Naveen shows steely side
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik can hold his own against the most formidable opponents. Naveen revealed his steely side last week when he came face to face with an unusually critical Union home minister P. Chidambaram who was in Bhubaneswar to review the state’s performance in containing Maoist violence. While the home minister made no bones about his disappointment with the state’s performance asking the government to pull up its socks, Naveen not only countered his arguments but even went to the extent of asserting that the Centre should take a leaf out of Odisha’s book as far as dealing with the Maoist problem was concerned.
Kantabanjhi MLA Santosh Singh Saluja has landed in yet another controversy. This time, the turbaned legislator has been accused of making casteist remarks against an official in Balangir, his home district. The incident reportedly took place during the district plan meeting and the official concerned lodged a complaint. The MLA, as expected, has denied the charge but government officials in Balangir, notorious for incidents of child trafficking and hunger deaths, appear determined to take him on. This is not the first time Saluja, has got embroiled in such a controversy. He has had several brushes with the officialdom in the past.
Time to protect Chilika guests
It’s time for forest and environment minister Debi Prasad Mishra to get his officials, guarding the Chilika lake, on their toes. The lake, spread over three districts of the state, is once again playing host to migratory birds of various hues but the winged guests continue to live under the shadow of poachers’ guns. Cases of bird killing have already been reported from the lake area, which suggests that arrangements made by the forest department for the protection of the birds are not good enough. The officials should perhaps start looking beyond routine measures such as setting up anti-poaching camps and try to generate mass awareness against bird killing. Environmentalists feel such a drive may be more effective.
Wake up call
The sacking of Odisha Ranji captain Haldhar Das, who was found drunk in his Mohali hotel room, should be a wake up call for sports administrators of the state. While organisations such as Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) have succeeded in making cricket cash-rich and bringing glamour to the sport, they have failed to inculcate a sense of discipline among the players. In fact, the money that some of the more successful players like Das have managed to make, thanks to Indian Premier League and Odisha Premier League, seems to have gone to their heads. This is going to harm not only these players but the game as well.
Odisha’s relations with neighbouring Andhra Pradesh appear to have touched a new low with AP Tourism Development Corporation website reportedly showing Mahendragiri hills as part of the southern state. Miffed, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has written to his Andhra counterpart, Kiran Kumar Reddy, that the hills are part of Odisha’s Gajpati district and the embarrassing faus pax on the website should be corrected immediately. This not the first time that Andhra Pradesh has staked claim to the herb-rich Mahendragiri hills.
Surya asset controversy
With the Opposition gunning for him on the asset declaration issue, revenue and disaster mitigation minister Surya Narayan Patro seems to be running for cover. As the demand for his resignation gets louder, Patro is yet to come up with a convincing reply to the Opposition charge that he had undervalued his assets while filing his property list, which was recently released by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
The only defence that the minister has been able to put up is that he does not own property at any other place except Bhubaneswar and Berhampur. However, this may not satisfy either the Opposition or the public who would expect Patro, the self-appointed spokesperson for the Biju Janata Dal, to come clean.