OF many laurels that Sundargarh district achieved in 2015, the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) was a historic moment for the Steel City.
Modi became the second Prime Minister in six decades to visit RSP. On April 1, he dedicated the nation’s modernised and expanded units of `12,000 crore to officially declare RSP a 4.5 MTPA plant.
The PM’s announcement to convert the RSP-run Ispat General Hospital into super specialty hospital and medical college was yet another major achievement.
On the education front, the district had its share of success and failure.
In a significant development, Chief Justice DH Waghela of Orissa High Court on August 20 directed for filing a suo motu PIL basing on a report ‘No Water, Power Supply in 75 pc Govt Schools’ in the district, published in this paper. The HC has been monitoring implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 in the State.
On the other hand, after losing the battle for Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Rourkela city in August earned the nomination for Smart City status.
The National Institute of Technology -Rourkela (NIT-R) was embroiled in controversy after Registrar SK Upadhayay was suspended by Director Prof SK Sarangi in September for ‘gross insubordination and dereliction of duty. The HC also turned down Upadhyay’s plea for reinstatement.
The NIT-R also launched its Centre for Analytics and Decisions Science and signed an MoU with US-based UNCC.
The district had its share of woes and tragedies in 2015. A bad monsoon left the farmers at the mercy of the Government. Though the entire district was declared drought-hit to bail out the farmers, many are still in distress.
Gloom in iron and steel industries and mining sector continued throughout the year. Strike by truckers of 12 associations over freight rate for 10 days in Koida mining circle in July was another lean phase.
In case of mishaps, accidents left many families bereaved. In September, seven persons including some rural Kabaddi players were killed in Bonai sub-division after their vehicle fell from a bridge.
In April, seven members of a marriage party including bride and groom were killed in a car-truck collision near Lathikata.
In another tragedy, seven youths of Birmitrapur town in the district died after the SUV, in which they were going to neighbouring Jharkhand, fell from a bridge near Khunti. All died on the spot.
On the political front, members of Adivasi Mulvasi Bachao Manch (AMBM) led by Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey continued to stall several development projects by staging frequent protests including disruption of train services for 29 hours on the busy Howrah-Mumbai route in January over land issue and tribal rights.
In November, citizens rose in protest against Tirkey and brought allegations of extortion against him.
The issue of illegal iron ores kept hidden at Renjda railway siding made headlines for days. The allegation of BJP that above 30,000 tonnes of illegal ore were hidden under the soil was confirmed by IBM in its recent report in which it had stated that seven of the 16 samples tested positive.
On the law and order front, Rourkela police and CRPF gunned down two Maoists, dismantled a camp and seized huge cache of arms and ammunition in November in Bonai sub-division after a hiatus of three years. Police inspector Rajesh Chhatria (43) was found dead at Sector-3 police station campus at Rourkela.
In June, foundation stone was laid at Rourkela for Loco Repairing Workshop at a cost of `120 crore, while NTPC belatedly started works for medical college and hospital at Sundargarh town in November.
At the fag end of the year, Rourkela hosted International Santhal Conference in which School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra proposed to move the Government to set up a theme park to showcase and promote the rich history, culture, tradition, heritage and lifestyle of the Santhals.