New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday proposed that natural calamities should be a criteria for according Special Category Status to states, while asking for Rs 5,228 crore aid in wake of the huge devastation caused by cyclone Fani to public infrastructure, property and livelihoods of the people in the state. He also sought the allocation for 5 lakh permanent houses to replace the habitations damaged in the cyclone. In his address at the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, Patnaik said that the unique geo-climatic condition of Odisha made it vulnerable to multiple and frequent natural disasters. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in Haryana “During the period 1900 to 2019, the state has experienced one or other disaster like flood, cyclone or drought every year. These natural calamities pose a serious challenge to our economic development. Therefore I propose that ‘natural calamity’ should be included as a criteria for according Special Category Status to Odisha.” As an interim measure, he said that all states hit by major calamities may be declared as “Special Focus States” and granted benefits of Special Category Status for a specific period. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: Shah “This will not only help Odisha but any other state which is hit by a major natural calamity,” Patnaik said. He apprised the Governing Council that Odisha has come a long way – from a poverty-stricken state to a one which showed the highest reduction of poverty among major states in a decade; from a food-deficient state to a rice-surplus state and one of the largest contributors to the Central pool; and from a helpless state at the time of disasters to a State which has set global standards in disaster management. Terming the NITI Aayog Governing Council as “Team India”, Patnaik made some broad suggestions for women empowerment in all spheres, simultaneous elections as “frequent elections affect the development climate” and that in a large country like India, primary sector especially agriculture should always be taken care of. Suggesting judicious utilization of water resources, he called for the Second Green Revolution to happen in India’s dryland areas. He proposed that environmental and economic development should go hand in hand and he was of the view that a scientific comprehensive survey was needed as most of the beneficiary-oriented schemes were based on such surveys. Citing his government’s Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme for the welfare of 50 lakh small and marginal farmers and 25 lakh landless agricultural households, he welcomed the scheme for providing income support to farmers, but strongly suggested inclusion of landless labourers and sharecroppers under PM-KISAN as rural prosperity and reduction in poverty cannot be achieved without adequate focus on these weaker sections of agricultural economy. The Odisha Chief Minister said that creation of new/optimization of existing irrigation potential with due regard to water use efficiency are key factors to achieve the goal of raising agricultural productivity and doubling income of the farmers.
ENVIRON, an international environmental, health, safety and sustainability consultancy, has established operations in Myanmar, making the firm the first global environmental consultancy on the ground in the country. Principal Consultant and Director Dr Virginia Alzina, based in Yangon, will manage the Myanmar operations. International Mining is organising a conference in Yangon, alongside the Mining Myanmar exhibition, October 30 to November 1, 2014. “This is a time of great change in Myanmar, and there is tremendous need for the services ENVIRON provides in supporting sustainable economic development,” said Stephen Washburn, ENVIRON CEO. “Our new office in Myanmar allows us to work more closely with clients and other stakeholders to make sure these needs are met.”The firm sees growing demand in Myanmar for environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) of proposed development projects, as well as related services such as site evaluation and selection, permitting, water resources, air quality management, human health and ecological assessment, and environmental management systems. According to Juliana Ding, Managing Director of ENVIRON’s Asian operations, “Myanmar has an emerging regulatory framework aimed at ensuring environmental protection and sustainable development, and being on the ground is critical to supporting clients as they establish operations in Myanmar. ENVIRON’s newly established presence in Myanmar demonstrates our continuing strong commitment to this dynamic region.”“These are exciting times to be on the ground in Myanmar,” says Alzina. She has nearly 20 years of experience in environmental and social sciences, policy and engineering focused on sustainability. Her expertise includes International ESIA practices and standards such as the Equator Principles, the International Finance Corp Performance Standards and other international financial institution requirements. Alzina has worked in more than 45 countries of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.