Monday, October 31, 2011

Non-consumers slapped with electricity bills in Balangir MONDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2011 22:47 PNS | BALANGIR HITS: 3 User Rating: / 0

Non-consumers slapped with electricity bills in Balangir
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Tarasia Khamari of Sibtala village under Chudapali section was surprised to receive an electricity bill (NoC4627474) of `938 towards his consumption for last September. Reason: His house was not connected with electricity under the Kutir Jyoti Programme.

Khamari was not the only man to get such a bill. More than 175 villagers of Sibtala gram panchayat under the Chudapali electric section received such bills and were asked to make payment.

In a majority of the cases, either the meter was not installed after electricity connection or the connection itself was made to the houses. But the villagers were asked to pay the electricity dues, rued a labour union leader Lalit Nayak on Saturday last.

As per the rules, after the section officer’s verification and certification about a new connection, the consumer is issued a bill. But in this case, WESCO officials made the bills bypassing the norms, Nayak alleged.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Balangir: Hard time for groundnut growers as soil lacks moisture FRIDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2011 22:35 SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR HITS: 4

Balangir: Hard time for groundnut growers as soil lacks moisture
FRIDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2011 22:35

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After paddy crop suffered heavy loss, thanks to the irregular and scanty rainfall in the district this year, the farmers are again in trouble in harvesting groundnut crop due to lack of moisture in the soil.

Groundnut is a 100-110 days crop, which grows inside sandy loam and well-drained soil and is widely cultivated in Patnagarh, Titilagarh, Deagoan and Agalpur, among other blocks of Balangir. It is grown during the Kharif season and farmers usually sow it in June and harvest it by September as the soil remains wet during the time.

There are two types of groundnut plants — runner and bunch types — cultivated in the district. Balangir has mostly rain-fed conditions. The groundnut crop cultivated in the rain-fed conditions requires rain during its flowering and just before harvesting, says an agriculture official.

However, this year, there has been much irregularity in rainfall in the district.

First, there was excessive delay in rains and then there was irregular and scanty rainfall, which affected the sowing of the crop. After becoming ready, a farmer has to harvest it by uprooting the plant. If there is moisture in the soil due to rain, the plant is easily uprooted. As there has been no rain in the month of October, the soil remains hard here. As a result, the ground nut farmers are finding it difficult to do the harvesting act.

“We have cultivated groundnut in four acres of land and in the absence of rain, we are finding it difficult to harvest the crop. If the crop remains within the soil for next 20-25 days, it would be susceptible to attack by rats and termites,” says a farmer Chitta Sahu of Agalpur block.

As the soil has been hard, whenever a farmers is trying to uproot, a large amount of groundnuts are lost in the soil. Further, digging requires additional labour and pain.

Groundnut is mostly cultivated in Adabahal and Kursud gram panchayats in Titilagarh block. As the soil has been hard, farmers are finding it difficult to harvest. In the absence of rain, some farmers are bringing water in bullock carts and spraying it over the roots of the groundnut plants so that it can be uprooted easily. But this is a difficult task and puts additional burden on the farmers, says the agriculture official.

This year groundnut cultivation has been taken up in 6, 900 hectares all over the district and it is widely grown in Patnagarh and Titilagarh areas, in particular. The groundnut productions in the district could go up further with better application of fertiliser and management practices, says Deputy Director of Agriculture Manoranjan Mallick.

Groundnut, which has a readymade acceptance and cash value, is facing threats from other promoted cash crops like cotton. The area under groundnut cultivation is declining rapidly and people are increasingly evincing interest in cotton cultivation in those lands.

Ironically, even though there is insurance cover for the crop, hardly has any insurance been done for the farmers. With soil becoming hard, it seems the fate of the farmers has been sealed off.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

House panel unhappy with Balangir hospital blues THURSDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2011 22:50 PNS | BALANGIR HITS: 3

House panel unhappy with Balangir hospital blues
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A House Committee of the State Assembly led by Prabhat Biswal visited the district headquarters hospital on Wednesday evening and got a glimpse of the poor state of affairs there. The hospital was recently in news for crashing of ceiling fan in gynaecology ward which created scare among the patients.

Indoor patients complained of inadequate food and poor sanitation. Biswal wanted to know from the medical authorities as to why Rs 20 was being spent on food for patients while the Government has sanctioned Rs 50 per head. He also directed the GED department to take necessary steps to improve sanitation and other conditions within 15 days. Mediapersons drew his attention to poor repair in electricity wiring in the hospital even though Rs 8 lakh was spent over such repair, and wanted action against whoever was concerned.

Later House Committee leader Biswal and other members held a review with district- level officials on different departments. He pulled up the local DFO who was unable to present the amount received for different projects. The team expressed unhappiness over the NH road condition and directed the department to repair it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sahara power plant official attacked in Balangir SUNDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2011 23:19 SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR HITS: 6 User Rating: / 0

Sahara power plant official attacked in Balangir
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The proposed 1,320 megawatt thermal power plant by Sahara Group at Luthurbandh, Titilagarh, is once again in the news, as one of its official’s was allegedly attacked on Sunday morning, by people opposing the setting up of a power plant there.

Reports said that the advisor for land acquisition in the proposed 1,320 MW thermal power plant, Niranjan Panda, was allegedly attacked in Luthurbandh village, 10 km from Titiligarh town, by people opposing the setting up of the thermal power plant.

Panda was invited by a local, Narendra Bisi, to hold discussions regarding the sale of land to the company and also held discussions with a woman of Mahada village, for the transfer of land.

While he was returning to Titilgarh, he was attacked by people opposing the Sahara power plant there at Luthurebandh.

His vehicle was damaged and Panda sustained injuries, informed ASP Srikant Mishra over phone to this correspondent. When the administration issued an advisory to the Sahara officials not to visit the village for land acquisition purpose, why he did he come to the village, complained the agitators.

IDCO is acquiring the land and Sahara company officials have no role to play here. Irate villagers assaulted the officials, informed Sahara Prakalpa Birodhi Manch leader, Balkrishna Sandh, over telephone to this correspondent.

But Titlagarh Sub-Collector, Biswanath Sahu, said: “In order to prevent any untoward and unpleasant situation, we have verbally suggested power plants officials to avoid visit to that area in odd hours. However, there is no restriction on movement of anybody. So far, IDCO has acquired 237acre of private and 86 acres of Government land for the proposed of setting up this power plant,” said Sahu.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bear population dwindles due to habitat loss in West Odisha WEDNESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2011 00:06 SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR HITS: 5 User Rating: / 0

Bear population dwindles due to habitat loss in West Odisha
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The death of three bears on May 8 last in a village in Subarnapur district has once again brought the man-animal conflict to the fore.

According to reports, at least three bears died on the day at Puleshar village of Kenjriapali Gram Panchayat under Birmaharajpur block when they came in contact with a live wire fence in a paddy field.

When the bears arrived at the paddy field, two of them tried to get through but were electrocuted. The rest also touched the live wire but was left seriously injured. It died later, Forest official sources said.

By the time the Forest Department officials reached the spot to probe the incident, villagers were about set the carcasses on fire. Seeing the officials, they fled and the former recovered one carcass only.

Every year around seven to ten people are injured in bear attack and mostly the victims are the poor men.

A majority of incident of bear attack has occurred at Ulunda, Birmaharjpur and Lachhipur areas of Subarnapur district. Besides Subarnapur, incidents of bear attack have also occurred in Sambalpur, Redhakhol, Boudh and other parts of western Odisha.

“In our area sloth bear is usually found which is semi-carnivorous.

The animal eats fruits, sugarcane, honey and white ants and usually resides in bushy and thorny forest near water streams. Usually, the bear moves in sunrise and sunset time and drinks water twice in the morning and evening. It usually moves alone. However, in mating time both male and female move together.

It is usually a shy animal and attacks a person if somebody comes in front of it. Moreover, if a person comes close to its habitat, the bear gets furious and attacks him. If the bear is irritated, then also it attacks,” explains an official of the Forest Department.

The main reasons for increasing number of attacks on human beings are loss of habitat, absence of food items, decline in availability of water and overcrowding. Bear usually lives in bushy, thorny forest, not in deep /dense forest near human habitation. As its habitat is being lost due to a variety of factors, it ventures into human habitation resulting in man-animal conflict.

“In recent times, a change in its behaviour has been noticed. In Redhakhol area, a sloth bear guarding the dead body of person and eating his flesh came to our notice. This is something a new development,” points out Forest Ranger of Sonepur-Birmaharajpur Sushil Kumar Tripathy.

Unlike tiger and elephant census, there is no special survey on the bear population. The skin of a bear has high demand for its medicinal values. Besides, its gall bladder is also highly useful. Moreover, the skin of a bear is also used in Tantric rites.

“We don’t have any reports of poaching of a bear in our area, says a Forest official. A special survey of bear should be taken to ascertain its number and step should be taken to conserve its habitat. Moreover, a corridor should be created wherein bear could stay peacefully and get adequate food and water,” opined an official of the Forest Department.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Female elephant found dead in Sonepur SUNDAY, 09 OCTOBER 2011 00:53 PNS | BALANGIR HITS: 7 User Rating: / 0

Female elephant found dead in Sonepur
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A female elephant, about 11 years old, was found dead in an elephant-proof trench dug at Bajipali village of Rengali panchyat of Sonepur block in Subarnapur district, 50 km from here.

The elephant proof trench was dug near Bajikhol, 30 km from Sonepur, five years ago to prevent elephants from coming out of the forests. Over the years, wild grass has gown there.

The ill-fated elephant unknowingly put her feet at the spot and fell into the trench four days ago. As she fell into the two-and-a-half-meter deep trench, her legs came upwards and she failed to stand up again.

An elephant has to stand up first .As she could not do so she remained inside for long and died due to suffocation. “As the place is located away from the village, the event came to our notice only on Friday night, said a forest official.

There is no electricity in the area, informed a forest official after returning from the spot when asked to comment on the reported electrocution of the elephant.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Starry-eyed surprise FRIDAY, 07 OCTOBER 2011 21:51 PIONEER User Rating: / 0 PoorBest

Starry-eyed surprise FRIDAY, 07 OCTOBER 2011 21:51 PIONEER User Rating: / 0 PoorBest
by Sudhir Mishra on Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 7:17am
DEAR all
I enclose a story published in the Pioneer for your perusal.
Starry-eyed surprise
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US spacewalker Mary Ellen Weber says her team never saw the Great Wall on her astronaut mission. She spoke to Shana Maria Verghisabout the next phase of human travel outside Earth’s orbit
Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei had said way back in 2003, that he never saw the Great Wall of China from space. Astronaut Larry Chiao took photos of a glistening Lake Nasser in Egypt from orbit, that have mistakenly been identified as the Wall. And US astronaut William Pogue supposedly said he thought he saw it too. But what he observed, was apparently the Chinese Grand Canal.

The whole deal around The Wall and space increasingly sounds like a space-age fib. A fact, confirmed by another astronaut, Mary Ellen Weber, who was at the American Centre in the Capital, during what has been declared as International Space Week.

Weber, who did two space flights, in 1995 and 2000, was primary contingency spacewalker on the first flight and also belongs to the first class of 14 international astronauts of 1992. The former bronze and silver medallist in skydiving, who took part in what was apparently the world’s largest freefall in 2002 (with 300 people), commented that when the shuttle passed over China “we eagerly looked but saw nothing. But we decided to say we saw it during the 45 minutes when the ship was in Earth’s orbit.” To the question about what other astronauts saw, she told us, “Maybe they wanted to see it, but couldn’t. And decided to do the same. The fact is we saw nothing. And it was daytime.” She added, “Night time viewing sometimes provides better results. From a glimpse of the world’s city’s, none stood out, except Las Vegas. It was colourful because of lights from all the signage.”

Weber said during two years of training, before her first flight, much of her time was in simulators, experiencing zero-gravity “where they give you devious situations to problem solve. Though it is never like real experience.” As for mental fitness, the lady remarked, “We’ve got health support but you are to handle everything yourself and rise to the occasion. However, divorce is often an issue with astronauts. Couples tend to be separated for longer durations. Even living in different cities.”

Weber, who was interested in the CERN project and its quantum physics aspect “from a scientist point of view “was unaware that about 100 Indian scientists are involved in it.” She added, “Till the shuttle programme ended, space flights were about pilots and aviator, rather than the domain of pure scientists. All that will change. Future mission will have physicists and science experts.”

She knows that NASA studies currently are “into different life-sciences. And that there are also some sections devoted to astrophysics. As well as to different earth and planetary sciences.”

Her experience comes from flying planes with expertise in space-station and space craft systems.

Weber’s face lights up, remembering the thrill “of flying a P-38 Jet,” to get a feel of “real-time environment.” P-38’s were the only US fighter aircraft to be made (by Lockheed) during World War II.

She also shared that the main reason she left NASA, was over the size of the space suits.

“They made budget cuts. A casualty was the medium-sized space suit.”

Weber, who is barely about five foot two something “found that I didn’t have enough reach and could not get my arms around the pack of the large-sized ones they now have.” She explained further, “Space-suits are expensive to maintain. Since they are designed almost like mini-spaceships with protection against meteors and other forces. So the idea was to reserve them for taller people.”

As for effects of space on her body. She remarked, “Various studies show it is affected by micro-gravity. Eye-sight gets diminished too. There are other effects like radiation which causes cancer, as there is no protection against solar winds.” Weber went on, “Some people take days to recover in hospital. Another big thing is in space, something happens called ‘fluid shift. Which means there is one-third less of water in your body and your weight decreases in orbit. So if you want to lose weight go to space! When we get back to Earth, we need fluid in our bodies to stand up and be conscious. Lucky for me, I felt great, except that sensors in my ear for balance were messed up for a little bit.”

She said the future of space-travel next could be Mars. “We went to the Moon. We couldn’t keep going there, because people lose interest. So that’s what’s in store for a space-faring civilisation.”

“We are getting better at operations, since the time we started to fly with the Wright Brothers. Now we have to focus on other aspects like traffic control. The shuttle programming and the risk involved, taught us valuable information about leaving and returning to a place. Is there more we could learn from it? Yes. But is a trade-off. Like picking a career. You have to focus on what you are good at. So NASA decided to end lower orbit missions into space (upto 2000km from Earth), for new orbits and asteroids.” All human space missions have been Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The astronaut continued, “There are two people with different ideas about the next course. NASA is to build its own rockets. And the commercial sector to build space ships. Now it looks like there will be public and private sector partnerships. And also more international ventures.” She concluded, “I developed a greater respect for saving the environment after my spacewalk. And because of international aspects of space travel, I think I’m competent to talk about successful future collaborations.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Balangir tribal body threatens stir on fake certificate issue SATURDAY, 01 OCTOBER 2011 14:09 SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR HITS: 17

Balangir tribal body threatens stir on fake certificate issue
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Protesting against the alleged inaction of the Government in taking swift action against the fake tribal caste certificate holders, who are undeservingly enjoying the benefits meant for tribals, Paschim Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Mahasangh has threatened to gherao Rajbhavan on January 28, 2012.

A resolution to this effect was adopted in the recent general body meeting of the Sangh held at Balangir on September 25. The meeting was attended by representatives of Sonepur, Balangir, Nuapada, Debagarh and others districts of western Odisha, where in Executive Engineer, RWSS, Manohar Nayak, was the chief guest.

Since the last four years, the tribals are submitting memorandums to the District Collectors, the Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister and others to take immediate action against fake caste certificate holders. They had gheroed the district collectriate of Balangir to press for their demands here.

However, the Government has failed to take prompt action in fulfilling the genuine demands of the tribals, besides action against the fake caste certificate holders.

The SC/ST Development Department (SSD) has remained a mute spectator and the Chief Minister has also not shown any urgency in solving the problems of tribals, said Secretary General of the Mahasangh Niranjan Bisi.

As the Governor of Odisha is the constitutional authority and protector of tribal rights, we believe his intervention would bring swift justice to tribals. Hence, to seek his intervention, we are going to gherao the Governor House on January 28, 2012, warned Bisi.

The adivasi body submitted a total list of 352 fake caste certificate holders in Balangir district. Out of the 352 cases, the Vigilance has inquired and submitted report on 189 cases to the State Vigilance cell. Out of the 352cases, only 16 have been dismissed and at least three employees have obtained stay and are continuing with their job, Bisi informed further. It is the duty and responsibility of the Government to vacate the stay and give them prompt punishment as they are enjoying the benefits of tribals fraudulently. Criminal proceeding should start against them besides recovering the financial benefits from them, Bisi demanded. In Sonepur district, out of the 152 complaints submitted, inquiry report has been submitted in 90cases and only in 12 cases, final order has been passed.

Same is the case in Baragarh, where out of the 204 cases, only in three cases, final order has been passed .In Boudh, 178 cases have been submitted. Similarly in Kalhandi, 88cases of fake caste certificate holders have been submitted, Bisi pointed out further.

While in Nawrangpur, 304 cases of fake caste certificates have been submitted, in Sambalputr, 8 cases have been submitted. The highest number of cases submitted in Kondhmaal is 898, Bisi said.

The Adivasi forum also condemned the brutal killing of MLA Jagabandu Majhi and demanded CBI inquiry into it.

It also criticised the apathetic attitude of tribal welfare Minister Lal Behari Himirika in solving the problems of the tribals. Besides emphasising the preservation Adivasi culture, the outfit demanded better amenities in tribal villages. Among others, Bharatchandra Kishan, JogindraBhoi, Braj Kishore Sing Bhoi, Satyanarayn Bhoi attended the meet.