JAGATSINGHPUR: ISE in crime rate and protests over industrial pollution and rehabilitation marked the year for Jagatsinghpur, which also saw the much-awaited commissioning of the 15 million tonne (MT) Paradip Refinery project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The commissioning, though, was followed by a clash between the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP. The refinery was inaugurated on February 7 but before that, a ‘poster war’ ensued between the two parties leading to a clash over putting up of publicity materials, ahead of Modi’s visit.
The BJP workers had erected banners, posters and hoardings of Modi and other leaders of the party from Zero Point to Paradip Refinery site, a stretch of 7 km.
The party workers alleged that their BJD counterparts destroyed the publicity materials on the stretch and put up their banners and posters at several points on the same stretch. Subsequently, 11 workers of the BJP were arrested for attacking BJD MLA Pramod Kumar Mallick. The 11 workers were arrested following an FIR filed by Mallick’s PSO Badal Kumar Bhoi against BJP supporters at Tirtol police station. He had alleged that he and Mallick were attacked while going to Paradip to attend the PM’s meeting. Some BJD workers were also arrested for ransacking Tirtol police station during a demonstration over the issue.
Protests over rehabilitation was witnessed throughout the year. Hundreds of land losers and displaced families, under the banner of Gramya Surkhya Samiti, Handia, staged demonstrations in front of Essar company in Paradip demanding rehabilitation. Similarly, farmers of Kujang tehsil, who were displaced by Paradip Phosphates Ltd (PPL) in 1982, demanded their land back. Alleging that their land was acquired by force, the farmers organised a mass movement in front of PPL office here.
The rivalry between Cooperation and Excise Minister Damodar Rout and district unit BJD president-cum-MP, Bishnu Das, came to the fore during an egg attack on the former. During the ‘Mahanadi Bachao Samabesh’ in Kujang, a miscreant hurled eggs at Rout. Apparently, neither Das nor Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were informed about the meet. As there was a war of words between Rout and Das over the issue, supporters of Rout suspected involvement of supporters of the MP in the incident.
Fissures in the ruling BJD were out in the open at the inauguration of Kalinga Baliyatra. The festival, celebrating the maritime trade of the State with South-East Asia, was inaugurated by Minister Rout even as Revenue Minister Bijayashree Routray and Higher Education Minister Pradeep Panigrahi preferred to stay away from the event allegedly due to intra-party conflict.
Sources said the two Ministers had committed to attend as chief guest and chief speaker but did not turn up. Two MLAs, Chiranjib Biswal and Prasant Muduli, too did not attend.
In August, some criminals opened fire at the supervisor of Gangadhar Construction and Engineering Pvt Ltd and hurled bombs at camp office and a construction equipment at the Plastic Park of IOCL in Paradip. The supervisor, Jitendra Pradhan, sustained a bullet injury on his head.
The incident created panic among all contractors in the area who are working for the Plastic Park, being set up at a cost of `40 crore. The month also saw an attack on two BJD workers, Jyotikant Parida alias Bapu and Ashutosh Swain alias Baba, who are close associates of Damodar Rout at Tarenigada under Paradip police limits.
Prior to this, the Congress and the BJP leaders staged demonstration in front of the Kujang police station protesting rise in crime in both Kujang and Paradip. They also alleged that police were negligent in tracing the killers of a contractor, who was murdered in the first week of July. The contractor, Ganesh Swain, who was associated with Paradip Refinery of IOCL, had given lift to a person on his motorcycle while on his way home on July 7. The year ended with the sensational murder of SSL manager, Mahendra Swain, over stevedoring rivalry in Paradip Port which led to the arrest of OSL chief Mahimananda Mishra, his aide Basant Bal and Congress leader Bapi Sarkhel.