Daily Archives: July 5, 2013

Tale of two brothers: One Maoist, another Sarpanch

Mana bhanjan Badaik, The Sarpanch of Meghpal gram panchayat

One brother still believes power would flow from the barrel of the gun, another has taken the ballot route. One has turned a hardcore radical swearing by Mao’s ideals, the other has vowed peace offensive and development thorough democratic process. This is a tale of two brothers who have treaded two different paths.

Meghpal gram panchayat is home to hardcore Maoist Gobardhan Badaik. One of his brothers Mana Bhanjan Badaik is the sarpanch of the GP. Meghpal is considered the ‘Naxalbari’ of Sambalpur district. It is the place where Maoists killed former Sarpanch of Tampargarh, Kader Singh in broad daylight in 2003 announcing their arrival. Since then, the place has been the hotbed of Maoist activities.

But there is a wind of change. Despite the threat of Maoists looming large, Mana Bhanjan has started a silent revolution for development of the panchayat.

Once considered a backward panchayat which helped Maoists make the area their stronghold, Mana Bhanjan has become a catalyst of change and villagers are gradually feeling it would isolate the Maoists someday.

Setting his priority right, Mana Bhanjan said all that people require are basic amenities __ drinking water, health, education, communication and electricity. Admitting that Maoists took advantage of the backwardness of the area to spread their tentacles, Mana Bhanjan, a Matriculate himself, lays thrust on education.

And his effort is slowly paying off. Today, new school buildings and anganwadi centres have come up in several villages under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP). In a bid to boost irrigation, he managed to get sanction for 40 farm ponds spread over the panchayat and work is on verge of completion. This, he hopes, will help the villagers remain engaged in cultivation all the time.

It will complemented by digging up a new ‘kata’ (tank) under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) at Khadiberna at an estimated cost of Rs 15 lakh.

The monsoon is likely to help store water in the ‘kata’ and ease water scarcity in the area. Similarly, Mana Bhanjan’s efforts have helped several hamlets get power supply. His relentless fight for legitimate rights of the people has helped him achieve success even in implementation of Forest Rights Act and Indira Awas Yojana.

Underdevelopment, he says, is key to growth of Maoists. His exposure to the Maoist problem in the area has helped him understand the nuance of Maoism and he exuded confidence that the Maoists will not be able to recruit youths from the panchayat any more.

However, he said a lot remains to be done and hoped that his effort will be supported by the district administration.

Sambalpur takes first step on slum-free drive

In a bid to make Sambalpur town slum-free, Sambalpur Municipality has taken first step by seeking Request For Proposal (RFP) from NGOs for participating in implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in the town.

The municipal authority published notification in this regard on Thursday following which the interested NGOs can apply for the same on or before August 1, 2013.

The Municipality has also sought RPF for socio-economic survey of households in slum areas of the town besides setting up a technical cell for urban housing for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Lower Income Group under RAY.

The State Government had earlier directed the Collectors to initiate action to free at least six cities including Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Puri of slums.

Under Centre-funded RAY, slum dwellers will be provided affordable housing colonies having all basic civic amenities.

There are a total of 168 slums in the district including 103 under Sambalpur Municipal limits, 32 and 33 in Burla and Hirakud NAC respectively.

A survey undertaken by Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation for preparing a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for Greater Sambalpur has revealed that 66 per cent of the slums in Sambalpur are located along the main road while 24 per cent are situated near nullahs, seven per cent along the railway tracks while three per cent of the slums exist on the hill slopes.

In the absence of any residential plan, migrants have settled in several unauthorised slums without regular water supply, sewerage connections and basic amenities. The municipal authorities claimed that slums would be developed in a planned manner under the RAY.

Municipal Engineer Basanta Kumar Padhy said after NGOs for the work are shortlisted, Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be prepared and cost of housing calculated.

If a particular slum is found suitable, houses under RAY will be constructed there itself or else it will be relocated, he added.

Under the Yojana, 80 per cent of the fund will be provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, 10 per cent by the State Government while the beneficiaries have to contribute 10 per cent, said Padhy.