BHUBANESWAR: The demand for a separate Western Orissa state was raised from an unexpected quarter today.
Former minister and Congress MP from Sambalpur Amarnath Pradhan today threatened that if the State Government continued to neglect Western Orissa then we will not hesitate to demand a separate State. Pradhan issued this threat at a news conference convened by the party here on the farmers’ suicide issue. Officially though, the Congress is opposed to the demand for a separate Western Orissa state.
Criticising the State Government for neglecting the people of the area for years together, Pradhan also announced that he will also raise the issue in Parliament. He maintained that days are not far when the people of the area will renew their agitation to press for their demand.
Throwing light on the over-all neglect of the area, the former minister said that schools and colleges do not have teachers, largescale vacancies of doctors and other staff continue in hospitals despite the outbreak of cholera and many villages do not have roads and drinking water facilities.
Observing that this state of affairs has continued for too many years, Pradhan said that people will not remain silent now. Pradhan said that the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) has failed to live upto the expectations.
The council headquarters is still in Bhubaneswar and the State Government has failed to fix it despite giving assurance in the Assembly. Former minister Prakash Debta also supported Pradhan’s demand.
What is significant is the fact that other MLAs from Western Orissa and several other senior Congress functionaries were present at the news conference. But none of them opposed such a demand.
The demand for a separate Kosala state which had peaked a few years back had receded to the background because of lack of unity among the agitators. The demand was raised by former BJP MLA Balgopal Mishra though the State and central units of the party never publicly supported it.