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Jagannath temple plans to sell land to raise Rs.1,000 Crore maintenance corpus

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JaganNath Temple, Puri, Odisha, India. Wikimedia Commons

Chinmaya Dehury

Puri, Odisha, India:

At 60,654 acres, Lord Jagannath could be the richest landlord among India’s deities. About 395 acres of it is now being sold to create a Rs.1,000 crore maintenance corpus for the 12th-century shrine here in the Lord’s name, an official said.

This is even as land sharks have grabbed vast patches of the 60,259 acres of Jagannath temple land across 23 districts in Odisha. The balance 395 acres is in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Of these states, West Bengal has the maximum – 322 acres – owned by the temple.

“The state government is in the process of selling temple land outside the state,” Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Suresh Mohapatra told IANS.

Besides, the government has also written a letter to the district collector of Nainital in Uttarakhand to pay the market value of a 52-year-old building owned by the temple.

The owner of the two-storeyed building had donated the ground floor to the Jagannath temple on April 26, 1964, and it has been rented out as a post office.

There is, however, a huge catch: the state government does not have land records or ‘pattas’ for a whopping 27,331 acres spread across 111 tehsils in 23 districts.

Statue of a crouching lion over an elephant at the entrance of the Jagannath Temple, Puri, India. Wikimedia Commons
Statue of a crouching lion over an elephant at the entrance of the Jagannath Temple, Puri, India. Wikimedia Commons

“Out of 60,259 acres of Jagannath’s land identified by the SJTA, the state has record of rights (ROR) of only 32,927 acres. The balance 27,331 acres have no record of rights,” Law Minister Arun Sahu told the state assembly recently.

He also said that 340 cases have been filed against the land encroachers under the Sri Jagannath Temple Act 1955.

Sources said committees have been formed under the collectors of the districts concerned to collect details on the temple land and expedite the process of acquiring revised records.

The government had also planned to auction part of the temple land to boost the shrine’s revenues. The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has been asked to sell the land on plotting basis since it has expertise in land transactions. However, the government’s move has hit a roadblock as several villagers in the Jatani area of Khurdha district have moved the Orissa High Court.

“They have managed to get a stay order from Orissa High Court. We are trying to get the stay order vacated so that about 125 acres can be sold,” Mohapatra said.

(Chinmaya Dehury can be contacted at shinmaya.d@ians.in)

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Woman IAS officer Gauri Parashar Joshi saved Panchkula when Local Police Ran Away

When violence escalated, Gauri Parashar Joshi went to her office, issued an order to hand over the situation to the Army that helped to reduce the chaos of the situation.  

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Panchkula Voilence
Panchkula Voilence. VOA
  • Gauri Parasher Joshi tackled the ruckus caused by Dera followers
  • She didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries
  • Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation

Panchkula, Haryana, August 28, 2017: Haryana Police ran away from the spot, leaving innocent people in danger when violence caused by Dera followers increased. This happened after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on 25 August 2017.

It was then Gauri Parasher Joshi, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, IAS officer took matters in her hand to tackle the ruckus caused by Dera followers. When she was trying to calm down the agitators, police guards fled the spot as soon as they saw an angry mob of Dera followers who were coming to attack with stones, sticks.

Also Read: RapistRamRahim: Kamlesh Kumar from Rajasthan Lost his Wife at Dera 2 Years Back

Soon violence increased, but she didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries. She took a wise decision, went to her office along with a PSO and issued an order by which the situation was handed over to the Army. This was a clever move as it helped to avoid further damage in the situation.

A local expressed his disappointment over the cowardly act of the local police.  According to Economic Times report, Satinder Nangia, a local from Panchkula said “Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation. We have been serving the local police with tea and biscuits for last few days, but the moment the Dera followers went on a rampage the local police was the first to run.”  It was the Army which prevented further deterioration of the area.

Also Read: Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Being Treated As Ordinary Prisoner, Clarifies Haryana DGP (Jails)

Gauri Parasher Joshi reached home at wee hours, around 3 am but she went home after going around, checking every place with possible danger in the city and thus making sure that the situation was under control and rioters were not causing any more trouble.

She has served in Kalahandi, the Naxal-affected district in Odisha in the past and may be that helped her in tackling the situation with such competence.Betty Nangia praised the efforts of Joshi, “It’s time the patriarchal state, with abysmally low sex ratio, looks up to such woman and take a lesson or two.” She was disturbed as she witnessed the Army men shooting two Dera followers who were at close proximity from her house, as the locals tried to enter their homes in panic.  We need more woman IAS officers like Gauri Parasher Joshi.


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Maharangajodi Village: The ‘Village of Widows’ in Odisha

The men of Maharangajodi Village are dying of deadly lung diseases, pushing women to battle the misery and survive

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Village of Widows
50 men working in mining company of Odisha lost their lives to a fatal lung disease. Wikimedia
  • The Maharangajodi Village in Odisha is increasingly becoming known as the ‘Village of Widows’
  • The men have lost their lives to deadly lung diseases while the women are expected to carry the burden of survival
  • No compensation has been provided to the widows by the government or the mining company

July 22, 2017: In Keonjhar District of Odisha, the Maharangajodi Village has witnessed the deaths of men because of lung disease. Their women are left with no option but to seek ways of survival in this ‘Village of Widows’.

Also Read: Odisha Felicitates Indian Athletes with Cash Awards at 22nd Asian Athletics Championships

In 1982 a mining company called Pyrophilites was inaugurated in the village. It was responsible for the production of lime and sand stone.

The 50 men in the village, who worked at this mining site and earned living for their families, saw their health being degraded. Gradually, these men became weak and also faced trouble in breathing. It was discovered that the exposure to silica had an adverse impact on the health of these men.

The men lost their lives to deadly lung diseases they had developed over the course of employment. Silica affected the men with a fatal disease known as Silicosis.

The village was branded as ‘Village of Widows’ as none of the workers survived the disease.

The village was branded as 'Village of Widows' as none of the workers survived the disease. Click To Tweet

Pyrophilites was shut down eight years ago. However, no compensation has been given to the women or the families of the men who succumbed to the fatal exposure.

Sarojini Khuntia told Odisha TV, “The company paid very less wages to the men. Even after exploiting them, the company did not do anything to mitigate the problems of the workers diagnosed with respiratory disease. Neither have we been compensated after their deaths”

Furthermore, the government has remained insensitive to the issue. The party in power had failed to provide any compensation or even assistance for these widows to take care of their families.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Odisha launches special action plan to reduce Migration problem in the state and create Livelihood Opportunities

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Workers in India (representational Image), VOA

Bhubaneswar, April 29, 2017: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday announced a special action plan to reduce migration problem in the state and create livelihood opportunities.

Initially, the action plan would be implemented in Bolangir and Nuapada districts. It would be scaled up and replicated in other migration-prone areas in a phased manner, he said.

The special action plan has been prepared for intense action in 30 gram panchayats of the two districts to curb migration and facilitate creation of livelihood opportunities for migrant workers within the state.

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“I am sure the plan would help in providing alternate livelihoods to address migration in Bolangir and Nuapada districts by improving the household income of poor families and reduce their vulnerability,” said the Chief Minister.

He said it would eventually serve as a blueprint for scaling up to other migration prone districts of the state.

It is expected that Rs 134 crore would be spent in the areas.

The Odisha government on Saturday also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Trusts to reduce migration in Bolangir and Nuapada districts.

The Odisha government will bring in the expertise of Tata Trusts in developing appropriate information, education and communication (IEC) materials and disseminate it for behavioural change, introduce people friendly and easy to use technologies for registration of migrant workmen and support development of database for welfare of migrant workers.

To strengthen policy initiative, the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRDPR), Hyderabad was requested to conduct a short-term study in the districts of Bolangir, Bargarh, Kalahandi and Nuapada for suggesting alternative avocation/livelihood opportunities for migrant workers.

The NIRDPR report suggested short term, medium term and long-term measures which can be implemented within the existing development initiatives, said a release.

The suggestions of NIRDPR have been incorporated in the agreed activities under the MoU with Tata Trusts to initiate interventions initially in 30 gram panchayats of Bolangir and Nuapada districts, the release added. (IANS)