Archive for August, 2010

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

Stiff opposition for Sambalpur University’s ‘private exam’ move

Following is a report from expressbuzz.com

SAMBALPUR: The privatisation and outsourcing spree has not spared Sambalpur University either. If the varsity authorities have their way, students will soon find their examination and evaluation done by a private agency. And this has stirred up a hornet’s nest.  The student community and the intelligentsia expressed strong resentment at the move to outsource examination.

The university is planning Integrated Examination Management System under which a private agency will be hired. The agency will look after all the exam-related activities __ registration of examinees, admit cards, setting question papers, valuation of answersheets and issuing provisional marksheets. The system is to be implemented at the university’s 220-affiliated colleges, besides various departments.  Once implemented, this would effectively end the work of six examination cells, six confidential cells, one private cell and one distance education cell that are involved in conducting examinations of around 65,000 students every year. 

Sources said three south-based IT firms __ Mind Largx Infotech Limited (Bangalore), Merit Trac Services Private Limited (Bangalore) and Om Shanti Soft Solution Private Limited (Hyderabad) had evinced interest in the project after the varsity floated a tender in July.  Although university authorities have not yet finalised the deal, the move has led to public outcry. Former Vice-Chancellor of Berhampur University Prof A P Padhi and All-India University Employees’ Federation president Bhawani Hota have asked the authorities to first evolve a consensus.  University syndicate member Karunakar Supakar said he would raise the issue at the syndicate. 

The decision has also come in for stiff opposition from Sambalpur University Employees’ Association, All-Koshal Students’ Union, Sambalpur Chhatra Vikash Parishad and Sambalpur unit of NSUI.  The NSUI, led by district president Debasis Dash, held a meeting on Saturday and resolved to launch a stir if the decision is not withdrawn. However, university Registrar Dr S S Rath said the proposal is at nascent stage and all aspects will be looked into before taking a final decision.

This report was filed by Mr. Ratan K Pani

August 13, 2010 at 8:33 am 15 comments

1 crore 29 lakh rupees sanctioned for relief work of Kalahandi flood: Orissa govt

http://ishare.rediff.com/video/entertainment/1-crore-29-lakh-rupees-sanctioned-for-relief-work-at-flood-hit-orissa/1909577

August 12, 2010 at 8:08 pm 1 comment

Urgent need to upgrade Jharsuguda airport, Govt must chip in:merinews

Following report is from merinews.com:

JHARSUGUDA TOWN is emerging as one of the economic hubs of India. It has many industrial units which need no introduction viz Ultratech Cement of the Aditya Birla Group at Dhutra (India’s largest cement manufacturing company), SMC Power Generation Ltd, Action Ispat Ltd, Eastern Steel and Power Ltd, and SPS Steel and Power Ltd, and Utkal Alumina International Ltd.

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 work-force from all parts of India. To cater to this need an airport is essential. The Jharsuguda airstrip was build 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 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 has informed to the Orissa legislative assembly that the AAI is considering the proposal of the state government for developing the Jharasuguda 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.

It is also reported that a private is an obstacle for developing the Jharsuguda airport.

After analysing these reports about Jharsuguda airport; we 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 are 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?

We urge you to take the following steps to make Jharsuguda airport operational:
 

  • Orissa 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?
     
  • 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 Orissa government should propose the AAI to make Jharsuguda an international airport. There is also possibility of connecting Jharsuguda with direct flight to China and Korea as Vedanta group is employing many Chinese and Korean nationals at its Jharsuguda plant. This will further encourage Buddhist tourism in the region viz at Ganiapali of Bargarh and Baud town of Western Orissa.
     
  • Presently, Jharsuguda airport can accommodate F27 type planes. Therefore, facilitation of small commercial flight should be encouraged.
     
  • Orissa 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 Orissa 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 the need of whole Western Orissa. This will accelerate the socio-economic condition of this region. Therefore, we urge you to take necessary steps to make this airport ready. 

August 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

Memorandum for operationalization of the proposed Jharsuguda airport

Download the Memorandum for operationalization of the proposed Jharsuguda airport

August 11, 2010 at 9:42 am 1 comment

MP Bhakta Das appeals to central govt. to help the Kalahandi flood victims

Following report is from the Samaj:

August 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm 1 comment

At places like Balangir, Odisha govt. should invest more on renewable energy production

Dear honorable CM of Odisha,
 
It is reported in The Samaj that Jharsuguda will be the highest electrical power producing town of India: http://wp.me/pFC4h-Gu
 
Is this a good thing for Jharsuguda which has already high concentration of heavy industries? The western Orissa will be full of thermal powerplants as many are coming up at Birmaharajpur of Sonepur, Titlagarh of Balangir, one at Kalahandi and one at Sundergarh. The temp of western Orissa will increase many fold.
 
Titlagarh is known in the country for recording highest temperature during summer. Places like Titlagarh needs more non-polluting industries like solar power plants. I belive in such places the govt. should invest more on solar power units.
 
Also, putting all the industries in the western Orissa and establishing most of the HRD institutes in the coastal belt is not at all a good idea. It is surprising that various places of western Odisha like Balangir do not have any state govt. technical institutes viz. engg/medical college or central govt. instituts.
 
This needs to corrected.
 
 
Best regards,
Sanjib

Dr.Sanjib Kumar Karmee, PhD
Department of Biotechnology
Delft University of Technology
Julianalaan 136, 2628 BL Delft,
The Netherlands

August 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm 2 comments

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