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Chit fund scam, natural calamities hit Odisha in 2013

Last Updated: Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 12:52

Bhubaneswar: Overcoming challenges like chit fund scam and other controversies that rocked Odisha in 2013, the ruling BJD swept the civic bodies polls to remain buoyant ahead of the Assembly Elections due in the New Year.

Odisha saw soaring crimes against women, growing Maoist activities, sluggish industrial activities, non-implementation of mega projects, shrinking farm sector and natural calamities.

Chit fund scam kept the Naveen government under attack for most part of the year. It was accused of being hand in gloves with different ponzi companies which looted poor investors. Congress demanded a CBI probe saying Crime Branch of Police was incapable of handling the issue as several companies were registered under Multi-State Cooperative Society rules".

The state government rejected the demand, saying actions were taken against 159 ponzi companies and 425 cases registered against them, while Crime Branch had filed charge sheet in 236 out of total 425 cases. It also said police arrested 640 people, including heads and chairman-cum managing directors, directors of different ponzi companies.

As the government was grappling with the issue, mining, coal, land and a host of other scams, the state was hit by a very severe cyclone Phailin on October 12 and the resultant heavy rains that triggered devastating floods in vast areas.
The twin calamities claimed about 45 lives. Around 11.54 lakh people were evacuated for the disasters which affected over 1.32 crore people in 18,374 villages spread over 17 of the state`s 30 districts.

The state government sought a financial assistance of Rs 4,242.41 crore from the Centre towards repair and restoration works. The centre announced Rs 1,000 crore as interim assistance. Left wing extremism continued to pose serious threat in many areas where violence was perpetrated at intervals despite the state government`s claim that Maoist activities have been controlled in 11 of the 30 districts.

According to a home department official, till November, 57 Maoists related incidents were reported resulting in the deaths of 15 civilians, 7 security personnel and 21 Maoists. In December, at least three persons, including a panchayat ward member, were killed by the ultras in Malkangiri district.

The state government was under attack for rise in crimes against women, including a series of rapes and murders. Patnaik was targeted in connection with the case of burning to death of a woman teacher at Tikiri in Rayagada district for refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment case against her senior.

The Opposition demanded Patnaik`s resignation for his government`s failure to save the teacher.
On industrialisation front, progress remained tardy and sluggish despite the state`s claim of attracting lakhs of crores of rupees investments as mega projects like Posco, ArcelorMittal and Vedanta failed to make headway due to varied reasons including hurdles in land acquisition.
In a blow to Odisha`s industrialisation drive, world`s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal in July scrapped a planned $12-billion (Rs 50,000 crore) steel plant in the state following inordinate delays, problems in acquiring land and securing iron ore linkages. Lakshmi Mittal-headed ArcelorMittal`s proposed plant in Odisha was among the biggest FDIs India had attracted.

Similarly, hopes of conducting the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed Posco project near Paradip during South Korean President Park Geun-hye`s visit to India next month were bleak with Odisha government making it clear that it could hand over an additional 1,000 acre of land for the purpose only after clearance from National Green Tribunal.

Noting that the state government has already handed over 1703 acres of land for the Rs 51,000 crore project of the South Korean steel major, Steel and Mines Minister Rajnikant Singh said Posco required 2,700 acre of land for setting up a 8 mtpa steel mill in the first phase.

Similar has been the story of Vedanta which had shut down its alumina refinery plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district in December, 2012 only to resume this year with skeletal operations due to non-availability of bauxite.

Notwithstanding the gloomy scenario, the state government is optimistic that Odisha will generate at least 77.16 mtpa of steel after commissioning of all the 49 MoU signed companies.

Agriculture presented a pathetic scene amid allegation of irregularities in distribution of seeds.

Opposition parties also alleged distress sale of paddy by farmers in many areas due to failure on the part of the government to open `mandis` in time for procurement.

Accusing the BJD government of failing to provide seeds to farmers for the rabi crop, BJP said farmers are suffering due to the apathy and callousness of the government.

PTI
First Published: Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 12:52
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