NALCO:THE SYMBOL OF ORISSA’S TENSILE STRENGTH

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Almost every individual Oriya is extremely worried that NALCO is now in Vajpai’s dumping-bag even though it is the most profit fetching undertaking in the public sector. There may be logic behind selling away a PSU that incorrigibly incurs a loss. But NALCO has never made a loss, it has always made handsome profits. Why then is the Centre so eager to sell it out to a private firm? This is the strait question Orissa is asking.

It is not that Vajpai has not attempted to provide an answer. Two of his party members in the Parliament hailing from Orissa have ventured to present the central government views. Anadi Sahu has advanced the argument that selling of NALCO to private sector having originally been mooted by Navin Patnaik as Union Minister, Steel & Mines, Vajpai is not to be blamed. And, the other one, Mr. Kharavel Swain, has been engaged to justify the sale. According to the brief he holds, even though it has been making profits, NALCO will incur loss after two three years, he says. In order to get a higher price, the sale must take place without delay, he argues.

Such absurd arguments have no impact on the common man of Orissa. He is determined to obstruct the sale. His spontaneous participation in the ‘Band’ agitation reminds one of the mass movements against the attempt to take over the Gandhamardan Hill by BALCO.

The mindless union ministry may proceed with the sale programme. But whoever purchases NALCO shall have to face the wrath of Orissa. And, that would be too severe for an industry to sustain.

It is yet not clear as on whose behest the Vajpayee government is eager to sale away NALCO. But the price they have fixed for its sale reflects the anti-nation character of this regime. The regime is offering NALCO at a price of Rs.2, 982 crores, even though its instrumental and product value is accessed to be worth Rs.22 thousand crores at the minimum. The mineral deposits in the mines under its possession are estimated to be not less than Rs.50 thousand crores. As such a public property worth Rs.72 thousand crores is offered by Vajpayee regime to private firms at a paltry sum worth less than Rs 3 thousand crores only. Did the Oriyas surrender their land for such venality? Did they suffer pernicious pollution for benefit only of an unknown private firm? The Oriyas, barring a few of the followers of BJP, know the answer. And, therefore, they are determined to obstruct the sale.

Orissa is distinguished for the tolerant nature of her people. This nature comes from their tradition of superior feeling. It is not passive, but is always active. Their active tolerance had shown Asoke the futility of sword power. Recent history has witnessed how actively the Oriyas displayed their tolerance while registering their resistance at Baliapal and Gandhamardan. History is destined to be repeated in the case of NALCO. It undoubtedly symbolises the tensile strength of Orissa.

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NOW EVEN THE NHRC SEES STARVATION DEATHS, DEAR P.M.

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Dear Prime Minister had cited a periodical of doubtful integrity to deny starvation deaths on Orissa. He should have pressed the forensic pathologists to find out the facts but didn’t. This presented before us a parliament that could be hoodwinked by the P.M. Our visitors have seen that matter elsewhere in these pages. ( For the comprehensive and exclusive report, click here)

As is now seen, even the National Human Rights Commission has come down heavily on the Government holding misgovernance to be the root cause of starvation deaths in Orissa.

Exactly as we had interpreted starvation, the NHRC has maintained that the huge majority of poor people whom the Country has neither equipped with education nor has provided with any source of income are perishing under unabated hunger and malnutrition. Prolonged malnutrition leads to slow starvation deaths, we had said, citing forensic authorities. The NHRC has concluded that starvation deaths reported from different parts of the Country, specifically from Orissa, are because of this reason alone. Holding misgovernance resulting from acts of omission and commission on the part of public servants, (Ministers including the P.M. belong to the category of public servants also) responsible for the starvation deaths, the NHRC has decreed that keeping people under condition of malnutrition is nothing but flagrant contravention of human rights.

“The reading of Article 21 of the Constitution of India together with Article 39(A) and Article 47 places the issue of food security in the corr3ext perspective, thus making the right to food a guaranteed fundamental right which is enforceable by virtue of constitutional remedy provided under Article 32,” it has said.

How shall the Prime Minister react?

Orissa in Quagmire

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The government may claim as they like, but it has failed to provide a good administration. Orissa is in a quagmire.

In the present regime, not a single project has been completed. Ministers have been dropped for corrupt practices. Portfolios have been changed in hope of improvement. Reshuffle in bureaucracy has been frequently resorted to. But administration has not changed from worse to better.

The State exchequer is being exhausted over pampering newspapers in the name of public relation. But open any page of them, you shall seldom find a story that credits any success to the government. We conducted a survey and found, 93 percent of reports and editorials on affaires of the State during last three months, highlighted the ongoing misadministration and malfeasances.

Dissidence is rampant in the treasury benches. The Chief Minister has used his powers as President of BJD to oust even founder members of the party on charges of anti-party activities as they criticised the government for discernible failures. Defying its significance, loyalists are also criticising the government for its failure to function. In the legislative wing meeting of BJD on December 1, 2002 at the eve of commencement of the winter session of the Assembly, a good many number of members including the government chief-whip raised acrimonious allegations against the government. It is not functioning at all, they said. The state has failed to produce even a needle during the last three years; they reportedly alleged and wanted to know as to who should be held responsible for such a defunct state. The Chief Minister had no answer.

The ‘super cyclone’ of 1999 had ushered Navin Patnaik’s government into Orissa. The new set-up was expected to manage the affaires efficiently. But as official audit reveals, only 34% of the cyclone relief fund has been shown as utilised. Even the department of water resources resting with the Chief Minister himself has been able to utilise only Rs.50 crore out of Rs.138 crore placed at its disposal. Departments held by BJP ministers are no better. Legislators belonging to this party wanted to know the reason of their ministers’ inability to utilise relief funds, also in their pre-session meeting. No answer was available.

No body knows how the government can extricate itself from the state of non-functioning. And how long the State shall stay put in the quagmire it has been thrown into.