CRIES OF STARVATION WAYLAY THE ASSEMBLY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Legislative Assembly could not proceed with its scheduled business today, excepting customary presentation of Budget at the fag end of the day as cries of starvation in Nuapada district concussed its commencement.

A local TV channel (OTV) had telecasted details of how starved people of Sinapalli in Nuapada district have started feeding on limestone sans any food for survival.

As the House concluded obituary mention on its former members and time for oral answer to questions arrived, Leader of Opposition, J.B.Pattanaik, wanted the Speaker to stop scheduled business so that the members may concentrate on the gross misfortune that starvation has pushed people into.

The Speaker did not agree. It led to vehement protests from Opposition benches. And, to adjournment.

As and when the House was buzzed to resume, the same stalemate surfaced. The only refuge was adjournment that continued till 5 pm, when before end of the day, the Budget got entry into business.

Feeding on stone is a false propaganda: Minister, Revenue.

Before presentation of the budget, the Speaker called upon the Revenue Minister to make a statement in order to end the turmoil.

He stoutly denied the TV report and marshaled the ever-discernible official versions that the people projected in the screen as thriving on limestone had enough food at home to eat.

Even as a House committee was announced to probe into the matter and submit its report seven days before the scheduled closure of this session, the Minister informed that criminal cases have been registered under the Sinapalli Police Station against the two journalists of OTV, under charges of sedition and other offences for having manufactured the false propaganda.

It is interesting to note that OTV is a commercial venture of the house of Baijayant Panda, a BJD member of parliament where as the Revenue Minister belongs to BJP, though an ally on records, a rival in reality.

One is yet to see if OTV stands with its story or abandons its reporters in the labyrinth of vested interest prosecution.

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ORISSA ASSEMBLY COMMENCES ITS ELEVENTH SESSION TODAY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The thirteenth Assembly of Orissa is to commence its eleventh session today to proceed with the state budget for 2007-08.

Both sides have strengthened their arsenals in respective legislative party wings to make the session susceptible to their political purposes.

Though the session is basically financial, from what the legislative wings got prepared for yesterday, one may infer that political gains of the parties rather than financial emancipation of the people would be the driving factor behind the debates.

Scheduled to be presented in the 2nd half of today, the Budget would be taken up for general discussion in the first stage from 5th June to 8th and after a break for stocktaking by standing committees from 9th June to 24th, voting of demands for grants in the second stage would commence from 26th June following submission and circulation of reports of the standing committees on 25th. The Appropriation Bill is scheduled for 12th July 2007.

As indicated by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, only one Official Bill is programmed to be adopted during the session. And that is an amendment on Orissa Municipal Act. Not known for sure, but a confidential source informs that in this amendment endeavor will be made to insert such provisions that may render the Supreme Court verdict to free the urban areas, specifically Bhubaneswar from cowherds inconsequential.

Let us wait and watch.