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Shekhar Gupta on the Jan Lokpal bill (April 23, 2011)

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I somehow missed this article where Shekhar Gupta has thoroughly analyzed and listed all that is wrong with the then Jan Lokpal Bill. (I think the Jan Lokpal Bill has since been modified. The version at is dated June 21, 2011. So some of the issues pointed out by Shekhar Gupta may no longer hold. Nevertheless, it gives an idea of the mindset of and (dis)ability of the Jan Lokpal bill drafters in drafting such an important bill.) Following are some excerpts:

… The Musharraf reference is also tempting because the standard answer from this group of civil society leaders to the question if their bill violates the basic spirit of the Constitution is, so what, the Constitution can be amended as it has been so many times. But the kind, and number of Constitutional amendments this draft will require, will need a Musharraf.

… Where will the rest come from? Your guess is as good as mine. All of these will have to be people of “unimpeachable integrity” and also “should have demonstrated their resolve to fight corruption in the past.” From where will you find these people, particularly as you are working on the presumption that a large number of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts do not pass that test of unimpeachable integrity. And who will choose them? A committee headed by the prime minister who, in turn, will be under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal he chooses. But, wait, it is more complicated than that. This committee shall include the two youngest judges of our high courts and Supreme Court respectively, the presumption being that the young are cleaner (Clause 6, 5 c and d). But, if a Lokpal has to be fired for misdemeanour, the case will be heard by a bench consisting of the five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court? Confused? Why are the youngest virtuous while hiring, and the seniormost equally so while firing?

… If this is not sounding impossible already, this search committee has to recommend at least “three times the names as there are vacancies” (Clause 6, 10 f). So if you thought it is hard enough to find so many perfect men and women, you now know that you have to find thrice as many. And, of course, when the selection committee’s choice is finally forwarded to the president, she “shall” sign it within a month.

… If the idea of this bill is to take away all discretion, and strike terror in the hearts of the bad guys, it does that very effectively.

Except, so many of the rest, generally innocent Indians, may live in that terror as well. The bill, for example, entitles the Lokpal to collect 10 per cent of all the fines collected, stolen wealth recovered, or even national wealth saved from being stolen, in its own corpus for its own use, thereby creating extortionist incentive: the more you value, the more you collect.

… If you report on another citizen and he is caught and convicted, you would similarly earn 10 per cent of the money recovered, and/ or the money saved from being swindled as your reward. We will, therefore, be incentivised by law to become a nation of cops and spies, sneaking on neighbours and family for pecuniary gain. Such things happen in North Korea and if it is your argument that its people are happier than us Indians, we will need some convincing.

… the Lokpal members will be deemed police officers, have the powers of seizure and search without going to a magistrate — precisely the question with Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act) — have protection of contempt of court law, will function as civil courts, be investigators and prosecutors, throwing out the very principle of separation of powers, checks and balances (Clauses 8-19, 21, 24, 25, 27, 32).

… This bill, in this form, is designed to match the dictum of “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It also presumes all Indians are thieves, unless proven otherwise, and can only be governed in a police state. Further, that a society of a billion-plus thieves can be cleansed by barely a dozen individuals armed with the most undemocratic law drafted in a democracy outside its Parliament. That is why this needs greater, cooler discussion.

Air India introduces Delhi-Portblair flight with stopover in Bhubaneswar;

Air India/Indian, Bhubaneswar, Bringing International Connectivity, Uncategorized 12 Comments »

Update on 10th October 2011: The Delhi – Bhubaneswar – Port Blair Air India (6 days a week) flight will allow boarding and deplaning of passengers at Bhubaneswar. This will not only provide Bhubaneswar – Port Blair connectivity; it will also incraese connectivity between Bhubaneswar and Delhi. Air India also plans to have another daily Bhubaneswar – Delhi flight taking the total number of daily AI flights between these cities to (almost) three   and taking the total number of daily Bhubaneswar – Delhi flights to almost eight – 7 dailies and one 6 days a week. Following is a screen copy from on the dates Nov 2 2011 and Nov 3 2011.

Following is an excerpt from a report in Deccan Herald.

Keeping in mind the high tourist potential, Air India subsidiary Alliance Air has introduced a direct flight to Port Blair from here via Bhubaneswar and would operate a new 70-seater jet plane.

Giving holiday makers another reason to cheer, Air India’s direct flight AI 9603/9604 would be operated with Bombardier’s CRJ-700 on all days of the week, except Saturday, a spokesperson said.

The above news item is confirmed from the Air India web site. See the screen capture below.

As the following map shows Bhubaneswar is very close to the straight line between Delhi and Port Blair. The stop-over in Bhubaneswar allows Air India to use a smaller aircraft that can be refueled in Bhubaneswar. I hope Air India will allow people to get on and off at Bhubaneswar.

As the map above shows Bhubaneswar is also very close to the straight line connecting Delhi to Jakarta, Delhi to Singapore and Delhi to Kwalalumpur. I hope  some of the airlines take note of that and introduce flights between those places with a stopover in Bhubaneswar.

Update: Mumbai to Hongkong and Mumbai to Taipei also passes very close to Bhubaneswar. Updated the map above to illustrate that.

Comments on Arvind Kejriwal’s statement “Beware of the Government Lokpal Bill”

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As I mention in, I support the bigger goals of the Jan Lokpal movement, which I will call the "True Democracy movement". However, in the following I give some comments and ask some questions to the statement "Beware of the Government Lokpal Bill" by Arvind Kejriwal. I got his statement from

Beware of the Government Lokpal Bill

My dear friend,

I reviewed the Government.s Lokpal bill in great detail. I am deeply concerned and not to mention alarmed with what I learned from it. Government has completely ignored the wishes of the common man and made a mockery of our hard fought struggle for strong anti-corruption laws. I have summarized the most troubling aspects of the government version here and suggested possible steps that everyone of you can take to help in this movement.

We had been demanding that an institution called Lokpal should be set up for central government and a Lokayukta should be set up for each state government through the same Bill. Lokpal would receive and investigate corruption complaints against central government employees and politicians. Lokayukta would do that job in respective states. However, the Cabinet has rejected our demand. Only a few senior-most officers in central government have been brought within the jurisdiction of Lokpal. All officials and politicians in state governments have been left out.

What does that mean?

  • It means that rampant corruption in Panchayat works would continue as it is. Through the use of RTI Act, many people across the country have revealed how payments are routinely made for ghost works. Check dams exist only on paper. List of beneficiaries of various government schemes contain bogus names. Wages of poorest people are denied and siphoned off under NREGA. Social audits in several states have exposed corruption running into thousands of crores in NREGA. Medicines are routinely diverted to black market from government hospitals. Teachers do not turn up in government schools. They pay a part of their salaries to Basic Shiksha Adhikari to mark their attendance. 80% of Rs 30,000 crores of ration subsidy is siphoned off. People living below poverty line are turned away by ration shopkeepers because their rations are diverted to black market. Much of this money reaches the party coffers or the senior-most politicians. All this will continue even after the enactment of government.s Lokpal Bill because all of this is outside its jurisdiction.

My Comment: Are not the above covered by existing mechanisms such as Police, Vigilance, CBI, Higher level officials, etc. If Mr. Kejriwal’s response is that they are all controlled by governments, then do we want a Lokpal who goes down to that much low level stuff. I find it ridiculous that the above seem to imply that Lokpal will be taking care of "Teachers do not turn up in government schools." What next?

  • In cities, roads would continue to break after a few months of being constructed. Flyovers would continue to collapse. Streetlights will still not light up. Parks would continue to remain dilapidated. The builders would continue to fleece ordinary consumers. You would still need to pay bribes to get your passport or income tax refund. Building plan will not be passed without a bribe. Government.s Lokpal Bill does not cover any of this.

My above comment is also applicable to the above bullet point too.

  • Adarsh Housing scam is not covered under Government’s Lokpal. Reddy brothers will continue to loot our mines and minerals. Commonwealth Games, Fodder scam, Taj Corridor Scam, Yamuna Expressway scam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha scam, Cash for vote scam. none of these scams are covered under Government’s Lokpal Bill.
Here he may have a point.
  • Members of Parliament and MLAs would continue to take bribes to ask questions or vote in Parliament and legislative assemblies because Lokpal would not have the powers to investigate them.

This is a point with nuances. Current mechanisms cover bribes no matter for what.

  • Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, MPs, MLAs, municipal councilors, sarpanches, judges, all state government employees, all Group B, Group C and group D employees of the central government. all are out of the jurisdiction of Government’s Lokpal Bill.

One needs to go through the above one by one:  I think one needs to wait to see how the Lokpal institution is used or misused before bringing the PM (while he/she is the PM) under its gambit. I can envision frivolous politically motivated complains being made against the PM and the fear of that preventing the PM taking important timely actions. But CM should be brought under its ambit or under the ambit of Lokpal of the state. (In India many of the CMs have been corrupt while the PMs have not generally been corrupt.) Similarly, MPs (including central ministers) and MLAs should come under the gambit of the Lokpal.

I think it is too much for the Lokpal to go down to Group B, Group C and group D employees of the central government. Let the Group A officers and others existing mechanisms (CBI, Vigilalnce, etc.) take care of them. If a complaint is filed and the supervising Group A officer does not take timely action then a complaint against that Group A officer can be made to the Lokpal. So I don’t see a need to include the  Group B, Group C and group D employees of the central government uner the ambit of the Lokpal.

  • Interestingly, if any citizen makes a complaint of corruption against any official to Lokpal and if it lacks adequate evidence, then as per government’s bill, the citizen would face two years of minimum imprisonment. And the government would provide a free advocate to the corrupt official to file a case against the citizen. But if the citizen is able to prove that the official has indeed indulged in corruption, there is just six months of minimum imprisonment. Therefore, rather than the corrupt and corruption, the government bill is targeted against those who dare raise their voice against corruption. In short, it discourages people from reporting acts of corruption!

Question: I partly agree with the above point. But there should be a mechanism to discourage people from filing frivolous charges.

  • 13 people, who had dared to raise their voice against corruption, were murdered in the last one year. We had demanded that Lokpal should have the powers and duty to provide protection to such people. Government Bill does not have any such provision.

Comment: Lokpal bill or not, the government has the duty to protect all people.  With millions of complaints that is expected be made, it is not feasible to ask that the government provide special protection to all of them. May be there can be a mechanism to provide protection on a case by case basis.

  • Government has retained its control over CBI. So, CBI would continue to avoid taking action against a future Raja until Supreme Court admonished them. Accounts of Quattrochis would continue to be defrozen in secrecy against national interests. CBI would continue to be used to arm twist Mayawatis, Laloo Yadavs, Jayalalithas and Mulayam Singhs into submission. Corruption money would continue to be siphoned off to Swiss accounts.

Comment: Partly agree. I am not sure what are the ramifications of the government not having control over CBI. In this regard, Arvind Kejriwal has made the point about Tax officers having power to investigate prime ministers, etc. But the tax officers are controlled by the government. So, being controlled by the government may not be a blanket disqualification.

  • Government’s Lokpal Bill is also unconstitutional. Prime Minister does not enjoy any immunity from investigations under the constitution. Exclusion of Prime Minister from Lokpal Bill is unconstitutional.

Comment: I am no constitutional lawyer; but I don’t agree with the above.

  • Selection and removal of Lokpal members will be completely in the control of the government. Out of 9 member selection committee, five will be from ruling establishment, thus effectively giving powers in the hands of the government to appoint the most corrupt, pliable and politically loyal people as Lokpal members.

Comments: This should be negotiated based on various pros and cons.

  • High Courts and Supreme Court would continue to take more than 20 years to dispose appeals in corruption cases because our plea to set up special benches to hear such appeals has also been turned down.

Government says that there are 1.25 crore government employees in the country. Government refuses to bring them under Lokpal Bill because it would need large number of anti-corruption staff to keep a check on them. Isn’t that an absurd excuse? India is a huge country. Obviously, it has large number of employees. Can the government leave them unchecked and allow them to loot the people and the country? Under law, corruption is a crime, as heinous as murder or rape. If tomorrow, the incidence of murders or rapes increases as much as we have corruption now, would the government turn around and say that this country has 120 crore population and since they would need large number of policemen to check crime, they would not do it?

My comment: Arvind Kejriwal is being unreasonable here.There are other existing mechanisms and systems in place to police the 1.25 crore government employees; including their superiors.

The country seems to be in the clutches of highly corrupt people. It has been reported that in the Cabinet Meeting, the Prime Minister, including some of his other Cabinet colleagues, kept pleading that PM be included within the Lokpal Bill. However, the corrupt within the Cabinet had the last say. The Prime Minister was rendered helpless, though one wonders the reasons for his helplessness.

What are our options? Some people feel that Anna is unreasonable. They say that an indefinite fast is a brahmastra and should be used as a last resort. Haven’t we already reached the end of the road?

Friends, I must confess that the road ahead is extremely challenging. Government is on a path to try and crush the movement at any cost. We need the active participation of every single Indian in order to fight back. If the Government.s bill becomes law we are literally gifting our country to the corrupt people to further plunder our resources.

Like I have said before its now or never.

Let every citizen in this country take one week.s off from his normal work from 16th August, the day Anna starts his indefinite fast, and take to the streets . in front of his house or at the crossings or in parks . with a tricolor in his hands shouting slogans against corruption. Let students take off from their schools and colleges. Let everyone take to streets. If this happens, we will achieve our goal within a week. Government can crush one Anna but it cannot crush 120 crore Annas. Government can impose section 144 on one jantar mantar. But it cannot impose a curfew on the whole country.

Can we count on you support to participate in one final attempt to save our country from the corrupt?

Arvind Kejriwal


The new police commissionerate building in Bhubaneswar

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Inconsistent Ramesh – approves Chiria mines

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Following is from After the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) cancelled several projects and put roadblocks (read riders) on many other, it seems the companies or organisations at the receiving end are not ready to give up without a fight. The Orissa government’s mining entity Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) on Tuesday knocked at the doors of Supreme Court challenging the ministry’s August 2010 decision to stop mining bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills. The ministry and its boss Jairam Ramesh had in August 2010 accepted the recommendations of the four-member forest advisory committee headed by NC Saxena and pulled the curtains down on mining in Niyamgiri Hills citing severe flouting of environmental and forest conservation norms. The mining contractor for the Niyamgiri project was a joint venture company with 76% stake of Sterlite Industries, a the listed-subsidiary of Vedanta Resources and the remaining with OMC. The bauxite to be mined was to be fed to Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery. Sources say the Orissa government, after an endless wait and a fruitless representation to the MoEF, has finally decided to go the legal way and has prepared a complete war chest of arguments to take on the ministry. “While the Orissa government was planning to challenge MoEF’s decision in the Supreme Court for quite sometime, the what finally prompted it was Ramesh’s nod to a larger and environmentally more damaging project of Chiria mines in Jharkhand,” said a highly reliable source in OMC. On February 22, Ramesh, in a surprising change of stance by over-ruling negative reports from the ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC), gave a go-ahead to Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to mine iron ore from the prolific Chiria mines in Jharkhand. In a statement on February 22, Ramesh said: “The FAC will continue to focus on bio-diversity-related issues and concerns, while as minister I will have to necessarily take a broader view but placing on record in a complete manner the reasons for taking that view.” However, Orissa is particularly miffed with this decision since it claims that on a comparative scale the Niyamgiri Hills too had a merit for approval and its impact on the environment would have been far less than the Chiria mines. “Much before the FAC was appointed, several other committees had done a study on the project and had given a decision in its favour,” the source said. Ironically, these bodies were appointed by the ministry to clear the mining project in 2007. The Central Mine Planning and Design Institute in its study on hydro-geological aspects had said that there are no water bodies, water table is available at a depth of 78m from top of the hill and mineral is available only up to 30-35m depth from top, therefore, no impact on groundwater. Similarly, Orissa Agriculture University of Technology (OAUT) established that due to khondalite rocks and very minimal soil cover available, soil erosion is negligible at Niyamgiri Hills and there is no possibility of choking any stream running at the bottom of the hill. Only, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) had said that in any case the Wildlife Sanctuary located nearby Niyamgiri should not be affected. The Supreme Court, on August 8, 2008, based on detailed studies conducted by WII, CMPDIL, OAUT and recommendation of MOEF had cleared the Forest Diversion proposal after a prolonged debate spanning three years. “In spite of these, OMC was stopped from mining, while a central PSU like SAIL was given a go ahead,” he said. The source said Chiria iron ore mining project covers an area of around 2,376 hectares, which is 3% of total Saranda Forest area in Jharkhand where it is located. On the other hand, the total Niyamgiri Hill range is around 250 square km out of which nearly 7 sq km is the proposed mining lease area which constitute nearly 1.5 % of the total area. “Hence the forest cover diverted will be much less than that in Chiria,” he said. In the MoEF note, Ramesh said SAIL being a public sector unit, has a good track record of delivering corporate social responsibility. “Going by this track record, our partner Vedanta has already been investing Rs10 crore as profit from notional profit from proposed mining every year and Rs12.20 crore towards tribal development,” the source said. The area in and around Chiria is predominantly inhabited by Ho tribal community, which constitutes nearly 10% population (approx. 70,00,000) of Jharkhand population. While the number of tribals living in and around Niyamgiri are inhabited by Dongria Kondh tribal race having a total population of nearly 8600. “So the number of people affected through the project are far less,” he said. The mining process in Chiria will involve blasting, there by impacting the wildlife near Chiria forests while OMC will be incorporating surface miner and ripper dozer techniques which are blast-free processes, he said.

Orissa growth and development related headlines from our sister site in Twitter (August 20 – October 20 2009)

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Our sister site in Twitter is (Often when we are busy or do not feel like writing a full posting here, we post a micro-blog in our Twitter sister site. The Twitter sister site also automatically adds the headline from this site and the orissalinks site. Once in a  while we will collect those headlines here. But readers wanting a broader and more immediate coverage should consider following our Twitter site at Following are some selected items from that site between August 20th and October 20th 2009.

  • A tribal farmer trained by Regional Centre for Dev. Coop, Bhubaneswar makes a living by farming earthworms.
  • The 15-km, 65 crore 4-lane Chorda-Duburi highway linking Jajpur Road with Kalinga Nagar expected to be compl. by 2010.
  • Nalco with HQ in Bhubaneswar and operations in Angul, Damanjodi and Vizag made a profit of 1,272 Crores this year.
  • The current Power Situation in Orissa – A suggestive plan for its control. A nice report in scribd.
  • In the 21-80th outsourcing cities of the world: Chandigarh, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Among the top 10 outsourcing cities of the world are: B’lore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, H’bad, Pune.
  • Orissa govt. plans a ‘rail-road-water pipeline and infrastr. corridor’ in Meramundali-Angul-Talcher-Chhendipada belt.
  • Dhamra port, being built by Tata Steel and L & T to be operational by April 2010; Rail connection by October 2010.
  • LMJ International is developing food parks in Orissa and Tamil Nadu; expected to be operational in April-May 2010.
  • Rungta Mines Limited, plans to set up 1 million tonne cement plant in Orissa.
  • Consortium led by Lanco Infratech Ltd has won 2 coal-bed methane exploration blocks at Talcher and Ib Valley, Orissa.
  • Essel Mining to sign MOU with Orissa government on Oct 22 for developing a captive port at Chudamani, Bhadrak
  • Bhushan Steel proposes to establish a ‘SME Steel Park’ around its steel project at Meramundali in Dhenkanal, Orissa.
  • Orissa CM proud of the herbal garden around Bindusagar, Bhubaneswar. Shows it to visiting biggies.
  • New Mines and Minerals Bill may be presented in the parliament in the winter. Gives more power to states on leases.
  • Update on Shamuka Beach project in Puri, Orissa.
  • Bhubaneswar – Chennai flight revived. Chennai 11 -> 12.55 PM. BBS 13.35 -> 15.30 Chennai
  • Nalabanta, a village near Aska, is known as Sivakasi of South Orissa for manufacturing fireworks in huge quantity.
  • May07 WB RPT: Towards sustnable mineral-intensive growth in Orissa: managing env. & social impacts.
  • November 2008 World Bank report: Orissa in transition : challenges for 2006-2010. pdf – txt –
  • @Proj_Shrike "YouTube – Orissa – The Essence of Incredible India" Ad by Dept.of Tourism, Govt. of Orissa (
  • Indian Govt. revised royalty rate of many minerals eff. 8/13/09. Will benefit mineral rich states like Orissa. (pdf)
  • Cuttack plans to write its 1000 yr history in its walls.
  • Rath Yatra pictures from Washington Post. First two in Puri by Biswaranjan Rout; others interesting too.
  • Biswaranjan Rout’s photos seem to be picked by AP often. See picture 18 in this Washington Post picks (same one). .
  • AP Photo by Biswaranjan Rout. Hindu devotees dressed as Ram and Hanuman, seen, near the immersion ground in Bhubaneswar.
  • SBI launches ‘SBI FinMart’ from Orissa: includes ins, mutual fund, credit card, gift card, home loan, car loan, etc.
  • Prof. Pankaj Jalote proposes to reform affiliating univ model in India by having only core courses controlled by univ.
  • Samaja: Durga Puja in Cuttack. Cal Kali tmpl, Delhi Birla tmpl, Rajasthan’s Rani Sati tmpl and China’s Temple of Heaven.
  • RT @hiteshhoha — Beautiful pictures of Durga Puja pandals in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. Saheed Nagar one is awesome.
  • Emami group plans to set up its 4th paper unit (500 tonnes/day), at Balasore in Orissa, at an investment of Rs500crore.
  • Bhitarkanika ( #Orissa ) Tour photo galleries, beautiful pictures. 2672 sq-km Bhitarkanika mangroves is a Ramsar site.
  • RT @meghaverma Cute picture of state bird of Orissa, a blue jay. – article on Orissa’s state bird
  • Automatic ticket vending machines to go live this Sept. in New Delhi, Sec­underabad, Kolkata, Bhub­anes­war and Pune.
  • Nandan Kanan zoo in Orissa has the impression of skin of white tiger in its logo.
  • Orissa CM asks for a Central Govt. funded Youth Hostel at Bhubaneswar. The Union Minister responded favourably.
  • Orissa CM requests defence minister for 2 more BROs (Koraput & Baripada) to encourage tribal youth to join the army.
  • Adani group met Orissa CM for making a port at Barunei Muhana, Kendrapada. Others also interested.
  • Very nice pictures. RT @swagatsen The 1000 year old Buddhanatha temple , Orissa India and millenial change
  • RT @FotoWala Images from Orissa: Raghurajpur – the crafts village
  • RT @FundACause An NGO in #Orissa trying to raise Rs 5 lakhs to build a science museum for school kids in Balasore. .
  • Pipli applique work of Orissa & Banaras saree are among the 5 to receive GI certificate due to UNCTAD’s interventions.
  • GI (Geographical Indication) regstrn of Khandua Saree and fabric of Orissa is in process. Study & documentation done.
  • GI registration of ‘Sambalpuri saree’ and ‘Berhampuri pattu’ is also in process.
  • Other designs planned 4 GI: Nuapatna tie&dye, Bomkai, Pasapalli, Berhampur kumbha, Dholapathar temple and Gita Gobinda
  • A nice web store of crafts from Orissa.
  • IDCO of #Orissa and NALCO sign MOU for a 50-50 200 acres aluminum park in Angul at an initial cost of 75 crores.
  • Orissa govt. to spend 54 crores in corridor mgmt plan for elephants. 6 corridors identified. Orissa has 1862 elephants.
  • Kamath hotels and OTDC would sign a MoU on setting up a food craft institute on a leased land of two acre at Balangir.
  • RT @kalahandia Kalahandi’s `Habaspuri’s textile craft, designs to be patented: Orissa’s textile craft .. to be patented
  • RT @kalahandia Some Kalahandi related books by Parameswar Mund: 1. Folk & Tribal Festival of Kalahandi…
  • IOC to complete 30000 cr,15-million-tn refinery in Paradip #Orissa by 2012, to make it eligible for a 7-yr tax holiday.
  • Orissa CM to visiting POSCO CEO: “Win the people’s heart first”.
  • Orissa has identified 27 bus terminals in the state for development in PPP mode using the land premium model.
  • IOC: 30,000 cr mega refinery-cum-petrochem complex at Paradip in #Orissa. To begin commercial ops. in 3 yrs.
  • Orissa to spend 10,000 crore for irrigation to cover 5.60 lakh hectares.
  • Sambalpur-HWH via Angul and Kapilas Rd. although is a longer route (654 kms instead of 563 kms in Sambalpur-ROU-HWH) is very useful.
  • 0869 Puri-Bangalore weekly Garib Rath Special train for Puja. A good idea that needs to be made regular? #Orissa
  • Special train for Puja Sambalpur-HWH via Angul and Kapilas Rd. A good con. that needs to be made regular? #Orissa
  • Rs 7,963 crores for roads in #Orissa.
  • NALCO plans to invest Rs 6000 crores for a 1000-1500 MW nuclear power plant in #Berhampur, #Orissa in 50-50 collaboration with #NPCIL.
  • More information on the proposed plastic park in #Balasore #Orissa.
  • Dharitri reports that ECOR plans to start passenger trains on the Naupada-Parlakhemundi sector (of Naupada-Gunpur line) next month.
  • #Rourkela ‘s airport, which at one time had commercial Vayudoot flights, does not have any now.
  • Vijaywada-Ranchi highway, 983 kms of which is in #Orissa is expected to be completed by 2014; CM reviews its progress.
  • Vanivihar- Rajmahal road in #Bhubaneswar #Orissa will be converted to an eight lane road.
  • Pandapada-Naranpada, Cuttack-Banki, Barkote-Lahunipada, Balangir-Kantabanji, Chorda-Duburi & Udala-Baripada this yr.
  • CIPET explores making a plastic park in Balasore, #Orissa. Kudos to MOS Srikant Jena for pushing this.
  • Demand to extend some South bound trains to Sambalpur. Seems like a good idea; especially 2829/30 & 2897/98
  • Nice article. RT @PRSLegislative Nick Robinson on why MPs need professional support staff funded by the taxpayer.
  • Various organizations in Balasore #Orissa unitedly demand for a govt. medical college there.
  • Sukhuapada in #Orissa, 20km from Kendrapara & next to Paradip-Daitary Xpresway has 300+ sculptors working allover India.
  • Champeswar in #Cuttack district of #Orissa has a 1000 yr old temple; its tank has 200+ turtles. Worth a visit.
  • Chaumukh (Baliapal block) at the mouth of river Subarnarekha is preferred over Kirtania for a port in Balasore Dist.
  • Large plastic corridor planned for Balasore-Baripada; includes a CIPET satellite center for Balasore: Srikant Jena.

How to complain to Press Council of India for unfair coverage?

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Indian Railways exploitation of backward and tribal areas of Orissa: confronting Railway Board Chair with the facts in Toronto

Balasore - Niligiri (defunct?), Baripada - Bangiriposi (under constr.), EXPOSING ANTI-ODISHA-GROWTH SCHEMES, FINANCE & BANKING, Gajapati, Ganjam, Interstate disputes on Water and rivers, Jaroli - Deojhar .. Chaibasa, Kandhamala, KBK Plus district cluster, Keonjhar, Koraput - Rayagada, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarha, Odisha Consumer Welfare Foundation, Paradip - Jatadhari - Kujanga, Railway maps, Rajathagara - Nergundi, Rayagada, Samaja (in Odia), Sambalpur, Sonepur, Sundergarh, Talcher - Barang, Titlagarh - Jharsugurha Jn, Tomka - Jaroli, Uncategorized 3 Comments »

Following is the news report on the discussion (almost a confrontation) with the Railway Board Chair, as reported in India Abroad. The basic premise behind our grievances against Indian Railways and our demands is simple.

  • Indian railways is scheduled to make 2500-3000 crores/year from Orissa, but spends only 1000 crores/year on Orissa in terms of new lines, doubling and gauge conversion.
  • Its current plan for major spending includes freight corridors, metro rails, and high speed rails, none of which touch Orissa. It plans to do gauge conversion of 12000 kms, most of which is unprofitable (this proves that Indian Railway lies when it says it only does profitable lines), very little (less than 100 km) of which is in Orissa.
  • Orissa is already behind the national average in terms of rail density and way behind its neighbors such as West Bengal and Bihar. If no changes are made to the 11th plan IR allocations Orissa will further fall behind.
  • Indian Railways must not take money from its profit in Orissa, and spend it else where, until it takes care of proper connectivity to Orissa’s tribal, backward and maoist infested areas. The 2500-3000 times 5 = 12,500 -15,000 crore that Indian Railways will profit from Orissa during the 11th plan must be spend in new lines in Orissa until the (i)-(v) lines below and other port and mine connectivity lines are completed during the 11th plan.
  • To Mr. Jena’s retort that Mumbai earns so much in taxes and not all of it is spent in Mumbai; we reply that it is often acceptable to take from rich and give to poor; But when did it become acceptable to take from poor (Orissa) and give to rich (freight corridors etc. in other states)?

The lines in Orissa connecting to the tribal and backward areas that we demand to be finished during the 11th plan are:

  • (i) Khurda Rd – Nayagarh – Balangir: Lack of connectivity was one of the reasons a recent Maoist mayhem happened in Nayagarh. It seems after recent events, including the confrontation with the Railway Board Chair and various dharanas in Bhubaneswar, IR has started responding to this demand, but not to the extent to promise its completion during the 11th plan. Note that Balangir is the B in the KBK districts that are the most backward in India.
  • (ii) Lanjigarh Rd – Junagarh – Nabarangpur – Jeypore – Malkangiri – Bhadrachalam Rd in Andhra Pradesh: Only small part of this is approved. Most of it is not even surveyed. In the long run this will really bring those parts of Orissa closer to the rest of Orissa. This is the most important connection and has to be take care of at the earliest. Like the approved Vijaywada-Ranchi highway, this line will create an alternative Hyderabad – Ranchi path passing through backward and tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand. This line will connect the Kalahandi and Koraput districts, the two K’s in KBK. The recent Maoist attack and killing of the Greyhound forces in Malkangiri might have been prevented if this line existed as then the forces would have used the train rather than being seating ducks taking a boat across a lake in Malkangiri.
  • (iii a) Rayagada – Gopalpur: This has been surveyed and but work on it has not started. Note that Rayagada is part of the undivided Koraput district, one of the K’s of KBK. This line could come under port connectivity and will be a viable line connecting the industries near Rayagada with the upcoming port in Gopalpur.
  • (iii b) Gunupur – Theruvali: This will add to the Naupada-Gunupur line and make it an economically viable line. (IR and Mr. Jena agree about its importance.) This line will be completely inside the Raygada district, part of the undivided Koraput district, one of the K’s of KBK.
  • (iv) Talcher – Bimlagarh (connectivity to the tribal district of Sundergarh): This line has been approved but is only being given a few crores each year, which is less than the inflation. This line will reduce the distance between Sundergarh district and teh coastal areas significantly. For example, it will make Rourkela only 4-5 hrs from Bhubaneswar.
  • (v) Baripada/Buramara – Chakulia: This line will connect the tribal district of Mayurbhanj to tribal areas of Jharkhand. It will add to the Rupsa-Baripada-Bangiriposi line and make it an economically viable line. (IR and Mr. Jena agree about its importance.)

All these lines can be completed if Indian railways just suspends its practice of taking from poor (Orissa) and giving to the rich for only a few years (may be just 3-4 years). The following maps show the above mentioned lines.

Impact of watersheds: some real stories

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Following is an excerpt from a report in Times of India.

Till recently, most families migrated to other areas to make a living. This went on till the villagers learnt how to conserve rainwater through watershed development.

Usually, the rainwater would drain off or simply dry up. Now, the community along with the Orissa government and NGOs has started watershed programmes to conserve water in wells, man-made ponds and bunds. The state government has set up a Watershed Development Mission — the first of its kind in India — to take up livelihood and community development programmes.

At the village level, watershed committees implement the programmes. The good thing is, women too have come to the forefront as agents of change. They have formed self-help groups (SHG) to supplement their income.

Malati Sabar’s is one such family in Suklimundi village, Nuapada. They used to migrate to brick kilns in Andhra Pradesh every year. Now, Malati collects mahua flowers to supplement her income while her husband, a small farmer, grows an annual paddy crop on their two-acre plot. Malati has also become a member of an SHG that retails kerosene. Recently, she took a loan from the SHG to buy a goat. "My life has changed ever since the watershed programme was introduced here," says Malati.

In western Orissa, the watershed programme is being jointly implemented by the government and Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK government under the Western Orissa Rural Livelihood Project (WORLP). "We are following a ‘watershed plus’ approach. The aim is to give people more livelihood options besides agriculture," says Sarat Behra, project director, Watershed Commission, Nuapada.Villagers say they are earning more from the same field and it’s regular income too. Moreover, they now have the option of both farm and non-farm activities in their villages. This has curtailed the seasonal distress migration.

Tunu Sabar of Larki village was one such migrant who would go to Andhra Pradesh during the lean season. "Hardly any work was available here. We couldn’t irrigate our fields or grow crops. Most of us went to Hyderabad, Bhuban-eshwar, even Surat to work in brick kilns or as labourers," he says. Life at the brick kilns was tough. Each family got Rs 5,000 as advance from the sardar along with a weekly food allowance. In the end, the sardar took his cut and the migrant was left with almost nothing. But now life’s looking up. Tunu now grows paddy, onions, vegetables, sunflowers etc, on his two-acre patch. He has built a low-cost onion storage area and his kaccha house has been replaced by a pucca one. He has a motorbike and even a telephone.

Similarly, Jamuna Sabar, a widow from Malpada village, used to work as a coolie during the lean months while her son went to Surat as a labourer. Now, they have dug a pond that helps them grow paddy and vegetables. "We plan to diversify our crops and start pisciculture too," says Jamuna.

Common cause

Watershed development is not just about livelihood but also capacity building. Awareness levels among villagers have gone up and community mobilisation is more easy. Ambahal village in Baragarh is a good example. Here, the watershed development community got together to shut the liquor shop so that the village could get aid from NGOs. "We realised we couldn’t get money unless everyone got together. So we shut the liquor shop. Now we are working to spread education, build roads, control malaria etc," says Kamilini Patnaik, chairperson, watershed development committee. Moreover, the community makes sure the development work touches the poorest first and then trickles up. The central government is now planning to replicate this success story in other states as well.

Orissa in the 2008-09 Railway budget

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Besides the new trains, extensions and increase in frequency, Orissa comes up in the Railway budget in the following places: (Note: The 2007-2008 budget with its pink book is also available.)

  • On new lines the allocations to Orissa (all in ECOR) are (Total 164.43 crores) – from the Pink Book
    • Koraput-Rayagada – 5 crores
    • Talcher – Sambalpur – 2 crores
    • Lanjigarh Rd – Junagarh – 35 crores (57 crore more needed to finish)
    • Khurda Rd – Balangir – 32.43 crores (580 crores more to finish)
    • Haridaspur-Paradip – 80 crores via RVN (401 crores more to finish)
    • Talcher – Bimlagarh – 10 crores (847 crores more to finish)
  • New Lines (Total 80 crores) – from the orange book
    • Daitari-Bansapani – 20 crores (69.2 crores more to finish) – ECOR
    • Angul – Sukinda Rd – 60 crores (251.12 crores more to finish) – ECOR
  • On gauge conversion (Total 50.41) – from the Pink Book
    • Naupada- Gunupur – 10.41 crores (14.7 crores more to finish) – ECOR
    • Rupsa – Bangiriposi – 40 crores (11.1 crores more to finish) – SER
  • Doubling (Total 288.25 crores) – from the Pink Book
    • Talcher-Cuttack-Paradeep (2nd bridge on Birupa and Mahanadi) – 3.25 crores (1.75 crores more to finish) – ECOR
    • Cuttack-Barang (12km) – 35 crores (51 crores more needed to finish) – ECOR
    • Khurda Barang 3rd line (35 km) – 125 crores (14.43 crores more  to finish) – ECOR
    • Rajathagarh-Barang (20 km) –  125 crores (18.33 crores more to finish) – ECOR
  • Doubling (total  350 crores ) – from the orange book
    • Titlagarh-Lanjigarh Rd – 7 crores (29 lakhs more to finish) – ECOR
    • Khurda Rd – Puri Phase 1 – 2 crores (2.79 crores more to finish)-ECOR
    • Sambalpur – Rengali – 2 crores (8.76 crores more needed)-ECOR
    • Jharsugurha – Rengali – 45 crores (26.41 crores more needed)-ECOR
    • Sambalpur – Titlagarh – 65 crores (399.25 crores needed)-ECOR
    • Raipur – Titlagarh – 65 crores (548.35 crores needed)-ECOR
    • Padapahar-Bansapani – 70 crores (26.58 crores needed) – SER
    • Barbil – Barjamada – 40 crores (5 crores needed) – SER
    • Bimlagarh – Dumitra – 50 crores (23.52 crores needed) – SER
    • Bansapani – Jaruli – 4 crores (72.22 crores needed) – SER

(Below, a slightly edited version of  a posting in IRFCA gives the difference between the Pink book, the Orange book and the green book used in earlier years.)

  • Green book lists the works sanctioned under SRSF(special railway safety fund). All these works are to be completed by 31.3.2008 .Therefore this year a green book was not published. Green book was prepared as a 5 yr plan in 2003 to renew overaged assets chargeable to the SRSF of Rs 17000 cr.
  • Orange book contains those works which are justified for enhancing the carrying capacity of Route (i.e., throughput enhancement work in railway terminology). It contains those gauge conversion, doubling & traffic facility works which are sanctioned for the enhancement of throughput. Railway gives higher priority to complete them.
  • Pink book is the main book of budget & contains all sanctioned (new as well as work in progress) works except those which are in the green or orange book.


Honey cultivation: Samaja

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Banana cultivation and Better cow breeding: Two articles from Samaja

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New industrial policy to give importance on agro-food processing, IT, bio-technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, garments and textile

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The Statesman reported the following.

The new industrial policy of the state is laying primary importance on agro-food processing, IT, bio-technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, garments and textile, said state energy, IT and culture minister Mr Surya Narayan Patro.

Anil Ambani firm plans IT centre in city

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Contradicting earlier speculation of slow progress between the state Government and ADGC on IT center in the state capital area, today “The Pioneer” reported that

“The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has evinced interest to set up an information technology centre in the city or its outskirts. The process to acquire the required 40 acres of land for the Dhirubhai Ambani IT Centre is on. After the ADAG submitted the proposal, the Orissa Computer Application Centre has forwarded it to the State-run Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO).”

It also added

“the representatives of ADAG have inspected three places in Jatni and two places in Khurda for identifying the land, according to IDCO sources.”

Besides a Shipyard the Apeejay Surendra group also proposes for a Knowledge Park

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Earlier we mentioned the Shipyard proposal by Bharti shipyards and the Apeejay Surendra group. Following are some more details, excerpted from a Kalinga Times report.

Orissa is all set to have a shipbuilding factory at Charidiha near Dhamra mouth in Bhadrak district of the State. It will be the first such private sector venture in eastern India.

The Apeejay Surrendra Group and Bharati Shipyard Limited would set up the ultra-modern ship-manufacturing factory jointly with an investment of Rs 2,200 crore.

The factory will have both ship-manufacturing as well as repairing facilities. The project would create job opportunity for 41000 people directly and indirectly. …

Work on the project will commence in middle of 2008 and the same would be implemented in three phases to be completed by the end of 2013.

The growth taking place in the steel sector in Orissa would be of great helping for the shipbuilding factory.

In the first phase, 75000 tonnes of steel will be used for establishing the ship making factory. In the second phase, the project will require 2,30,000 tonnes of steel, and 4,50,000 tonnes in the third phase.

The government said that the company would also set up an industrial training centre at Dhamra area to train its prospective employees.

Dhamra has already been news as the Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL), a joint venture of L&T and Tata Steel, has already started groundwork for setting up of a deep port at the Dhamra mouth.

The Apeejay Surrendra Group has also expressed its willingness to set up a research and design centre and a Knowledge Park at Bhubaneswar, the government said.

The Knowledge Park would have a school as well as higher education on subjects such as business management, hotel management, fashion designing, food technology, and nutrition science and nautical science.

Orissa government official portal has a new design and look

ADMINISTRATION & REPs, E-governance, Uncategorized, Websites of Interest 1 Comment »

The Orissa government official portal has a new design and look. It seems to have a lot of new and updated information. However, many links are broken. I guess fixing all the bugs will take some time. Readers may comment on the bugs they find in the comment section below and we will aggregate them and send them to the appropriate people.


National Handloom Development Corporation to establish fibre godowns in many districts

Angul, Balangir, Bhadrakh, Bouda, Cottage industry and Handlooms, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Jharsugurha, Kalahandi, Kandhamala, KBK Plus district cluster, Kendrapada, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nayagarha, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sundergarh, Uncategorized Comments Off on National Handloom Development Corporation to establish fibre godowns in many districts


Tatas’ Centenary Park inaugurated at Joda

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The Pioneer reported that

Tata Steel has converted a wasteland into an attractive park and dedicated it to the citizens of Joda valley in Keonjhar district on the occasion of its centenary year.

A couple of years back this barren wasteland by the side of the main road in Joda was just a parking place for trucks or grazing field for the animals.

Kalinga Times has a more elaborate article on this.

Vedanta Resources plans JV to enter cement business near to its power plant in Orissa

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Following it an extract from a report from Ecomic Times.

The $7-billion metals-to-power group , Vedanta Resources, on Friday invited companies to build cement plants in Orissa near its thermal power facilities by using fly ash, a by-product of burning coal and a key ingredient for making cement. Vedanta said it will keep open the option to partner prospective companies in the venture.

Vedanta has asked interested companies to submit plans by the first week of September. The fly ash will come from the coal-based power plants owned by Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources.

According to Vedanta’s statement, the power plants will generate about 8MT of fly ash. Industry experts said that a tonne of fly ash produces an equal amount of cement. But the by-product from Sterlite’s plants may also be used to feed brick manufacturing units and other ash utilising units in and around Jharsguda, said executives.

Sterlite had recently floated an energy subsidiary – Sterlite Energy – to build thermal power plants in Orissa’s Jharsguda district, with a combined capacity of 2,400 MW.

The power plants, to be built at an investment of $2 billion, will come up by 2009, Sterlite had announced earlier. Sterlite had earlier this year raised about $2 billion in the US market, to be mainly used for funding the power projects.

Cultivation of Jasmine (kia) flower in Orissa

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Following is Dharitri’s report on this.

Talasari beach near Digha on the Orissa and West Bengal border

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Telegraph has a nice short traveogue on it contributed by Kalyan Mukherjee. Following are some excerpts.

Digha is by far the most popular beach in the area. Finding even a modest accommodation there, especially on a weekend, can be difficult. While just a hop away, in the neighbouring state, Talsari is relatively tourist-free, and consequently, pollution-free.

The road from New Digha, which is south of Digha, towards Orissa meanders through casuarinas standing on both sides like sentries. The trees make a hissing sound as the sea breeze blows through them.

Generally, only men on bicycles can be seen on the 15-km drive along a very, very bad road. Most parts of it are devoid of a surface.

After crossing the state border, we reached a village where the newly painted and repaired Chandaneswar temple is located. …

The first impression of Talsari is unlikely to blow you away. You may wonder what’s there to see except a few country boats, roving fishermen and casuarina coves. But the serene villages and tall palm trees will grow on you.

The cashew trees sway in the breeze welcoming the visitors. In February, red and orange flowers appear on the plants. The cashew kernel hangs outside the fruit, which is also edible.

You will find only sand dunes on the beach — no heckling hotelier, no screaming hawker, no bargaining tourist. There are a handful of small hotels and a Panthasala run by the Orissa government.

The beach is quite flat and the waves are small and playful. The estuary of the river Subarnarekha can be seen in the distance. The crests of the waves glow as darkness descends. The full moon rose gradually the night we were there and the beach turned a dreamscape.

Struggle for independence in Orissa prior to 1857 : an article from Samaja

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Orissa, an emerging state of India …

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In a news item on the Singapore business summit znetasia mentions that there will be one India business summit which showcases emerging states of India. Orissa is mentioned as an emerging state in that list.

“GES 2007 will also host the Global Indian Business Summit 2007, which will focus on the country’s emerging states such as Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Rajastan and Gujarat.”