Monthly Archives: May 2012

Power cuts add to misery

Unscheduled power cuts coupled with the continuing heat wave for the past few days have mounted woes on people in several parts of the state. Adding to the woes, the weathermen on Sunday forecast that heat wave conditions would continue in some parts of the state for at least five more days.

Meanwhile, the state government has started taking measures to tackle power shortage.

The sunstroke death toll confirmed by the state government went up to five on Sunday with addition of one more death from Boudh district. The government’s confirmation of five sunstroke deaths came against receipt of 47 allegations of heat-related deaths from across the state.

On Sunday, Bolangir recorded the day’s highest 45.5 degree Celsius in the state followed by Titlagarh and Sonepur recording 45 degree Celsius each. The mercury hovered around 44 degree Celsius and above in Sambalpur (44.5), Hirakud (44.3) and Jharsuguda (44.0). Besides there were at least eight other places in western, interior and coastal pockets where mercury hovered over 40 degrees Celsius. They include Angul (43.5), Sundergarh (43.0), Bhawanipatna (42.2) and Keonjhar (42.2). Bhubaneswar recorded 41.6 degree Celsius while Cuttack experienced 40.4 degree Celsius.

Director of local meteorological centre SC Sahu said, “The heat wave condition, going by the satellite image, is likely to continue in some parts of the state for at least four to five more days.”

With situation turning worse due to power cuts, energy minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak held a meeting to find possible solutions. After the meeting, the minister told media persons that he had directed the distribution companies to take utmost care to avoid power cuts during daytime. “We have been facing a shortage of about 500 mega watt during peak hours due to less generation of hydro power and that forced us to go for power cut. We have also taking steps to tide over the situation. But this problem would be overcome only after the arrival of monsoon,” Nayak said.

The minister said that he had sought the cooperation of private industries having captive generating units to provide surplus power to the state during the present crisis period by expanding their capacity utilization.

Sambad increases its focus on children

Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Joint Managing Director of SambadWithin a year of launching Yuva Sambad, the Odiya media company has come up with another offering for children, titled Tilanka Sambad.

Eastern Media, the publishers of Sambad daily in Odisha, has launched a supplement especially for the youngsters titled Tilanka Sambad. Earlier, in August, 2011, the group had introduced a daily English tabloid titled Yuva Sambad from Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Cuttack.

Tilanka Sambad is a bilingual weekly supplement (Odiya and English) which is distributed along with the main edition of Sambad every Monday in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack. In the next few months, the daily plans to increase the presence of Tilanka Sambad across its other centres.

The new supplement has been launched with an initial print run of 90,000 copies. The supplement is targeted at kids up to the seventh standard, while Yuva Sambad is targeted at students from eighth standard to college going youngsters. For Yuva Sambad, the next destination is Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balasore and Baharampur. The Englsih tabloid has a print run of 1.5 lakh copies.

Tilanka Sambad carries a mix of jokes, riddles, paintings, puzzles, fairy tales and trivia. The new product is aimed at students who are fluent in Odiya but are interested in English as well. Apart from the two, Sambad has also introduced a daily page titled Sambad Plus, wherein all the articles are contributed by the children.

Talking about the renewed focus of Sambad on children, Monica Nayyar Patnaik, joint managing director, Sambad, says, “It is for the first time here in Odisha that such a thing has been done by any media house. Through the three additions, we wanted to capture them young.”

To increase the involvement of the kids in Yuva Sambad, the group has introduced a five days a week (Monday to Friday) crossword puzzle, where everyday a student wins gifts worth Rs 500 (mostly books). Eastern Media holds an event every month in one of the schools across Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack and Puri, where it felicitates the 24 winners of the month with prizes.

Video-conferencing in all jails soon

To tide over the problem of escorts’ shortage, which has hindered production of under trial prisoners (UTPs) in courts affecting the trial process, the Odisha Government is planning to install video-conferencing system in all districts over the next two years.

At present, video-conferencing facility has been installed in eight major prisons located in Bhubaneswar, Choudwar, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Baripada, Rourkela, Balangir and Koraput. The system, which is aimed at expediting the production of UTPs, is fully operational in Bhubaneswar, Choudwar and Berhampur jails.

The Prison Administration of the State is gearing up to equip district jails of Angul, Dhenkanal, Balasore, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Puri and Sundargarh with the conferencing system this year. Construction work for installation of the video-conferencing systems had already begun.

It will significantly reduce pressure on local police who have to share its personnel for escort parties. This will also bring down certain vulnerabilities such as escape attempts by the inmates.

The Government is utilising funds from Thirteenth Finance Commission as well as its sources to install the video- conferencing systems. Each jail requires close to Rs 13 lakh for electronic systems while rooms and other infrastructure will cost about Rs 5 lakh.

“Odisha has been a leader among states so far as video-conferencing system in jails is concerned and we will continue with the progress. During 2012-13, we are targeting to equip 15 prisons with the conferencing facility,” IG (Prisons) Pranabindu Acharya said.

Once the systems are installed in all districts, trial rate is expected to be improved because production of UTPs can be expedited.

The prison authorities are also planning to enhance monitoring on the jail premises by augmenting close circuit television (CCTV) systems. While at least 18 jails have CCTV facilities as of now, plans are afoot to install the same in an equal number of jails this year. That apart, the strength of CCTV systems will be augmented in 14 of the existing ones. In Special Jail, Bhubaneswar, there are at least 56 CCTVs.

Cry for chaste celebration of divine union

Upping its ante against the prevalence of raunchy dance performances on the occasion of the annual Sital Sasthi celebrations, the coordination committee of the festival ordered against such performances during the week-long festival, to be held from May 21 to 27 in Sambalpur.

Instead, folk dances of Rajasthan, Assam, Bihar and Chhattisgarh would be prime attractions of the festival, the committee said while speaking to media persons on Friday night. “We will not allow any vulgar dance performances during Sital Sasthi. We have asked the administration to take action against yatra committees in case they find any vulgarity during the festival,” said Sital Sasthi Yatra Joint Coordination Committee president Amulya Mishra.

The week-long summer carnival depicts the marriage ceremony of Shiva and Parvati as per Hindu rituals. Each yatra committee selects a couple to play parents of Parvati to perform the marriage like of their own daughter. Thousands of devotees throng the town to witness it.

The concluding street procession of the divine couple the following day of the marriage, however, is the most attractive part of the festival. Yatra committees invite various dance troupes and dancers from various parts of the country to accompany the procession..

Over the past few years, the yatra committees have come under criticism for promoting vulgar dances during the street procession. Individuals and various organizations have appealed to the administration to take stringent action to abolish such practice. Sources said the administration has decided to take stringent action against yatra committees, who are found to promote vulgar dances during the festival.

Heat makes life tough in state

The heatwave continued to sweep the state for the third consecutive day on Friday with mercury touching 46 degree Celsius in Titlagarh and Sambalpur towns. The weatherman warned that there would be no respite from the scorching heat for at least two more days.

According to unconfirmed reports, at least 41 people have died of sunstroke during summer this year. The government has confirmed only two deaths, one each in Angul and Balangir districts. The heat is so terrible that roads and markets wear a deserted look during the day.

Titlagarh, considered one of the hottest pockets in the state, on Friday recorded the day’s highest of 46.5 degree Celsius in the state. This temperature in May is also the highest recorded in the town in the past three years. This town in May 13, 2010 recorded 45.5 degree Celsius, official sources said. Similarly, Sambalpur recorded 46 degree Celsius, which was highest in May in the past two years. Sambalpur in May 2011 recorded the highest of 44.7 degree Celsius.

Mercury level in at least seven other towns crossed 44 degree Celsius. While Hirakud and Sonepur recorded 45.8 degree Celsius and 45.4 degree, Angul (44.7), Bhawanipatna (44.5), Balangir and Jharsuguda (44.4) and Sundargarh (44) were among the other hottest pockets on Friday. Several other parts in interior and western parts sizzled with temperature invariably above 40 degree. Bhubaneswar touched 41.4 degree.

Weathermen said the heat wave would continue for two more days. “Heatwaves are likely to continue in western and interior pockets for the next two days,” said local meteorology director Sarat Chandra Sahu. Thundersquall accompanied by hail and gusty surface wind speed above 60 km per hour may occur at one or two places over coastal Odisha but there would be no respite from the heat in these parts as well, he said.

The state government issued a fresh alert to the district administration asking them to review the heat wave condition on a daily basis and take adequate steps to ensure drinking water, oral rehydration salts in hospitals and treatment facilities to those affected by the heat.