In Lord Jagannath of Puri’s name, 25,000 acres, a lot of it encroached

Bhubaneswar: He is possibly the only god in India who owns so much land —25,711 acres — but Lord Jagannath is struggling to get part of it back from encroachers.

Lord Jagannath, presiding deity of the 12th century temple in Puri, is listed as a landlord in the Orissa government’s revenue records. He reportedly owns 56,000 acres, of which at least 25,711 acres is registered against the name of “Sri Jagannath Mahaprabhu Bije, Puri” in the state’s land revenue records. The temple’s managing committee headed by the Puri king manages the land on behalf of the deity. The lands are spread over 23 of Orissa’s 30 districts as well as states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

But the land mafia, allegedly helped by bureaucrats and corrupt politicians, is believed to have parcelled away at least 20 per cent of his recorded land in Orissa. Chief administrator of the temple Arvind Padhee, a senior IAS officer, decided to strike back early this week. The temple administration cleared 250 acres in Jatni area near Bhubaneswar and Delang area of Puri district. The land is worth an estimated Rs 500 crore.

“When I started clearing the area, there were goons all over the place. But we were determined to clear it,” said Padhee, who as revenue divisional commissioner, central division, has been trying to get the lord’s land records updated. Among the alleged encroachers was the son of a former Assam governor, whose stone crusher was obscuring the landscape. The anti-encroachment team’s bulldozers razed a rice processing mill, a housing society, a market complex and several dhabas that had mushroomed over the land. A head clerk working at the temple’s Jatni office, who was found guilty of conniving with the land mafia, was suspended.

Officials said the encroachers had sought to justify the land-grabbing, saying it had been authorised by the endowment commissioner under the Orissa Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1951. But Padhee cited section 16(3) of the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954, which says any transfer of immovable property recorded in the name of Lord Jagannath of Puri by any person including any institution would be null and void. As per section 2(1) of the temple Act, the provisions of the Hindu religious endowments Act are not applicable to the temple except with respect to actions taken, things done and contributions levied as such.

Padhee said the temple administration is now planning to evict encroachers from at least 1,000 acres in the next few weeks. After it is freed, the land would be sold to the general public through the Bhubaneswar Development Authority. The funds so generated would be deposited in the temple corpus fund.

Encouraged by the success of the drive, the temple administration is now in the process of identifying the remaining 30,000 acres for which there is no record of rights as yet. “Most of these lands are in districts of Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Ganjam. If we get back the land, the lord’s would probably be the richest among all shrines in India,” Padhee said.

In Lord Jagannath of Puri’s name, 25,000 acres, a lot of it encroached
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  • Bhubaneswar: Cops to resume safety audit of apartments soon Debabrata Mohapatra | TNN | Aug 13, 2018, 10:21 IST

    Representational image

    BHUBANESWAR: Amid rising cases of burglary and busting of sex rackets, the commissionerate police have decided to resume the security audit of apartmentsin the city. Though the practice was introduced here in 2011, it was discontinued after some years.

    As part of the safety audit of apartments, police would assess the security arrangements and advise societies or residents' welfare associations to upgrade their safety apparatus.

    Seven years ago, the commissionerate of police had started a sensitization drive in apartments in the wake of the firing and subsequent arrest of nine anti-socials from former Congress MLA Ramesh Jena's flat in Chandrama apartment in Kharavel Nagar here on February 1, 2011. Police had then asked the zonal assistant commissioners of police to check the security arrangements in apartments. The police had also interacted with societies of different apartments, inspected flats and issued a safety advisory. Sources said the practice prevailed till 2014, but the subsequent transfer of police commissioners led to the discontinuation of the safety audit of apartments.

    "We will ask inspectors in-charge of police stations to interact with the societies of the apartments and advise the flat owners to adopt adequate safety precautions. Apartments should install closed-circuit television cameras, magic eyes on doors, latches, wireless connectivity and VHF facility for private security guards, among other security measures," deputy commissioner of police Anup Kumar Sahoo told TOI.

    The city has around 400 apartments. Though almost all the apartments have private security guards, they hardly keep a watch on the entry and exit of outsiders. Last month, a youth had barged into several apartments in Chandrasekharpur and Infocity areas and burgled household articles. This despite those apartments having security guards. "We appeal to the apartment societies to engage skilled private security guards, who can keep a close watch on the movement of suspicious people. They should verify the identity proofs of visitors," Sahoo said.
  • Bhubaneswar station in top 10 ranks in cleanliness survey Hemanta Pradhan | TNN | Updated: Aug 13, 2018, 22:35 IST

    BHUBANESWAR: Bhubaneswar railway station bagged 9th rank among 75 A1category stations in the country in cleanliness survey conducted by a third party, Quality Council of India (QCI). The report was released by railway minister Piyush Goyal on Monday.

    This year the rank has been improved. Last year the station had achieved 13th rank. But the East Coast Railway (ECoR) spread over Odisha and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh slipped to third rank against last year’s second rank as clean railway zone.

    Visakhapatnam station of the ECoR, which had topped among the A1 stations last year, slipped to 10th rank this year. But Puri, another A1 station of the ECoR, improved from 37th rank last year to 22nd this year.

    Of 332 A category stations, Cuttack got 30th rank, Berhampur 35th, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road 39th, Rayagada 64, Khurda Road 127, Rourkela 134, Bhadrak 160, Sambalpur 239, Jharsuguda 245 and Balasore 284. Ranks of most of the A category stations in Odisha improved except Khurda Road, Bhadrak and Balasore.

    Two tourist stations- Jodhpur and Jaipur of North Western Railway in Rajasthan got first and second ranks in A1 category stations respectively. In A category stations, Marwar of the same zone topped the chart.

    First survey was conducted by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in 2016. The second survey in 2017 was conducted by the QCI.

    The parameters adopted for conducting the survey were: Evaluation of process of cleanliness in Parking, main entry area, main platform, waiting room, direct observation by QCI assessors of cleanliness in these areas and passenger feedback, said the statement of the Railways.
  • BDA cancels occupation certificate of biscuit factory Riyan Ramanath V

    Sending a tough message to those violating building norms, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Monday cancelled the occupancy certificate of a biscuit factory at Chandaka industrial area.

    | TNN | Aug 14, 2018, 11:09 IST

    The BMC has cancelled the leaves of all its employees and the engineering wing has been asked to stay alert

    BHUBANESWAR: Sending a tough message to those violating building norms, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Monday cancelled the occupancy certificate of a biscuit factory at Chandaka industrial area.

    The cancellation is based on the Odisha Development Authority (ODA) Act of 1982, according to which the BDA can take back the occupancy certificate of a building or unit that does not have the requisite clearances from various authorities. The Anmol Industries Limited failed to comply with fire safety norms despite several reminders by the state fire services wing.

    "The industrial unit failed to comply with fire safety requirements and we had to cancel its occupancy certificate," said BDA additional commissioner Bhabani Shankar Chayani. Officials said the state fire services had written to the BDA vice-chairman seeking the withdrawal of the unit's occupancy certificate.

    Since the BDA is empowered to scrutinize building rule violations, it can withdraw the occupancy certificate if it feels necessary.

    "If a building has no occupancy certificate, it cannot avail itself of other services such as power and water. The fire services wing had done a preliminary survey to find out whether Anmol had the necessary clearances or not," said an officer of the BDA.

    A year ago, a massive fire had destroyed the godown of Lingaraj Biscuit Private Limited at Chandaka industrial zone. As many as 12 fire tenders had to be deployed to douse the flames. The fire was attributed to a short circuit.

    In another development, the BDA and the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) held an emergency meeting in view of the IMD's forecast of heavy rainfall in several parts of the state in the next 48 hours.

    The BMC has cancelled the leaves of all its employees and the engineering wing has been asked to stay alert. The state fire services has been asked to be prepared to deal with any eventuality.

    "We are ready to tackle the situation. The workers have been assigned specific jobs and allotted areas," said an officer of the BDA.

  • BDA to ban plastic in its office, parks, market complexes from September 1 Hemanta Pradhan | TNN | Aug 18, 2018, 22:39 IST

    In order to educate people on the use of plastic in parks, awareness drive will be organised to sensitise peop... Read More

    BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Saturday decided to ban plastic in its main office, parks and BDA market complexes across the city from September 1 on the occasion of its 36th foundation day to create a green environment.

    Reverse-osmosis (RO) purified chilled and normal water fountains will be available in all floors of BDA building on Sachivalaya Marg from September 1 so that the employees would not use plastic bottles.

    According to the decision, there will be no use of plastic folders during meetings. “We will use only paper or cloth folders in the place of plastic folders. No plastic bottles will be used during the meetings as well,” said a senior officer of the BDA.

    He said the employees will be asked not to use plastic food packets. They can bring their own lunch boxes and containers, preferably made of metal. Carry bags only of cloth/paper only to be used inside office premises, he added.

    In order to educate people on the use of plastic in parks, awareness drive will be organised to sensitise people through the help of NGOs working with BDA. “If anyone is found to use plastic inside parks, he/she will be fined. Recognized morning walkers association and park goers' associations will be requested to implement the “no plastic” ban. The collected fine can be used for development activities of the parks through the organisations,” said Bhabani Shankar Chayani, additional commissioner (enforcement) of BDA.

    BDA will form squads to check use of plastic and drive inside parks and market complexes. To start with, a three-day plastic collection drive will start on September 1 to clean up parks and make them plastic-free.

    Chayani said BDA officials and employees will act as ambassadors of change in their homes and their neighbourhood. Undertakings would be taken from officers or staff of BDA to make their surroundings plastic-free, he added.

    The authorities will also act strictly and cancel license of trading in the BDA market complexes, if a trader found violating the ‘no plastic’ directive across the state capital.

    Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to have plastic collection centres in the city and BDA will also request the residents to use the centres so that the plastic burden will be less.

  • Encroachments on drainage channel pulled down The joint demolition squad of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Monday razed a structure that was built on natural drainage channel 4.

    TNN | Aug 21, 2018, 12:16 IST

    Seven families were staying in the houses built on the drain

    BHUBANESWAR: The joint demolition squad of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) on Monday razed a structure that was built on natural drainage channel 4.

    Seven families were staying in the houses built on the drain. A two-storeyed building near Jaydev Vihar was also razed during the drive. The building also encroached on the drainage channel 4, said an official.

    "The building couldn't be razed completely. The work will resume tomorrow," said an officer of BDA.

    The squad has so far cleared obstructions on drains at as many as 36 locations. The places include Iskcon temple, Nayapalli haza, Behera Sahi and Bhoi Sahi, science park basti, Acharya Vihar, Ekamra Vihar and Jaydev Vihar. In another drive, the joint squad demolished small structures on government land at Naka Gate. Two squads also visited Jharana Basti and issued warnings to the encroachers. The squad has given the encroachers time to remove belongings from the place.
    A week ago, the squad had dismantled two government quarters to pave way for construction of new headquarters of BMC. Altogether 12 government quarters will be razed in phases to create space for the building.
  • BMC plans yet another survey of city drains The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday decided to conduct a fresh survey to identify the original paths of the city's natural drainage channels. The survey will help it reclaim the land of the natural drains and take up renovation and expansion work accordingly.

    TNN | Aug 22, 2018, 12:25 IST

    Photo for representative purpose only

    BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday decided to conduct a fresh survey to identify the original paths of the city's natural drainage channels. The survey will help it reclaim the land of the natural drains and take up renovation and expansion work accordingly.

    In the first phase, drains 4, 7 and 10 would be surveyed, said Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) additional commissioner (enforcement) Bhabani Shankar Chayani. "The survey will help us find exactly what is blocking the natural channels of the city," said an officer of the BDA.

    "After completion of the survey, eviction will resume in the catchment areas," BMC drainage division executive engineer Pradip Sagar Duria said.

    "To expand the drains in some areas, we will have to demolish private houses and reclaim private plots. Compensation will be accorded in proportion to the land used for the purpose," said Duria. This will be done under Section 288 of the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003.

    In future, the officer said, the people should first see that the land they are buying does not encroach upon drains. "We are saying this in the interests of the people. It is taxing for both the enforcement agencies and the people if a private land is found to have encroached on the drains," a government officer said.

    On Monday, seven families living in a house built on drain 4 were asked to leave. The building was then razed by a joint squad of the BDA and the BMC. The squad has so far cleared obstructions in drains in as many as 36 locations to contain the problem of waterlogging.
  • Bhuabaneswar: Bakul Foundation launches green rakhi to protect environment

    Minati Singha | TNN | Updated: Aug 23, 2018, 23:14 IST

    No chemical has been used in these organic rakhis.

    BHUBANESWAR: In a unique initiative to celebrate organic and environment-friendly Raksha Bandhan, Bakul Foundation launched green rakhi with an organic seed and gift plants. The rakhis are made from threads made of non-GM indigenous cotton and hand weaved yarns in charkhas so that users can plant it after the festival.

    “The main objective of launching green rakhis is to inculcate the habit of plantation and protection of environment among youngsters. This will also a means of strengthening our bonds with our natural ecosystem, our agriculture and our farmers and the artisans, who spin, weave and add colours to the fabrics of our lives,” said Sujit Mahapatra, founder of Bakul Foundation.

    The organic rakhis are containing seeds of Amaranthus and bixa inside, which can be planted after the occasion. No chemical has been used in these organic rakhis, each costing Rs 50 while a combo pack of rakhi and a plant sapling is priced at Rs 250.

    And in return gift for sisters, there is a huge variety of plant saplings. Interested people can buy a packaged gift plant, which could be a tree growing plant like mango, jackfruit, Jamun, sapeta or a medicinal plant like insulin, tulsi or a flowering plant like exora, vinca in lovely white baskets along with a handmade organic rakhi.

    “We have brought around 100 seed bands this year from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. If we get bulk orders for organic rakhis then we may bring more,” said Mahapatra, who started ‘My Tree Campaign’ to promote tree gifting as a cultural practice by associating it with cultural festivals such as Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Friendship Day, Teacher’s Day, Father’s Day Mother’s Day and on the occasion of other Indian and western festivals in 2009.

    “In the past nine years since the campaign started, there has been a significant change. Initially, people found it difficult when we talked about the culture of gifting plants, now, many people understood, appreciated and had started the practice of gifting plants,” Mahapatra added.

    When the market is flooded with various types of rakhis made of silk and metal threads, stones and beads green rakhi has attracted many. “This concept of green rakhi is something different and also interesting. I think it will appeal the younger generation as the awareness about the use of polythene and chemicals has increased over the years. I got two organic rakhis for my brothers,” said Barsha Priyadarshini, a college student.
  • Bhubaneswar Development Authority pulls down illegal structures for new road TNN | Aug 28, 2018, 12:26 IST

    (Picture used for representational purpose)

    BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Development Authority on Monday started demolishing unauthorized structures on the stretch between Sainik School and Damana Square to make way for two roads running parallel to each other. The move aims to ease traffic congestion between Jayadev Vihar and KIIT Square.

    At present, there is only one road that links Jayadev Vihar with Nandankanan. This leads to frequent traffic snarls. With the opening of a bridge at Trisulia to bring down the travel time between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the stretch has become even more crowded.

    "Though is not possible to cover the entire stretch, the roads will run parallel to each other near Sainik School and pass through Netaji Subhash Enclave to meet at Damana. This will divert the flow of traffic (coming from Acharya Vihar) at Sainik School, thereby reducing the vehicular load on the main stretch," said a BDA official.

    As many as 16 houses with asbestos roof, 19 wooden cabins, a concrete house, a boundary wall, three tea stalls, three kiosks and two bamboo-polythene structures were razed to the ground.

    Earlier, the enforcement squad and the BDA officials had surveyed the routes and taken note of the illegal structures.

    Officials said the Sainik School-Damana Road stretch will act as a bypass for people to reach Sainik School Square en route Damana Square from the Nandankan end.

  • Cotton is king as state readies to say goodbye to plastic bags The drive against the use of plastic and polythene carry-bags has gathered steam. With the state government planning to prohibit the use of plastic across five cities on October 2, many organizations in the city - both government and private - have been switching to eco-friendly materials to make bags.

    TNN | Sep 3, 2018, 12:23 IST

    Picture for representational purpose only.

    BHUBANESWAR: The drive against the use of plastic and polythene carry-bags has gathered steam. With the state government planning to prohibit the use of plastic across five cities on October 2, many organizations in the city - both government and private - have been switching to eco-friendly materials to make bags.

    Several voluntary organizations here have even launched campaigns to promote and popularize the use of cotton cloth bags.

    Among the green activists is Rudra Prasad Rath, who has started an online campaign called #whereisyourcottonbag a couple of months ago.

    "We have caused enough damage to the environment by dumping plastic everywhere. It is time we undid some of the damage by saying no to plastic," he said. "Though the government's decision to ban plastic has been welcomed by us, many people are confused about what alternatives are available to them," he added.

    As a part of his campaign, Rath has been asking people to post pictures with cotton or jute bags on social media platforms. He has also been speaking in assembly sessions at schools and colleges, and visiting housing colonies and apartments to urge the people to use cotton and cloth bags. "One school in the city has already declared its campus polythene-free. Around 1,000 people have posted pictures with cotton bags and many of them have started using these as well. Several shops and vendors have also stopped giving out plastic bags," said Rath.

    Another group of volunteers has launched a campaign against plastic in different daily markets of the city. Under the banner of 'Save the Earth Foundation', the volunteers ask vendors and customers not to use plastic bags. "We approached vendors and customers in Jharpada daily market. Initially, the people did not give us much importance but they started listening to us after a couple of weeks. At present, around 70-80% people in the daily market have stopped using plastic," said Ranjan Acharya, a trustee of the foundation.

    Volunteers of the foundation have also started visiting other daily markets and housing colonies, and are in talks with the BMC to launch a campaign against plastic use.

    "The no-plastic rule will definitely cause some inconvenience but it is for a greater cause," said Radhika Swain, a housewife.

  • Bhubaneswar: BMC removes 13 rooftop hoardings Hemanta Pradhan

    Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday removed 13 rooftop hoardings in Chandrasekharpur area. These hoardings are not only illegal but also makes city’s skyline cluttered and unsafe for commuters.

    | TNN | Sep 12, 2018, 22:04 IST

    These hoardings are not only illegal but also makes city’s skyline cluttered and unsafe for commuters.

    BHUBANESWAR: Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday removed 13 rooftop hoardings in Chandrasekharpur area. These hoardings are not only illegal but also makes city’s skyline cluttered and unsafe for commuters.

    The civic body has decided that it will collect holding tax in commercial rate from the house owners, who have allowed advertisers to have rooftop hoardings illegally from their buildings.

    Srimanta Mishra, deputy commissioner (Revenue), said as per the Advertisement Rules 2006 notified by the state government, the Municipal Commissioner is empowered to remove any unauthorised advertisement from the city. These hoardings could be removed as per the order of the Municipal Commissioner, he added.

    Some of these hoardings are equal to the size of the rooftops they are on, making the structures vulnerable to the wind related damages as the wind load remains high during occasions like cyclones and other calamities. It poses threat to the passerby, if it falls on them.

    Meanwhile, the BMC, on Wednesday asked all the Zonal Deputy Commissioners (ZDCs) to make the assessment of holding tax on the houses or structures, which are having rooftop hoardings on them.

    The ZDCs were also given a list of buildings in 16 stretches from the 40 km priority corridor across the city for the Hockey World Cup-2018, along which, the building owners have rooftop hoardings and are earning revenue from them.

  • NGT raps Odisha, Bengal for illegal sand mining in Subarnarekha Ashok Pradhan | TNN | Sep 19, 2018, 12:27 IST

    Image used for representational purpose only

    BHUBANESWAR: Taking note of rampant illegal mining of sand from the Subarnarekha, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Odisha and West Bengal to come up with a joint restoration plan for damages inflicted on the river. A written copy of the order was made available on Tuesday.

    On September 4, the NGT's principal bench in New Delhi asked the chief secretaries of the two states to form a committee, comprising experts drawn from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad and the respective state pollution control boards within a month to prepare the restoration plan.

    The NGT, in its order, said the proposed committee should get the ecological damage caused by sand mining assessed by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education in Dehradun and find the cost of riverbed material and ecological restoration. Besides, the panel will also assess the damage suffered by inhabitants around the river.

    The NGT has asked the district magistrates and the superintendents of police of Balasore and West Midnapore to begin criminal proceedings against the illegal miners and impose exemplary penalty on them within three months to recover the cost of environment restoration and compensate people who suffered because of the illegal activity.

    The green tribunal's directives came on a petition filed by social activist Sudarsan Das who had complained that large-scale lifting of sand from the banks of the Subarnarekha in Balasore and Paschim Medinipur district had affected the river's ecology, channel geometry, velocity of water flow and (desired) elevation of the riverbed. The NGT said "there has been complete failure of law with regard to the prevention of such illegalities..."

    The NGT also asked the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change to come out with an effective mining surveillance system in consultation with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) in Hyderabad for sand and gravel mining across rivers in the country. It also asked for institutional mechanism to deal with mining done without any environmental clearance (EC) and those done in violation of conditions stipulated in the EC.

    A senior government officer said the order was being examined. Complainant Das termed the judgement a 'landmark' one and said it could prevent the ruin of rivers from mindless and greedy sand mining.

  • From October, machines to keep streets clean

    BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday said it would start mechanical sweeping in the city from October in view of the Men's Hockey World Cup that will start from November 28. Two private agencies will clean 80 km of roads everyday. The high-end machines that will operate on vacuum technology will help clear ambient air pollution and suck suspended particulate matters (SPM), whose presence in the atmosphere causes respiratory problems.

    "The authorities don't want to take any chances on the pollution level during the mega event. Each machine can suck 700 to 800 kg dust per hour. The sanitary inspectors will monitor the sweeping exercise and submit daily reports," officials said.

    While the machine will be deployed for sweeping during the night, manual sweeping will continue as usual. "The introduction of machine will not hit manual sweepers. During the hockey event, the timing of sweeping may be changed," said an official of BMC.

    He added the two agencies have been asked to carry out cleaning of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. They will also have to transport the waste to the temporary dumping site near Sainik School.

    BMC sources said the roads that have been selected for mechanical sweeping will be inspected on a daily basis to see if any garbage or debris is left behind. The agencies will engage their inspection vehicles for the purpose.

    The important stretches which have been identified for use of mechanical sweeping are KIIT Square to Jayadev Vihar Square, Governor House Square to Gopabandhu Square, Governor House Square to Ganganagar Square, Jayadev Vihar Square to Governor House Square, Sikharchandi Square to Infosys Square, Acharya Vihar Square to Airport Square, Vani Vihar Square to Sishu Bhavan Square, New Airport Square to Airport Circle and so on. The BMC and Bhubaneswar Development Authority have been advised by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) at regular intervals to take steps to check air pollution.

  • PM Narendra Modi to launch several projects in Odisha

    BHUBANESWAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch half-a-dozen projects in Odisha Saturday, including a fertiliser plant at Talcher, and inaugurate Jharsuguda Airport and UDAN in the state. Modi, who proceeded to Talcher after arriving here, will lay the foundation stone and commence work for the country's first coal gasification based fertiliser plant at Talcher in Angul district, officials said.

    The fertiliser plant is being developed by Talcher Fertilisers Limited, a joint-venture of GAIL, Coal India Ltd, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd and Fertiliser Corporation of India Ltd, they said.

    The plant, to be commissioned by 2022, will ensure easy availability of urea in Odisha as there is no urea plant in the state.

    During his one-day visit to the state, Modi will also dedicate to the nation mines of the NTPC and the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and railway tracks for transportation of coal.

    Garjanbahal open cast mine of MCL, to be inaugurated by Modi, has coal block reserves of 230 million tonnes with annual production capacity of 13 million tonnes. It will generate direct employment opportunity for 894 people and indirect job opportunities for 5,000, officials said.

    The prime minister will launch the 53.1-km Jharsuguda-Serdega railway line constructed by MCL, which can be used for passenger traffic.

    Modi will dedicate to the nation Dulanga Coal Mining Project of NTPC in Sundargarh district. This is the second mine of the the state-run company to be operational and its first in Odisha.

    Coal produced from this mine will be used in the under-construction 1600-MW Darlipali Super Thermal Power Plant of NTPC in Sundargarh district, the officials said.

    On the new airport in Jharsuguda, the officials said it has been developed for all-weather operations, including night operations for A-320 type aircraft.

    Jharsuguda will be the second airport of Odisha to be operational and provide connectivity to Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Ranchi under the central government's UDAN scheme.

  • Non-resident Odias cheer opening of Jharsuguda Airport

    BHUBANESWAR: Non-resident Odias (NRO) from western Odisha staying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrated the inauguration of Jharsuguda Airport in front of the iconic landmark and the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai on Friday.

    A few families from western Odisha settled in the UAE had organised a small celebration in front of Burj Khalifa to celebrate the occasion. Wearing traditional Sambalpuri dresses, men and women with their children cut a specially designed cake and expressed joy as Jharsuguda joined India’s airport map.

    It was a long pending demand of the people from western Odisha especially by the NROs. Nonresident western Odisha families have to endure long international flights to major airports like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and then wait for a connecting flight to Bhubaneswar or Raipur (two major airports in the region). “Later they take train or road journey to reach their home. People are now hopeful of a direct air link from major cities like Delhi and Kolkata,” said Rajesh Tripathy, who is the general manager of a leading business school in Dubai.

    Priyadarshee Panigrahi, who works as a general manager in a company and is based in Dubai, said many businesses and institutions refuse to be based in Sambalpur and its surroundings due to lack of air connectivity. But this issue will be solved with the establishment of the Jharsuguda airport. It will boost the economy of the region and open new frontiers for business and tourism, he added.

  • IAS officer convicted in rural housing scam

    BHUBANESWAR: A special vigilance court here Monday convicted a suspended IAS officer, Vinod Kumar, and five others in a Rs 1.02-crore scam in the Odisha Rural Housing Development Corporation (ORHDC) and awarded them rigorous imprisonment of three years. Kumar, a 1989-batch IAS officer and a former managing director of ORHDC, four former officials of the agency and a builder were also ordered by the court to pay fine of Rs 50,000 each, failing which they will have to undergo rigorous imprisonment of six additional months. The six have been convicted of misappropriating ORHDC funds on the pretext of providing flats to 27 people.

    The IAS officer was convicted in a case of financial irregularity of Rs 55 lakh earlier.

    Kumar was arrested on August 10 in the first case soon after he surrendered in the court. The court had pronounced three-year jail term for Kumar and another person.

    After hearing their plea, the high court had granted them interim relief on July 8.

    On Monday, the special vigilance court found Kumar and four others guilty of offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and sections of Indian Penal Code for granting undue official favour, criminal misconduct, forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy and obtaining pecuniary advantage to builder Bijay Kumar Biswal.

    They were held guilty of releasing funds in the guise of 27 individual loans meant for the rural poor in an arbitrary manner without following set guidelines.

    Biswal too was awarded similar sentence.

    Besides Kumar and Biswal, the others convicted are Pradeep Kumar Rout, Swosti Ranjan Mohapatra, Jnanendra Swain and Satya Prakash Behera - all former officers of ORHDC.

    All of them were released on bail under section 389 of CrPC