Daily Archives: May 28, 2012

Sital Sasthi: Gods back in their abodes

After a week-long festivity, curtains came down on the Sital Sasthi in Sambalpur. As the Lords entered their respective temples on Sunday, revellers retired to their homes after having hectic time.

Earlier in the morning, intense heat and humidity failed to dampen the spirits of people who kept thronging various Shiva temples to get a glimpse of the homecoming procession of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Considered the biggest cultural carnival of Asia, more than 5,000 artistes had arrived in Sambalpur to perform the traditional dances. Dance troupes from Assam, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Purlia were invited.

Cong to woo tribals for regaining lost ground

The State Congress, realising that its traditional tribal vote bank is fast slipping out of its hands, is now trying to raise the issue of ‘rising atrocities’ on tribals in the State.

The issue will be discussed at the zonal meetings of the party on June 5, 6, 7 to 8 in Bhubaneswar, Balasore, Sambalpur and Jeypore respectively.

Zonal meetings in Cuttack and Berhampur had already been held in the first week of this month to activate the party rank and file keeping an eye on the urban local body (ULB) polls next year.

Sources said Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh’s recent letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik pointing out that there are too many innocent tribals languishing in jails of Odisha and demanding their immediate release has come in handy for the State Congress to mount an offensive against the BJD. The ‘rapidly-deteriorating’ law and order situation will also be one of the issues to be discussed at the meetings.

Senior leaders maintained that issues for? agitations to reach the masses would be identified after completion of all the zonal meetings.

A senior Congress leader told this paper that the State Government was anti-tribal,? an issue to launch a campaign in the coming days.

Sources, however, maintained that the base of the Congress has eroded in many tribal areas.

Steps would be initiated to address the situation first. The party base in predominantly-tribal districts like Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar has shrunk during the last 12 years.

The first task before the leadership is to identify party workers at booth-level in these areas and strengthen the organisation from the grassroots level.

The State Congress will also cash in on the cracks in the ruling BJD which have come to the fore for the first time. Differences between Naveen and Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra have created confusion among the party workers.

Former Congress minister Narasingh Mishra told this paper that the zonal meetings would work towards bringing unity in the party.

The grassroots workers will be enlightened on the Central Government’s welfare schemes and ‘failures’ of the State Government, he said.

Vulgar dance organizers face police music

Police arrested two persons on Sunday for allegedly promoting raunchy dances during the Sital Sasthi festival at Barpali in Bargarh district.

Police said the accused, Ashok Sahu and Tatan Talukdar, had organized a vulgar dance show in a play ground and charging money from people eager to see it. “We have taken immediate step to stop the dance that was organized in the local play ground and arrested the two for organizing the show at Barpali during Sital Sasthi festival,” said IIC (Barpali) PK Meher.

Sources said the dance was supposed to be organized in the local football ground on May 22 and 23 during late night and dancers from outside were specially invited to perform in it. The organizers were charging Rs 30 per person as entry fee. The dancers allegedly performed vulgar dance by wearing skimpy clothes during the dance. Police, however, stopped the show on May 23 after receiving complaint from the local people. However, police arrested the two organizers of the show only on Sunday following the intervention of the Bargarh SP, sources said.

On the other hand, similar dances were organized in Balangir town during the procession of the Sital Sasthi festival on Sunday. Dancers from outside Odisha performed vulgar dances. Social activists alleged that the dance was performed in presence of police and the administration took no step to stop the show.

Odisha slaps Rs 1306 cr fine on MCL for illegal coal mining

The state government has asked the Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), to pay a fine of Rs 1,306 crore for mining coal without environment clearance in the Ib valley area.

It said, MCL had resorted to illegal extraction of coal in the absence of statutory clearances and therefore, is liable to pay the penalty amount. Earlier, the Deputy Director of Mines (DDM), Sambalpur circle, had issued a demand notice to MCL for payment of Rs 862.58 crore as fine. But the state steel and mines secretary has sent another letter recently to MCL ordering it to pay Rs 1,306 crore towards the dues calculated for realisation of the cost price of the coal mined illegally.

 The bill was prepared as per the observation of the Deputy Accountant General (R&A), Odisha. The revised bill was sent after the observation of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) regarding the short assessment of cost price of coal mined illegally in the areas not having environment license.

When contacted, director finance, MCL, Kulamani Biswal said, “We have not violated any law. So the state government cannot impose any fine or penalty on us. Being a Central sector PSU, we abide by all rules. There is no question of MCL paying any fine illegally raised on us. We will take appropriate action after we look into the notice”.

However, the state steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty has asked the Steel and Mines Department to take appropriate steps to check illegal extraction of coal by MCL, government sources said.

This is second time, MCL has run into problems with the state authorities on environment issues. Earlier this month, the deputy director of mines, Talcher circle, had served closure notices on nine out of 11 mines of MCL, urging the coal authorities to stop all mining activities including despatch of coal, on the ground that the ‘Consent to Operate’ issued by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to these mines in Talcher region had expired on March 31.

State Government cautions people on heat wave

Taking bath for relaxation from heat waveThe Odisha government cautioned public to avoid venturing out of their houses between 11 am to 3 pm due to intense heat wave as the death toll in sunstroke mounted to 19, official sources said.

Heat wave condition may prevail in some parts of interior Odisha during the next 24 hours, a Met office release said forcing the state government to issue the advisory to the public.

While Sambalpur recorded 46.7 degree Celsius during the day, it was followed by Hirakud and Sonepur (46.2 each), Jharsuguda (46),Titlagarh (45.8), Balangir (45.5) and Sundargarh (45).

Many western and southern districts also experienced temperature above 42 dc. The state capital of Bhubaneswar also sizzled at 40 dc with 89 per cent of relative humidity, they said.

Of the total 65 complaints of sunstroke deaths so far, 19 cases have been confirmed while report on 29 other allegations are awaited, said revenue and disaster management minister Surya Narayan Patro.

While tribal dominated districts of Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj reported four sunstroke deaths each, three persons succumbed in coastal Balasore district, the minister said adding that one died in each eight other districts.

With the interior districts experiencing intense heat wave spell where mercury hovers between 44 to 47 dc and above 40 dc in coastal districts, the state government has advised people to remain indoors during peak hours unless they have urgent works.

As schools and colleges remained closed due to summer vacation, the government had also rescheduled working hours for MGNREGA and other government works.

Besides, bus operators are also told to avoid plying on road during peak hours, he said.