Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sambalpur gets corporation status

In a bid to soften the agitation over the demand for a permanent bench of the High Court in Western Odisha districts, the State Government on Tuesday decided to accord corporation status to Sambalpur municipality.

The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The major city of Western Odisha would become the fourth municipal corporation of the State after Bhubnaeswar, Cuttack and Berhampur. Finance Minister Prasanna Kumar Acharya, who was present at the meeting, said  the Chief Minister has directed the officials of the Urban Development department to expedite the process. This was a long-standing demand of the people of Sambalpur, he said.

However, there were mixed reactions from the political parties. While the BJP welcomed the decision, the Congress described it as a move to placate the people of Sambalpur ahead of the urban local body (ULB) polls likely to be held there in December.

The corporation will include Burla and Hirakud notified area councils (NACs), along with 12 gram panchayats located on the outskirts of Sambalpur. At  least seven gram panchayats of Dhanakauda and five of Maneswar block would come under the corporation with a population of over 3.35 lakh. The process for converting Sambalpur municipality to a corporation will be started in October.

BJP MLA from Sambalpur Jaynarayan Mishra welcomed the decision. But he demanded that the city be included under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The decision is welcome, but will not be of much help unless the city is included under the JNNURM.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh criticised the State Government for playing vote bank politics. The Government should stop playing tricks on the people of Sambalpur, he said.

 

Sambalpur corporation gambit a lollypop

Even as a joyous mood prevailed in Sambalpur over up-grade of the municipality to a corporation, a section of intellectuals here feel that it was merely a “lollypop” as the greater issue of permanent bench of High Court is yet to be sorted out.

A section of the political circles here pointed out that the demand for a municipal corporation had not been voiced even once by elected MLAs in the Assembly.

The BJD government went out of its way, included Hirakud, Burla and several villages to meet the population benchmark and declare Sambalpur municipality as a municipal corporation. Expressing doubt over the timing and backdrop of the announcement, the conscientious citizens here maintained that the HC Bench issue is much more important and pressing than that of the municipal corporation matter. “No doubt, we all are happy that the government has announced to upgrade Sambalpur municipality as the fourth municipal corporation of Odisha. However, we have reasons to doubt that if it is trying to dilute the High Court bench issue,” observed an elderly citizen.

City bus project a dud in Sambalpur

The much-hyped city bus service that was scheduled to be launched before Dussehra has run into road block with the tender floated by Western Odisha Urban Transport Service Limited (WOUTSL) failing to attract any partner to run the buses on PPP mode.

Informing this, Chief Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality Annirudha Pradhan, who is also the CEO of WOUTSL, which will be in charge of the regular management of the buses, said though the tender was floated on August 20, no application was received till the last date of September 20.

At present, the region including Sambalpur town lacks organised inter-city and intra-city transportation. Local transport is managed by several private mini bus operators and auto-rickshaws. The services provided by these operators are generally inadequate, inefficient, irregular and ill managed.

Besides, lack of public transport has led to a rapid increase in the number of private vehicles resulting in congestion and pollution. In order to provide an organised and affordable public transport service to the residents of Sambalpur, WOUTSL was formed. WOUTSL is supposed to manage intra-city and inter-city bus services connecting Sambalpur, Hirakud, Burla, Jharsugda and Bargarh.

With no private players evincing interest in joining hands with WOUTSL, despite the fact that State Government would provide 32 buses for the purpose, uncertainty stares at the public transport.

Meanwhile, Municipality CEO Pradhan said they would extend the last date of receipt of application for plying the buses on PPP mode. “The administration is clueless about next step if no application is received even after extension,” he added.

As per 2011 census, Sambalpur has the second largest population of 1,83,383 in Western Odisha. The bus services would have come as a relief for the people who have to cough up Rs 10 to the auto-rickshaw irrespective of the distance. Although town bus service was introduced in 1994 by Sambalpur Municipality, it had to be stopped after one year due to traffic problem.

Sambalpur University puts off convocation for lawyers’ strike

Sambalpur University has postponed its convocation scheduled to be held on September 25 till further notice.

“Due to unavoidable circumstances, the 26th Convocation of Sambalpur University scheduled to be held on September 25, 2013, is postponed until further notification. The inconvenience caused is highly regretted,” PRO and political science lecturer Rajat Kujur said on Saturday. He said the vice-chancellor had received a communication from the chancellor’s office asking the former to postpone the annual event.

Sources in the university said the decision was taken in view of the lawyer’s strike in western Odisha. In a related development, the students’ association of Gangadhar Meher College is planning to boycott the coming students’ election supporting the lawyers’ agitation.

Police grope in dark about loots

Police are still clueless about two loot incidents that took place on Wednesday. Unidentified miscreants had looted Rs 6 lakh at two different places here. Police have mounted a manhunt but the miscreants are still at large.

Miscreants had looted retired government servant Seshadev Panda of Rs 1 lakh. He was returning home, withdrawing the money from SBI main branch at Peerbaba Chowk when the miscreants struck at 12 noon.

Soon after the incident, two motorcycle-borne miscreants looted Rs 5 lakh from two employees of transport company Prasad Transport when they were going back to the company office on a motorcycle after withdrawing the money from ICICI bank here. The miscreants looted the money at Malipara between Khetrajpur railway station and Sambalpur Road railway station at gunpoint around 1 pm.

“We suspect involvement of same miscreants in both the incidents,” said SDPO (Sambalpur) P K Mohapatra.

“We have registered two cases and detained a person for his involvement in the second incident. However, we are yet to recover the booty,” Mohapatra said.