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Odisha Cabinet amends Municipal Act to remove provision of secret ballot

Odisha cabinet

Bhubaneswar: Odisha cabinet headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday approved five drinking water projects worth Rs 370 crore for 217 fluoride-affected villages in Nuapada district.

“The project is expected to benefit over 2 lakh people in four blocks—Khariar, Boden, Nuapada and Komna in the district. With funding from the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, these projects will be implemented within a period of 24 months,” chief secretary AP Padhi told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

Chennai-based Larsen and Toubro Limited would execute the drinking water projects.

The Cabinet has decided to make voting on no-confidence motions against mayors, deputy mayors of municipal corporations, chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of municipalities and notified area councils (NACs) ‘open’ to minimize cross voting and horse trading.

However, details of the decision are yet to be worked out. Odisha Municipal Act-1950 (Odisha Act 23 of 1950) and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 (Odisha Act 11 of 2003) will have to amended to implement the decision. The amendment of the acts is likely to be carried out in the next session of the assembly after framing of the rules.

According to release issued by the government, it is essential for a political party to know whether elected representative who has won the election with its party symbol is adhering to its ideology and obeying instructions in letter and spirit. For the purpose a detailed procedure is required to be prescribed for verification of the vote, it said and added such violation of instruction of the political party can be identified and the proof will be helpful to the State Election Commission (SEC) while disposing of the complaint received for disqualification on the ground of defection.

The project funded under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) assistance will be implemented in Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) mode of contract within a period of 24 months.

Fluoride contamination in drinking water sources has been noticed in 1658 habitations in 16 districts. Out of these, 905 habitations in Nuapada district are severely affected with flouride. The chief secretary said out of these, 317 are already covered with pipe water supply schemes. Besides, projects worth Rs 250 crore under several schemes are in progress for covering 371 fluoride affected habitations.

Besides, the cabinet approved proposal to implement underground pipeline (UGPL) irrigation system in Lower Indra in Nuapada and Balangir districts as a pilot project. The pilot project to be implemented by Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited will cost Rs 242.99 crore. The Lower Indra irrigation project was approved by the Planning Commission in 1998-99 for Rs 211.7 crore. The project cost has now escalated to Rs 1753.64 crore. Expenditure on the project so far has been Rs 1544.62 crore. The ministry of water resources has given a deadline to complete the project by December, 2018.

A proposal for setting up five lakh litre capacity automated dairy and milk processing plant at Arilo near Barang was also approved. Besides, cabinet cleared a proposal for sanctioning a loan of Rs 15 crore to revive and run the Aska Cooperative Sugar Industries limited.

The Cabinet also cleared the proposal to bifurcate the Tourism & Culture Department of the state government. It would be renamed as Odia Language, Literature and Culture Department, said sources.

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