INTERVIEW | Last five years have seen all-round development of Kandhamal: Achyutananda

Achyutananda won the Lok Sabha polls from Kandhamal constituency on a BJD ticket in 2019 and this time, the party has renominated him from the seat.
BJD MP and party’s face for Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat Achyuta Samanta.
BJD MP and party’s face for Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat Achyuta Samanta.FILE Photo | PTI

Educationist-turned-politician, Achyutananda Samanta is known for his contribution towards tribal empowerment through education. He won the Lok Sabha polls from Kandhamal constituency on a BJD ticket in 2019 and this time, the party has renominated him from the seat. Samanta speaks to Bijay Chaki about his efforts for development of Kandhamal and more.

Excerpts:

Kandhamal is among the backward districts of the state. What steps have you taken for the development of your constituency during the last five years?

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of initiatives have been launched for the district. A dream of the last 50 years was fulfilled with the announcement of establishment of a medical college in Phulbani. As mobile connectivity was very low, 1,094 towers have been erected. My efforts to improve healthcare services as an MP in Kandhamal and the establishment of a medical college in Phulbani are the biggest achievement for me at a personal level.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik recognised this need and initiated the project for the construction of a massive medical college with 100 seats. A 500-bed hospital along with the construction of the `504 crore medical college is in its final stage, and we are grateful to the chief minister for making this project a reality.

Unemployment is one of the major problems in the district. What steps have been taken during the last five years to improve the situation?

For the first time, an employment mela was organised due to my initiative at Phulbani, in which 20,000 youths took part. The most important thing was that 102 companies participated in the job mela. Such a step to create employment opportunities for youth was never taken in history.

Kandhamal is a tribal-majority district. What steps, as an MP, have you taken for their development?

Several steps have been taken for their development. Roads to their villages have been constructed. Drinking water is also an issue that has also been resolved to a major extent.

One of the major deficiency is that the district does not have a railway line. Have you initiated any step as an MP for this?

The chief minister and I have made repeated requests to the railway minister in this regard. The work on the Khurda-Balangir rail connection is going to be completed very soon. The 169 km-long railway line will have 11 stations in the Kandhamal Parliamentary constituency namely Pununapani, Jharsmunda, Boudh, Champapur, Purunakatak, Charichhak, Adhonigad, Vanigochha, Buguda, Daspalla and Nuagaon.

Coming to politics, what is the position of BJD in Kandhamal? Do you think the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and other leaders to Kandhamal will have any impact?

Leaders of all political parties visit constituencies at the time of the election. But here in Kandhamal, only chief minister Naveen Patnaik counts. BJD’s position is quite good in the constituency. The party is going to win the Lok Sabha and all Assembly segments.

What are your future plans for the constituency ?

Many of the projects sanctioned for Kandhamal are slated to be implemented in 2024-25. We have decided to focus on tourism and employment. The government is working to provide drinking water to households in the Kandhamal district by 2024. Arrangements have been made to establish 12 banks in different areas of the constituency. The process of establishing three day-boarding schools, and 3,200-bedded hospitals for poor children at Mahasingi, Baida and Kantamal has been initiated.

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