Tag Archives: Bhubaneswar

Odisha to invite bids for vegetable retail chains in three towns

The horticulture department of the Odisha government will soon come up with tenders for setting up of vegetable retail chains in towns like Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur, after a similar initiative in Bhubaneswar.

The department has already facilitated setting up of two vegetable stores, branded as ‘Udyan Fresh’ in the capital city with the help of private players and aims to open at least 18 more. In the adjacent Cuttack city, it has plans to open five such stores.

“For Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur towns, we have not decided how many stores will be there. We will notify it in our next expression of interest advertisements,” said K B Dash, an official dealing with the ‘Udyan Fresh’ scheme, in the Directorate of Horticulture, Government of Odisha.

 These stores are being set up as part of a scheme of the Central agricultural ministry, launched in 2011. Known as vegetable initiative for urban clusters (VIUC) plan under the Rastriya Krishi Vikash Yojna, it has little more than Rs 12 crore provision for Odisha in the current fiscal.

The scheme envisages development of vegetable clusters and opening up of retail stores for ensuring supply of good quality vegetables to a city or town in every state having a population of one million and above. In the case of states with smaller population, the state capital city or township having less than one million population are also covered.

As per 2011 census, no city in Odisha has a population over one million. However, the combined population of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack goes beyond two million, according to an estimate.

The expression of interest will be open for domestic and international investors too, informed the horticulture official.

“Companies like Reliance Fresh can apply for the stores like it has done in Andhra Pradesh. Foreign investors too can apply after the recent central government decision,” said Das, referring to the latest announcement by the Union government allowing foreign players to invest in retail sector.

Under the VIUC scheme, the promoters would be subsidised for setting up selling stores, buying refrigerated vehicles and establishing cold stores, apart from buying farmers’ produce. So far, the state horticulture department has identified three vegetable clusters within the 100 Km radius of Bhubaneswar.

State to set up six more anti-human trafficking units

Centre has asked the State government to convert primary schools having low enrolments in urban and semi urban areas into integrated hub of services for children especially vulnerable ones.

In a recent communication addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Krishna Tirath, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, expressed concerns over inadequacy of services for deprived children like shelters, creches and residential schools especially in urban and semi-urban areas.

“A number of primary schools are having low enrolment and thus, are under consideration of closure. There may be unutilised government buildings and similar infrastructure in cities as well,” Ms. Tirath pointed out.

She suggested that such schools and buildings could be better utilised for establishment of an integrated hub of services for children.

“Services available in such hubs could include open shelter under Integrated Child Protection Scheme, creche facilities under Rajiv Gandhi National Creches Scheme for Children of Working Mothers (RGNCS), anganwadis under Integrated Child Development Schemes and residential schools under Sarva Sikshan Abhiyan,” the Union Minister noted seeking Chief Minister’s intervention for expeditious establishment of such centres. Sources in State Women and Child Development Department that steps had already been initiated to action plan on the proposal.

Meanwhile, the State government has decided to set up six more anti human trafficking units (IAHTUs) to track human trafficking in the State. These units would be located at office of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Crime Branch, Cuttack, DIG (North Central Range), Talcher, DIG (South Western Range), Koraput, Inspector General of Police (Railway), Cuttack, Sundargarh and Kandhamal districts.

At present there are six IAHTUs operating in the State. The locations are office of IG (Crime Branch), Cuttack, Commissionerate of Police, Bhubaneswar and offices of IG of Police, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balasore and Berhampur.

Freedom after 22 years, Dharua’s family

Freedom after 22 years, Dharua's familyIt took Chandra Dharua, a free man like anyone else in Independent India, 22 years to have a taste of real freedom.

Forty-five-year-old Dharua, a migrant labourer from Odisha, and his wife, who were in confinement in an Andhra Pradesh brick kiln, arrived at the Bolangir railway station, about 350 km from Bhubaneswar, on 29th august, Wednesday evening.

After being forced to work as bonded labourers, Dharua and his family members were rescued from the kiln in Medak district on Tuesday.

Dharua was just 23 in 1990 when he, along with his wife, had set out to Andhra Pradesh to earn a living by working in a brick manufacturing unit. The couple had hoped to return home within months. But the owner did not let them go. Whenever they attempted to flee, they were subjected to all kinds of torture. When Dharua boarded a train from Hyderabad along with his wife, three daughters and one son on Tuesday evening, he cried inconsolably as he had never imagined that he would return home one day, said Dayasagar Pradhan, an official of Aide-et-Action, an NGO that played a key role in their release.

“I had taken a debt of Rs. 2000 for working in the brick kiln 22 years ago. Initially I used to be paid Rs. 200 a week for food. After 22 years, the amount was raised to Rs. 500 a week. One can easily gauge the traumatic life we had all these years,” Dharua told this correspondent over phone on his arrival at Bolangir.

The migrant labourer had only faint memories of his village, relatives and friends. “I don’t know how my brothers look like now,” an emotional Dharua said. He wondered whether his fellow villagers would recognise him or not. But Dharua said he would start life afresh in his native village.

“We had never come across such a painful story of migrants. Usually, a migrating labour family returns home after working for four to five months. Dharua’s story is a severe form of bonded labour,” said Umi Daniel, head of Aide-et-Action, who has been working on migration issues for years.

Mr. Daniel said about one lakh people from western Odisha districts migrate to work in the brick kilns of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka every year. In a drought year, the number increases by 50 per cent, he said.

Along with Dharua, seven other families who had been working continuously for three years in that kiln, were also rescued. Andhra Pradesh has handed over bonded labour certificates to these migrant families.

Lawyers boycott courts

Irrespective of the claims and counterclaims about the success of the State bandh on Monday, an unprecedented trend was observed on the day when the lawyers community across the State came out to support the Congress- sponsored bandh spontaneously.

Judicial activities throughout the State came to a grinding halt as lawyers of all bars, including that of the High Court Bar Association here stayed away from the court proceedings which forced the judges to call it a day soon without transacting any business. “Never in the past decade, had the lawyers showed such unanimity to throw their weight behind the cause of Congress party,” observed a senior advocate of the High Court here.

This was “unprecedented” and probably it could be a protest much against the State police for their highhandedness and prejudiced approach than against the Naveen Patnaik government, opined another lawyer.

Senior advocate of the High Court and Congress leader Narasimha Mishra pointed out that the lawyers and intelligentsia of the State have now understood that the State is no safer in the hands of the present BJD government headed by Naveen Patnaik. “This is the beginning of a countdown for BJD government,” Mishra told this correspondent adding that he had thanked the lawyers for their support to the bandh.  

The Pradesh Congress Committee had given the bandh call to protest against the “barbaric” attack of the policemen to party workers during the mammoth rally organised by the party in Bhubaneswar last week. According to reports reaching here, court activities across the State were paralysed on Monday as lawyers unexpectedly came out in support of the bandh.

In many places, it was seen that the lawyers were urging the judges not to attend the courts saying that they were protesting for a larger interest of the State.

Court activities hampered in Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Dhenkanal, Kendrapara and many other important cities of the State including that of Cuttack city here where lawyers of all the 14 bars stayed away from courts.

Similarly, the bandh on the day was total in Cuttack city as business establishments, banks and insurance offices, schools, colleges and Universities were closed while the government offices witnessed thin attendance.

The Congress activists picketed at Buxi Bazar, Mangalabag, Badambadi, Khapuria and College Square and disrupted the train and national highway traffic passing through the city.

Hundreds of Congress activists including OPCC general secretary Suresh Mohapatra, City Congress president Mohammed Moqim, State Mahila Congress chief Bijaylaxmi Sahu and Cuttack district president Prakash Behera were taken under preventive custody by the police.

While no major untoward incident was reported from any part of the city during the bandh, police said a minor commotion took place at Vikash Bhawan, the administrative building of the city civic body.

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.