ROURKELA:Rourkela hit the national headlines this year following arrest of five terrorists of the Khanda module of SIMI. In February, Rourkela Police arrested the terrorists from Nala Road. Later, four of them were taken to Madhya Pradesh and gunned down there recently after the Bhopal jail break incident.
Tribal women hockey players brought pride to Sundargarh district in August this year. Sunita Lakra, Nomita Toppo and Lilima Minz of the Rourkela-based Panposh Sports Hostel and Deep Grace Ekka of Sundargarh-based Sports Hostel represented the Indian women’s hockey team in the Rio Olympics. The Indian women’s squad had qualified after 36 years. This month, over 23,300 rural hockey players of 1,458 teams had turned up at Rourkela for inauguration of Biju Patnaik Rural Hockey Tournament on December 10 in the presence of Vice-President of India M Hamid Ansari, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Rajya Sabha member and hockey icon Dilip Tirkey.
New Projects & NIT-R Fiasco
Rourkela was declared Smart City on September 20. Spadework started on the third rail track between Rourkela and Jharsuguda at a cost of D969 crores along with other railway projects and the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in November gave the go ahead to set up a Center of Excellence for Tribal Studies at National Institute of Technology -Rourkela (NIT-R). Yet, the NIT-R on many occasions faced ignominy. The Ministry of Human Resources Development in August sacked the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of NIT-R, Vasantha Ramaswamy for allegedly defying laws. After eluding arrest for 18 days, the security officer of NIT-R was arrested in June for sexual exploitation and rape of women private security guards.
Rourkela’s communal harmony was disturbed a few times when tension erupted on the Rourkela Main Road during return Car Festival and during Ganesh idol immersion procession. This led to clamping of prohibitory orders for about a fortnight and arrest of 54 persons. In January a Muslim youth was shot dead near Mahtab Road area by five persons of his own community three years after he had posted a differing view on Islam on his Facebook wall.
In middle of the year, the Rourkela Police had dismantled three Maoist camps in forests of Gurundia block and in September, gunned down two members of the Jharkhand’s dreaded criminal gang - People’s Liberation Front of India - in Gurundia forest. High profile crimes included armed loot of mortgaged gold of above D3 crore from the gold finance division of IIFL at the congested MS Mark area of the city in July and burglary of D1.34 crore gold from Prasad Jewellers at Fertilizer Township in October.
Amid continuing industrial and mining recessions, SAIL in November started operation from its new iron mine at Taldihi in Koida block. SAIL also got lease extension of its defunct dolomite and limestone mines at Purunapani. Yet, three new production projects of Rourkela Steel Plant that assured an investment of D5,000 crores, were halted over environment issues and RSP was made to pay D1.97 crore for pollution norms violations. Similarly, work stopped on the Agro Technology Park following protests by tribals.
● National Commission for Schedule Tribe Chairman, Dr Rameshwar Oraon in February held a three-day camp to hear grievances of land oustees of RSP and later in November recommended for a CBI inquiry over allegation that fake displaced persons secured jobs at RSP
● Rourkela boy, Ekansh Goyal (19) in August secured second national rank in National Eligibility Entrance Test
● The Captive Township of Rourkela Steel Plant in April witnessed drinking water crisis with drying up of river Koel