Monthly Archives: August 2012

Four criminals arrested in Sambalpur

 After change of guard, criminals are facing bad weather in Sambalpur town. Few criminal, who kept the Badabazar and Durgapli area overwhelmed for sometime, were arrested by the Khetrarajpur police on Tuesday night.

 Sub-inspector Bandana Patra and a team of police officers swooped on them in their houses and arrested them. The police also seized huge quantity of weapons and live ammunition from their possession. According to police sources two groups of youths with criminal background had a confrontation in the Badabazar area on Tuesday evening. However, the police reached the spot at the nick of the moment but the youths fled the place.

Since most of them are branded, the police wasted no time and found them in their respective houses after search. Four of them were arrested and forwarded to court on Wednesday. The arrested have been identified as Saroj Mishra, Manoj Pruseth, Pitabash Sahu and Kalim Khan.

“The last three belong to one group and Saroj is from the rival group,” said the SI of Khetrarajpur police station. It needs mention that Soroj Mishra is the brother of Shankar Mishra who had been arrested under NSA. Saroj has also vast track records of crime. The public have appreciated the police action since it dared to arrest the veteran criminals of the town setting a record.

Regional Level Consultation in Koraput

A two days Regional level Consultation on “the Implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006” was organized by Bhumiadhikar Sangathan, Koraput  affiliated to the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha on 24th  and 25th August 2012 at the Tribal Museum Koraput.

The consultation was inaugurated by  Mrs. Malati Nayak, the Sarpanch of the Ramgiri G.P and The State CSD, Odisha Convenor, Gopinath Majhi. The Member of the Bhuni Adhikar Sangatha, Gopal Nayak welcomed the participants and shared the objective of the programme.

The State CSD, Odisha Convenor, Gopinath Majhi presided over the meeting. Around 300 hundreds Tribals and Forest dwellers, Forest Rights Committee (FRC) Members, PRI members from 11 blocks of Koraput district and representatives from different western and southern  districts i.e Malkangiri, Nabarangapur, Rayagarda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Baleswar, Cuttack, Jajpur and Bolangir participated in the consultation.

The participants coming from different blocks of the Koraput and other districts shared on the various FRA implementation issues in the grounds. Raising concern over the non recognition of community forest rights in the State, Gopinath Majhi said that “the State Government has failed to recognize the community rights over forest in the State even after the passing of four years”.

Attacking the role of Forest Department he said that, “the forest department has lost its “Jamindary” over forest after the enactment and implementation of Forest Rights Act. However it still continued to play a divisive role in the villages by promoting Vana Surakhya Samitis (VSS) which has lost its legality. Further he has warned the NGOs still involved in promoting, supporting and strengthening VSS after the enactment and implementation of FRA in the State”. 

Mrs. Malati Nayak raising the number of FRA implementation issues in the district said that, “in Koraput, FRC has not been formed in a number of forest and un-surveyed villages and FRC has been formed in a revenue village under which there are 20 big hamlets, Whatever 58 community forest rights titles said to have distributed in the district are not as per Section 3(1) over traditional boundary of forest but for 3(2) meant for developmental rights i.e school, Aganwadi centre etc.”

Ranjit Pangi, the convenor of the Adibasi Ekta Manch, Koraput said that “there are lot of gaps in the recognition of individual forest rights in the district, in most of the cases, less area has been recognized, individual forest rights of the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(OTFD) has been rejected despite the approval and recommendation of the concern Gram sabha; the SDLC and DLC have arbitrarily decided over the claims disrespecting the decision of the Gram Sabha and in many cases, titles issued to the tribal has not been demarcated and verified etc.”

In the meeting, “VSS hatao Jungle Bachao”, “VSS ku Prosahan Douthiba NGO Hatao”, Jungle Aau Jamin Haharta-Amarta Amarta” etc slogans were loudly uttered.
 In the consultation , besides members of the Bhumin Adhikar Sangathan, representative of  CSD, Odisha, Odisha Jungle Manch(OJM) , Adibasi Ekta Manch, Koraput , Odisha Adivasi Adhikar Abhijan, Bhumi Adhikar Sangathan,Koraput, Dongar Adhikari Samiti,Lamataput, Mahila Mahasangh,Ramgiri, Machhkunda Basachyut Mahasangh,Koraput, Jami Jungle Adhikar Sangathan,Bargarh, Wadaka Anchal Vikash Parishad,Kalahandi, Hirakud Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti, Jharsuguda , Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Jajpur also participated.

From the government side participating the Consultation on the first day, the Koraput Sub- Collector, Ramakanta Nayak and in the second day Ramesh Patra, ZIlla parishad Member, Baipariguda joined the programme, heard the number of issued raised by the participants and assured them to address the issues raised as soon as possible.

In the second day of the programmes, the participants of the consultation have planned for filling more and more community forest rights claims in the coming days; to return the faulty individual forest rights titles issued them to the District Level Committee (DLC) and to strengthen the protest against the VSS and Forest Department who have been the main hurdles before proper implementation of FRA in the region.

All the members of various community organizations gathered in the consultation warned the State and District Administration, Koraput to go for a massive protest, if their demands are not full filled.

PIL seeks damage for train mishap victims

 Raising the issue of lack of railway safety in the backdrop of the death of 14 persons at an unmanned level-crossing at Khairapalli near Sambalpur last week, social activist and advocate Prabir Kumar Das on Tuesday filed a PIL in the Odisha High Court seeking at least Rs 10-lakh compensation to the family of each victim.

Das also sought a court direction to both State and Central Governments to provide free treatment to all those who sustained injuries in the accident. The mishap took place when an express train hit a vehicle in which the victims were crossing the railway track on August 25.

“All the victims were farm labourers under BPL category. While 13 of the 14 deceased were women and they belonged to the SC community, their family members cannot independently fight seeking damage,” Das said in his petition.

The petition also urged the court for a direction to the Indian Railways to eliminate all the unmanned level-crossings in the State by either converting them to manned level-crossings or providing road under-bridges (RUBs) or limited height subways (LHSs).

Referring to a recent letter written by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to Railway Minister Mukul Roy, the petition maintained that there are now over 600 unmanned railway level-crossings in the State, most of which are virtual deathtraps.

Centre identifies 789 habitations for ultra small branches

The department of financial services under Union finance ministry has identified 789 habitations in 14 Naxal affected districts of Odisha covered under Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for establishment of ultra small branches (USBs).

The 14 districts are Deogarh, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nayagarh, Rayagada, Sambalpur and Sundergarh.

The establishment of USBs includes two components- capital cost of Rs 1.40 lakh per branch which is to be met out of IAP funds. On the other hand, recurring cost for the branch will be borne by the identified bank.

 “The state government is requested to inform the district level committee that funding of capital cost for the establishment of USB amounting to Rs 1.40 lakh per USB has been included as permissible work under IAP. Necessary action may kindly be taken in this regard and we may be apprised of the action taken in this matter,” Sindhushree Khullar, secretary, Planning Commission, Government of India wrote to R N Senapati, development commissioner cum additional chief secretary.

On a pan-India basis, the department of financial services has identified 7,034 habitations with a population of over 2,000 in 66 districts covered under the IAP in nine states for providing banking services through establishment of USBs. USBs would consist of a small area of 100-200 sq ft where the officer designated by the bank would be available with a laptop on pre-determined day and time in a week. The banking correspondent agent (BCA) would also operate from such premises.

While cash services would be offered by the BCA, the bank officer would offer other services, undertake field verification and follow up the banking transactions. The periodicity and duration of visits can be progressively enhanced depending upon business potential and reviewed periodically. The state finance department had recently urged all district collectors to take stock of progress made with respect to establishment of ultra small branches by commercial banks in Odisha under ‘Financial Inclusion Plan’. It may be noted that the department of financial services under Union finance ministry has underscored the need for setting up USBs in all villages with a population of over 2,000 where brick and mortar branches are currently not viable.

Prison department “unprepared” for international seminar

The state prison department has missed the August 25 deadline set by the Union home ministry to submit presentation reports on correctional measures initiated in jails. Sources said the Centre had sent the directive to all the states ahead of a six-day international seminar on prison reforms at Darussalam in Brunei from October 7.

The states were also directed to nominate their officers to fly to the Asian and Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators in Brunei. But Odisha prison wing has failed to comply with the order. “I have not seen the letter from the ministry of home affairs. We will submit a report after learning the details,” ADG (prisons) S S Hansda told on Sunday.

Sources said the delegates were scheduled to discuss core issues relating to challenges and initiatives in corrections, sharing and adaptability of best practices in correctional administration and promoting staff-offender interaction in prisons.

Hansda claimed that the state government was taking a host of correction measures such as education and vocational training to reform the inmates. Human rights activists, however, rebutted that Odisha prisons were reeling under an assortment of problems

“We often see prisoners resorting to strikes inside prisons complaining of substandard diet, unhygienic living conditions, poor health service and slow progress of trial. The government has failed to provide basic facilities to inmates,” said human rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo.

“About 84 deaths occurred in jails in Odisha in the last two years. Most of them were in their 50s and died due to poor health facilities. Some committed suicide driven by depression. Many jails are overcrowded and do not have psychiatrists and counselors,” Kanungo said. “Worried about slow progress of trial, an under trial prisoner threw slipper at a judge in Puri which indicates the sorry state of prisons in state,” he added.

Around 15,000 prisoners are languishing in 91 jails in the state, even though the actual capacity is around 9,000. Though there was a proposal in the past to build more prisons, including two open air jails, the proposed projects are moving at snail’s pace. At present, the state has only one open air jail, namely Biju Patnaik open air ashram at Jamujhari on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The two proposed open air prisons would come up in Sambalpur and Balasore.

The freedom and unrestricted privileges given to inmates at the Biju Patnaik open air ashram are being governed sans any rules. Though the prison administration had long back sent a proposal to the state government seeking formulation of a special legislation for functioning of the jail, it is still stuck in limbo.