The year 2013 was a mixed bag for Sundargarh district.
On political front, the BJD registered its maiden victories in Sundargarh, Rajgangpur and Birmitrapur Urban Local Body (ULB) polls. The party’s success in Birmitrpur came as a relief for deposed BJD minister Sarada Prasad and also defied the myth that tribal strongman and Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey was unbeatable.
Jual Oram assumed his second tenure as BJP’s national vice-president and renewed the demand for CBI inquiry into illegal mining.
Highlight of the year was the tragic incident in August when a coal overburden dump collapsed claiming 13 lives at Kulda open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) in Hemgir block. A PIL was filed against the MCL in the Orissa High Court.
In July, residents of Rourkela had to spend sleepless nights for several days when a herd of 11 elephants strayed into the heart of the city. They had to be confined at Birsa Munda stadium for several hours.
Elephant raids continued throughout the year with at least 13 human casualties registered. There were elephant deaths as well. A jumbo was dragged to death by Gitanjali Express and on January 11, a ‘rogue’ tusker died after being confined.
Operatives of Jharkhand’s criminal outfit Pahadi Cheetah (PC) killed six villagers before Sundargarh police gunned down four PC operatives in encounters. Sundargarh police also busted a camp of Jharkhand’s banned outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and seized huge cache of arms and ammunition.
The MB Shaw panel probing illegal mining twice made spot visits to Koida mining sector, while the private sector iron and steel industries and mining industries continued to reel under recession.
Adding yet another feather to its cap, Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) made the country’s largest blast furnace ‘Durga’ operational in August and also inaugurated two new key units- Slab Caster and Coke Oven Battery-VI.
NTPC signed MoU to set up a medical college and hospital at Sundargarh and foundation was laid for OCL Eye Centre at Rajgangpur. Several protests were staged for locating the ESIC’s proposed medical college and hospital at Rourkela.
Opposition parties cheered as the BJD Government bowed to pressure to announce corporation status to Rourkela Municipality. But, tribals of five adjacent gram panchayats vehemently protested their inclusion in the proposed corporation.
The hockey fraternity hailed the appointment of Amit Rohidas of Rourkela-based Panposh Sports Hostel as vice-captain for the Junior Hockey World Cup.
People were shocked when a MTech girl student of NIT-Rourkela accused a professor of sexual harassment and a tribal school girl gave birth to a baby at a Kutra hostel.