Bar Association, Panigrahi urged for a way to solve the stalemate in the district.

President of Sambalpur District Bar Association Pramod Rath said, “Lawyers were arrested on the basis of the complaint lodged by the Collector. We now want action on our complaint.”

1st woman judge of HC Justice Amiya Padhi dead

Eminent jurist and first woman judge of the Orissa High Court Justice Amiya Kumari Padhi passed away at her Bhaskosh lane residence here following illness on Monday. She was 79 and is survived by her husband and former DGP Shyam Sundar Padhi, two daughters and a son.

Daughter of late Justice JK Mishra and niece of former Chief Justice and Governor of Odisha Justice Gati Krushna Mishra, she was born in Dhenkanal on September 15, 1933. She completed her matriculation in Sambalpur and graduated from Ravenshaw College in 1953. She went on to pursue law education and enrolled at the Bar in 1964. Justice Padhi was elevated to the judge of the Orissa High Court on April 18, 1988. She retired on September 14, 1995.

However, she continued to lead a very active life till the end. She was the member NSA of the Orissa High Court. She was also a member of the Ethical Committee of the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar.? Judges of the High Court, Advocate-General Ajay Mohanty and senior lawyers visited her residence to pay their last respects.

Lawyers stall work over Sambalpur incident

The lawyers’ strike over the Sambalpur incident continued to stall work in the Orissa High Court on Monday as the High Court Bar Association (HCBA) has announced the ceasework till Tuesday.

The decision was taken as HCBA’s assessment team’s report is still pending.

The team had visited Sambalpur on April 27 and met the parties concerned. The representatives of Sambalpur Bar and the collector had then requested the team to be present at Sambalpur on Monday for negotiations to break impasse.

The team will report the developments to the High Court Bar at about 1.30 pm on Tuesday and a decision on the future course of action would be taken after that, the extraordinary general body meeting of the HCBA decided on Monday.

The Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association on Monday also joined the strike protesting the arrest of lawyers.

While announcing that the ceasework would continue on Tuesday, the Association said further decision would be taken after an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.

NRI urges PM, CM for HC Bench

Non-resident Odia professor Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut has demanded establishment of a High Court Bench or Circuit Bench in Bhawanipatna.

In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Odisha, Patra has cited that a High Court Bench or Circuit Bench exists along with their parent HC in many States in India due to work load or given the distance and backwardness of specific locations.

However, in Odisha, though there are many regions which fulfill all the criteria for establishment of HC Bench or Circuit Bench, it is not done. The Jaswant Singh Commission has pointed out that a distance of 400-km from the parent HC should be a factor to have a HC Bench in a backward location, he said in the letter.

He said political demands for HC Benches in Sambalpur and Behrampur are illogical as both areas are well-connected with Cuttack and people can return in the same day finishing work in the court at Cuttack by train. HC Benches in any State in India are located at least 320 km away from parent HC seat, except in Lucknow, which is a State capital and Allahabad with a court since British era. Both Sambalpur and Berhampur are located less than 300 km from Cuttack.

He pointed out that communication to KBK region in Odisha is poor and the region is considered to be given special category State status in line with the north east States due to their hilly, tribal and backward characters.

Therefore, based on their long distance and backwardness, a HC Bench for KBK region comprising the backward districts in western and southern parts of Odisha should be ideal.

“Kalahandi Bar Association has demanded earlier for a HC Bench in Bhawanipatna. So, there is demand for the same in Jeypore and Balangir by the local bar associations. However, Bhawanipatna is a central location in KBK and south western Odisha comprising Kandhamal, Boudh, Gajapati and Bargarh, etc. Bhawanipatna is also far away from Cuttack, above 400 km but is well-connected by SH and NH with all the south western districts. Hence, Bhawanipatna has a solid ground to host a HC Bench or Circuit Bench,”