Archive for August, 2010

Vedanta commissions its 2,400 MW independent power plant in Jharsuguda of Orissa

Following is a report by IANS published in yahoo:

Bhubaneswar, Aug 21 (IANS) Sterlite Energy Limited, a subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, Saturday commissioned the first unit of its 2,400 MW independent power plant in Orissa.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the unit of 600 MW at Jharsuguda, 374 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, a senior official of the company told IANS.

The Vedanta group has invested about Rs.10,500 crore for this project that will be among the largest private initiatives in power sector in India, he said.

‘The coal-fired independent thermal power plant is the first of its kind in private sector in the state with its state of the art technology,’ he said.

The plant has employed many environment friendly features, including high contracted slurry disposal (HCSD) with very low consumption of water as compared to wet slurry system, the official said.

The independent power plant would be a zero effluent discharge plant with provision for water circulation and rain water harvesting, he said.

Coal, the raw material for the plant, will be sourced from near by IB Valley coalfield. Power produced from the plant’s first unit will be given to Orissa at a cheap rate, he said.

August 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm 1 comment

Enhanced scholarship for Orissa’s students; Is this enough?

Following is a report from expressbuzz.com:

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to enhance scholarships for college students and those pursuing technical courses. 

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting presided by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here today. Plus Two, degree, post-graduate, engineering, medical, dental, agriculture and veterinary students will be eligible for the enhanced scholarships.  

It was also decided that more students will be given scholarships from the current academic year. The junior merit scholarship for the Plus Two students has been increased from ` 40 to ` 300 per month. Senior merit scholarship for degree students has been hiked from ` 50 to ` 500 per month.  

The PG merit scholarship will be ` 1000 per month. This has been enhanced from ` 60. The scholarship for students pursuing engineering, medical, dental and other technical studies will be ` 10,000 per year.  

The income limit of the parents for availing the scholarship for their wards has been enhanced to ` 4.5 lakh per year from ` 24,000. Interested students can apply for the scholarship to the Higher Education Department through their respective colleges. 

While 5000 students will be given the scholarship at the Plus Two level, this will benefit 1000 students at the degree level. 

At PG level, the scholarship will be given to 500 students. Besides, 10,000 students from different technical courses will be extended the scholarship.  

The Chief Minister underscored the need for creating awareness among the students about the new scholarship structure.  

He said the students should get the scholarship amount at the right time.  

Higher Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra, Bijay Kumar Patnaik, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Additional Development Commissioner Rabinarayan Senapati, Principal Secretary in the Finance Department Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, Secretary, Higher Education Department, Madhusudan Padhi, and senior officials were present. 

August 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm 15 comments

Lack of rainfall : Drought fear in Balangir district

Following report is from The Pioneer:

Crucial operations for the Kharif paddy cultivation like transplanting and beushaning (blind cultivation) have come to a standstill in Balangir district due to the lack of rainfall since the first week of August. There is a threat of drought here.

Most agricultural lands in the district are upland where paddy is sown by the broadcasting method. Agriculture official sources said that broadcasting of paddy cultivation has been taken up in 1,01,100 hectare of land. However, shortage of rainfall has affected beushaning.

Similarly, in Bahal (low land), transplanting has to be taken up in 77,000 hectares of land, but the absence of rain has affected the operation. The transplanting process has been completed only in 60 per cent of the Bahal land.

A few days ago, Bongomunda and Titilagarh blocks received good rain. However, there has been no rainfall in Patnagarh and Balangir blocks, said an agriculture official. Unless there is rainfall within the next seven days, the crop situation, first of all, in uplands would be really precarious. As such, 30 per cent of upland has not been covered at all, he pointed out.

If the prolonged dry spell continues, it may result in drought, said the agriculture official. As farmers point out, in previous years they used to complete all operations, including transplanting and beushaning by Shravan Purnima as there was hardly any problem of rain. The number of continuous rainy days, locally known as Jhadi Barsha, is absent this year.

There seems to be a drought-like situation. The district administration should prepare contingency plans for this, said president of the Zilla Krushak Mahasnagh Sudhir Parischha.

With the monsoon playing hide-and-seek, farmers are worried to save their crops while a few of them expect formation of low pressure to end the dry spell.

August 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

HIV/AIDS spreading fast in western Odisha: The Pioneer

Following report is from The Pioneer:

Ask anybody about western Odisha, and the answer would be of a backward area where concentration of poverty, mass migration and malnutrition is high, even though it has a high concentration of mineral and mining is common. Unfortunately, western Odisha is also lags in healthcare facilities.

Recent reports of HIV/AIDS spreading its tentacles here with as many as 184 persons succumbing to AIDS in 12 backward districts of the State have made the situation grim. There are around 2,400 HIV positive people in this region, even as the United Nations has declared combating HIV/AIDS as one of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and universal access to health services as one of the basic human rights.

According to a report of Odisha State AIDS Control Society, there are a total of 17,708 people living with HIV in Odisha out of which 11,052 are men and 6,656 are women. Out of 1,407 AIDS patients, 1,109 have succumbed to the dreaded disease, says the report.

In 12 districts of Odisha – Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Nawarangpur, Rayagada, Balangir, Sonepur, Boudh and Kandhamal – a total of 184 persons have died and 2,395 people are HIV positive.

In Jharsuguda district, a total of 114 cases have been detected so far while four have died from AIDS. In Sambalpur district, there are 673 HIV positive cases and out of 39 AIDS patients reported, 33 have succumbed to the disease. In Bargarh district, 180 HIV positive cases have been detected and six have died from AIDS. In Nuapada district, 150 persons have are HIV positive and 19 people have died from AIDS. In Kalahandi district, 264 people have been detected as HIV positive and three have succumbed to the decease. In Rayagada district, 431 have been identified as HIV positive and 51 have died from AIDS. In Nawarangpur district, 409 have been identified as HIV positive and 15 have died from AIDS. In Boudh district, 326 persons have been identified as HIV positive. In Kandhamal district, 32 have been identified as HIV positive and 15 have died from AIDS. In Sonepur district, 17 persons have been identified as HIV positive.

Balangir, which is known for its acute poverty and mass migration, has now 465 HIV positive cases and 39 have died so far. However, official figures state that 327 people have been identified as HIV positive.

Counselors have been appointed in all the 14 blocks of the district but there are only five technicians.

It is futile to expect a person of Tureikela or Muribahal to come to Titlagarh for blood test. The appointment of laboratory technicians is done by the Odisha State AIDS Control Society. We have nothing to say, says an official here. We are trying to manage by imparting training to our technicians on HIV testing and posting them in migrant-prone blocks of the districts, said CDMO Dr PC Sahu.

The second ART centre in western Odisha was opened in Balangir after Burla in May this year. But it has not opened in a full-fledged manner as there is no permanent staff and only one medical officer and a pharmacist has been posted.

According to reports, the ART centre at Burla is not functioning effectively. We have to inform officials of the ART centre about the patients. Patients who come here are allegedly harassed by the officials. The drug adherence centre at Burla does not function and patients face a lot of inconvenience. There is a network of HIV positive people in Balangir which is called the Balangir Network of Positive People but they are not able to do anything.

Even as 327 people have been detected HIV positive, this is just the tip of the iceberg given the mass migration. The number of infected people can go up to one per cent of the total population or 1,500 people of the district.

Ignorance among people, lackadaisical attitude among personnel involved in combating HIV/AIDS and absence of laboratory technicians fail to give the real picture. After the ICTC centre started in Titlagarh, the number of HIV positive cases went up rapidly. If the ICTC centres function with full-time laboratory technicians, the number is expected rise.

There is every possibility of the number of HIV positive cases going up to 1,500 in Balangir district alone and other migrant-prone backward districts like Nuapada, Kalahandi and Rayagada are equally vulnerable, points out an NGO activist.

The integrated counseling and testing facility (ICTC) has been provided only in districts belonging to A and B category in HIV prevalence while the C category districts are being overlooked. It must be noted that the prevalence of HIV is high in regions where there is acute poverty and migration, argues an official here.

Ironically, even after six years of elapse of the OSCAS, its website does not provide any data or information about the prevalence of the disease.

According to reports, major modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS are unsafe sex followed by blood transfusion and it affects mostly the youth in the age group of 14 to 35 years.

Migration has been one of the major factors in western Odisha for the spread of HIV among the rural people. The spouses of migrant labourers of western Odisha are vulnerable to the disease but neither they can challenge and defy the patriarchal system nor can get rid of the infection without preventive measures.

The health rights of the rural poor need to be addressed through inclusive approach. The HIV testing facility is still not available in all CHCs. The absence of laboratory technicians in ICTCs makes the entire system non-functional, said Sashikant Mallick of ActionAid.

Changing lifestyle, poverty, mass migration and lack of access of universal treatment of HIV people have worsened the situation, besides the stigma and discrimination attached with the disease.

While the big bosses implementing the projects are getting huge salary and luxury, bottom level workers are fed up with heavy work entrusted by their officers, rued an NGO activist.

Worse, even as the United Nations has put combating HIV/AIDS as one of the millennium development goals (MDG), and India is a signatory to it, it has not even started and even worse, it is spreading and absence of testing facilities and personnel has been causing much inconvenience.

August 20, 2010 at 7:17 pm 2 comments

Campaign for operationalization of the proposed Jharsuguda airport

Here are some reports on the campaign for operationalization of the proposed Jharsuguda airport:
 
http://www.dailypioneer.com/276050/Govt-must-chip-in-to-upgrade-Jharsuguda-airport.html

http://www.orissadiary.com/Showyournews.asp?id=166

http://www.merinews.com/article/urgent-need-to-upgrade-jharsuguda-airport-govt-must-chip-in/15828460.shtml

http://www.mynews.in/News/Memorandum_for_operationalization_of_the_proposed_Jharsuguda_airport_N80233.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/35729881/Memorandum-for-operationalization-of-the-proposed-Jharsuguda-airport

https://kddf.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/memorandum-for-operationalization-of-the-proposed-jharsuguda-airport/

August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Kalahandi’s flood: a manmade disaster?

Following report is from The Dharitri:

August 14, 2010 at 5:37 pm 1 comment

Government must chip in to upgrade Jharsuguda airport

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

Sanjib Kumar Karmee

Jharsuguda town is emerging as one of the economic hubs of India. It has many industrial units like Ultratech Cement of the Aditya Birla Group at Dhutra, SMC Power Generation Ltd, Action Ispat Ltd, Eastern Steel and Power Ltd, SPS Steel and Power Ltd, Utkal Alumina International Ltd, etc. Recently, it is reported that Jharsuguda will be the highest electric power producing town of India since industrial giants like Vedanta Aluminum Limited (VAL), Reliance Energy and Sterlite Energy Limited are developing power plants at Jharsuguda.

As Jharsuguda is emerging as the fastest growing town in Orissa, it is also witnessing huge migration of workforce from all parts of India. To cater to this need, an airport is essential. The Jharsuguda airstrip was built during World War II. There is a proposal to make this fully operational. However, the State Government is yet to realise the importance of this airport as evident from the following highlights as reported by various media sources.

It was reported that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has decided to upgrade the airstrip at Jharsuguda into a full-fledged airport. So, the Government has decided to opt for a public-private partnership (PPP) for the work. In this regard, SREI, a Kolkata-based finance company had expressed interest and was negotiating with the Government. But so far nothing has happened.

Recently, the Chief Minister informed the Odisha Legislative Assembly that the AAI is considering the proposal of the State Government for developing the Jharsuguda airport and it has asked for the required 815 acres of land free of cost. Responding to this, the State Government has requested the AAI to scale down their requirement of land as only 734 acres of land is available near the airport.

After analysing these reports about Jharsuguda airport, one can come to the conclusion that nothing much has happened in the past ten years. Are these announcements about making Jharsuguda airport operational only sweet talk? Are we going to see any passenger plane arriving or taking off in the near future? Is this the outcome of the persistent efforts of our leaders?

In order to make Jharsuguda airport operational, the Odisha Government should provide the required 815 acres of land to the AAI. Providing 734 acres of land might hinder the future expansion of the airport. Moreover, if the Government is capable of acquiring land for building industries and dams; why can’t it acquire land for the development of an airport? The Government should complete the land acquisition for Jharsuguda airport at the earliest.

Very soon our neighbouring State Andhra Pradesh will have two international airports. The Odisha Government should propose the AAI to make Jharsuguda an international airport. There is also possibility of connecting Jharsuguda with direct flights to China and Korea as Vedanta Group is employing many Chinese and Korean nationals at its Jharsuguda plant. This will further encourage Buddhist tourism at Ganiapali in Bargarh and Baud town in western Odisha.

Presently, Jharsuguda airport can accommodate F27 type planes. Therefore, facilitation of small commercial flight should be encouraged. The Odisha Government should implement the master plan to be submitted by the administrative staff college of Hyderabad for Jharsuguda town to make it a 21st century city. In addition, the Government should push for establishing some State and national level institutes in this town.

In this regard, immediate operationalisation of Jharsuguda airport is essential to cater to the need of whole western Odisha. This will accelerate the socio-economic condition of this region. The Government should take necessary steps to make this airport ready.

August 14, 2010 at 5:10 am Leave a comment

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