The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Alternative’ Assembly in Naveen land

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 14: A fresh concern awaits chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Several organisations, including those leading the anti-Posco agitation in Orissa, have decided to organise an “alternative Assembly” in the state capital from March 1 to discuss “policies on various issues and prepare a budget”. The alternative House will then try to put pressure on the government to adopt its policies.

Talking to reporters here this afternoon, leaders of Nav Nirman Samiti, Yuva Bharat and Rashtriya Yuva Sanghathan said the Assembly will being organised as the state legislature has “ignored the burning issues”.

The organisations have been continuing with an agitation against the proposed 12-million-tonne steel plant of Posco in Jagatsighpur district. They have also made leaders like Medha Patkar support their movement.

The proposed House will deliberate on issues such as exploitation of mineral resources, industrialisation, grant of mining lease, displacement and employment, said the organisers.

The alternative Assembly will formulate policies pertaining to “availability of food, cloth and shelter for all, education and health, employment with dignity, allotment of land, forests, mining and industrialisation, science and technology and cultural values”.

Around 300 delegates representing the 147 Assembly constituencies will attend the week-long programme. Besides, around 200 social activists and intellectuals are also expected to participate in the deliberations.

The organisations threatened to launch a “non-cooperative movement” if the government did not adopt the proposals of their budget.

Highway talks

The agitating tribals of Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur have offered to discuss the Daitari-Paradip expressway blockade at the “highest political level”, reports our correspondent.

The Bisthapan Virodhi Jan Manch (BVJM), the body leading the anti-displacement agitation, has written to the chief minister saying it is “prepared to hold discussions while expecting the government to invite its leaders for talks”.

BVJM sources said the letter, signed by secretary Rabindra Jarika, was sent to Jajpur district collector Arabinda Padhee yesterday.

“We are prepared to discuss... at the highest political level. The government will have to be sincere in such talks. We expect that the government shall call us for talks soon and give at least seven days for due preparation,” Jarika said in the letter, copies of which were released to the media today.

The blockade, launched to protest the death of 13 tribals in police firing and displacement in the name of industrialisation, completed a year on January 2.

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