Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

Odisha to have 21 new forensic units

The state government has decided to set up 21 new forensic units in different police districts and government railway police (GRP) stations to expedite investigation in various cases.

At present, the state has three regional forensic science laboratories at Sambalpur, Berhampur and Balasore beside 15 laboratories in each undivided police district headquarter.

“We will soon decide whether we will go for full-fledged district forensic science laboratories or mobile forensic units in 19 police districts and two GRP districts,” a senior police officer said. “We would open these units for speedy completion of investigation. Inadequate infrastructure and manpower are delaying chemical examination at the existing forensic laboratories in the state,” he added.

While the district and regional forensic units carry out chemical examinations of physical clues in trivial crimes, the State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL) in Bhubaneswar tackles major cases. SFSL undertakes examinations in seven specialized divisions – physics, ballistics, chemistry, toxicology, biology, serology and lie detection.

Sources said the SFSL and its three regional units examined a total of 5,354 cases out of the 43,515 exhibits received from across the state in 2011. The four units had examined 5,135 and 4,551 cases in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The government imparts training to police personnel, judicial officers and medical students at Biju Patnaik State Police Academy in Bhubaneswar and Police Training College in Angul for better utilization of scientific evidences in crime investigation.

Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd moves SC over mine closure

 Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking a stay on the order of the state mining department asking it to close down six of its coal mines for not having environment clearance. Coal production has come to a standstill in these mines from Saturday after the company closed those after getting the notice.

“Out of the six mines, five are underground ones. Since we are a nationalized company, we follow all government guidelines. So we have no other option but to close down all six coal mines at Orient area in Jharsuguda’s Belpahar after receiving the closure notice from the deputy director of mines. However, we have moved the apex court because we have already completed all formalities as per guidelines,” a senior official of MCL said on Tuesday.

According to him, the company is hopeful to get the stay as it is not at fault. “We have already applied for clearance fulfilling all formalities but the application is pending with the department concerned since a long time,” he said. He said earlier the apex court had directed the government to expedite the case submitted to the principal chief conservator of forests and forwarding the same to the ministry of environment and forests for stage-1 clearance.

A MCL release said the company is losing huge revenue because of closure as the company produces coal to the tune 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes a day from these coal mines. “This is not the question of loss. But 5,000 workers are sitting idle because of no work. If this continues for few days, then the workers will be morally down,” the PRO of the company, Dikken Mehra said.

The closure of the coal mines has affected the supply of coal to the thermal power stations leading to power crisis in the state. NTPC, OPGC and NALCO are facing difficulties in getting coal after the closure of the mines.

Vigilance cells to detect fake caste papers

The state government has decided to set up two dedicated vigilance cells in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to detect cases of upper caste people procuring SC and ST certificates. At present, such cases are being monitored by the human rights protection cells (HRPC) in the twin cities.

Though district vigilance cells exist in Khurda and Cuttack districts to verify the civil status of ST and SC people, the urban police districts of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, however, do not come under the jurisdiction of Khurda and Cuttack because Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are governed by the Odisha Urban Police Act.

“Just as officers in the rank of DSP are in-charge of vigilance cells in all districts, we will designate assistant commissioners of police (ACPs) to head the cells in the commissionerate system”: twin city commissioner of police Sunil Roy. District vigilance cells were constituted in Odisha in June 2008.

Sources said the police are also contemplating to engage the proposed cells to probe cases relating to atrocities on STs and SCs. While 38 ST and SC atrocity and fake caste certificate cases were registered in Bhubaneswar in 2011, around 25 cases were reported in Cuttack the same year, sources said. Out of around 120 cases registered in Bhubaneswar in the last three years, 70 cases were disposed, sources said.

More than 9,500 cases relating to atrocities are pending in different district judge courts. Though the state government in 2010 had announced to open special courts in atrocity-prone zones like Berhampur, Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar to deal with ST and SC-related cases, it is still a non-starter.

“It is good that police would set up vigilance cells to check fake certificate issues and atrocity cases. But it remains to be seen whether policemen actually give justice to the complainants,” said Haladhar Sethi, president ST and SC Youth Council, an outfit fighting for the causes of the ST and SC people in the state. “At many places, police are harassing the complainants and not receiving their complaints. Government is purposely not registering complaints to evade criticism,” Sethi said.

Official sources said 1,662 ST and SC atrocity cases were registered in 2011, the figure stood at 1,582 and 1,541 in 2010 and 2009, respectively. Last month, chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced to open legal aid cells in all 314 blocks with two legal retainers to assist the complainants free of cost.

HC notice to Railways on Sambalpur train mishap

 The Orissa High Court yesterday issued notices to the state government and the Railways to file counters within two weeks on a PIL seeking Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the families of 14 persons killed in a train accident near Sambalpur last month.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S K Mishra issued notices to the respondents, returnable within 15 days. The high court also directed the Odisha government to provide proper treatment free of cost to the persons injured in the accident in which an express train hit a vehicle in which the victims were crossing the railway track at an unmanned level crossing. Advocate and social activist Prabir Das filed the PIL last month stating that 13 of the 14 deceased were women all belonging to the scheduled caste community.

Since they were agricultural workers and their families were covered under BPL category, the petitioner had justified filing the PIL as the Railways had refused to compensate the families of the victims. At least four injured persons are now under treatment at the VSS medical college and hospital in Burla.