Calamities, Crime Dominated 2013 in North Odisha
By Hemant Kumar Rout | Published: 01st January 2014 10:17 AM |
For Northern Odisha, 2013 brought more remorse than joy. While chit fund scams, farmers’ suicide and crime against women including sexual assault and dowry torture dotted the calendar, Phailin induced floods in Balasore, Bhadrak and Mayurbhanj districts sapped the backbone of the people, particularly farmers.
Politically sensitive Balasore saw arrest of veteran leader and former Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Law, Information Technology, Industry and Mines Raghunath Mohanty on March 30. He had to resign from ministry and party post following the arrest.
Mohanty was arrested along with his wife Pritilata and son Rajashree for allegedly torturing his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury for dowry. While Rajashree was nabbed from Choudwar three days after Barsa lodged a police complaint, Mohanty couple was arrested from a building near Shalimar in West Bengal after remaining fugitive for nearly a fortnight.
Mohanty’s tainted image cost the BJD dear in the civic body elections as the post of Jaleswar NAC Chairman was captured by the Congress. Mohanty’s dream to field his son in Jaleswar constituency in 2014 election was also washed away.
However, emergence of new set of leaders during the civic body elections benefited the BJD as the party preferred to crown a young man Alok Kumar Sahu as the Chairman of Balasore Municipality, one of the oldest civic bodies in the State.
BJD is also expecting to capture all Assembly segments and parliamentary seat after industrialist and social thinker Rabindra Kumar Jena joined the party towards the end of the year. Known for his polite behaviour, kind nature and business acumen, BJD believes that Jena would be an asset to the party in northern region. Prior to Jena’s joining, four senior leaders of Congress resigned from their posts and primary membership of the party putting Union Minister and Congress MP from Balasore Srikanta Jena in a tight spot. With many other Congress leaders hinting at joining BJD, the year proved disastrous for Union Minister.
While violence against women topped the crime chart, five debt-ridden farmers committed suicide after failing to repay loan in Balasore district. Similarly, four chit fund depositors and agents ended their lives after the multi-crore chit fund scam was unearthed and Crime Branch sealed the offices of such organisations.
ADG of police Gopabandhu Mallick was also in the news for his alleged involvement in a dowry torture case filed by his sister-in-law Santosini Mallick. Industrial scenario was no better with big units like Birla Tyre and Balasore Alloys Limited (BAL) witnessing labourer unrest over wage settlement and management conflicts. The construction works of the proposed ports did not start this year too.
In October, Phailin induced flood and in November, intrusion of wild elephants from Jharkhand left a trail of destruction in both Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts. During flood, 20 persons died while over 11 lakh were affected in Balasore. Besides, over one lakh houses were damaged and crop in around 1.8 lakh hectares of farmland was washed away. The administration sought an assistance of ` 521.90 crore for restoration works.
Similarly in Mayurbhanj, over three lakh people in 15 blocks were affected by the floods for which district administration had sought an assistance of ` 233 crore.
Manash Kumar Bhadra (26) of Balasore made the State proud by becoming a part of India’s maiden Mars mission that was kicked off on November 5. Manash, a Mechanical Engineer, was part of the five-member team which had integrated the solid motor vehicle of the satellite.
The announcement of an extension centre of AIIMS at Balasore brought smile on the faces of many who had to go far for advanced medical treatment. In the first phase, the medical will open with 200 beds and 150 beds will be added for super-speciality care later. While the Centre will bear the entire cost, State Government will provide nearly 30 acres of land.