Archive for August, 2011

Cheerless Nuankhai

The following article is reported  in various websites:

Cheerless Nuankhai:

Balangir observes Nuankhai with pomp:

Cheerless Nuakhai:

Cheerless Nuakhai:

This Year, A Cheerless Nuankhai:

Cheerless Nuankhai:

Gloomy Nuankhai in 2011:

Nuankhai is the main festival of tribal dominated western Orissa comprised of Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Sundargarh, and Aathmallik sub-division of Angul Dist.1 It is celebrated on the next day to Ganesh chaturthi. This festival displays the vibrant culture, heritage and occupation of western Orissa. Nuankhai is not a harvesting festival like the other Indian harvesting festivals viz. Onam, Pongal, Bihu, and Baisakhi. During Nuankhai the first grain is given as a “bhoga” to the presiding local deity viz. Sureswari, Samaleswari, Khambeswari, Maheswari, Bhairabi, Mauli, Kali, Shiva, and Jagannath. The grain used as “bhoga” is never the harvested grain. After giving “bhoga” to god and goddess, the people wish each other which is known as “Nuankhaibhet” (English: Nuakhai greetings).

In general, this festival brings cheers among the people of western Orissa. People staying away from family come to their village for Nuankhai.2 All in all it is a full-fledged family get-together and merry making. Often in many villages the villagers participate in a common entertainment program like kirtan, drama, and dance. With the current globalization and apartment culture, many things are changing in western Orissa. The joint families are disappearing. People staying outside villages are not coming to their villages because of hectic work schedule. Many families are sending the Nuan or the new food grain to their family members by post. So the charm of Nuankhai in the village is getting diluted to some extent. On the hindsight, the Nuankhai is not merely a local festival anymore. People from western Orissa is now staying at every major cities of India. With a lot of fanfare and merry making Nuankhai is now being celebrated at Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.3

Although Nuankhai is now celebrate locally and globally; this year there is nothing much to celebrate. The spectre of drought is haunting western Orissa. Reports from western Orissa show that the situation is pathetic in western Orissa. The farmer suicide is increasing in western Orissa due to crop loss and loan pressure.4,5 In addition, the government is constantly supplying water to industries; and this creating water shortage for agriculture. The farmers are protesting against the water supply to industries. However, their demand is ignored by the authorities. Because of this many villagers of western Orissa are depressed. This year Nuankhai is bringing no cheer on the face of suicide affected farmer’s families of western Orissa.

In addition to this, the pollution level is increasing in many places of western Orissa. The state government is giving a lot of importance on industrialization. However, many of the industries are operating without proper industrial regulation. Despite the fly ash deposition in Jharsuguda district no concrete steps have been taken to stop the environmental degradation.6 The importance of environment and its protection is completely ignored and the pollution levels are alarming in various industrial belts viz. Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Hirakhud and Kalahandi.7 In this situation the common man and farmers are the real sufferer.

Further, as the Nuankhai festival approaches, migration of laborers takes place at different places of western Orissa.8 Despite the implementation of different program by the state and central government the migration of poor and landless to brick kilns of Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak, Tamil Nadu and other states is still happening.

A big shock for the people of western Orissa in this Nuankhai is the recent announcement of the Sindol project.9 The Orissa govt. has announced that it will construct three hydropower projects at Sambalpur, Subanapur and Boudh districts of western Orissa. After this announcement there were several agitations at different places of western Orissa as people fear that this will be another Hirakud. 9 It may be noted that the oustees of Hirakud displacement are given regular land Pattas only after sixty-five years. Even till today, media is reporting how Hirakud dam oustees’ are fighting for shelter and food.10 Wherever there is water, there are industries and these industries are badly polluting the nearby villages, water, air and land. Therefore, people of western Orissa fear that the construction of the three Sindol hydropower projects will promote industrial giants to establish industries in the nearby areas. This will further increase the pollution at different places of Subarnapur, Boudh and Sambalpur districts.

It is also observed that Orissa government is continuously ignoring the demand of people of KBK and western Orissa. The government is establishing most of the higher education and health institutes in the coastal region; whereas establishing the polluting industries in western Orissa. This is creating a huge regional imbalance. In the above context, the overall situation in western Orissa is pathetic. Therefore, this year Nuankhai is not a very cheerful festival for the people of western Orissa.

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

August 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Central aid for dairy scheme in western Odisha

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

The Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fishery Department under the Union Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday sanctioned Rs 10.56 crore in favour of the Omfed for integrated dairy development programme in the State, according to sources.

The sources said the programme will be launched in five districts of western Odisha —Sambalpur, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur and Bargarh.

The programme envisages setting up of 15 bulk coolers, 60 milk cooperative societies, a new dairy at Jharsuguda with a target to procure 20,000 litres of milk, enrollment of 3,600 new members and supply of 900 milk cows.

The new members will be provided training in dairy development and will be encouraged to undertake fodder cultivation while other facilities will also be extended to them at cheaper cost with rebates, a release by the Omfed said, adding that Omfed CMD Satyabrata Sahu was instrumental in persuading the Central authorities to sanction the amount.

August 31, 2011 at 7:59 am Leave a comment

Sudam Naik: An author of more than 100 articles and four books on western Orissa

Following report is from the Telegraph

For 37-year-old Sonepur youth Sudam Naik, who comes from a humble background, achieving the distinction of being of the most successful researchers of the history of Western Orissa is no mean achievement.

He never studied in big cities or in renowned institutions. He passed matriculation from Maharaja High School in Sonepur and went to Sonepur College for graduation. Yet he has made a name for himself in the field of research on the history of Western Orissa, particularly Sonepur.

Naik has written over 100 articles in different Oriya journals and authored four books — Subarnapur Sahityara Itihasa (2006), Subarnapur Darbari Sahitya (2008), Mandira Malini Subarnapur (2006) and Subarnapur Itihasa (2011) — on the history of Sonepur.

Naik developed an interest for research on the history of Western Orissa in 1989-90 when he was studying in Sonepur College. “It was 1989-90. I was doing my graduation and developed an interest in research on arts and culture of Western Orissa. Eminent historian Prof Jagnya Kumar Sahu was the principal of our college and there was a book written by him in our course. When I came in his contact, I took interest in the history of Western Orissa, particularly Sonepur”, Naik said.

Naik said Prof Sahu acted as his philosopher and guide in his mission to work on the history of Western Orissa. “It was Prof Sahu who inspired me to take to research. Noted historian Sadananda Agrawal also helped and guided me,” Naik said.

Naik’s first book was Mandira Malini Subarnapur (temple town Subarnapur), which was published in 2006. “My articles on the temples of Subarnapur were serialised in various Oriya newspapers and later compiled into a book called Mandira Malini Subarnapur in 2006,” Naik said.

Talking about his source of research, Naik said he largely depended on the ‘darbari’ literature of Sonepur, which was published during the regime of Maharaja Bikramitradaya Singhdeo.

August 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Useful links pertaining to western Orissa

August 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Sindhol project through the eyes of a cartoonist

Following item is taken from a Facebook posting:

August 30, 2011 at 7:11 am 1 comment

Congress and BJP refuse to be part of the House committee formed for Sindol project

Following report is from the Pioneer:

Speaker Pradeep Kumar Amat’s efforts to end the stalemate over the controversial Sindhol Hydro-Power Project issue has run into rough weather with the opposition Congress and the BJP refusing to be part of the House committee formed on a motion tabled by the State Government to conduct public hearing on the proposed project.

The hardening stance of opposition parties has put the Government in a quandary. The Government has no other way but to announce the vexed project be dropped once for all as the ruling party could ill afford to lock its horns with the people prior to the politically significant elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj bodies.

Under the circumstances, the House committee would become redundant. It is unlikely that the House panel would dare to visit the area without participation of the opposition members. Earlier during discussion on the Sindhol project in the form of an adjournment motion on August 22, the Speaker, realising the sense of the House, had directed the Government chief whip to constitute a House committee on the issue to conduct public hearing and examine the pros and cons of the proposed project. He had also asked the Government to refrain from taking any step for the setting up of the project till the House committee submitted its report.

Accordingly, Government chief whip Rabi Narayan Pani, before the adjournment of the monsoon session of the House on Saturday, had moved a motion on the formation of a nine-member House committee with Speaker PK Amat as chairman.

Besides the three MLAs belonging to the concerned parties, all other members were from the western Odisha region cutting across party lines. The members of the panel included- leader of Oppostioin Bhupinder Singh, Health and Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Acharya, Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Minister Niranjan Pujari, Padmanav Behera and Bhagaban Kahanra from the ruling BJD, Santosh Singh Saluja from Congress and Jayanarayan Mishra from BJP.

Though the motion was adopted by voice vote, the opposition Congress and BJP members had opposed the committee and announced their intention not to be part of it.

Leader of the Opposition Singh and BJP member Jayanarayan Mishra categorically stated that since there was unanimity in the House against the setting up of the Sindhol project during discussion on the adjournment motion, “It is needless to constitute an Assembly committee to conduct public hearing. This is nothing but a dilatory tactics,” they said.

“The MLAs belonging to the proposed project area, who are also ruling party members, had already voiced concern of the people now on agitation and opposed it tooth and nail. They had even warned against any misadventure which might prove costly for the Government.” Singh and Mishra had demanded the Government to announce dropping of the project instantly respecting the opinion of the people and the elected representatives. Singh said the Congress Legislative Party had decided that no member from the party would be member of the committee.

Following is one more report from the Telegraph:

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 28: Opposition parties in Orissa Assembly today outwitted Biju Janata Dal by refusing to be part of a House Committee that would look into the proposed controversial Sindol hydropower project in western Orissa.

Congress and BJP today made it clear that there was no need to constitute a House Committee as public opinion was clearly against the hydropower project. On the concluding day of the monsoon session on Saturday, it was decided that a committee, headed by Speaker Pradeep Amat, would look into the project and ascertain public opinion on constructing barrages over Mahanadi river in three districts of the state.

The proposal to set up a 320MW power project in Mahanadi river basin (Sindol-I, II, and III), for which the government had inked an MOU with the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) on July 21, had met with stiff resistance from all quarters. Lawyers, students and local people have been observing bandhs in protest against the government’s decision to set up the hydropower plant.

After the Assembly witnessed a stormy debate on the proposed project on August 22, the Speaker had announced that a House Committee would look into the contentious issue.

The committee was to comprise leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, health minister Prasanna Acharya, food and civil supplies minister Niranajn Pujari, former minister and local MLA Padmanabha Behera, and MLAs Santosh Sigh Saluja and Bhagaban Kanhar.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said: “We have not been consulted prior to the constitution of the committee. As people are opposing the project, there is no need to constitute the House Committee.”

BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra said he had already resigned from the committee. “People have already raised their voice by organising rallies and conducting parleys. There is no need for the committee to visit the spot again to gauge the mood of the public,” Mishra said.

August 29, 2011 at 7:47 am Leave a comment

Anti-Sindol bandh in Western Orissa

Following report is from IBN Live/expressbuzz:

SAMBALPUR: Normal life was hit in western Orissa on Thursday following disruption in train and bus services during a bandh, demanding scrapping of the proposed Sindol hydro power project and setting up of a permanent High Court bench in the region. The bandh call given by the Central Action Committee (CAC) of Western Orissa Bar Association evoked spontaneous response in the districts of Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Sonepur, Boudh besides Sundargarh except Rourkela city. Commercial and business establishments, financial and educational institutions and government offices were closed while buses and private vehicles stayed off the road. However, in view of the ongoing Supplementary HSC examination, students were given safe and free passage and emergency services exempted from the bandh.

In Sambalpur, lawyers under the banner of Sambalpur District Bar Association picketed at Sindurpank, Dhanupali and Ainthapalli paralysing heavy and commercial vehicles’ movement on NHs 53 and 55 besides State Highway 10. The lawyers also forced closure of corporate office of the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited and Sambalpur railway division office. The bandh disrupted trains services on the busy Kolkata-Chennai route. The departure of Sambalpur-Puri Intercity Express and the Sambalpur-Rayagada Express was delayed by three hours. The Sambalpur-Rourkela DMU was delayed by two hours. The Rourkela-Bhubaneswar Intercity Express was detained at Sambalpur city station for one hour while Titilagarh-Howrah Ispat Express was detained at Bargarh Road station for an hour. Roads also wore a deserted look in most parts of the region with thin vehicular traffic as buses and private vehicles were off the roads.

In Jharsuguda district, the lawyers picketed in front of the MCL project office in Brajrajnagar bringing the transportation of coal to a halt. National Highway 49 and State Highway 10 were blocked paralysing movement of vehicles. The NH-6 passing through Bargarh was closed for the day.

Offices and courts remained closed in Sundargarh town while the business community responded to the bandh in Bonai, Rajgangpur and Birmitrapur towns. The members of the Rourkela Bar Association resorted to ceasework agitation in support of the bandh call.

However, life in the Steel City and civil township of Rourkela was normal with shops, vehicular traffic and offices functioning as usual.


August 27, 2011 at 7:54 am 1 comment

Sambalpur district Congress committee hits street against Sindol

Following news item is taken from:

Sambalpur, Aug. 22: The Sambalpur district Congress committee today staged a dharna in front of the Sambalpur collector’s office demanding scrapping of the Sindol hydro power project.

“The committee has been opposing the proposed Sindol project since the day the memorandum of understanding was signed. This is an anti-people project. The state government should immediately scrap the MoU,” said Raj Kishore Das, president of the Sambalpur district Congress committee, who had led a protest rally here.

“We will not let the government execute this project. We also oppose any kind of public hearing in this connection. The people of this region have already shown their opposition to the proposed project. The government should withdraw it,” said Das.

“If the government does not scrap the MoU, the Congress will intensify the agitation throughout western Orissa,” he said. Sureswar Mishra, former president of the Sambalpur District Congress committee, said: “The government should right now scrap the MoU signed with the National Hydro Power Corporation for the Sindol project. This project will lead to massive displacement. The government should think of enhancing the water-retaining capacity of the Hirakud dam.”

“Moreover, the government is misleading people by giving false information. It said, 16 villages would be submerged owing to the proposed projects. The contradictory statements are indicating that the government itself is not clear about the number of villages to be submerged,” said Mishra.

August 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm 1 comment

Sindol fate tied to people: The Telegraph

Following news is taken from

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 22: The state government today announced that it would not go ahead with the proposed Sindol hydro-power project in western Orissa if the local people continued to oppose it.

The government’s decision comes amidst growing public outcry against the proposed project.

“The government will not go ahead with the project without taking the people into confidence. If people say they are against the project, we will not implement it,” said energy minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak.

Speaker of the Assembly Pradip Amat also directed the government to constitute a House Committee to look into the contentious issue. “The government should not go ahead with the project till the House Committee submits its report on the proposed Sindol project,” Amat said.

Amat’s direction came in the wake of the MLAs cutting across party lines demanding that work for the project should be stalled and a House Committee be constituted to examine the issue.

Parliamentary affairs minister Raghunath Mohanty said the House Committee would be constituted before the end of the ongoing monsoon session.

However, the Congress and BJP staged a walkout as the minister did not declare on the floor of the House that the project would never be taken up in the future. Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said: “Taking the stiff opposition to the project into account, the government should instantly announce that the project would never be taken up. It should give a specific reply to the questions raised by the Opposition and not dilute the issue.”

In the first week of August, the state government had announced to hold hearings in the area to elicit public opinion on the project.

The proposal to have the 320MW power project in the Mahanadi river basin, for which the government had signed an MoU with the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) on July 21, 2011, had met with resistance from all quarters.

Raising this issue through an adjournment motion on the floor of the Assembly, Opposition chief whip Prasad Harichandan said: “The government is planning to set up the project at the behest of a few industrial houses. Without making a detailed project report, the state government should not have signed the MoU with the NHPC. A number of villages will be submerged if the project comes up.”

Demanding immediate stoppage of work, Biju Janata Dal member Padmanabha Behera said public opinion was totally against the project. “We have already voiced our concerns over it before the chief minister. The government has assured to stall the project if the people continue to oppose it,” he said.

August 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm 1 comment

Sindhol project now in suspended animation: The Pioneer

Following report is from

The controversial Sindhol hydropower project has been now put in suspended animation. Finally, the Speaker of the State Assembly directed the Government on Monday not to go ahead with the project and announced formation of a House Committee to go into the gamut of related issues including undertaking a public hearing.

“I feel that there is the need for taking public opinion on the proposed Sindhol project area and the House Committee is the only available forum through which the opinion of the local people can be examined,” ruled Speaker Pradeep Kumar Amat after conclusion of a marathon over three hour discussion on the admissibility of adjournment motion relating to Sindhol issue.

Though Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak assured the House that public hearing would taken up in and around the three stages of the Sindhol project and there was no question of setting up of the three-stage Sindhol power project without the consent of the people of the area, in the absence of any modalities, the Speaker took the cudgels.

Announcing the formation of the House panel, the Speaker directed Government Chief Whip Rabi Narayan Pani to bring an official motion to this effect before the monsoon session of the Assembly adjourned sine-die.

“The Government should not take any initiative to go ahead with the (Sindhol) project till the submission of the report by the House Committee,” he asked.

Accepting the ruling of the Speaker, Parliament Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty assured that the Government Chief Whip would bring a motion for formation of house panel before the adjournment of the monsoon session. He also set one month’s time for the House Committee to submit its report to the Assembly.

Earlier, cutting across party lines, members expressed concern over the decision of the State Government to set up the Sindhol project and signing of MoU to this effect in a hasty and secretive manner. The project should be stopped forever as it involves displacement and submergence of large areas of cropland, they said and demanded for constitution of a House Committee on the issue.

Participating in the discussion, the Congress member Nabakishore Das, Prasad Harichandan, Leader of Opposition, Bhupinder Singh, Santosh Singh Saluja, Nihar Ranjan Mahananda urged the Speaker to bring a resolution in the House to drop the Sindhol project or to constitute a House Committee to give its view.

They alleged that the three stages of Sindhol project was taken up to provide water to industries particularly Bhushan and Jindal They wanted to know when Government had signed MoU with 32 companies including IPPs for generation of around 36,000 MW thermal power why secretively it wanted to go ahead with the project for paltry 320 MW of hydel power by creating displacement and submergence of large areas. Even they said why the detailed project report and the technical feasibility report was not prepared prior to the MoU.

Demanding the cancellation of the MoU the Opposition pointed out that the project would hasten the ignominious mental division and regional imbalance and urged the Government to refrain from the contentious Sindhol.

BJP member Jayanarayan Mishra lamented that while families displaced due to the Hirakud multipurpose project were still not rehabilitated properly and provided compensation, why was the Government hell bent in taking up the Sindhol project that would cause large-scale displacement. Due to the project large areas belonging to Bargarh, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Boudh districts would be affected. He urged the Government not to press for the project to avoid division of the State.

Treasury Bench members belonging to the area also slammed their Government in a bid to survive the ire of the people as part of political compulsion, in not taking them into confidence before taking up Sindhol project now in suspended animation the age old controversial project. ” Drop the project if the people of the area are opposing fear of displacement and submergence’, said Padmanav Behera and Bhagaban Kuanhar . Since the Government did not undertake any survey and make the people aware of pros and cons of the project prior to the signing of the deal, apprehension of the people has taken the centre stage, they said.

BJD member Rajanikanta Singh and Naveen Nanda of NCP, an ally of the BJD also sought for constitution of House Committee to examine the issue.

The Opposition Congress and the BJP said that the there was no need of undertake any further public hearing on the future of the project as the elected representatives of the area (MLAs) had already categorically stated in the House that they were against the power project. Taking the mood of the House, the Minister instead of elaborating his reply should announce to annihilate the project for the interest of the people and to help stop the ongoing agitation that has triggered large scale protest. As the Minister did not oblige the Opposition, both the Congress and BJP walked out of the House expressing their dissatisfaction.

The Energy Minister replying to the discussion on the adjournment motion clarified that first the Government would undertake “public hearing” and then taking the consensus view of the local people , the fate of the project would be decided. ” There is no cause of apprehension as Government is committed to protect the interest of the people”, he assured.

August 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

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