Tag Archives: balangir news

5 burnt to death inside state bus near Balangir

Fourteen people were killed in four separate mishaps in different parts of the state on Thursday. While five persons were charred to death when a bus caught fire at Puintala near Balangir town, around 330 km from Bhubaneswar, nine others were killed in separate mishaps in Sambalpur, Sonepur and Keonjhar districts.

Sources said an Odisha State Road Transport Corporation ( OSRTC) bus from Bhubaneswar to Sinapali in Nuapada district caught fire around 2.30 am on Thursday after it hit a roadside neem tree in front of the Puintala block office. “It seems a case of rash driving. The vehicle rammed into a tree. Five were burnt while many others were injured. The driver fled,” Balangir SP R Prakash said.

Police suspect short-circuit in the engine battery triggered the fire. Most of the passengers were asleep when the accident took place. Passengers broke window shields and jumped off the bus. Five persons, who got trapped inside, were burnt to death, passengers said.

Anshu Jain, a native of Rupra Road in Kalahandi district, lost her son and mother in the mishap. “There was a loud sound. When I woke up, my son and my mother were already into flames. I could not decide what to do and eventually jumped off the bus. I could not save them,” an inconsolable Anshu said. She had boarded the bus at Boudh with her son Atul (16) and mother Shakuntala Agarwal (70). They were on their way to Rupra Road. Anshu has fractured her right hand and has been admitted in Balangir district hospital. The other deceased include Sachin Patra (42), an advocate from Patnagarh. Two other bodies were yet to be identified.

Of the 47 injured, condition of two persons was stated to be critical. “We referred two women who sustained head injuries besides severe burns to VSS Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack. They were serious,” said Balangir chief district medical officer Bikrant Kindo. Kindo said 26 passengers were discharged after first-aid while others were hospitalized.

Locals said the mishap occurred because the tree is on the middle of the road after recent expansion. “After the road was broadened, the tree is on the middle of the road. There is no radioactive light pasted on the tree as is the usual practice,” said a resident of Puintala.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced Rs 1 lakh ex-gratia for kin of the deceased. Besides the police probe, the commerce and transport department has also ordered a parallel inquiry. “I have ordered an inquiry to find out what led to the accident,” commerce and transport minister Surbat Tarai said.

Around 55 km away from the accident spot in Balangir, three others were killed when their car hit a roadside tree at Shindhol on Sambalpur-Sonepur road under Sonepur district. Sources said nine persons from Bolangir’s Lukapara village were returning to their village on Thursday after attending a wedding party at Jhankarpali near Sambalpur town. Two persons, identified as Nehru Naik and Basista Pradhan, died on the spot. One Sridhar Naik died at VSS Medical College and Hospital, Burla.

In another accident, five persons were killed when a jeep and a car collided head on near Charmal between Sambalpur and Rairakhol. While three were killed on the spot, two succumbed to their injuries on the way to hospital. Police identified the deceased as Premananda Pradhan, Akhil Kumar Sahu, Prafulla Pradhan, Judhistir Biswal and car driver Jogeswar Mohanty. They were all in the jeep.

Lower Suktel Dam: Villagers, Maoists take contrast stand

Hundreds of villagers supporting the Lower Suktel irrigation project on Tuesday blocked Balangir-Patnagarh road at Dhulusar Chhack for more than one hour.

Sudam Dharua of Telenpali village, who led the agitators, said local tribals are supporting construction of the lower Suktel irrigation dam, but some ‘outsiders with vested interest’ have been creating disturbances. They presented a memorandum in this regard to the Sub-Collector.

In another incident, Maoists blew up telecommunication towers in Rengali village under Khaprakhol block of Balangir district and Puruna bus stand in Paikmal of Bargarh district in protest against the Suktel project.

In the posters left behind by the Maoists at both the spots, they threatened the district administrative officials of dire consequences if they go ahead with the project. “Construction of this dam is being undertaken without any discussion on the rehabilitation and resettlement of villagers who would be displaced by the project. This is illegal and we protest this decision of the Government,” stated the posters signed by Balangir-Bargarh Mahasamundi Regional Committee of CPI (Maoists).

The Maoists asked the officials concerned to stop the construction works immediately. This apart, they demanded hike of wages of kendu leaf pluckers.

2 lakh Odisha workers suffer in hellish Andhra kilns

They are loaded onto trains like goats, wide-eyed and scared. Few know where they are being herded to or where the trains – the Korba-VSKP Link Express and the Durg-VSKP Passenger – are going. They are pushed into unreserved compartments, one stacked above the other like sacks of rice. Some die without food or water; others from sheer heat. But no one cares. It’s modern-day slavery at its worst.

Every year in November, brick kiln workers with hunger gnawing inside them migrate from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh to escape abject poverty. This ‘distress migration’, which happens during the lean agricultural months, soon descends to a hellish existence as these workers have 18-hour work days, regular assaults and inhuman beatings.

“Some seem to have lost their minds in the process,” says Subhadeep Kumar, a University of Hyderabad (UoH) student. “I don’t think they were that way when they were recruited.” Odisha workers suffer in hellish Andhra kilns

Sudhir Katiyar, project director of Prayas Centre for Labor Research and Action (PCLRA), says, “There are at least 2,00,000 Odisha brick kiln workers in Andhra. They are a perfect example of slavery in modern times.”

These workers migrate from Balangir, Koraput, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Bargarh districts of west Odisha. “Government schemes are not implemented properly here,” says Trilochan Punji, president of Zindabad Sangathan which led to the formation of a union in Balangir. “NREGS mein ghotala hai (It’s a scam). They don’t get paid for any work.”

The state administration, meanwhile, has turned a blind eye to this migration. “We approached the Balangir district labour officer, but he did not respond,” says Punji. “Why should he? The sardars are getting these people work outside the state, so the administration doesn’t need to worry about their employment.”

They are then sent to kilns in Ranga Reddy, Medak and Nalgonda districts of Andhra where they work for a pittance. According to the Minimum Wages Act, a pair of workers should be paid Rs 367 for making 1,000 bricks. But in reality, a family (3-4 members) is paid just Rs 150-200.

Things got so bad last March that there was an uprising of workers in Dundigal village in Ranga Reddy district demanding just payment. The police detained the organizers and then allowed the employers a free run to flex their muscles, says Katiyar. “We have filed six group cases for payment of minimum wages and there has been absolutely no action by the labour department,” says Katiyar. When Kantabanji superintendent of police Avinash Kumar caught some brick kiln owners last year, he was transferred within a fortnight.

If these workers try to walk out, they are threatened with physical assault or beaten up. Goons follow them wherever they go. With no spare cash, fleeing at night is also impossible. Children too aren’t spared. They are made to flip bricks while they’re drying because the heavier palms of adults may lead to cracks.

When the Human Rights Forum approached authorities to do something, they were asked why the labourers can’t just leave, says P Madhavi, Hyderabad committee convenor of the organization. “But where will they go? They have nothing to go back home to. The solution is to protect their rights.” Meanwhile, a committee comprising the Indian Federation of Trade Unions, HRF, Action Aid and UoH has been formed to see that the voices of these exploited workers are heard.

Miscreants deface a woman in Kantabanji

On Friday night in Kantabanji, Balangir, an unidentified miscreants defacing a woman by cutting her hair and blacken her face after looting the house. And she got to know about this incident from her husband only who came late night as she was deep sleeping with her daughter when the incident took place.

Police registered a case against the miscreants on the complaint of her husband Sanjay Agrawal. As per the complaint, the miscreants looted cash worth Rs 20,000 and 18 tolas of gold ornament.

Highway amenities centres, to reduce accidents

 With a view to reducing the rising number of road accidents and ensure road safety, the State Government has decided to develop roadside amenities centres in 12 places in the State in the first phase. The State Human Rights Commission has urged the completion of the projects in a time-bound manner.

The amenities would include parking lots, restaurant/snacks bar, toilet and rest room for drivers, rest rooms for passengers, telephone booth and internet kiosk, first aid, petrol pump, minor vehicle repair shops, spare part shops, ATMs and bank extension counters, tourist linked services, police post, budget hotels and landscaping with plantation at every 60-80 km intervals. They would be set up along the National Highways (NHs) and State Highways (SHs) for providing adequate rest and refreshment to the road users.

Due to absence of clearly identified parking place along the highways, heavy vehicles park on the road during the night time causing many accidents. According to the Motor Vehicle Act, the State Government should provide traffic aid posts and heavy vehicle parking complexes on the side of the SHs and NHs. The Government would provide the parking place to the vehicles along the roads keeping the problem in view.

These amenities centres would be developed in PPP mode wherein land will be provided by the State Government, while the developers for the projects will be decided through an open bidding process. During the first phase, Kacharamal (Phulanakhara) near Bhubaneswar, Chandikhole in Jajpur, Garavana near Sambalpur-Baragarh ,Rairakhole in Angul-Sambalpur, Lahunipada near Remuli-Rajmunda , Ghatagaon in Panikoili-Remuli Road, Basta in Baleswar-Laxman nath, Batagaon in Bhubaneswar-Puri Road, Barkote in Biramitrapur-Barkote road, Meramundali in Cuttack-Angul road, Soro in Bhadrak-Baleswar NH and Badatrilochanpur/Sunasahi of Panikoili in Chandikhol-Bhadrak NH would be taken up for setting up the amenities centres. The National HighwayAuthority of India has already started work at Soro. In the second phase, the centres would be set up in Koraput, Balangir, Malkangiri, Nuapada and places like Sunabeda, Potangi, Ambapani, Boriguma, Sundergada and Kesinga.