Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

Heatwave to prevail for another 48 hours

The mercury showed signs of a decline across the State but there was no relief from the sweltering conditions which claimed three more lives in Odisha on Monday. Two persons died in Balasore while the third sunstroke death was reported by the Ganjam district administration.

The official death toll, with this, has climbed up to eight while the unofficial figure touched 50. So far, Angul, Balangir, Sambalpur, Jajpur, Boudh and now Balasore and Ganjam have confirmed sunstroke deaths.

Meanwhile, several western districts reported a drop in the day temperature. Sonepur, Titlagarh, Jharsuguda, Hirakud, Sambalpur as well as Sundargarh saw the mercury fall below 45 degree Celsius. In Bhubaneswar too, it dropped to 40.4 degree C. Balangir was the hottest town with the maximum day temperature reading 44.6 degree C.

The drop in temperature notwithstanding, the misery is unlikely to end soon. The? Met department said the heatwave condition has swept across the entire South-East Asia region and will continue for the next few days. The local weather office also stated? that the heatwave conditions will continue to grip the State for the next 48 hours.

The scorching conditions prompted the State Government take some urgent measures. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is scheduled to leave for London on his maiden foreign visit in his three stints, directed the Energy department to ensure that distcoms do not resort to power cut during? daytime, between 10 am and 5 pm.

In fact, such has been the quality of power supply in most parts of the State that people have begun to take to the streets. On Monday, women of Tapoban slums in Barabari area of the Capital gheraoed the local Khandagiri SDO office protesting against the continuous low voltage for the last two years. The hapless CESU officials had no option but to blame the inadequate power generation for the situation and assured improvement in the scenario to escape the protesters’ wrath. Police reached the spot and defused tension.

Two daily-wage labourers died in Capital Hospital here allegedly due to sunstroke on Monday. Sources said the duo were under influence of alcohol. An investigation by the district administration is awaited to confirm the exact cause of death. At least 10 persons were admitted to the hospital after reportedly suffering from sunstroke on the day.

Local cops unhelpful: CRPF

Even as allegations of lack of coordination between Central Forces and the State Police has pitted the State Government against the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the allegation is not unfounded.

Lack of coordination between local administration, police and CRPF stationed in Sambalpur to combat the growing Maoist menace has, in the past, forced the CRPF not to launch an offensive against Maoists. While the administration was then tight-lipped about the entire issue,? interacting with the CRPF jawans posted at Sambalpur and Deogarh clearly exposed their frustration in the absence of cooperation from the local police. There is no change in the situation since then.

Ever since the Maoists surfaced in this part of Odisha, the 32nd Bn of CRPF was headquartered here. While five units are stationed in Sambalpur, one is in Deogarh and two have been posted in Gajapati. The 32nd Bn is headed by a Commandant and their prime job is to launch offensive. Since they are not well-versed in the local dialect and the terrain, they are supposed to be led by local police be it for combing operation or confidence-building measures.

However, interaction with villagers and a tour of the Maoist-infested areas like Jujomora, Naktideul, Kisinda, Rairakhol, Tamparsingha, Meghpal, Burda revealed that while the CRPF managed to win confidence of villagers since their arrival in 2000, the people are sceptical about the local police.

The cops police are looked down upon as oppressors though they move around in plain clothes and have removed the beacon lights atop their vehicles.

Under such circumstances, the local police refuse to accompany the CRPF in operations, revealed CRPF jawans. This has also left the CRPF personnel at the base camps in various villages handicapped as they are forced to spend their time in the camp.

“If we pressurise them, pat comes the reply, you will leave but we will stay here and hence would not like to risk our lives,” the jawans said after much coaxing.

Bargarh Museum awaits a saviour

Some precious artefacts, once the pride of Bargarh Museum, have either been stolen or are missing and little effort has been made by the district administration to renovate the museum and restore its glory.

Set up in 1994 at the initiative of the then district collector Anu Garg and some Good Samaritans, the museum now looks for a saviour.

The museum was set up in a hall provided by the Regulated Cooperative Marketing Society (RCMS) along the College Road here.

Architect Sandeep Mathur extended his services free and people worked against time to complete it. The entire exercise was aimed at preserving and conserving the rich cultural tradition of the district.

Prominent among the donors was Sambalpuri Bastralya which contributed weaving materials, motifs and traditional designs made of vegetable dyes. Two artefacts that attracted crowds to the museum were a wooden bicycle used by a tribal family of Rajborasambar princely estate and a ‘Kansardi’, a woodcraft of Ghess Zamindar’s wife. Soon the museum had eight stone sculptures, a sword used by martyrs of Ghess Zamindar family, traditional tribal ornaments and jewellery, terracotta items, wooden toys which continue to be known as Bargarh toys, handloom instruments, rare palm leaf manuscripts and musical instruments like dhunkel.

However, as there was no designated staff to manage and look after the museum, it was decided that a staffer from District Library would open it every Friday, the weekly market day. And the museum was also drawing crowds till official apathy took a toll on it three years back and is yet to recover.

The priceless artefacts were shifted from the museum and dumped in Gandhi Bhawan. It is from this place that they were lost as the building remains unguarded. Though the district administration moved the State Government seeking permanent staff to help reopen the museum nothing has been done as yet. By the time the Government wakes up from its slumber, the artefacts would have been lost forever and so also a slice of district’s rich cultural heritage.

No power cuts during daytime, says Naveen

With no sign of respite from the ongoing heat wave in Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the energy department not to go for power cuts from 10 am till 5 pm.

Naveen’s direction came during a review meeting on facilities available at hospitals to attend sunstroke patients, drinking water crisis, facilities available for treatment of birds and animals and power cut problem.

The CM asked officials to immediately provide tankers to areas reporting drinking water crisis. He also directed the department to immediately repair defunct tube wells. He also stressed on taking adequate steps to make people aware about the facilities available at hospitals to beat the heat.

On Monday, the mercury in at least five places in the state hovered at 44 degree Celsius or above in western and interior Odisha. Balangir recorded the day’s highest of 44.6 degree Celsius followed by Titlagarh (44.5 degree Celsius), Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Hirakud (all 44 degree Celsius). Jharsuguda and Bhawanipatna recorded 43.7 degree Celsius and 43.5 degree Celsius respectively. Besides, there were at least six more places in the state where mercury touched 40 degree Celsius or above. The day temperature in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack stood at 40.4 degree Celsius and 38 degree Celsius respectively.

The weather officials on Monday forecast that the heat wave condition would continue to prevail over some parts of interior Odisha for at least two more days.

Though the sudden spurt in heat wave over the past few days is causing physical discomfort to many, it has proved to be a boon for those involved summer-related business activities. Ice factories are working to capacity as a large number of ice-sellers have put up their platforms in every nook and corner of the town.

Go to any market of the town and you will find an array of fans displayed outside shops. Decked up shops selling air-coolers, air-conditioners and refrigerators beckon prospective buyers with various bargain offers.

The sale of ‘matkas’ and ‘surahis’, which are the best natural water coolers, is also brisk as there are thousands of poor men who cannot afford the luxury of a refrigerator.

Three children and a woman were electrocuted in Bargarh

Three children and a woman were electrocuted when they accidentally came in contact with a high voltage wire lying near their house at a village in Bargarh district early on Monday. Six more people were injured in the incident at Kumelsingha in Attabira police station area. Police said the deceased belonged to the same family. They were identified as 40-year-old Manju Bhoi, Banmali Bhoi, Arjun Bhoi (8) and Sebati Bhoi (7).

The death triggered tension in the area with villagers alleging negligence on part of the power supply company, Wesco. “The live cable was attached to a transformer near the victims’ house. But the authorities have not taken any step to repair the wire,” a villager said.

Irate villagers blocked the state highway at Kumelsingha, disrupting traffic on the Godbhaga-Sonepur stretch. The agitators demand the power supply company to pay Rs 5 lakh for their negligence to the bereaved family. They called off the agitation following assurances of compensation. The local MLA, Nihar Ranjan Mahananda, held a meeting with Wesco and and district administration. “It was decided that Wesco and the administration would pay Rs 30,000 for each of the deceased to meet their funeral expenses,” a source said.