Archive for December, 2010

HRD minister announces additional 200,000 engineering seats

Following is a report from the

NEW DELHI: In a pleasant surprise for students, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal Thursday announced an increase of almost 200,000 seats in engineering courses in India.

As part of reforms in All India Council for Technical Education ( AICTE )) norms, the minister also announced additional 80,000 seats in management and 2,200 seats in architecture courses.

The norms for land requirement for engineering colleges were also liberalised, with Sibal saying that lesser space will be needed for establishing technical institutes.

While an engineering college in rural India will need 10 acres of land, just 2.5 acres of land will be needed in urban areas.


December 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to set up medical and engineering colleges in Orissa

Following report is from the Pioneer:

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) will set up a medical college and an engineering college in the State as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Informing about the proposed institutes, Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the State Government has lauded the CSR proposal of NTPC. The location for the colleges are yet to be identified and talks are on, the Minister informed.

Following is another report from

National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC), India’s largest power generation utility, has sought 15 acres of land from the Orissa government to set up a medical college. The company also intends to set up a power engineering institute in the state.

The locations and other specifics of these two institutes are yet to be finalized.

“NTPC has sought 15 acres of land for setting up a medical college in the state. It has also evinced interest in setting up a power engineering institute. The company has written to us, requesting for land allotment and we will hold an inter-departmental meeting soon to decide on the site for the medical college and the power engineering institute. The details of the medical college are yet to be finalized but as per the norms of Medical Council of India, they have to start with a 300-bed facility”, an official source told Business Standard.

NTPC which had proposed to set up two super thermal power plants to be set up at Gajamara in Dhenkanal district and Darlipalli in Sundergarh district and also add 1320 Mw to its thermal power station at Talcher, was keen to sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state owned Grid Corporation of Orissa (Gridco).

The PPA was to be signed between NTPC and Gridco for a period of 25 years. NTPC is setting up a 3200 Mw power plant at Gajamara and 4800 Mw power plant at Darlipalli.

One of the conditions set by the state government for signing of the PPA was the setting up of a medical college and a power engineering institute. The second condition was allocation of 50 per cent power for the state from the two proposed super thermal power stations.”NTPC has claimed that it has got the approval of the Centre for allocation of 50 per cent of power for the host state. We have asked the company to produce a copy of the letter of approval of the Centre”, the source added.

The proposed super thermal power projects of NTPC at Gajamara and Darlipalli were scheduled to be operational by 2016-17. The Gajamara project needed 2900 acres of land and NTPC claimed to have conducted the gram sabha for this project in March this year.

 This is a good initiative by NTPC. The Orissa govt. must ask other industries to establish medical and engineering colleges in the industrial zones of western Orissa. In particular, such industry sponsered institutes need to be established in Sambalpur-Jharsuguda and Rourkela-Sudergarh belt.

December 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm 1 comment

Balangir Lok Utsav observed at the Kosal Kala Mandap

Following is a report from the Pioneer:

Curtains downed on the four-day-long cultural extravaganza Balangir Lok Utsav, the annual showcase of art, culture, folkdance and song of the district here on Wednesday with a resolve to observe the Lok Utsav next year with more enthusiasm and gaiety. The Lok Ustav had kick started on Sunday.

Gracing the valedictory evening, Planning and Coordination Minister AU Singh Deo lauded the efforts of the Lok Utsav committee organisers for providing a platform to the talents in music, dance and other cultural forms of the district. Singh Deo recalled the then Raja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo’s number of pioneering steps like publication of magazines and staging of plays at the local Kosal Kala Mandal to boost art and culture of the district.

Observing the art, culture and music of Balangir and western Odisha as unique and enchanting, the local MLA cum Minister opined for a State-level Mahostav at par with the Konark Festival anywhere in western Odisha so that the talents are highlighted in a better way.

The Odissi dance presented by Saswat Joshi on the concluding day enthralled the audience followed by the enchanting Assamese Bihu dance.

Earlier, the inaugural evening had been graced by local MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, ZP president Bhanumati Rout and former local MLA Narasingh Mishra.

Several artistes, including Bharat Chandra Mishra, Paramananda Chhuria, Sheshdev Das, Benudhar Putel, Chandhradhwaj Singhbhoi and Biranchi Narayan were honoured. However, most of them rued for not being recognised early.

“I am 80 years old, but the Lok Utsav committee is recognising me in its 10th year,” lamented veteran Leela Natyakar Chhuria.

The similar feeling was also echoed by Seshdev Das. “Please take steps to keep alive the art and culture of Balangir in Kantabanji area as it is fast turning a Hindi belt,” Das complained.

While the ORMAS Mela did a brisk business, two Government stalls of the horticulture and watershed mission were adjudged the best stall amid the resentments by officials of other departments. District Collector SNDey thanked all for making the Lok Utsav a grand success.

December 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

A difficult year for BJD government in Orissa

Following is a PTI report taken from MSN:

Siddhartha Kanungo
Bhubaneswar, Dec 23 (PTI) After a smooth decade at the helm, the BJD government in Orissa encountered stumbling blocks in 2010 with mega projects like Posco and Vedanta getting entangled in a mesh of green hurdles while rifts in the ruling party came to the fore.

The Orissa High Court passed severe strictures declaring land acquisition for the proposed Rs 15,000-crore Vedanta University project in Puri district as illegal, prompting Opposition Congress and BJP to launch a vigorous “oust Naveen” campaign.

As the court also directed the state government to return over 6,000 acres of land, including some belonging to Lord Jagannath, to the original owners, Opposition disrupted the Assembly for many days during the winter session seeking Patnaik”s ouster for the “illegalities” committed.

While Opposition parties launched statewide stir and rallies seeking Naveen”s resignation besides action against Vedanta and officers involved in illegal land acquisition for the project along Konark-Puri marine drive, an unfazed state government challenged the HC verdict in Supreme Court.

Though still grappling with the Opposition onslaught, the Naveen government suffered yet another blow with the Supreme Court taking a serious view of alleged diversion of funds and non-implementation of rural job guarantee programme – MGNREGA in Orissa and favouring a central probe into the matter.

Pulling up the government on a PIL, the apex court also asked as to why a CBI probe should not be ordered into alleged irregularities in MGNREGA, under which Rs 40,000 crore were being released by the Centre annually.

Salvos against BJD regime from courts were fired when Orissa High Court in July set aside the state government”s recommendation for prospecting license over Khandadhar iron ore reserve in favour of Posco-India for its proposed Rs 51,000 crore steel project near Paradip. Making adverse observations against the government, the court also lamented that the state not only lacked a proper mines and mineral policy but its mining scenario also continued to be in a mess.

The mega steel project failed to take off though Posco-India had signed an MoU with Orissa government way back in June, 2005 for setting up its 12 mtpa greenfield plant due to stiff opposition from locals and procedural delay. Finally, when Jagatsinghpur district administration launched land acquisition for the South Korean steel major, Union Environment Ministry, in early August, directed Orissa government to halt all project related activities at the proposed site near Paradip.

December 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm Leave a comment

State universities need more funds: Vice President of India

Following is a report by IANS taken from MSN:

Kolkata, Dec 20 (IANS) Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari Monday said that higher education cannot improve in India unless state universities are able to obtain more funds, create new infrastructure and enrich their existing academic programmes.

‘Higher education cannot improve in India unless state universities, which are the backbone and represent the bulk of enrolment, are able to obtain greater funds, create new infrastructure and enrich their existing academic programmes,’ Ansari said at the Foundation Day Lecture 2010 of the University of Calcutta.

Even though we have been able to achieve an economic growth rate of 9 percent of the GDP despite low enrolment in higher education, it would not be possible for us to sustain such an economic growth, maintain our competitiveness and enhance our productivity without at least doubling our higher education enrolment, he said.

‘We must create avenues for vocational education so that entering universities does not become a default choice for the sake of employment,’ said Ansari.

December 21, 2010 at 9:05 am 1 comment

Several rare species of fish face extiction in Mahanadi river, Sonepur

Following report is from The Telegraph:

Sonepur, Dec. 16: Dynamite explosion in river Mahanadi by the fishermen has endangered several species of fish here.

Sonepur, which is known as the fishing hub of Western Orissa, faces the threat of losing some rare species of fish due to explosion in the river. Such illegal activities in the river have also affected fish production with no substantial growth recorded in the recent years.

Sonepur is home to some rare species of fish, but in the absence of a proper riverine fishery policy, some of the rare species of fish face extinction over a period of time in Sonepur. The fisheries department in the district has recorded extinction of at least seven varieties of fish due to lack of conservation measures. Species like muser, jalang, gajsi, khursa, chinajhuri, turu and balia are no more found in the river. Currently, there are only six varieties of fish which the fisheries department breeds in its own hatchery here.

Thousands of fishermen eke out their living from the Mahanadi which is a natural breeding ground. However, of late the fishermen have been resorting to explosion in the river which ensures them more catch in small time.

Purandar Rout, a fisherman said: “In the traditional netting method it is difficult to get a good catch. It is very time consuming and then also you are not sure that you will get enough fish. We know using explosive is not good. But to get a good catch we have to use it.” Use of explosive not only endangered some rare species but it also polluted the water due to the dead fish. Hundreds of boatmen who used to ferry people to the other side of the river have taken to fishing after they lost their job a few years back, when a bridge was constructed over Mahanadi.

Additional director of fisheries, Sangeeta Pattnaik admitted that the explosion in the river had left some rare varieties of fish on the verge of extinction. “We know that explosion is going in the river, but there is nothing we can do about it. We are not armed with anything to curb such activity in the river,” she said.

The official further said, “As some rare varieties are not available in the river now, we do not have their seeds for hatchery and further breeding. We are now trying to restore the remaining dwindling varieties in nursery tanks and hatchery centres”.

Official figures show that fish production in the district in 2005 was 4,159 metric tonnes and there has not been any substantial growth in the five years with only 5,000 metric tonnes in the current year.

Following is another report from

BALANGIR: In the absence of a proper riverine fishery policy, some of the rare species of fishes have become extinct over a period of time in Sonepur district, considered the hub of fishing in western Orissa because of its proximity to the river Mahanadi.

The Fishery Department in the district has recorded extinction of at least seven varieties of fish due to lack of conservation measures.

Species like (colloquially called) Muser, Jalang, Gajsi, Khursa, Chinajhuri, Turu and Balia faced extinction. Currently, there are only six varieties of fish which the Fishery Department breeds in its own hatchery, one of the most sophisticated hatcheries in Orissa.

As a result, business opportunities of around 10,000 fishermen have suffered a setback.

Assistant Director of Fisheries (ADF) Sangeeta Pattnaik said as the rare varieties are not available in the river now, we do not have their seeds for hatchery and further breeding.

“We are now trying to restore the remaining dwindling varieties in nursery tanks and hatchery centres,” said the ADF. She clarified that there was also no natural system for breeding and as a result seed rearing has been hit.

Sonepur’s fishing culture is old and thousands of fishermen eke out their living from the Mahanadi which is a natural breeding ground.

Hence, the State’s biggest hatchery was established here. It, however, remains dysfunctional except during seasons.

As per official figures, while fish production in the district in 2005 was 4,159 matric tonne, there has not been any substantial growth in the five years with only 5,000 matric tonne in the current year.

The ADF said seeds of the hatchery are of good quality and traders from other districts still come to Sonepur hatchery to procure them. 

However, she lamented that due to inclement weather the department is able to produce only 50 lakh seeds a year whereas demand is just the double.

December 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

Sri Sri to open a tribal school in Kalahandi

Following is a report from The expressbuzz:

BHAWANIPATNA: He was here to spread the message of happiness. The declaration that Art of Living Foundation is contemplating to set up 20 tribal schools across the country and the first such school will be set up in Kalahandi definitely brought smile to many faces.

 Addressing a mass satsang programme here yesterday evening, he said tribals are protectors of age-old cultural heritage and it is our duty to protect their culture and provide them with minimum basic amenities. He also expressed concern over growing corruption and said this can change only with a change in the mindset and fellow feelings for others.

Earlier, he laid foundation stone for the proposed agriculture college under Sri Sri University at Limser village near Dharamgarh and addressed a farmers’ meet at Dharamgarh. Expressing concern over crop damage due to untimely rain, he asked farmers to adopt organic farming.

The spiritual guru also visited the farm house-cum-temple complex of MP Bhakta Das at Suknabhata village near Bhawanipatna and performed Rudra puja there. He also interacted with tribals, who had come there from Niyamgiri and distributed blankets among them.

Mega part1 course of ‘Art of living’ was conducted at Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh from December 13 to 16 and before his departure this morning, he conducted Maha Rudra puja at the college ground here.

December 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Sri Sri Ravishankar laid the foundation stone at Kalahandi for an Agriculture University

Following is from The Pioneer:

Spiritualism pervaded the air here with Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar’s visit and didactic discourse on Wednesday evening at the college field here thronged by the people of both Kalahandi and adjacent districts.

The backdrop of the dais was catchy with the images of Maa Manikeswari Temple, Chhatar Yatra and the primitive tribal groups depicting the true aura of this tribal district.

In the morning hour, Ravishankar laid a foundation stone at nearby Dharmagarh for an agriculture university and air-dashed here by chopper at around 2.30 pm. Being accorded a rousing reception at the police field here, he went to the farm house of Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das, 10 km away from here, where he joined a Rudravishek at the Shiv Temple in the premises.

Addressing hundreds of Dongria Kondhs and tribals from the Niyamgiri hilly areas, invited by MP Das, Ravishankar said, the tribal culture and heritage should be saved at any cost. Guruji announced to construct a school in the tribal area where the kids will have better education and also distributed blankets to 800 primitive tribes.

Addressing the gatherings from the dais in the evening hour, Guruji exhorted that people should focus on agriculture so that development is possible.

“Where the feeling of apnapan and prem (universal acceptance and love for all) ends, there starts bhrastachar (corruption) and unless the people curb corruption unitedly, there will never be any progress while corruption can be eradicated through Art of Living course,” Guruji asserted.

Guruji also appealed to the people to cooperate with each other to develop the underdeveloped Kalahandi and formation of sadbhavna (equality) among all.

Emphasising on seva, he said everyone’s determination, dedication and God’s grace will witness Kalahandi develop soon. He also advised to have a sanitation drive in each village and get the district rid of plastics.

Recalling his recent visit to China, Ravishankar said no western country has developed like China.

Focusing on medicinal plants he said, Kalahandi is full of flora and fauna in its forests and if it is used for the betterment of human beings, it would profit all and the people would get good medicines in the market.

He also appealed to the farmers to have a zero budget farming.

Guruji informed that MP Bhakta Das had requested him to have a visit to the district and since so many people from Kalahandi have visited him in the last 15 years, he was curious to reciprocate.

Speaking to the Press on as to why terrorism is increasing in the world, Guruji replied that is why he is a globetrotter striving at bringing peace and equality among all.

When asked whether he supports the industrialisation, Guruji quipped, “Yes I do, but never at the cost of environment.”

December 17, 2010 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

Paschim Orissa Agrani Sangathan (POAS) observe the Nuankhai festival

Following report is from The Telegraph:

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 12: The harvest festival of western Orissa, Nuakhai, may have been over few months back but the fervour still continues in the capital.

Members of the Paschim Orissa Agrani Sangathan (POAS) gathered in hundreds at the Adivasi Ground in the city to celebrate the 10th edition of the Nuakhai Bhetghat cultural festival on Sunday.

Students, corporate and government employees and people from all walks of life, including politicians belonging to western Orissa and those currently based in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, participated in the event.

A number of cultural programmes were showcased at the event that reflected the folk culture of the districts of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Kalhandi and Bolangir that form western Orissa.

The folk dances included the famous Dalkhai dance, in which young girls wearing traditional handloom costumes performed swift movements on foot tapping beats of the drums.

The Dalkhai folk songs, the Raserkeli and traditional Sambalpuri folks enthralled the audience.

These dances are performed during various festivities of the Sambalpuri speaking region.

The Kalmuhi song accompanied with a little dance presented at the event was based on the importance of tress and a green environment.

The group of male singers who performed the Kalmuhi discussed among themselves various mythological, scientific and cultural aspects of importance of trees.

The Bajasal was a musical rendition where young girls and boys danced in pairs. Cymbals and traditional drums were played in such high spirits that captivated the audience.

“This is a traditional dance item performed before a marriage. Young girls and boys dance with the joy of starting a new life,” said Biplab Bhesra, a student from Balangir.

The artistes from Bhawanipatna, Bolangir, Padampur, Jharsuguda and Barpalli performed the folk dances and music at the event.

“Though the Nuakhai festivities are observed in the concerned districts much before, we hold the festival as a get together of members from Western Orissa who reside for job or studies in the cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack,” said working president of the POAS, Sibashankar Mishra. “People from all communities participate in the event and encourage us,” he added.

Young boys present at the event demanded for a performance of the internationally popular Rangabati song. As soon as artistes from Sambalpur began singing this song, college students started cheering loudly.

“This is the favourite song of almost everyone in western Orissa. No festivity is complete without Rangabati,” said a student Susanta Naik.

Literatteur Umashankar Panda, handloom artisan Surendra Meher, archaeologist J. P. Singh Deo, hockey player Lazrus Barla and singer Punyaprabha Panigrahi were felicitated during the event.

A sand art exhibition by sand artist Sudam Pradhan on the concept of environment and peace as well as a photo exhibition of earlier years of the event were held at the venue.

December 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary of Nuapada district

Western Orissa is home to many beautiful places. However, the Orissa govt. is promoting tourism only in the coastal belt of Orissa. Like many other sectors the tourism industry of western Orissa is in a sorry state. Thanks to Orissa govt.!  

Following is from The Telegraph:

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 12: The Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary in Nuapada district has a beautiful blend of history, archaeological treasures, wildlife, rock formations, waterfalls and forest ranges rich with rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.

Once the epicentre of the Koshala kingdom, the Maraguda valley near the sanctuary today stands testimony to the past with its archaeological remains. The table-top hill of Sunabeda has rich bauxite deposits.

The valley, below the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary along the Jonk river, has brick structures that date back to the time of the Koshala kingdom.

Legend has it that the rulers of the Kalacheri dynasty, who hailed from the Jabalpur area, came to Tripur (also called Sripur) and the Maraguda valley was their territory then. While historian Navin Kumar Sahu has referred to the fact that the area could have been ruled by the Nala dynasty during the sixth and the seventh century, many historians also feel that the excavated remains of the valley belonged to the era between the ninth and 12th century AD.

“Many historical remains may have been submerged under the waters of the Patora dam (Upper Jonk Medium Irrigation Project).

“Historians claimed that the rulers of the Ganga dynasty, who ruled the coastal, central and eastern parts of Kalinga, had frequent battles with the rulers of the Kalacheri dynasty. King Ananga Bhima Dev III had attacked the Kalacheris and his son-in-law Paramadri Dev was killed in the battle.

“Finally, during the rule of Narasingha Dev I, the western part of Kalinga came under the rulers of the Ganga dynasty,” said archaeologist B.K. Rath.

Apart from its historic saga, the sanctuary, spread over 600 sq km, has two beautiful waterfalls amidst the ancient rock formation— Goudhus and Beniadhus. While there was a forest rest house in Goudhus, the eco-development committee near the Patora dam and the Jogeswar Temple of Shiva are the major attractions in the area.

Reaching Sunabeda has now become very easy from Bhubaneswar by the Puri-Durg Intercity Express, which starts from Bhubaneswar at 7.15pm and reaches around 7.30 am the next morning at Nuapada, the district headquarters town.

From Nuapada, the train departs at 7.15pm and reaches Bhubaneswar the following morning at 7.30am.

Because of Maoist attacks, the forest rest houses are no longer habitable, so one has to stay at any hotel in Khariar Road, 12km from Nuapada.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) Biswa Ranjan Rout said: “The recent activists of rebels have affected the inflow tourists.”

Ecologist Prasad Dash said: “The sanctuary falls in the western fringe of Orissa. There are three ranges— Nuapada, Komna, and Sunabeda —and the region is the catchment area of rivers Indra, Jonk and Son.

The altitude of the area is ranges from 727metre to 1000 metre (Chouradongar) and there are 52 villages inside the sanctuary and 167 villages in the buffer zone.

The forest land is characterised by a series of long hill ranges.

Apart from three major rivers, the valleys are criss-crossed by nine major streams, 12 waterfalls and two springs. There are teak forests, amidst which there is a significant presence of animals like tigers, leopards, gaurs and nilgais.

Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary has an excellent bio-diversity and an unique eco-system. It has the potential for great tourist attraction due to the wilderness in its natural condition, waterfalls, historical monuments and architectural ruins.

The tract is an excellent research laboratory for the study of conservation biology of wild animals.

To combat the environmental menace of Parthenium (Parthenium hysteroporus, the worst weed of the millennium), voluntary organisation Art of Living, along with Bhanja Sansad of Sunabeda, has launched an ecological drive.

Researcher and local nature activist Duryodhan Majhi said: “The sanctuary meets the sustainable livelihood of local inhabitants. It serves as a centre of conservation, education and nature interpretation for people. It tremendously influences the micro-climate of the area and checks soil erosion and siltation in agricultural lands. The presence of around 10 per cent grassland and wetland ecosystems help in providing residential region for migratory birds. The presence of hot springs at Chandrasil and Checheradongor are also major attractions.”

Another important feature of the sanctuary is that the Chukutia Bhunjia tribals living there protect different forest patches in terms of their sacred sights on clan-based living which supports the tiger population and could be assumed as a very common effort to conserve the big cats.

“Bird watching at Maraguda, animal sighting near Borra, Bankiam, Datunama, Goudhus and Jamgaon, the presence of scenic landscapes in the form of waterfalls like Goudhus, Beniadhus, the presence of a reservoir and Rajiv Udyan at Patora help tourists relax. The wilderness at Kholibhitar, Beniadhus, Patdarha, Maraguda-Beniadhus stretch and Rasna are also to be experienced during a visit,” Majhi said.

The ecological boundary does not coincide with the legal boundary in the reserved area.

The issues of rights of people are yet to be settled and illicit felling, poaching, uncontrolled grazing, ground fire, man-animal conflict, fragmentation of corridor, lack of awareness, inadequate human resources and logistics, incentives for conservation and protection are to be addressed.

Though incidence of insect-attack and pathological problems are less, change in land use pattern, poaching, scarcity of water during summer are some areas to be looked into.

December 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm 1 comment

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